"Message in a Bottle / Unknown Variables" is a series of A4 archival prints of bottled objects informed by the German philosopher and sociologist Theodor W. Adorno. Message in a bottle describes T. Adorno's aesthetic theory of how artworks address the future audience with unknown variables, different contexts, new situations.

Message Bottles Unknown Variables Series 01 (Set of 6)

"Art works well when complex antagonistic fragments crystallize into a force field, confronting, critiquing, and transforming the damaged life of society. Art, like the bottle of messages, is a container for truth and hope addressed to imaginary witnesses of an uncertain future, sent in spite of the aggressive indifference of the world, and aesthetics becomes, here at least, the privileged other of critical theory."
- James Hellings, 2012, p. 91

“It is just this exceptional sovereignty and splendid isolation that paradoxically permits art to engage with and challenge the course of the world. This is the genuine message of art: the very thing that constitutes art’s opposition to (and thus its engagement with) damaged life is its disengaged existence as art.”
- James Hellings, 2012, p. 89.

"Art cannot help everyone, and everyone is not an artist; those people or things that are lost
cannot always be found. Yet a message in a bottle is not necessarily about the message, one message above all others. Rather, messages in bottles are like art’s impulse, which openly addresses itself to the unknown, the impossible, to the future. This address is the work of art, which (like its advocate or adversary, the critic) attempts to know. This is how art
helps: as beautiful containers for truths and hopes that damaged life cannot sustain. These messages in bottles, these artworks, disappear and reappear; they are lost and found. Some we can know, while others take the wind from our sails and leave us floating, and some even pass the point of no return."
- James Hellings, 2012, p. 96

James Hellings, "Messages in a Bottle and Other Things Lost to the Sea: The Other Side of
Critical Theory or a Reevaluation of Adorno’s Aesthetic Theory," in Telos 2012(160):77-97. 91

Message Bottles Unknown Variables Series 05 (Set of 6)

"Whoever wrote the message and put it in, sealed the bottle and threw it into the sea had no idea when (if ever) the bottle would be [found]; and whether [the recipient]...would be able and willing to read the text, understand the message, accept its content and put it to the kind of use the author intended. The entire equation consists of unknown variables....At best, [the author] could, repeat after Marx, Dixi et salvavi animam meam: [he] has...done all in his power to save the message from extinction. . . .The message in a bottle is a testimony to ...the duration of hope, to the indestructibility of possibilities and the frailty of adversities that bar them from implementation. In Adorno’s rendition, critical theory is such a testimony—and this warrants the metaphor of a message in the bottle."
- Zygmunt Bauman, Liquid Life, pp. 141–42.

Message Bottles Unknown Variables Series 02 (Set of 6)

Message Bottles Unknown Variables Series 03 (Set of 6)

Message Bottles Unknown Variables Series 04 (Set of 6)

Message Bottles Unknown Variables Series 06 (Set of 6)