Eric Andrew Carter
Card 16
Test Card and Text on Paper

While the blank or monochrome canvas is a staple of 20th-century art, artists such as Malevich or Rauschenberg typically produce a painted canvas. This card, however, is presented without alteration, so I must contemplate not monochrome white paint, but the “whatness” of the card itself. This card is a political object in that it is a product of industry that embodies a set of human relations. Paper, like most industrial objects, was once a handmade commodity created by skilled laborers. It was neither uniform nor available in large quantities This is not true for paper made in the present day. In the US, a well-developed economy both supplies the raw materials and carries out a number of industrial processes to manufacture paper cards both uniformly and cheaply.

I can envision each step of the process: the farmers who tended the forest of paper trees, the workers who harvested the trees, the truck drivers who transported the trees to the paper mill, the factory workers, and the office workers who handle the distribution for the paper company. There is a complicated set of relationships between the raw materials, the laborers, the means of production, and the product. Those relationships are now in flux as many paper mills have moved from the United States to countries where labor is cheaper and regulations are not as stringent, which places a heavier burden on the non-US workers and reduces opportunities for meaningful employment in the US. This image is about the neoliberal economy and globalization.