The Rise and Fall or Rayfish Footwear

Van Mensvoort
December 19th 2012

For almost three years, we worked on a sneaker company that we knew would go bankrupt on the day it was founded. This is our coming out.

The fictional company Rayfish.com offered personalized sneakers crafted from genetically modified stingray leather. The online storytelling project was created to catalyze a debate on emerging biotechnologies and the products it may bring us. It furthermore questioned our consumptive relationship with animals and products in general. While such discussions often remain abstract, we aimed to make them tangible in a concrete product you can love or hate.

The rise and fall of Rayfish Footwear took place within a period of seven months. The story began with the launch of the corporate website, commercial, CEO lecture and online design tool. The startup immediately received significant media attention and seemed bound for success, however, there were also critical petitions against the company's instrumental use of animals.

While almost ten thousand people had designed their own fish sneaker, animal rights activists broke into the company and released all the fishes in the ocean. The CEO of the company, Dr. Raymond Ong, responded with a passionate video statement, which stirred further debate on our estranged relationship with products in a globalized world.

While Rayfish was struggling to find new investors, the escaped fishes where out in the open and started appearing into video's of tourists and fishermen. The story ended with the bankruptcy of Rayfish, after which the true objective of the company was revealed and the 'making of video' was released.

Seven highly exclusive prototypes of Stingray leather sneakers were created. The leather of the shoes was dyed with paint, rather than genetically modified.

Further information on our motivations, collaborators and supporters can be found on the Rayfish Event webpage. We welcome comments on the Rayfish Facebook page or in the box below. Thanks for participating!

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1 comment

anne
Posted 20/12/2012 – 04:12

Ha! I thought that this was the most hilarious culture jamming project. I loved the "sneaker head" footage, and the fake "attack" on the facility. I submitted a 'design' and was happy you contacted me to tell the story.
Thanks for the follow up. I make interactive public art also and really appreciated the way you used a site to engage with this idea.

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