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By-Product of a Thousand Lives

a process-based research project: conceptual planning of an installation

By-product of a thousand lives is the planning process of a participatory installation titled A thousand lives. Its output is not the actual installation but the preparatory works such as notes, diagrams, photos, models, video & audio recording.

By-product of a thousand lives not only highlights the creative and intellectual process of making and developing art & ideas but also the complexity of art and in a wider sense all we do in life. It is a commentary on how we blindly accept information as absolute and readily consume what is presented to us. It is work about work, blurring the boundary between the finished product and its production. In essence the work shows the difficulty of retrieving truly essential information in order to make decisions.

I would like to present a careful selection or even the entirety of the preparatory works. Depending on the nature of the available space, the work can either be presented on walls, desks or projections. The work should be displayed in such a way as to invite the visitors to closely examine the work rather than cursorily walk through it.


UPDATE 20 August 2015:
I am currently working on a book detailing the process including all pictorial content

By-product of a thousand lives, art project by Jay Rechsteiner


main page By-Product: click HERE

By-product of a thousand lives, art project by Jay Rechsteiner

Find the project brief and the preparatory works below. Note that it is not my intention to execute the proposed work.


planned (virtual/conceptual) art project:

The Matrix of a thousand lives

dedicated to my father, the Swiss artist 'Schlössli' Franzueli Rechsteiner who passed away in February 2015

'An idea is eternal whereas the form is temporary'


Welcome to The Matrix of a thousand lives, a participatory installation in honour of Franzueli Rechsteiner who passed away in January 2015.

The Matrix of a thousand lives puts the public (=users) into the centre of action & decision making. They are asked to create/alter an installation, the matrix using various personal objects that belonged to Franzueli Rechsteiner. The basic principles of the set-up and workings of the matrix are to be found in object-oriented programming languages such as JavaScript.

Everything within the matrix can be manipulated, re-arranged. Every alteration has an effect on the matrix as a whole and is objects that make up the matrix. Every action (alteration) needs to be justified by reason and recorded in the object library/memory and the matrix board. Random actions are errors that may be rectified by other users.

Eventually the matrix will have a life of its own and evolves naturally, i.e. things fall into their correct place, from chaos to order.

By-product of a thousand lives, art project by Jay Rechsteiner
photograph from above, matrix area in the left corner of the barn



As I believe that there is an intimate relationship between objects and their owner, I have selected 272 of Rechsteiner personal objects to use as blocks for the installation. Each objects has several properties/values such as dimension, material, place of origin etc. . By placing objects in specific places within the installation/the matrix those values can change or/and influence values of other objects. It is also possible to use other bigger so-called framework objects that are being kept in a specific storage. More info in the instructions.

By-product of a thousand lives, art project by Jay Rechsteiner, buffallo



A set of instructions are to be considered when participating in the setting up of the matrix. See below.

About Franzueli Rechsteiner and the process of making art

Besides being a page boy, office clerk, shepherd, an ice cream & hot chestnut seller, cheese maker etc. Franzueli Rechsteiner was also a thinker, a philosopher, a musician and an artist with a profound interested in the process of making art, be it in intellectual or emotional terms.

In video interviews and especially in the Montbeliard Diaries his interest in the process and joy of making art becomes obvious. This is also apparent when one considers the fact that after completion of a piece of work he would abandon it and start immediately something new. The constant interaction as the subject matter and essentially the protagonist of his work with specific themes plays an essential part of his work. The inability or/and laziness of the spectator to truely engage with the work and his own fear of his work not being accepted led eventually to a more secluded life and work style which resulted not only in complex background stories but also in inventive work procedures.

The Matrix of a thousand Lives challenges the spectator and asks her/him to engage him/herself with the work by participating in the construction and hence be part of the work. This is the area and space where one meets the artist, where one meets Franzueli Rechsteiner. The spectators are not only consumers but the users and makers, they are part of the work.

The installation is a conceptual reconstruction of the process of making art.

For more info re Franzueli Rechsteiner visit his website: www.franzuelirechsteiner.tk

The architecture of the installation

The entire installation is located in the first storey of the barn of Franzueli Rechsteiner's home in Lugnez, Switzerland. It consists of thee parts:

  • the object library
    The installation is being built using objects that are to be found within the object library. There are exactly 272 objects arranged in a raster of 16 x 17.

  • the thinking area
    The thinking area is where the users record their actions on the Matrix Information Board and the book of variables.

  • the matrix area
    The matrix area is the actual area where the users build the installation.

Find more specific information in the instructions.

By-product of a thousand lives, art project by Jay Rechsteiner

Further notes

When analysing work it is essential to look at the process of how the work has come about in order to understand its complexity. There is a sheer endless number of factors that influence the development of work such as for example ones childhood and all its implications on adult life, the political, cultural and social landscape, education, state of health . Such and a lot of other factors have an impact on the decision making process that eventually gives content and form of to work. Schlössli was a very complex artist who combined intellect and emotion in his work. Everything has a story and a feeling. Everything plays a leading role in life.


diagrams, videos & audio objects instructions

PDF diagrams


The Montbeliard Diaries

Land Art - Franzueli Rechsteiner

Franzueli Rechsteiner in Action
- The Process of Making Art


Link to Book of Variables
(Object library)

Link to document



By-product of a thousand lives, art project by Jay Rechsteiner, graph paper

By-product of a thousand lives, art project by Jay Rechsteiner, graph paper




By-product, art project by Jay Rechsteiner


Copyright © 2015, Jay Rechsteiner. All Rights Reserved.