consumerism is tricky in the united states. in the top 1% only a tiny fraction of our income is devoted to basic needs like food and shelter. instead we buy stuff that in theory makes us happy. We spend a significant amount of time trying to make "smart" buying choices -high quality objects at a low cost, and not to be duped by anyone's advertising schemes etc. On the other side, people making and advertising goods want to appeal to our inner yearnings. they position coca cola in ways that make it seem actually like the drink actually produces coolness. everything from hair products to designer bow ties are marketed as fun and connected to our confidence and cravings to get us to buy them.
there is a fine line between buying something for practical reasons, and buying it because we’re told it will make us feel good. when we purchase designer jeans with no label, spending extra money to get a product that's marketed as better simply because it's from a certain designer, we are paying for something that doesn't exist. conceptual art gets at the essence of this idea. throughout the ages, art has always centered around awareness, perhaps because of the incredible patience and diligence it takes to record the visual world accurately. therefore, buying art initiates a consumer experience unlike any other product because the artist takes it into account when they make the product.
In some cases, that is the art. The most expensive iphone app, for example, cost $999.99 and simply proclaims “i am rich.” Sometimes this interaction is a little less straightforward. a lot of conceptual art involves little time and little effort to produce but is then sold for tons of extra money. In this case people are actually aware that they're buying the idea, that's why it's called conceptual art. is it actually possible to buy an idea? intellectual property rights have tried increasingly hard to make this a reality, letting artists like taylor swift buy the year 1989, the title of one of her albums. And it was pointed out to me that Damien Hirst, a conceptual artist who stuffed a shark and put it in a tank, was preceded in this idea by a long time by a seafood restaurant owner however the owner's exact twin was and is considered a "cool attraction" for the restaurant, while Hirst's is considered contemporary art and costs thousands of dollars. If someone were to tell me they'd just bought a Hirst, I know that they don't mean they bought a shark in a tank, but rather the idea of that.http://www.stuckism.com/Shark.html
In my first year of college, I wondered why hookup culture was the way it was. got confused with hook up culture and why it was the culture to have an incredibly intimate experience with someone and then pretend they didn't exist. But rather than whining to my friends that "andrew didn't talk to me anymore," i wanted to do something that would say "listen up: we're both people and you can't pretend i'm not just because you tried to put your penis in me." in my art class I had been making these little clay heads _i've always like assembly lines and multiples and duplicates etc._so I decided to make a box with pictures of them I'd downloaded from facebook and one of these clay heads inside. That way I could say definitively that I knew what was on their mind. Imagine getting yourself mailed to you. Imagine receiving a box with pictures of yourself on the package and ----that said your name---and knowing that whatever was inside was going to be you. it could really have been anything -this clay head that i created in art class was good enough to suggest that it was you, and from there it was possible to project all your thoughts onto this figurine.
Later I decided to market them to the general public. I set up a stand at venice beach with a giant sign that read "this is your head," and asked people to take the tiny clay figure into their hand and marvel at the fact that they now definitively held their own head in the palm of their hand. my friend matt would then hold up a mirror so they could take a look at the infinite similarities between themselves and this tiny clay "version” of themselves.
i was surprised to find that, knowing full well that the sculpture was nothing to do with them, they were at least willing to hold the statue up to their face, considering whether or not it did indeed look like them, and at they decided to keep it, forking over a five dollar bill. i received this picture in an email from one of my first customers on that day at venice beach:
fascinated with that fine line between buying an actual product and buying an idea associated with that product, I set to work creating a series of objects that toe it and sometimes obscure it. In my product bottled feelings, in a manifestation of the common phrase “ i wish i could bottle this feeling of for later use,” the consumer is invited to buy their own feelings. in the “i'm secretly a witch kit,” consumers get to be in on the project and are invited to use the object to convince other people that they’re a witch. rather than marketing…
in a whole host of other products, the object toes the line between satire and …
a whole host of useless products,
a translation of digital space
in my collection: “meme; manifested” i temper the transience and uselessness of digital memes with a ...object that transcends the digital realm into “actual” space.
it is compelling to believe in nonsense myself, and quite a bit more compelling to try to get others to believe in it. i advocate for this directly in “”art” “games” to “play” with “friends”,” inviting people to interact with their friends in conscious.. way's, a real life version of the term “trolling.”
fascinated by the grandiose idea of consumerism, the ability to choose what you buy and buy things that make you happy i set to work designing a series of products that wouldn't exactly fit in target or walmart.
a lot more about the line between buying what you need and what you want getting further and further apart, and maybe talk about the idea that you could actually buy a new mind.
as technology becomes more efficient our concrete living expenses are bound to decrease to an even smaller fraction of what we spend. <i>then</i> what will we buy. such a large part of our daily lives is attracting money so that we can then spend it on what we think we need. Locked into the idea that money is necessary, if we have nothing practical to spend it on, choosing what to buy becomes even more important
after i -left= my house in portland, i decided that rather than finding another place to live, or going back to california to live with my parents, i would try my luck at living without any money. with a debit card that i <i>refused</i> to buy things with, i wandered around portland a little bit delirious for a full four weeks with one intermission when i went home for passover in the hawaian shirt and jeans with a shoelace for a belt that i'd found while walking around. it wasn't the easiest thing but it wasn't the hardest thing either. every day turned into an adventure knowing that food and shelter were no longer necessarily provided. i spent three days in a shelter i [manufactured] behind the fred meyers on 030th and main- i
if you're curious about exactly where i slept & what i ate during this time, you can check out my blog or buy this book entitled "where i slept & what i ate"
i spent a lot of time at the library working on my website. and i spent a week in an uncommonly human romance with a boy who was in a similar situation.
this was to prove to myself that i didn't need money to survive. having had my sanity questioned for precisely this reason two years earlier, it felt good to know that if the time came that i needed to live without money, it was possible and i could do it.