Seth Price. Essay with Knots. 2008

Seth Price Essay with Knots 2008

  • Not on view

“Suppose an artist were to release the work directly into a system that depends on reproduction and distribution for its sustenance, a model that encourages contamination, borrowing, stealing, and horizontal blur?” Price posed this question in his essay “Dispersion” in 2002, when digital technology was beginning to fundamentally change the way art and ideas are distributed around the globe. The essay has circulated in various forms, including a printed book, a PDF available online at, and this work, in which Price’s Adobe InDesign files are printed on plastic formed around knotted ropes using industrial packaging technology.

Gallery label from 2020
Additional text

Essay with Knots consists of nine panels of vacuum-formed plastic, across which is printed an essay entitled "Dispersion," which Price began writing in 2002. The essay explores the profound changes in the creation and experience of art that have accompanied the growth of digital technology, and the ways in which artists are addressing these new possibilities for the production and diffusion of information. Price has circulated the piece in various forms, including the sculptural work on view here, in which the artist's Adobe InDesign files are printed on plastic and formed around knotted ropes using industrial packaging technology; a printed book available in stores; and a free PDF of the book available online. By positioning the work within different economic spheres—the art world, the retail market, and the free economy of the Internet—Price creates multiple possibilities of presentation that are all equally "the work."

"Dispersion" is available at

Gallery label from Sites of Reason: A Selection of Recent Acquisitions, June 11–September 28, 2014.
Screenprint ink on high-impact polystyrene and polyester, vacuum-formed over rope, nine panels
Each 48 x 96" (121.9 x 243.8 cm)
Gift of Marlene Hess and James D. Zirin and gift of the Speyer Family Foundation
Object number
Painting and Sculpture

Installation views

We have identified these works in the following photos from our exhibition history.

How we identified these works

In 2018–19, MoMA collaborated with Google Arts & Culture Lab on a project using machine learning to identify artworks in installation photos. That project has concluded, and works are now being identified by MoMA staff.

If you notice an error, please contact us at [email protected].


If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA’s collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

MoMA licenses archival audio and select out of copyright film clips from our film collection. At this time, MoMA produced video cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. All requests to license archival audio or out of copyright film clips should be addressed to Scala Archives at [email protected]. Motion picture film stills cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For access to motion picture film stills for research purposes, please contact the Film Study Center at [email protected]. For more information about film loans and our Circulating Film and Video Library, please visit

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication, please email [email protected]. If you would like to publish text from MoMA’s archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to [email protected].


This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to [email protected].