Design by Edward Curtis (London College of Fashion)
Laura O’Grady by James Rees
Nowadays the princesses all know kung fu, and yet they’re still the same princesses. They’re still love interests, still the one girl in a team of five boys, and they’re all kind of the same. They march on screen, punch someone to show how they don’t take no shit, throw around a couple of one-liners or forcibly kiss someone because getting consent is for wimps, and then with ladylike discretion they back out of the narrative’s way.
On the posters they’re posed way in the back of the shot behind the men, in the trailers they may pout or smile or kick things, but they remain silent. Their strength lets them, briefly, dominate bystanders but never dominate the plot. It’s an anodyne, a sop, a Trojan Horse - it’s there to distract and confuse you, so you forget to ask for more."
— Sophia McDougall
Hyein Seo - “FEAR EATS THE SOUL” - Antwerp Royal Academy of Fine Arts Third Year Bachelor Collection 2013
a “studio visit” with me on Rocket Science (images by Adam Kremer)
Patrik Ervell Fall/Winter 2013
Choosing among things, in a consumer society, is what allows us to feel autonomous (no one tells us how we must spend our money) and express, or even discover, our unique individuality — which is proposed as the purpose of life. If we can experience ourselves as original, our lives will not have been spent in vain. We will have brought something new to human history; we will have been meaningful. (This is opposed to older notions of being “true” to one’s station or to God’s plan.)
The quest for originality collides with the capitalist economic imperative of growth. The belief that more is better carries over to the personal ethical sphere, so that making more choices seems to mean a more attenuated, bigger, more successful self. The more choices we can make and broadcast to others, the more of a recognized identity we have. Originality can be regarded as a question of claiming more things to link to ourselves and combining them in unlikely configurations.
If we believe this, then it seems like good policy to maximize the opportunities to make consumer choices for as many people as possible. This will give more people a sense of autonomy, social recognition, and personal meaning. Considering the amount of time and space devoted to retail in the U.S., it seems as though we are implementing this ideology collectively. The public-policy goals become higher incomes, more stores, and reliable media through which to display personal consumption. This supposedly yields a population that is fulfilling its dreams of self-actualization.
But when you add the possibility of ego depletion — the loss of well-being due to overtaxing the executive decision-making function of the mind; it’s explained in this 2011 New York Times piece by John Tierney on “decision fatigue” — to this version of identity, it no longer coheres. Trying to grow the self through exercising market choice simultaneously generates a scarcity of “ego” resources, which are depleted by this sort of reflexive approach to performing the self as a rational decision-maker above all. “When you shop till you drop, your willpower drops, too,” Tierney writes. The choices become progressively less rational, less representational, less “original,” and more prone to being automatic or being manipulated by outside interests, thus ceasing to be emblematic of the “true self.” Instead of elaborating a more coherent self through a series of decisions, one establishes an increasingly incoherent and disunified self that is increasingly unpredictable and illegible to others. We lose the energy to think about who we are and act accordingly, and we begin acting efficiently instead, with increasingly less interest in coherence, justice, consistency, morality, and so on. We want to make the “convenient” choices rather than the ethical ones, the ones that we believe reflect the truth about us.
In the future, we’ll have an economy based on the labor of sociality in social media networks that are subsumed by capital: that is, we’ll fight for attention on Facebook, etc., and that effort will be harvestable as data by the firms that own the networks, who will sell us tools derived from that data to abet our struggle for more attention."
— From Ego depleted by ROB HORNING
1. Massive Attack’s Mezzanine album cover, 1998 by Nick Knight
2. Chief, 1950 by Franz Kline
Maggie Maurer by Rory van MillingenㅣHusk Magazine Fall/Winter 2013