Auto Italia was invited by curator Robin Lynch to present My Skin Is At War With A World of Data as part of the group exhibition Incorporate Me at CCS Bard alongside Bernadette Corporation, Maja Cule, Mika Tajima, New Humans, and Artie Vierkant.
The light wave of most technical gadgets like computers, smartphones, and iPads, is enough to stimulate the brain to remain awake past the point of exhaustion. However, the almost needy reliance upon these machines as points of access to work, play, and social life keeps an increasing majority of people clicking, stroking, and gazing at the blue LED light of screens until the moment they finally close their eyes to sleep. The simultaneously stimulating and exhausting effects of this cycle encapsulate the double bind that communications technology entraps its users within. It allures with the promise of more productivity, and a greater wealth of avenues to connect with life. Yet it also builds and enforces a bridge, allowing that which eats up the time and attention to utilize the full potential promised by tech corporations like Apple. These corporations, have built much of their advertising campaigns and brand identities on appeals to ideals of creativity and self-exploration. The tug on individual autonomy, personalization, and creative innovation are particular mentalities attached to Web 2.0 and communications technology.
Digital environments produce highly personalized and familiar experiences, conditioned by individual interests and connections, but also by the platform’s interests that seek to maintain attention. All aspects of the self are exposed for incorporation into the private entities that maintain the infrastructure of technological devices, driven by the users themselves, as they navigate this network. In this way a data portrait portrays not only the individual, but also a conglomeration of other voices, relationships, people, and entities. This tension between hyper-individualism and continuous contact propels a necessity to self-examine, self-represent, self-market, and self-preserve, bringing about paranoid impulses to maximize yourself, and be the best possible you.
Analyzed through the lens of its corporate interests, Web 2.0 becomes a medium for the further collapse of time between work and life, and the incorporation of individual subjecthood for the sake of market productivity. The increasing need for self-representation of one’s own livelihood, coupled with the rise of “prosumers” and do-it-yourself initiatives, points to the internalization of a corporate mentality in everyday users seeking ways to be included. Together the private and individual needs feed off of one another, co-opting bits of each other’s strategies, networks, and resources in order to bolster their own experience, capital, reach, and representation.
The tumultuous and rapid exchange of information, data, messages, tabs, ads, websites, links, likes, and new applications obscures and confuses the numbers of entities involved, who is co-opting whom, and the inherent biases and interests which condition these movements. Here, ownership becomes an ambiguous and slippery term, as a constant struggle of co-optation, incorporation, autonomy, and contractual clauses compete and confound one another. The increasingly large number of entities involved in this interaction vying to carve out their own space and representation contribute to the creation of an invasive attention economy.
Incorporate Me brings together works that investigate the tensions, complex hierarchies, and strategies involved in these networked economies, bringing to light both the benefits and constrictions of operating in a continuously connected environment.