These days, everyone wants to be a brand. An entrepreneur. A “self-made” individual. But where does this desire come from?
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.
As these ideas continue to be shaped and amplified by increasingly precarious economic conditions, this project asks:
- How is a self made?
- What kinds of subjectivities are being produced by the sharing economy?
- What does artistic practice like look 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”?
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.
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.
I. Making 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 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.
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.
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.
Living Room Light Exchange, Oakland, CA
Art Basel Edition, Miami, FL
Seminar, Rotterdam, NL
A1 Lab Arts, Knoxville, TN
B4BELAB, Oakland, CA
B4BELAB, Oakland, CA
Participants filling out surveys
I. Making You
II. Survey Results: Data Viz
Distribution of interest in making yourself better
Distribution of interest in making yourself a brand
Distribution of interest in making yourself a corporation
Do you have a body?
Have you ever commissioned work?
Have you ever been a commissioning body?
Q: Do you consider yourself…? [check all that apply]
Q: What is your current relationship to the sharing economy? [check all that apply]
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]
Q: What is something you’ve done for money (legal or illegal) that you would never list on your resume or CV? Do you see yourself having to do more of this type of work in the future to get by?
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?
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?
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?
A: Create a revolution. Storm Silicon Valley. Take Mark Zuckerberg hostage.
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.
Drawings of the Sharing Economy from citizens of Oakland, The Luminary, St. Louis, MO
OR 6+ AWESOME THINGS THAT HAPPENED BECAUSE OF THIS PROJECT
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
A workshop, How to Make Yourself Into a Commissioning Body in 5 Easy Steps, commissioned by Transmediale
A net art commission, They Paid Me to Give You a Tour of the Internet, featuring Voiceoverpete, commissioned by Temporary Art Review
An e-book, The Future of Work, commissioned by V2_ Lab for the Unstable Media
International screenings and exhibitions in Oakland, Los Angeles, Miami, St. Louis, Knoxville, New York, Canada, Serbia, The Netherlands, Australia, and beyond.
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