Date of Submission

Spring 2012

Academic Program

Studio Arts

Project Advisor 1

Kenji Fujita

Abstract/Artist's Statement

In “parent”, as in broader culture, branded and non-branded imagery are in a state of collision. Brand names and logos (means/object) have replaced direct representation (ends/image) as universal human symbols of origin and forward direction. That is, desire for what the past was and desire for what the future will be. Representation has devolved into clichés, images that lose their meaning as they become ubiquitous. Branded imagery, however, gains power from ubiquity. Yet present day marketing strategies often employ clichéd imagery of nature, such as jungles, canyons or beaches, to sell the consumer on the literal and metaphorical ‘clarity’ or ‘purity’ of the product. And today more than ever branded products reflect on the status, desires and interests of their consumers. Public consumption of such items tell a wordless story to those around us about who we are. “Habitat” and “Scrolls” play with this emergent behavior in contemporary image ecology. “Habitat” is made of objects and “Scrolls” from images, yet their project is to confuse the boundaries between these categories. Objects pose not in their capacity to function but in their capacity to represent the anxieties of the culture that produces and consumes them. They are anxious artifacts. Consumer items cannot be consumed. Tools are paralyzed by their potential. Containers contain nothing. This piece is presented in a shopping aisle/museum hybrid to highlight the troublesome prehistoricization inherent in observing these objects detached from their cultural usage. In “Scrolls” images with specific symbolic meaning (butterfly: change; ladder: upward mobility) articulate a brand message demystifying the human experience. The cultural value of babies is flattened onto the same plane as oil, coal or natural gas. Onto babies are projected a society’s anxiety about its future. Babies are society’s most important base resource. By tying together image narratives of babies and resources, culturally distinct ideas such as maternity, ownership, possession and responsibility are muddled. The personal, political, technological and biological are compacted. For what really is the difference? Human reason leads us to create these distinctions. (Human reason is fallable.) So both “Habitat” and “Scrolls” were created through a simulation of bot logic: the algorithmic reasoning on the crest of the uncanny valley that controls our search results (what exists is what is queried), our pan-net ad solicitations and the automation of rapid stock trading in financial markets. The human seeking happiness is at odds with the human whose sole biological function is to replicate its genes (or memes). The logic at hand seeks not a reconciliation but a reminder of origin and questioning of forward direction.

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