Patrick Pound

From Zaphir to Zafir, 2020

16 objects, mixed media, variable size

Photo by Carl Warner

Patrick Pound (b.1962) is an artist and Associate Professor of Art and Performance in Faculty of Arts and Education, Deakin University. He explores how public gallery and museum collections can be reformulated as an artistic medium through which to interrogate how things might be found and made to hold ideas. Pound also queries the systems of collection in traditional research on photography and the archive and the history of documentary photography.

In From Zaphir to Zafir Pound extends his poetic experiments with the collection as a medium and making collections of other people’s things. He describes these works as ‘fundamentally analogue, physical, and sentimental’, noting ‘the limits of each collection constraint’ and that the collections ‘always retain the patina of the search that helped bring them together.’

From Zamfir to Zafir is generated at the suggestions of the eBay search engine. Starting with Zamphir and his pan flute, Pound purchased each thing that eBay suggested, only ignoring repeat objects. The resulting collection continues his interest in ‘the poetry of the misstep’ in eBay’s suggestions of objects that ranged from cassette recordings of Zamphir and his pan flute, to pan flutes of various types, and eventually included The Bible on Cassette, an empty cassette carry case, and a fluted pan. Pound describes the occasional return to ideas or things previously suggested, ‘as if the search stopped to look over her shoulder’.

A key moment occurred when the eBay’s recommendations tipped over from Zamphir to the malapropism Zaphir. The chronology which had poured from computational logic, chance, and the shuffle of things, settled on a reverse camera for a Zaphir car. In this collection work without photographs, the reverse camera evoked memories for Pound that photography, from the carte de visite to Snapchat, has always been about five things: observing, noticing, recording, sharing, and connecting.

As a collection, this poetry of eBay things challenges the audience to reflect on the fantasies and possibilities of playing with algorithms and to find space for the poetry and dysphoria that can result from the abstraction of data.

Listen to the artist interview with curator Katherine Moline.

This work features in: GUAM (2021) | FUMA (2022)