We live in days where the stretches of time between desperately horrific events seems to shrink by the day and where spikes in horror are only matched by spikes in absurdity. As I write, still fresh in the mind are the murders of police officers in Dallas, USA by a former soldier, who was then in turn killed by a police controlled robot. In the last hour, an unnamed person drove a bus at speed at a large group of people in Nice, France, killing at least seventy. The sense that the madness is constant is amplified by the ways in which we learn of, and digest events. The internet allows us to receive and send out a huge variety of information about any given event as it happens, thus creating a hugely confusing multi-narrative mess which is in equal parts news and entertainment.
As a personal response to our world, my final year degree work has been based around a fictional social media company, Eko. Originally conceived as a means by which I could make comment on the implications of mass data collection and how opinions are voiced online, the project has grown in ways which mean it can easily fit into many different narratives. The Eko project has, loosely, been an object in creating a series of photographic portraits, but it has also allowed me to make comment on Maori/Pakeha relations, and also gender issues through the company’s products which allow users to gain access to anyones’ online footprint, and then filter it so that it fits users’ requirements. Need a date? Use the love filter. Need to make sure your Maori friends won’t raise troubling issues? Use the understanding filter. The company trades in the superficial and unpleasant, reflecting the times we live in where online abuse is common, and where tech companies use their products to turn users into who they need us to be.
Eko company employees / self portraits.
Eko promotional material
To fulfil course requirements, my work this year needed my work to be seen in a space open to the public. I chose to show my work in a private residence, with all work falling under the concept of the Eko company launch. In this respect, there are immediately two narratives in play, between which I was free to move throughout the evening. A degree of confusion resulted heightened by the fact that a number of people were acting and stayed in role. Part of the evening were the company CEO who made a speech and left in a hurry, members of the public who improved the work on show by defacing it, and bubbly company employees handing out rather tardy promotional items.
My hopes for the evening were to create the feeling I get when I open up my computer and am blasted by a range of horrifying and shape shifting information, so that the evening would be as if the world online with its multiple angles and justifications was spilling out and bleeding into the physical world in a way which is becoming commonplace. Below are some of my early visual responses to the evening. As lines blur between news and entertainment, it becomes possible to blend images and text from multiple sources to produce one image. So below I use text from recent news sources with images from the night.
Eko over and out.