Zach Whitworth

consumer memory

150 printed receipts and vinyl

The receipt is the somewhat unintentional result of intentional purchases. While many businesses these days ask if you would like a receipt or not, sometimes you find yourself saying yes, or the cashier may simply stuff a receipt in your shopping bag or hand one to you without question. Some well-organized folks may hold onto them for financial record-keeping, but those such as myself will usually stuff them in pockets, backpacks, wallets, junk drawers, or even garbage bins, forgetting they exist.

However, when a receipt is un-crumpled, it has all the power of a photograph with the right understanding. The essence of a receipt––its sole purpose––is the semi-automatic, yet most specific documentation of single experiences through the exchange of capital, goods, and services. It is the still frame of a transaction; money spent, items bought, location, date, and time (down to the exact minute or second) are all captured upon its printing. Reading a receipt pinpoints precisely where a consumer was in space-time, perhaps in the most intimate of manners.

I have kept every receipt I’ve received throughout my own consumer experiences since the beginning of my studies at Southern Oregon University (September 2014 – February 2017). “consumer memory” tracks my personal life in purchases over the course of nearly two and a half years, laid out in a chronological timeline. Each receipt correlates to an exact point in my life; one can see the lists of food I bought at markets, if I was traveling in another city, businesses I frequented, and so on. From the explicit information available, one my also infer deeper intimacies––dates, gifts, habits, bad days, coping mechanisms, whether I was with another person or not, etc.––allowing for a potentially sympathetic analysis of my own self through the window of routine capitalist practices.

The personal is made public.

Using Format