Lucy Chinen, Matthew Doyle and Yuehao Jiang, Yoshua Okon, Ada Sokol, Ryan Trecartin, Whitney Vangrin
Curated by Courtney Malick
224 W. 8th St., Los Angeles
May 20 - July 16, 2016
A direct byproduct of the power of our current, Information-based economy has increasingly become the dissipation of concrete divisions between cultural, economic, scientific, political and aesthetic fields that in the past proved beneficial. With the confluence of so many aspects of life and business converging in what seems now to be the natural habitat of the internet and its many hand-held outlets, cross-breeding for capital is rampant. We see the outcome of such hybridization in the strategic blending of previously unrelated industries turned reciprocative bedfellows. Through their partnerships, a familiar kind of sharing is formed, which resembles the ways that online culture has shifted through the incessancy of social media in the last five years. Instead of sharing personal information and events, these unusual couplings now feed off of consumer data and profits alike.
This digital melting pot in which most of us now occupy significant time and “space,” is, regardless of its vastness and its fluctuating regulatory constructs, nonetheless a very personal space. It provides the framework within which many of our most intimate conversations, thoughts and observations unfold – held forever in an endless database like an ancient insect preserved in amber. It is through these intimate online excursions that we also find the means by which to access not only information that is sensitive or elicit, but also acquire goods of practically any sort, including those available nowhere else. We give up a lot of privacy in order to indulge in such convenience, and by way of such automated relinquishing, we supply a great deal of information to the larger, corporate entitles that exist online via the same capacities as private, individuals – information that is not only logistical, but emotional and psychological.
The onslaught of such astounding amounts of personal information flooding the internet is in perfect alignment with the shift from our previous service-economy to our now information-turned-attention-economy. Unsuspecting partnerships forming therein, such as that between specialists in neuroscience and marketing, spawning the burgeoning field of neuromarketing, which brings neurological research and findings to branding and advertising in order to hone powerful preemptive marketing strategies. Such neurological data reveals how desires are formed, triggered and fueled, and how the mind is drawn to certain combinations of imagery language in relation to the brain’s pleasure center. This information is utilized to optimally predetermine the thought patterns of consumers. The end goal being to understand such mental instincts so accurately that marketing will become an entirely preemptive mode of both presentation and representation, through which the promotion of products, and the larger concepts to which they are tied, will appear to be specifically tailored to individuals, but in fact create only the illusion of autonomous choices and decision-making.
The Pleasure Principle takes the retail context of the busy area of DTLA and the façade of FARAGO, with its three adjacent storefront spaces whose exteriors are made up entirely of transparent glass – quite the antithesis of the insulated white cube -- as an integral component of its project. In its unique position of often only allowing viewers to access exhibitions through its windows rather than entering the space, FARAGO’s physical structure becomes an invisible but participatory threshold that is further utilized by sound works that run through transducer vibrating speakers that turn the windows into speakers themselves, which play sound works based on the artists' social media ad preference settings. The Pleasure Principle also makes use of one of the adjacent city newspaper dispensers to present and distribute a research-based text on neuromarketing by Ada Sokol that accompanies the exhibition and serves as its conceptual backbone.
The Pleasure Principle calls to mind one of Freud’s most renowned theorems and its essential manipulation for propaganda strategies by the “father of public relations,” and nephew of the psychoanalyst, Edward Bernays. The exhibition presents works that focus on a number of ways that the ideals of neuromarketing are already infiltrating everyday life and culture, such as the interiors and exteriors of fast food, with a video installation by Yoshua Okon; cognitive capitalism and new experiments with the effects of nootropics on behavior, with a tablet presentation and window display installation by Lucy Chinen; the ways that corporate brands can be grafted onto individual identities, with digital prints from his 2015 Animation Companion series by Ryan Trecartin; the distortion of advertising inherent to the labyrinthine nature of the internet and its overlaps with television, with a sound installation by Matt Doyle in collaboration with Yuehao Jiang; and discrepancies between public-facing, airbrushed representations of the female body and the inward-facing realities of aging, with plushy and delicate sculptures that recall the memorable fragility of Alina Szapocznikow, by Whitney Vangrin.
The Pleasure Principle, 2016
FARAGO, Los Angeles
street installation view (full)