Vending Machine \ Ellie Harrison (2010)
A rundown but functional old vending machine stood alone in the Dukes Bar. Every now and again, without warning, it would spring into life – spewing out free packets of crisps for gallery visitors. The machine had been modified. It no longer functioned in the conventional way – at the whim of snack-hungry theater goers – but instead found itself in the control of outside forces…
Its new nervous system was a networked computer. Hidden out of view and running special software, it continually scanned the BBC News RSS feed – commanding the machine only to release snacks when words relating to the recession make the headlines.
Whilst seemingly an act of generosity – gifting free food at moments when further doom and gloom is reported – the Vending Machine also hinted towards a time in the future when our access to food may literally be determined by wider political or environmental events. We may not be able to access what we want, when we want, at the touch of a button
The vending machine itself managed to hit the headlines and was featured on Radio Lancashire, BBC News and comedy show The Bubble.
Ellie Harrison is an artist & activist based in Glasgow (UK). Her work takes a variety of forms: from installations and performance / events, to lectures, live broadcasts & political campaigns.
Using an array of strategies, Harrison investigates, exposes and challenges the absurd consequences of our capitalist system: from over-consumption, inequality and alienation, to privatisation and climate change – and explores the impact free-market forces are having on our society, and our individual day-to-day lives.
As well as making playful, politically-engaged work for galleries and public spaces, Harrison is also the founder and coordinator of the national Bring Back British Rail campaign – which strives to popularise the idea of re-nationalising our public transport system – and is the agent for The Artists’ Bond – a life-long speculative funding scheme for artists, now with 160 members across the UK.