REVIEW: THE CIRCLE, BY DAVE EGGERS

by Eli Lambe

Dave Eggers’ The Circle, both the book and the recent feature-length adaptation, is a dystopia formed around a Facebook/Apple/Google/Amazon-esque corporation, one which hosts and shares almost every aspect of its users lives. The novel does a remarkable job of capturing the subtle ways in which this model is marketed to us, how this format of data-as-product is often shrouded in apparently progressive buzzwords – community, accountability, transparency, participation – whilst the company which operates under this model does so under the same values as every other corporate entity.

There is a veneer of progressivity and respectability that companies adopt in order to retain and gain customers – like Facebook making it easier to harass trans people, or implementing guidelines that protect white men but not black children, and at the same time, for one month of the year, patchily providing a rainbow “pride” react to the users who liked lgbt@facebook. Perhaps not as extreme as Eggers writes in The Circle, but eerily close enough: “Anytime you wanted to see anything, use anything, comment on anything or buy anything, it was one button, one account, everything tied together and trackable and simple, all of it operable via mobile or laptop, tablet or retinal.”Continue Reading

EVERYDAY DOUBLETHINK – ONLINE LIFE AND ALTERNATIVE FACTS

By Sam Naylor

Kellyanne Conway has been making headlines this week. Sent out to explain away Sean Spicer’s bizarre comments regarding the crowds at Trump’s inauguration, she said “we feel compelled to go out and clear the air and put alternative facts out there”. Alternative facts, huh? How’s this:

Last week saw the inauguration of the 45th President of the United States of America, Bernie Sanders. As the world witnessed the honesty and good intentions of the new administration firsthand over the next few days, sales of George Orwell’s 1984 surged (it sold out on Amazon). Commentators were broadly bemused. Why, with a president of unparalleled frankness ascending to the Oval Office, was a narrative of lies and alternative facts, paradoxes and doublethink, a story of a nation which unashamedly proclaimed “War is peace, Freedom is slavery, Ignorance is strength, becoming so popular?

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YEAR IN REVIEW

by Jake Reynolds

In response to 2015.

I saw terror through a lens
and the public shaming friendships.
We called it proper work.

Feeling so very comfortable eating churros with a bunch of pregnant women! Just what I needed, the perfect chill yummy food birthday!!!!Continue Reading

SOCIAL MEDIA, APPROPRIATION, AND THE ART WORLD.

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by Jess Howard

Artistic appropriation is in no way a new phenomenon. Painters and sculptors have been reproducing their own versions of classic art works for centuries. Picasso for instance, took his own stance in the 1950’s when he appropriated Eugene Delacroix’s The Women of Algiers, by painting the women from behind. And Andy Warhol famously lost a lawsuit in the 1960’s over the design of his Flowers piece. But how does the art world address this kind of appropriation when an image has been sourced directly?

Last month Richard Prince, no stranger to appropriation, caused controversy with his New Portraits exhibition, by displaying a series of images in the Gagosian Gallery in Los Angeles that he had directly taken off of Instagram. There was no editing, no unique angle, and no form of reproduction. He simply blew the images up, added one last comment, and hung them in gallery. They then proceeded to sell out at the Frieze Art Fair, with the pieces reaching over £56,000 each. This brings into question the idea of possession and identity, both on the internet and within artistic expression. If you place images on a public forum, do they automatically become public property?Continue Reading