A Day in the Life of a Consumer (2020)

Microsoft Sam, a video essayist/compilator with a YouTube channel of 2190 subscribers, provides an apt update/Corona version of Harun Farocki’s A Day in the Life of a Consumer (1993). The result of an intense search through corporate advertisements (car industry, telecommunications, delivery services, etc.) of the first half of April, the excerpts used in the 3:41 minutes video (uploaded on April 15) are organized around visual terms and conceptual tropes such as “people,” “family,” “home,” “today, more than ever,” “in these times of uncertainty,” “unprecedented times,” “together”, etc. Edited to become a dizzying rhythmanalysis of “the moment,” the main impression entailed here is one of a perplexing sameness in the corporations and their ad agencies’ response to the crisis. As Microsoft Sam rightly comments: “Corporate Covid-19 response videos are eerily similar. […] In reality, many companies have found themselves short on cash, almost overnight. They needed to get a message out – and quick. They asked their teams to throw something together. Since they can’t film a new ad because of social distancing, they compiled old stock b-roll footage and found the most inoffensive royalty-free piano track they could find. This, combined with a decade of marketing trends dictated by focus groups and design-by-committee, released a tsunami of derivative, cliche ads all within a week of one another. It’s not a conspiracy – but perhaps a sign that it’s time for something new.” TH/VP

 

 

April 27th, 2020, 02 / Rosa Mercedes
Interface

Sara Ahmed on the perfomativity of disgust (from The Cultural Politics of Emotion, 2004): “To name something as disgusting is to transfer the stickiness of the word ‘disgust’ to an object, which henceforth becomes generated as the very thing that is spoken. The relationship between the stickiness of the sign and the stickiness of the object is crucial to the performativity of disgust as well as the apparent resistance of disgust reactions to ‘newness’ in terms of the generation of different kinds of objects. The object that is generated as a disgusting (bad) object through the speech act comes to stick. It becomes sticky and acquires a fetish quality, which then engenders its own effects.”

November 7th, 2020, Tom

David Graeber (1961-2020) on What Would It Take (from his The Democracy Project. A History, a Crisis, a Movement, 2013, p. 193): “We have little idea what sort of organizations, or for that matter, technologies, would emerge if free people were unfettered to use their imagination to actually solve collective problems rather than to make them worse. But the primary question is: how do we even get there? What would it take to allow our political and economic systems to become a mode of collective problem solving rather than, as they are now, a mode of collective war?”

September 7th, 2020, Tom

T.J. Demos on why cultural practitioners should never surrender, via tranzit.sk:  “For artists, writers, and curators, as art historians and teachers, the meaning-production of an artwork is never finished, never fully appropriated and coopted, in my view, and we should never surrender it; the battle over significance is ongoing. We see that battle rise up in relation to racist and colonial monuments these days in the US, the UK, and South Africa. While the destruction of such monuments results from and is enabling of radical politics, it’s still not enough until the larger institutions that support and maintain their existence as well as the continuation of the politics they represent are also torn down. This is urgent as well in the cultural sphere, including the arts institutions, universities, art markets, discursive sphere of magazines and journals, all in thrall to neoliberalism, where we must recognize that it’s ultimately inadequate to simply inject critical or radical content into these frameworks, which we know excel at incorporating those anti-extractivist expressions into further forms of cultural capital and wealth accumulation. What’s required is more of the building of nonprofit and community-based institutions, organizing radical political horizons and solidarity between social formations.”

August 21st, 2020, Tom
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