UPDATE: OK, I decided the images are the priority, and getting them out there, so they're all relisted and ready to go, including exciting groups of ducks, frogs, fruit, monochromes, and office cube minimalism.
Looks like I picked the wrong week to get high-handed about arbitrary-seeming market-related rule-driven art practices. After almost six weeks and nearly 100 prints shipped, eBay suddenly dropped the hammer on my Test Listings series. 35 listings were canceled without warning tonight, and I spent an hour bouncing around eBay's call center to find someone who could explain what happened, and how to fix it.
Apparently the main problem boils down to having actual items to sell in the test listings category, which is for testing only. But the content from test listings (image and title and description texts) apparently triggers an automatic rejection if you try to list in a mainstream category like art > photographs. Calling something a "test," or using the word "test" in your title is enough to keep a listing off the site. But that's eBay's tautological problem. They also actually ban listings "where the value is placed on an intangible factor," like, no joke, "someone's 'soul'".
I had a couple of confounding discussions with CSRs about appropriation, context, and an awareness of the process of selling. I was asked how I could possibly claim I was actually selling an object, and that I wanted someone to buy it, when my descriptions clearly said "NO ITEM" and "DO NOT BID OR BUY." And how could I think it's not confusing that I put, "Actually, there is an item, and you can buy it." right underneath it?
And who would even try to sell an image that had DO NOT BID OR BUY printed right across the middle of it?
"Is this your image?"
"It is now."
"Then you can change it so it doesn't say that, right?"
"Does eBay have any other instructions for how I should change these artworks?"
Was a real conversation I had with one Resolution Manager, after he'd already told me to change the title of the works, too.
It was a challenge to explain the project in this situation, to someone who had no interest or expertise in the art context, and whose job was to maintain the integrity of eBay's transactional experience. Even though I had been instructed by an eBay CSR to list my items in the testing category, I was clearly selling, not testing. And the way I was selling would disrupt the expectations of someone shopping in a normal part of the site. Which, of course, was my entire point. Which he accepted and rejected at the same time.
Maybe I'm the one who needs to pay attention to the context. eBay is full of art ridiculousness, more or less interesting, and apparently, I'm just wanting to add one more.
Matt Latourette reminded me of the 2014 4chan stunt listings to sell posts, then screenshots of posts, then making-of screenshots of posts, &c. which culminated/dissipated into Hyperallergic selling a blog post about the whole thing.
And @yunginstitution linked to this kind of thing, where an Italian creator of unabashed fakes hopes that kerning and an amazing incantation of a copyright disclaimer will keep the reaperbots at bay:
The work is not supplied with certificate of authenticity and warranties (as has never been evaluated, estimating expertise) and then, having regard to the recognition and similarity to the style of the author, is proposed as a copy of copyright, false copyright, in the manner of the author, under Article 8 of the law of 20 November 1971, n.1062 (Official Gazette No 318 of December 17) (according to law "dl 41 22/01/2004 art 179)"a copy of copyright, false copyright, in the manner of, full of grace..."
I guess my interest is primarily not in becoming an eBay crank, nor in reverse engineering the site's unwritten policies and assumptions about selling. But I am still fascinated by the images and language of not-selling, and the aesthetic decisions being made in these unimaginably rare situations where marketing, promotion, strategy and enticement aren't just absent, but avoided. And the implications of this for art are still worth considering even after Armory Week.
I'll revise this tomorrow, but, in the mean time, I have published a list of all the items eBay terminated, with their titles and (now defunct) item numbers. This will serve as a Googleable registry/reference for these works as I try to figure out whether and how to relist them. And then I'll think about what to do with the prints for the two dozen new test listings arriving this weekend.
UPDATE You know what, enough nonsense, the images are what interest me, so I'm stripping out all the text and title stuff and just relisting all available prints. They'll all be properly titled when they're shipped out, according to the registry below. Bid and buy with confidence.