Uncrate Puzzle

Desire, Consumption Identity and Easy Credit

Online shopping has removed the crowd and time element that deter a lot of guys from shopping.

Whenever I need a break from working on the magazine or building a website, I can flip over to Uncrate.com and take a 1 minute break and see what the latest “must have” items are. If it’s something within impulse buying range I can click on the BUY link and be taken directly to Amazon.com.  Most of the time, I just bookmark it and add it to my list of things I would like to own. This list has now become embarrassingly long. Online shopping is fueled by Credit Cards. I can have it tomorrow, and pay for it later. We can rationalize that we are saving money by not spending money on gas, and saving the time it would take to drive to the store and back.  The photographs on the Uncrate Puzzle are images taken directly from my wish list of things I want. Each of the hidden surfaces of the block were covered with credit card logos. The outer layer of identity comprised of objects masks a hidden layer of credit that maintains the illusion.

The photos on the outside of the model draw the viewer close. Directions on the stand encourage them to pull apart the puzzle and to examine the items more closely. The credit card images confront the user with the reality of how the purchases are made. When attempting to put the puzzle back one quickly realizes that putting it back together is not as easy as taking it apart. We want others to believe that we own the things that we have, and by extension believe we are successful or stylish or have good taste. Our illusion breaks down if they see the credit card debt propping up our charade. Although there are many ways to form the cube again, there is only one solution that hides the credit cards. Issues of desire, consumption, identity and easy credit are addressed by this interactive puzzle.

The slightly oversized blocks are fun to hold and engaging to play with. The solid wood has a nice satisfying heft as they are lifted and turned in the hand. During the LSU gallery installation, I could see the first viewer disassembling and stacking the puzzle. Then watched as yet another viewer attempted to put the puzzle back together. There are many solutions to form the cube, but only one way that can hide the internal credit card faces. Many of the visitors were able to put it back together, but never in the original configuration. Each puzzle has a legend with the solution on it.

At first gallery visitors were hesitant to pick up the blocks fearful that they may damage them. They really immersed themselves into the experience once they realized that they could touch the blocks. Kids especially enjoyed being able to touch and play with the exhibit. The exhibit changes over the course of the show, as one person interacts with the puzzle and leaves it in a different state then when they found it. This could possibly introduce some confusion to the next visitor. The full experience is when you can start with a complete cube, expand it and then attempt to put it back together. The Uncrate Puzzle was exhibited next to the Public Storage puzzle which worked the same way.

Project Details

The Uncrate Puzzle draws attention to the connections between easy credit and online shopping. Viewers attempt to combine the seven blocks into one solid cube while ensuring that none of the credit cards are displayed on the outside.

  • Consumption
  • Desire
  • Hand made
  • Identity
  • Interactive Puzzle