Alex Frost is a super talented artist that makes really cool stuff, but I wanted to pick his brain about his recent on going series of wet unboxings that I found via his instagram and are featured on his youtube channel. These wet unboxing captivate me, put me in a trance and calm my nerves. According to Frost, this might mean that I am more comfortable with uncertainty than your average viewer!
Tell us about your art/yourself as an artist in one single sentence:
My artwork explores the way that boundaries between work and life, or the virtual and physical are dissolving and this is something specific to life in the global city.
When did you first start wet unboxing and what made you want to try it?
I started these videos at the beginning of the summer this year. The starting point for these videos was to make something that would intercept the stream of unboxing videos that circulate on digital networks like YouTube or Instagram. There’s a vicarious consumption at work in unboxing videos. They are about desire in the digital age - when a product doesn’t even need to be owned to transfer the hit of consumption. The wet unboxing videos amplify the absurdity of this ‘hit’ by indulging it, going with it, shedding it of any external interpretation and making it more mesmerizing or unsettling.
Another reason for doing these videos has to do with the way art today is primarily viewed - via the screen. This mostly involves looking at a room or white box on a screen. The videos are an attempt at bypassing the gallery stage - circulating them as art without the gallery infrastructure.
What happens when you unbox something underwater - do you get warm fuzzy tingles in a certain part of your brain?
No, when I’m doing the unboxing I see the action from above, so I enjoy watching the video back from a different angle. If I’m honest, I feel pretty numb when I’m watching them. I’ve made 30+ videos so maybe I’ve worn out my neuroreceptors?
What do you look for in an item to deem it worthy of this process?
The products in the videos come from the supermarket. They are potions, lotions, snacks and meals engineered and marketed to facilitate an ‘on-the-go’ lifestyle. Of course, any product could be said to improve or speed-up your life but these on-the-go products take it further. These products relate most to city living where there’s an ongoing need to save time, be more mobile and lighter on your feet.
Do you take the videos yourself? What is the biggest challenge in the process of wet unboxing?
I make the videos in my studio which is in my flat in London. The videos actually present fewer challenges than when I am making other objects. Living in my studio can get a bit overwhelming at times, especially when I am making things that creep into my living space from the studio. Somehow making the videos seems to integrate into my daily life quite smoothly. The equipment takes up very little space and I can pick-up the products in the supermarket on the way home from work.
Your dream brand comes to you and asks you to do some wet unboxing for them - who would it be?
Although, what I’m doing isn’t any sort of misrepresentation of the products I do find it hard to imagine any brand asking me to wet unbox anything. As long as a product fits the theme of ‘life on-the-go’ I’d consider it.
Which item was the most popular in terms of views and likes on your page?
I like the way some of the more unsettling videos have had as many views as the more pleasing videos. You can see the numbers on my YouTube channel.
Watching your wet unboxing can put the viewer in a trance-like state of mind - do you get this comment a lot?
What I get asked most is, “why” or “Y tho”? One of the things I like about popular video platforms like YouTube is the way images and videos can circulate without an obvious meaning or clear point of reference. This means that being perplexed is a feeling we get more familiar with. I guess, the people with the trance-like state of mind are more comfortable with this uncertainty.
Do you have a waiting list of items to be unboxed?
I always have a few items that are waiting to be unboxed, yes.
I’m working on a few things. I have set up a residency at one of WeWork’s co-working spaces in London. I’m using this to write and plan things. I have exhibitions coming up in Vienna next month and a few others in the pipeline for next year. I also intend on carrying on with the wet unboxings if only to spread the word of charcoal toothpaste, poshcorn and coffee in a can.
courtesy ALEX FROST
interview ASHLEY MUNNS
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