As consumerism has become the most powerful value system in late- capitalist culture--our contemporary religion, in a sense--certain key questions arise: how do we separate what we want from what the mass media wants to sell us; and, once we figure out what we really want, how do we act as responsible agents in consumer society.
Livesystems.net is Marni Kotak's answer to these questions.
Through Livesystems.net, Kotak challenges the astonishing power of mass media to captivate the desire of individuals and direct it towards the purchase of commercial products. Kotak, taking charge of her own role as an agent of consumer culture, utilizes the mass medium of the Internet to advertise her experiencing her own desires independent of any clear connection to commercial products; she then sells these documentations in the form of prints. She also sells advertising on her body on the website through her Write Your Message on My Body: Place Your Ad Here campaign (www.livesystems.net/adpage1.html).
Kotak created Livesystems.net in July 1999, during the height of the Internet boom. Working as a marketing executive for a rapidly growing start-up at the time, Kotak decided to apply the techniques which seemed to be capable of creating riches overnight to her own life and interests. Livesystems.net was conceived as her life as a business on the web.
Traditional business plans outline a set of strategic goals which when accomplished lead to the pleasure and profit of the company's founders and customers. Kotak exposes these underlying drivers of business, and applies them directly to her own life: her products are advertisements of how she achieves her own pleasure and profit. These products or "strategies," as she defines them on the site show the artist doing the things she likes most. In this way, she tells viewers that they can experience their own desires independent of the mass media's pressure to buy.
In her Write Your Message on My Body: Place Your Ad Here campaign, Kotak goes even further to consider the pervasive force of advertising and her role as an agent of consumer culture by selling ad space on her own body. Through this Internet marketing campaign, advertisers are invited to place their logos onto a digital image of Kotak's body. Each part of her body is associated with a different price. The logos on the Write Your Message ad page are actually live hyperlinks that, when clicked, bring the viewer from the Livesystems.net site to the advertisers? websites.