Everything is so profoundly transactional. You deserve worse, and you are literally worth less. But consider this: give fewer fucks about stuff that people with high power jobs in institutions impose on you. Don't look at paintings, look at your money. You make spending time matter, and it's your feet that can get you out of a hopeless artist talk.
Borrowed from the aesthetic of noughties-era inspirational websites that explained the keys to success, the square graphic asking “why did you come?” seems more confrontational than tongue-in-cheek. Why did you come?
Hot New World Views, where this graphic appears, is a collaborative online artwork made by Jennifer Chan, Shawné Michaelain Holloway, Georges Jacotey, and Kimmo Modig (all working under Scandinavian-inflected pseudonyms) that acts as a how-to guide and warning for BFA-toting intellectuals who feel burnt out by their profound lack of direction. It was created alongside their "Hot New World Viewz" bricks-and-mortar exhibition at S T O R E, Dresden, where a long scroll of paper hung from the ceiling, saying things like “We Got Nothing In Particular We Wanna Do / We Are Pessimists, Depressionists, Tired, And Lost, But Full Of Feels And Talent.” The lyricism here seems like some sort of millennial anthem for those who are simultaneously overcome with feeling and incapable of feeling anything without a hint of irony. At the same time, it points directly to the economic conditions that shape this affective situation.
"Everything is so profoundly transactional," the manifesto reads. "Becoming super rich is as attainable as becoming a top player in Angry Birds." In this "worldview," everything is commodified and can be purchased, including elite status in the art world. But while there are only a number of consumer products between you, the debt-saddled BFA-toting plebe, and “them," the institutional power brokers, the products that you buy only solidify the dominance that corporations hold over you. You are a data metric and you are being sold right now.
Your self-awareness regarding your participation in capitalism and neoliberalism at large makes this even more paralyzing. Hot New World Views is specifically interested in the effect of your angst, when your overconsumption and lack of agency makes everything incoherent — so you delete and restore your Facebook over and over again, or you only read election updates if they are turned into memes.
On the site, this discontent is visible through the juxtaposition of contrasting images; a picture of bodybuilders eating Cookie Crisps sits next to embedded stock images of Brazilian teens in blackface for a Carnival celebration, each one seeming to outdo the next. These photos exist in strange places —in the dark(er) corners of the internet, but also all over the websites of small businesses. Who buys stock images of teens in blackface? Who clicks on them? Do those users end up in a Facebook database for people who enjoy racist clickbait?
Your nice apartment, social media following, and non-marginal identity all allow for the aspirational intellectualism that created this “worldview” in the first place. For example, you have the capacity to go viral (or more simply, tweet quotes from your favorite TED Talk), but also an inability to do anything that feels authentic or addresses social reality. How can you imagine an end to wage inequality if you can’t even finish your artist statement?
Hot New World Views doesn’t offer an answer to this question, but it looks you squarely in the eye while asking you to check your wallet. If we have tirelessly proved that capitalism is inescapable, and that there are no new ideas, it would be just as laughable to advise any escape from this post-authentic stock-image world as to pretend that it doesn’t exist. Instead, Hot New World Views, and other collaborative works from these artists like DEEP 4 U, suggest that if time is money, we should be more conscious of our use of time. Chan, Holloway, Jacotey, and Modig know that corporations make money off of every moment you spend on the internet. You probably do too, but money is such a distant concept, right? Even though “cigarette bumming leads to specialty vaporizers,” paying careful attention to those transactions at least makes it less of a surprise when your friends tease you for owning a pumpkin spice flavored vape.