Showroom: Devices Under the Tree

Form devices‘Tis the season for spending too much on presents and racking your brains to think what overstocked friends could possibly want. The most welcome gifts are those that defy categorisation and expectations. Here’s a suggestion. LA artist Sean Brian McDonald has produced a limited edition called Devices: entirely useless, but oddly appealing objects to fondle and gaze at when you tire of your iPhone. As a temporary gallery attendant at LACMA, he saw how many museum-goers were digitally obsessed, staring intently at their phones even as they browsed the art works. That inspired him to create a therapeutic alternative—a kind of adult pacifier—that people might pocket or carry, starting a conversation with a stranger perhaps. (Note to younger readers: conversations were a popular way of communicating ideas and information before the invention of texting. You may have noticed that older people still enjoy this custom, especially in restaurants, whenever the noise level permits.)

McDonald–whose latest work is on show at LA’s Mier Gallery—likes using found materials, and Devices are bars of styrofoam wrapped in scraps of fabric discarded by his fashion designer wife. He painted the packages in blue enamel and, voilà, an artwork. A few of the 39 examples are still available for $300 each from AUX, an “ungallery” run from his home by creative advisor Sean Yashar. Just the thing to tuck under the tree. –Michael Webb

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