LOS ANGELES — Oh, eBay. The few times I’ve tried to sell something on eBay, I remember the emphasis they placed on selecting a good image (or series of images) to properly show what you’re trying to get rid of. It makes sense — who would buy something based solely on word descriptions — and I always noticed that the best eBay sellers tended to have the best photos.

Sell it Yourself is a new tumblelog project by New York artist David Brandon Geeting.  The site is simple: eBay images posted without context. “I spend a lot of time on eBay / in dollar stores buying objects for my personal work,” Geeting told me over email. “I always see so many ‘accidentally’ great images on eBay, and I wanted to make something out of them.”

Geeting goes through a fairly rigorous process of curation, sifting through images that strikes contrasts, like when a photo makes an item look significant more or less expensive than it is. The success of the blog comes from this approach, which finds the more oddball images of eBay (and there are many) that strike a dissonance. It could be an image of two feet, with one wearing a sock, a yellow napkin with a red stain or what look like upside down candle holders.

As he told me, he also seeks out image where “the seller thought their image was doing something intentionally (and doing it really well) but in reality it is unintentionally doing something way weirder (and doing it reeeaaaallly well).” Or, simply, “the colors are rad.”

Sell It Yourself continues in the tradition of the out of context patent images and the Wordless Web bookmarklet I wrote about previously. But the eBay images resonate more deeply for some reason, perhaps because they offer little slices of daily life, this online trade of things we no longer need but that other people want.

Geeting waxed philosophical: “I think the best part about eBay is that it forces people to get creative. Yes, they are getting creative because they are trying to make a profit, but essentially, that is how art operates too, isn’t it?”

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AX Mina

AX Mina (aka An Xiao Mina) is an author, artist and futures thinker who follows her curiosity. She co-produces Five and Nine, a podcast about magic, work and economic justice. 

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