Collabs is an exhibition comprised of projects and studies exploring the post-digital human form under late capitalism through app development, photo-installation, sculpture and video. Corp-personal synergy and #apptivism are some of the main subjects surrounding this body of work.
Lately I've been thinking a lot about the distances and relationships between aesthetic manifestations and formal realities under late capitalism, and how the ideas of which Marc Fisher speaks of in Capitalist Realism are becoming more and more like Total Reality: Expanded capitalism that (in)forms gestures, interactions, movements —and even our deepest contradictions.
For many, our allegiance to Supreme, Apple, or Nike, has no relation with the real practices of capitalism that manifest themselves in the form of gentrification, human exploitation, war, and affections to ecosystems (social and natural). This distance is cushioned by the comfort of the screen: The car that picks me up with the hit of a button or the shoes delivered to my door appear (with no apparent repercussions) as phantasmagorical accessories to real life, which is almost directly experienced via our mobile devices. These predicaments are not new, they just have expanded to the point of flattening collapse: Marx portrays them as the fetishization of the merchandise, the anti-globalization movement in the 90s addressed them in a process of self-criticism and reflection, and Fisher (and another authors, such as Zizek) see them as integral part of capitalism: a closed loop.
Now, post-capitalism feels much like post-apocalypticism: It is taken for granted that we were already condemned, that there was never an exit. Total collapse This affects our communications, our gestures and our expectations.
Within this context I started considering the concept of Collabs, the contemporary practice in which artists associate themselves with a brand and interchange coolness value between them. But most of all, it made me think about how implicated we all are in all this, how that monster called capitalism is our greatest collab.
I also felt a general interest in the human figure within this new post-capitalist / post-digital context —its anonymity and post-personal attributes— and how it becomes diffused as data and digital (or digitized) image. That is why animations and abstractions are the main subject of this body of work in which the person is absent but where there is a strong emphasized in the figure.
The works that I propose are then some unrequested commissions I do in parallel with brands in a real and fictional way at the same time. Products, campaigns or absurd services that could easily be collabs. Or not.
LIST OF WORKS
The Snapp is a mobile-phone application that translates the gesture of finger-snapping into a digital tool. As social media creates a need for constant feedback and response, the physical gesture of snapping has become an offline community ritual among many emerging social circuits. By capturing its essence into a mobile app and digitizing the gesture into a 3D emoji animation, The Snapp questions the rise of #apptivism, a late-capitalist condition in which robotized and outsourced services of resistance are provided by the very systems of control that govern and survey most human interaction. (Click on image for download)
While researching Buddhism for my Nirvana project, I came across a famous Koan (zen meditation puzzle) that asks "What is the sound of one hand clapping? / How do you clap with one hand?" The silly/("western"?) answer would be "finger-snap!". I wanted to be more absurd and answer back with "How do you snap with one finger? Now there's an app for that!" This article from the NYT titled "Why Snapping Is The New Clapping?" is really interesting, its tagline reads "Because you can't applaud when taking a selfie or texting." This app obstructs that dynamic as well. With The Snapp, you CAN"T take a selfie or text. Your whole device power is used for snapping.
The way the piece is presented in the space is by placing a real-life sized billboard into the gallery wall. This billboard depicts raised "fists" holding Apple devices with raised fist emojis in them. The print is stylized as an Apple "Shot on iPhone" billboard.
Air is a kinetic sculpture in the form of a round t-shirt rack in which an animation is articulated by motorized rotation. The animation depicts the Air Jordan logo, no basketball in hand but with a raised fist going up and down. I find the ideological loop of the Jordan brand to be quite interesting: A brand that has decidedly kept itself out of politics, but in turn is also embraced by activist communities while its products are still being produced under the most savage of capitalist conditions.
CHALLENGES AND COSTS
Printing of the billboard photograph
Materials and construction of the billboard support structure, including lights
Printing of cards with QR codes for app
Rental of phones for display of the app
One-of-a-kind t-shirt printing (16 units)
One clothing rack
Electrical hacking of the clothing rack for motorized rotation
Materials and construction of a store-like table for the app demo