creatures of commerce
As a self-admitted media junkie, I feel compelled to stay on top of the latest—be it plea deals among Trump campaign officials, the latest revisionist history by Ye, or the ongoing debate about coconut oil (miraculous cure-all or ‘pure poison’?). Life today feels like a fever dream of real-time news dispatches and Instagrammable moments: on the one hand, events that threaten to topple the pillars of democracy, and on the other, art directed lifestyle imagery intended to scratch our most capitalist urges. The juxtaposition of the two is both disorienting and disconcerting.
And yet the same forces that propelled Donald Trump into office are the same forces that encouraged 21-year-old billionaire Kylie Jenner to remove her lip fillers once immortalized as the cover woman of Forbes magazine. Today the qualities we revere the most are celebrity and wealth — alongside a media savvy that only serves to reinforce the former. To the victor go the spoils; the more ostentatiously they’re displayed, the better.
In The Shopmodern Condition, design theorist Linda Rampell warns of Designdarwinism™, the constant improvement of one’s self through the consumption of imagery, and how the anxieties of being outclassed has made navigating today’s culture a life-and-death struggle. We click and consume, tapping into a primordial part of our brains, convincing us that to go without is somehow akin to starvation.
Creatures of Commerce is a direct response to the discordant nature of 2018. It’s a series of chimeras mashing up creatures, culture, and capitalism. And while I’ve never before been one to indulge my surrealist impulses (it somehow feels like a slippery slope to nihilism), reality is doing a good job of inspiring them these days anyway. I surrender.