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99 Cent, Andreas Gursky

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Hong Kong Stock Exchange II, Andreas Gursky

How does mass media dominate our authentic personal experience and understanding of self? This week I had the opportunity to visit the Broad where many of Gursky’s works were on display. His artwork resonated strongly with our discussions of commodity fetishism and the corporate oligarchy that makes the “consumer the consumed” and manipulates our daily decisions in the market economy.

I thoroughly enjoyed watching the clip “Television Delivers People” and it made me think about how our sources of information and news are delivered through a digitized system of control. Our news coverage is constantly interrupted with advertisements telling us what to buy, and what we need to have – or commodity fetishism as Marx coins this concept. I think our emphasis on material goods that we believe have intrinsic value has sparked many campaigns I have seen in media for a return to authenticity, and the “true self”. One example in which this has manifested itself is through the rise of thrifting over fast fashion retailers to reduce our footprint. In spite of our efforts to reclaim the past, I believe mass media still has masked or distorted our true identities and desires. In our highly digitized world, we all are subject to the corporate oligarchy defining our actions in a consumerist centered society.

How can we reclaim our identity? I am not entirely sure, but one thing I am trying this year is breaking my consumerist habits and trying to represent my true self on my social media accounts. Julian Baggini has an interesting Ted Talk about finding, or rather, creating your true self through a collection of your everyday experiences.

*Title is a reference to All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace. Would highly recommend you watch as it explores our interconnected relationships with information technology and computers.

From Week 4: Dada and Situationist Theory


One response »

  1. kristenhong says:

    At the end of the day we really don’t know the sources of information. Is the government assuming the role of “big brother” and controlling what we see and hear? Are they manipulating our decisions and the way we think?

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