Making You

Promotional video, durational performance, and market research study by and for art collective, Anxious to Make. The video circulates on and offline, from landing pages to galleries, from living rooms to international media art festivals. Screenings are typically accompanied by a survey in a focus group style setting.

PROBLEM

What kinds of subjectivities are produced by the sharing economy? What does artistic practice look like as we move into this new economy and phase of global capitalism where the social­-political subject turned “entrepreneur of the self” is now being augmented into a “portfolio manager of the self”?

SCOPE

Neoliberalism, as a biopolitical project, tells us that as individuals, we must remake ourselves in the image of the market economy; that our ability to relate to others transactionally is at the heart of what it means to be human; and that the entrepreneur is the archetype for the type of human being we should all strive to become.

Working under the umbrella of art collective, Anxious to Make, our team developed Making You as a promotional marketing video, durational performance, market research study, and entry point for unpacking the neoliberal subject.

The project targets a new generation of artist-entrepreneurs and precarious workers, delivering an experience that makes taking the first step towards understanding, resisting and/or embodying this new creative archetype easy and fun.

ROLE

Creative Director, Producer/Editor, Writer, Artist as Marketer

Team comprised of one other person, Liat Berdugo, who collaborated on writing surveys, facilitating focus groups, curating results, and leading all aspects of publication design for subsequent projects.

PROCESS

I. Making Making You

Voiceoverpete performing the intro for Making You

Making You takes the form of a 30 second promotional video, and stretches it out into a 7+ minute repetative mantra about how to make yourself.

The Google Suggest API was used to generate most of the script – a list of common anxieties auto-derived by the phrase “How to make yourself ____”.

google search for how to make yourself blank

Google Suggest, suggesting

Voiceoverpete, whose top selling gig on Fiverr.com is titled, “I will be your American male website spokesperson” was cast to play the role of the self-made entrepreneur. Through Fiverr, he received a script, direction, and moral support.

order on Fiverr with Voiceover Pete

Correspondence with Voiceoverpete on Fiverr.com

Over 10,000 individual images were manually aggregated, curated and sequenced in post-production:

I will never do this again.

II. Watching Making You and filling out surveys

After watching the video, people fill out surveys.

These surveys are written collaboratively, and usually include a mix of questions about art, labor, sharing, and the future of work – along with some thought experiments and drawing exercises.

pile of surveys

The survey v1.0

Surveys are conducted online, in art galleries, artist’s studios, living rooms, undergraduate lecture halls, and grad school seminars; and include contributions from sharing economy workers, Mturkers, artists, students, educators, gallery goers, arts administrators, and more.

a group of people filling out surveys in Oakland, CA

Living Room Light Exchange, Oakland, CA

a group of people filling out surveys in Miami, FL

Art Basel Edition, Miami, FL

a group of people filling out surveys in Rotterdam, NL

Seminar, Rotterdam, NL

one person filling out surveys in Knoxville, TN

A1 Lab Arts, Knoxville, TN

two people filling out surveys in Oakland, CA

B4BELAB, Oakland, CA

two people filling out surveys in Oakland, CA

B4BELAB, Oakland, CA

close up up clipboards with surveys

Participants filling out surveys

OUTCOME

I. Making You

II. Survey Results: Data Viz

graph showing interest in making yourself better

Distribution of interest in making yourself better

graph showing interest in making yourself a brand

Distribution of interest in making yourself a brand

graph showing interest in making yourself a coporation

Distribution of interest in making yourself a corporation

pink pie chart, 92% answer yes

Do you have a body?

pink pie chart, 72% answer yes

Have you ever commissioned work?

pink pie chart, 50% answer yes

Have you ever been a commissioning body?

i want to learn how to make myself a living wage

Q: Do you consider yourself…? [check all that apply]

graph showing how people identify with their labor

Q: What is your current relationship to the sharing economy? [check all that apply]

graph showing how people identify with the sharing economy

Q: We are moving towards a future in which an increasing number of people will be economically insecure, because outsourcing, automation, austerity, resource scarcity, etc. What do you predict the future of “democratic” societies will look like by 2050? [check all that apply]

graph showing how people see the future of democracy

scrawled list of answers

III. Survey Results: Thought Experiments

Q: If you had access to a fleet of Uber drivers for one hour, and their cars, what would you do?

drawing of stick figure Uber drivers sleeping on top of their cars

A: Tell them to park and take a nap. They really don't need to be driving around anymore.

Q: If you had access to a fleet of Uber drivers and three Task Rabbiters for one hour, what would you do?

drawing of stick figure sharing economy workers napping together on a couch

A: Tell them to park, or park selves on couch, and nap. All of them, napping. No driving or rabbiting.

Q: If you had access to all the resources in the sharing economy, what would you do? What would you make?

close up of completed survey

A: Create a revolution. Storm Silicon Valley. Take Mark Zuckerberg hostage.

illustrations from survey results in LRLE Publication One

Thought experiments, illustrated by Tara Shi, published in Living Room Light Exchange, Publication One

IV. Survey Results: Drawings of the Sharing Economy from citizens of Oakland, CA

Q: Please draw a picture of the “sharing economy”. Include your role or involvement in it, if relevant.

drawing of a giant foot labeled, "shared economy", stepping on a tiny ant-sized person drawing showing how being late to work means a win for Lyft vs public transportation drawing of disgrunted looking workers and people holding smartphones. everyone looks terrible, except one little girl with stars in her eyes and a heart over her head drawing of man in a suit saying, "there aren't enough hours in the day", and workers saying "there aren't enough jobs in the day", with a stream of dollars floating between then drawing of four people seated next to each other with bags of popcorn on their laps, each person reaching into their neighbor's bag of popcorn drawing of a squiggly line with the caption, "let me out of here, you don't know where you're going" drawing showing the relationship between free will, energy, money, and a reluctant paticipant drawing of a spiral of isolated waves and isolated consumers who feel no accountability to the workers because they will never see them again

several drawings framed on wall of gallery

Drawings of the Sharing Economy from citizens of Oakland, The Luminary, St. Louis, MO

SUCCESS METRICS

OR 6+ AWESOME THINGS THAT HAPPENED BECAUSE OF THIS PROJECT

  1. A podcast interview, Epistemic Unruliness no.4 – Interview with Emily Martinez and Liat Berdugo on Art, Neoliberal Subjectivity and the Sharing Economy, Always Already Podcast

  2. A workshop, How to Make Yourself Into a Commissioning Body in 5 Easy Steps, commissioned by Transmediale

  3. A net art commission, They Paid Me to Give You a Tour of the Internet, featuring Voiceoverpete, commissioned by Temporary Art Review

  4. An e-book, The Future of Work, commissioned by V2_ Lab for the Unstable Media

  5. International screenings and exhibitions in Oakland, Los Angeles, Miami, St. Louis, Knoxville, New York, Canada, Serbia, The Netherlands, Australia, and beyond.

  6. Mutual testimonial

five star testimonial by Voiceoverpete on Fiverr

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Thank you to Living Room Light Exchange for providing the testing ground for this project.

Thank you to B4BEL4B and our participants for the healthy dose of skepticism and many thoughtful contributions!

CREDITS: ANXIOUS TO MAKE IS THE COLLABORATIVE PRACTICE OF LIAT BERDUGO + EMILY MARTINEZ