Zero to One

Curated by Jamie
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Zero to One is a series of works that, overall, addresses a typically American or Western viewpoint about Consumer Culture and the value and power of money within that culture. Also taken into consideration within the series is the digitalization of our Culture and economy. The sleak advertising that promts us to spend money on today’s stuff is an art in itself, yet some artists have turned that around and used it to make counter arguements against such a Culture. The opening piece, by Scott Blake, displays both of these aspects so simply through one of the most common symbols of consumerism - the bar code. The bar code first appeared on packages of Wrigley’s Chewing Gum in 1948, and 60 years later is on nearly every product that we purchase from soap to construction lumber to an iPhone. The bar code is purely a representation of 1’s and 0’s, mere binary technology, and it is that simplicity that enables the Consumer to participate in a complicated Culture that runs on spending Power and produces such complex gadgets as the iPhone. Regarding his own work, Scott Blake asks ”How do the producer and consumer relate, how do the entertainer and entertained interact, how do the leaders and the leaded work together?” This question leads to the second display in Zero to One, created by the artist Mark Cooley. His project, american dreams: a work in progress, uses packaging that is based on Consumerist trends and aesthetics. Underneath the sleak wrapping and advertising, Cooley presesnts symbols of government and corporate power that are military related; within the packaging of miniture guns, he will include images of combat, government personel, or written legislature. His approach is an attack on primarily U.S. government policies of war and that relationship to the U.S. Consumers, making a firm statement about how that lifestyle underhandedly supports the governments and large corporations. Discussing ”american dreams”, Cooley says that ”the installation is an ongoing recording, assessment, and repackaging of objects and images from the U.S. media terrain”. The third piece again addresses the use of binary code in Consumerist Culture. The piece, entitled ”The Moneychanger or the New Economy” is created by Tete Alvarez using an older Marinus Van Reymerswaele work, and money takes the form of zeros and ones as it is dropped into a collector’s pile. The unclarity of the figures in contrast with the stark white of the numbers reinforces the power of money, as well as its overpowering effect it can have on people as Consumers. The binary code as money vanishes after one cycle and then reappears. Of Alvarez’s work, Oscar Fernandez states that it ”tends toward an aesthetic of disappearance as a transcendental driving force for chrono-political reconsideration of post capitalist society”. ”The Moneychanger or the New Economy” also serves as a commentary that relates an older vantage point about Consumerism to a more current perspective. Furthering the theme of Consumerist Culture and a spending society, the artists of Nike Ground have taken full advantage of those who purchase corporate products in world-scale prank. The artists, Eva and Frank Mattes, whose projects can be viewed on, have used corporate commercialism and guerilla marketing in a way that displays the power of such a Consumer based society. They created a proposal to construct a monument and rename a traditional, famous square in the city of Vienna after the Nike Corporation. Using modeling programs and posting a commercial website online,, they advertised the overtaking of Karlsplatz, a main square in Vienna, by the Nike Corporation. The proposal involved the construction of a large statue of the Nike Swoosh and renaming the square Nikeplatz. The Nike-esque slogan ”You want to wear it, why shouldn’t cities wear it too?” went along with their proposal. Everything about this prank is done within the corporate identity of Nike, and therefore seemed conceivable to carry out in consideration of the guerilla marketing. Although Eva and Frank Mattes used the trendy ad campaigns that Impact consumers, the digital creation of Nikeplatz was an anti-commercialism project, and it created a huge controversy in Vienna and Europe, resulting in a suing of the artists by Corporate Nike. In a discussion on their site, it is commented that ”many artists have dealt with commercial products in the past, before Nike even existed. Think of Andy Warhol's Campbell Soup, for example. Contemporary art does not have a well defined role within this society. On the contrary, it is a field where one can make statements that are not possible in any other context. Art has always used powerful images from the society of its time as its subject. Nike invades our lives with products and ads but then forbid us to use them creatively”. This kind of comment can be applied to Consumer Culture, wealthy corporations, and the concept of guerilla marketing as a whole cycle could that promote the realization of projects like Nikeplatz. Keeping on a larger, more archtiectural scale, The Monument for the Masses takes a look at sculpture and public space in the world of advertising and targeting The Consumer. The online proposal, found at , devotes much of its space to revealing the power structure behind (primarily Commercial) profits. It is put on display that much of public space, such as parks and even bought streetscapes are made possible by privite marketing. By putting on display the fact that an entire city street can be purchased and devoted to the advertising of a movie or a brand of jeans, the artists make their point that this world is one of Consumers, not citizens. Commercialism, supported by The Consumer, has the Power to change landscape, and by doing so in public places where The Citizen once roamed, it reinforces itself and the ”I must buy more” attitude of Consumer Culture. ”Public space, my a$$”. The artists make aware the realization that in today’s media saturated environment, Consumers have to pay for the privilege to avoid commmercials. Consumerism and Spending are monumental and everywhere. Alexis Lloyd’s pieces both deal with current trends in targeting The Consumer and ways of marketing. Her first work in this exhibit, The Ad Generator, uses the sharp images in contrast with sharp words taken from familiar Consumer Product marketing campaigns to emphasize the Power of a commercial upon The Consumer. Power of imagery and words in a spending society is used to convince or intice one to make a Purchase, thus supporting a structure run by corporate companies. In regards to this work, Alexis Lloyd says, ”it is the exploitation of our larger, intangible desires and values that makes advertising so effective”. Her second work once again brings society’s subjection to marketing and the persuasion to Spend to the surface of her art. She has photographed neighboorhoods in NYC, highlighting the Commercial landscape in the daily environment. Her organization and documentation of advertisement do not include those on TV or on the internet. She has catagorized the ads by type (i.e. clothing, alcohol) and displays how many of each type are located in different classes of neighboorhoods, showing how Corporations filter their Consumer profiles. In summary of Zero to One, seven pieces of art take a stab at the Western Consumer Culture and attempt to create a realization within the viewer of truly how much Power two small numbers have over The Consumer’s lifestyle of Spending More. These works placed together form a cohesive commentary on today’s value placement of Money and how that placement has control over many aspects of society.

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