Perry A. Hoberman: My Life In Spam One Day (December 11, 2002)

  • ©2005, Perry A. Hoberman



    My Life In Spam One Day (December 11, 2002)


Creation Year:



    Digital Lightjet print


    26 inches x 32 inches


Artist Statement:

    The series My Life in Spam consists of various attempts to creatively visualize the ever-increasing onslaught of unsolicited email messages
    commonly known as spam. Since I began archiving my own spam in 1998, I have amassed a collection of more than 50,000 useless, often offensive messages. T he rate of spam has been increasing at a faster rate than computer processing power (defined by Moore’s Law as doubling every 18 months), at least tripling (on average) each year. I now receive more spam in a hour than I received in a month in 1998, and at the current rate of increase, I expect to be receiving about a thousand a day by the end of 2006. While each individual spam message is essentially anonymous and impersonal, the aggregate functions as some kind of degraded, degenerate depiction of me, and thus these works are some species of self-portrait: the artist as a sex-obsessed, Viagra-craving, mortgage-hungry cretin who can’t spell. The prints in My Life in Spam consist of superimposed images of every spam messge that I have received over a given period of time. Depending on the dates and the length of time represented in each print (usually a day, week, or month), the images range from faint lines of partially legible text to intricate washes of intense color. If the volume of spam is low, the result is a kind of recombinant cutup of multiple sales pitches. As the rate of spam increases, the individual messages melt together into dense gradients of color. Thus, each print functions as a visualization, but also as an attempt to transform an utterly debased form of communication into something attractive, even beautiful. Other works in the series include projections in which each message is projected for one thirtieth of a second (too fast to read but nonetheless more time than any of the messages deserve), audio works (in which multiple spams are simultaneously read aloud using text-to-speech software) and sculptures, in which the volume of the object reflects the total volume of spam received .