Searching for Octopus on Amazon

Mike Singe, Searching for octopus on Amazon, 2019 (Installation view, Photo: Heidi Pfohl)

The objects are as nondescript and indistinguishable as their fleeting presence on the screen, weren’t it for their sheer amount. When you concern yourself with octopuses, you start to see them everywhere; Amazon appears to agree. At first, the little, fluffy, colorful incarnations of octopuses that Mike Singe dug up are amusing, flabbergasting maybe, given the quantity and randomness of products they were made to lend their properties to. their capacity to spill, contort and shape- shift in unreal ways surely incited these. octopuses evolved to possess some truly impressive features. Judging by the diversity of octopus commodities, their capacity to inspire and be turned into ornamental decoration must rank at the very top. Apparently, even before we see them as food, we picture them as merchandise.

As the images continue, numbness and a state of unattached com- placency sets in. the relentless grind of the click accompanying every second that a new image locks into place. the sterile, hard, empty, white space that holds the view in place upon the artefacts. the random objects and their wild combinations of bright colors. the jolly smiles on caricatured faces glaring out from the countless toys that rain down from the screen. . . .

If only, Mike contemplates, octopuses could add to their skills the ability to retain the services of lawyers to launch a flood of civil lawsuits as relentless as the stream of pictured products — breaches of copyright, intellectual property theft and other unpaid entitlements that would inevitably give rise to criminal cases, ranging from sexual harassment (yes octopus porn is a thing), unlawful detainment and even murder. Ironically it would be a human invention, litigation, that would bring an end to the assumed right of humans to make decisions without consideration to the rights of all animals. finally, society might change forever, as opportunistic octopuses hire out their services as intermediaries between human and nonhuman animals.