USER_A: THE SITUATIONAL SUPER-EGO a.k.a THE SITUATION
The truth is that only those who feel comfortable with egotism, in the meaning of an ecstatic contemplation of themselves, can survive and succeed in an ubiquitous presence regime. It means that there is in the world a specific type of human being who is capable of sustaining his situational presence within a ubiquitous condition, which is an elementary fundament of what we have been calling social network.
This (wo)man takes advantage of his presence to expand his (own) natural attributes beyond physical definitions and limitations, he is the brainchild of digital super ego’s birth. His identity becomes more and more articulated in terms of data (in the form of numbers, letters, words, sentences, and so on), which are immediately translated in real life, in a sort of Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus ex-machina creation, to empower those natural features that are proper to an individual.
Through their activity, networked persona shape their identity, contextually with the perception the others have of them; they are able to fit the social network structure in a double position, being at the same time prolific users and producers (as influencers, data catalysts, celebrities and so on), using the contents they share both to stimulate interest towards themselves, and to delineate what kind of character they are, in the real and digital realm. Audience legitimates authority, and so user becomes producer. This user phenotype transforms in real life, the impacts generated by his presence online.
Everywhere. Maximising his situational power.
Constant Dullaart’s High Retention, Slow Delivery is a work that disrupts hierarchical ordination in the art system by the distribution of fake instagram followers to several accounts among the art world, such as John Rafman, Marina Abramovich and Jerry Saltz. Through his performative act, the artist investigates the mechanism that addresses value to intangible assets as follows and likes, demonstrating how much digital super ego influences real life identity.
USER_B: THE VANISHING VOYEUR a.k.a THE SMOKER
Once in a while, a man wakes up, gets a coffee, tells everybody he needs cigarettes, and the probability for him to set foot back on his home’s neighbourhood wavers between 0 and 0.001%. The reasons lying under this man’s choice could be as many as the reasons to stay, but individuality at the end, as you may know, always reflects individual needs, and will always fulfil them, in one way or another.
Once upon a while, a man wakes up, gets a coffee, posts last Bowie’s single, then quits Facebook; vanishing out of a blurry nebula. No more friends, no more likes, no more tweets. Individuality.
The user-phenotype we are outlining reflects the impulses generated through social networked interactions, but he never participates during the creation process, neither in the starting phase, nor in the aftermath. He is clutched to his primal need of transparency, dominated by the ultimate willingness not to show his identity, without revealing any kind of details, absorbing the stream in a sort of digital nomadic behaviour.
He is directly opposed to the User_A. He is anxious about situational power issues and dynamics. In this sense, we could argue he is specious for the User_A, because he is crowd, public, audience.
His inability to reach and further sustain public acknowledgment, makes User_B a psycho-dramatic character; a vanishing entity, erratically elusive as aesthetically hedonist when it comes to his unique post on his diary during the year reaching some likes.
As Ant Hamlyn reflects with his The Boost Project 2015, surviving in a social networked structure becomes harsh for those who do not seek for recognition, being themselves totally outside of any kind of interaction in a digital regime. The installation consists of an inflating orb, which emulates the acceptance and self worth we can feel after receiving ‘likes’ on our posts or pictures online. Each time the orb is followed (@boostfact), liked on Facebook, or hash-tagged via instagram or twitter #theboostproject, it gradually increases in size until it reaches its peak. If ignored it begins to subtly deflate over time, and fade into the background of our lives. Those men, the orb, the User_B; they are all experiments of structural inconsistency of the networked presence.
USER_C: THE RHETORICAL CLOUD a.k.a THE BRAND
Social network structure has been experiencing a deep twisting since brands started interacting in the form of social network generic users. That is tremendously obvious.
The interesting cuff lays in the situation in which a brand appropriates the language man uses in digital context, acting online as a human entity.
Online, The Brand can post, repost, follow, unfollow, like, comment, hashtag just as its human friend. They are on the same level. Through an highly rhetorical approach in communication, The Brand continuously delivers its rambling message producing generically tolerated contents, expanding its presence playing the game of prosaic memes and gifs.
They call it marketing. Through her video series Commercials (It’s not possible, it’s real), Cecile B. Evans explores the implications of brands’ activity on social network, portraying a condition in which everything is mediated by consumerism, shaped by advertising, and piously devoted to the standardisation of culture.
The artist investigates a reality dominated by commodities, and connotes them as symbols of the failure of positivism brought by online pop culture. Objects are tools to demystify illusions and fake expectations instigated by contemporary methods of production and consumption, and for this reason they become the subject of aesthetical divertissement and ironical fetishism. Brand is a cloud. Your cloud.
Our current exhibition Follow is open until 21 February, and entrance is free.