Fall 2012

Artist Project / Value Added: # 240950 DM NOSLT WHL KRNL CR

Buy buy, baby, buy buy

Nobutaka Aozaki

On 5 March 2012, I bought a can of corn for $1.09 at C-Town supermarket in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn. Two days later, I carried the same can into Associated Supermarket in Astoria, Queens, and re-purchased it for $0.99.

This procedure is possible because the stores have no way to identify individual items: the barcode printed on my can’s label, #240950, refers to its contents, and not to that particular can. After the label is passed across the barcode reader, the clerk sees only the shorthand description of the product determined by the store—for example “DM NOSLT WHL KRNL CR”—and I pay again.

By 15 September, I had purchased that single can of corn from sixty-nine supermarkets, for a total of $75.33. Even though what I am doing is the opposite of stealing, I sometimes worry that I will get caught, or even arrested for this project.

Nobutaka Aozaki is a Japanese artist working in Brooklyn. He recently exhibited at UCLA’s New Wight Biennial 2012, Los Angeles. His work is currently featured in “Invited” at the Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore.

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