On Obsessive Consumption

What do you do if you’re an artist deluged by consumer imagery in a society obsessed with money, goods and the like? If you’re Kate Bingaman, you work with it. You make art out of it. You have fun with it.
Wear Kate’s debt!
Here’s a take from her Artist Statement:

People identify themselves with objects. We as a society participate with signs and a network of signs and not with each other. It is our interactions that are displaced and suppressed. You don’t just buy a product. You buy into the mindset that is sold with it.
Post modern theorist Jean Baudrillard believed that consumption is not a “passive process of absorption and appropriation, but that consumption is an active form of relationship, a mode of systematic activity and global response which founds our entire cultural system.” He argues that everyday life has ceased to be a subject rich in subjectivity: it has become an object of social organization. Individuals have less control in self-realization and adopt market categories to describe themselves (object) as a member of the Pepsi generation, or some other brand club.
I am moved by the “life as art” philosophy of the Situationists. The Situationists were mostly European students in the late 1960’s who believed that modern society had lost its spontaneity and had become passive. They believed in procrastination as a revolutionary method, urging people to never risk dying of boredom. To fight away the sense of emptiness forced by the invasion of images and over consumption that were devouring their culture, they created special conditions – “situations” – invented to fend off their own bourgeois impulses.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.