Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Significant Objects

When I first read about the Significant Objects project several years ago, I was instantly drawn in. It's a literary and economic experiment taking inexpensive thrift store objects and seeing how much their value can increase when paired with a fictional work.

Our friend Rob Walker and his collaborator Joshua Glenn began this experiment by purchasing cheap items and passing them out to authors who were asked to write a short story associated with the piece. Each object was then placed on Ebay for auction. About 250 objects were purchased for an average of $1.25 apiece and sold for a combined total of almost $8,000 in the end. The editors stated that the interest generated from the project was well beyond their expectations and the result of this work can now be purchased in the form of a wonderful new book by the same name.

I had the pleasure of attending their book signing last week and hearing the evolution of the project and some of the stories in person. Several of the authors read their own short story contribution. Ben Greenman's shared his tale of the one-eared smiling mug that once served as a movie prop. Luc Sante's spoke of the wrapped flannel ball that was given to him on his friend's death bed and the curious decrease in the weight of the ball throughout his years of ownership.

In a way, each piece has been upcycled. But rather than changing the shape of the object and repurposing it, the original form and function remain the same. Additional value is given to each piece in the form of a short story. Simply brilliant. Sometimes objects don't need changing. They just need to be looked at in a different way.

You can get your hands on your own copy over at and perhaps at your favorite local bookstore. Maybe one day you can even find a copy of the book auctioned off on Ebay paired with a fictional story.

1 comment:

  1. Totally awesome! And something us teachers can do in the classroom.