LIKE US TO LEARN MORE
LIKE US TO LEARN MORE (2012-16) addresses the mundane underside of social media identity formation, desire, and consumerism. It comes out of my longstanding fascination with branding and the visual noise of everyday life.
On Facebook, we are entreated to “like” everything we come across. Through this act of liking is supposed to emerge a kind of essential knowledge—about what exactly remains vague. The project title comes from the endlessly repeated phrase “Like us to learn more!” seen on much of Facebook’s advertising.
Cascading down the right side of every Facebook page, as displayed on a desktop computer, are multiple tiny glittering images accompanied by short bursts of ad copy. These little fragments of noise competing for attention haunted me despite their ubiquity. On one hand, they’re total noise—easily ignored static similar to putting the TV on a low blue hum while sleeping. Obversely, the ad images can shift to being sharply visible, like a song that gets stuck one’s head, or like an infestation of pests that suddenly appears. Where do they come from? Why are they following me? How do I get rid of them?
The process for making LIKE US TO LEARN MORE were simple. For the duration two years, as a Facebook user, I denied my “self”. I liked every brand page, every fan page, every product that appeared on screen. Furthermore, instead of posting my own content, I copied and pasted updates from the brand pages that inundated my homepage feed. The photographs I posted were mostly comedic viral photographs, found stock or brand images. Any time someone liked or interacted with the re-hashed content, I recorded a screen capture. From each screen capture, I copied and pasted the advertising images onto a blank PSD document into organized grids. The 8 x 10 inch document mimics the perfect proportions of the ideal photographic format, while evoking the pages of a book or magazine. From there, the collaged pages are collected into a series of looped animated gifs containing 50 frames each.
The ad images are separated from their originally partnered anchoring text. This strategy splits apart the intended ad copy meaning, thus frustrating immediate, gut-level understanding. Thus, these divorced ad images float freer while defying transparency. Recognizable trademarks and celebrity faces coincide with vernacular ads for local businesses. Added to the chaos are depictions of political and religious ideologies, from the vulgar to the obviously hateful. Many images obsessively repeat themselves then suddenly disappear.
LIKE US TO LEARN MORE considers the absurd dual act of creation/consumption from three sides: the artist, the advertising algorithm and the screen-illuminated consumer. It’s a record of an aggregated portrait made up of the high and low of digital social culture without hierarchy. The feedback loop frustrates and questions the promise of accruing knowledge and identity formation. What does it mean to like everything, and is refusal even an option?