Thursday, April 9, 2009

adrienne. consumption

nom nom nom.

Straight Shot

Hi everyone, photographer here.

Consumption - Michelle

-By Chris Von Szombathy

I came across this image today in my interneting. It made me giggle and I thought it fit in perfectly with the theme of consumption. If you ask me, there isn't much in this world that a giant burger won't fix.

Genaro - Consumption

"Before the twentieth century, the word consumption meant tuberculosis, and consumer was a non-entry in the lexicon. Now, parroting capitalists, even our purportedly left-wing pundits label us 'consumers,' treat all our off-the-job product-related activities as acts of 'consumption,' and tell us we live in a 'consumer society' with a 'consumer culture.'

For all that, do we roll our cars off cliffs to see them explode? Do we scramble to pour our just-bought beverages out in the grocer's parking lot? Do we rush home to smash our appliances with sledgehammers, then burn the sledgehammers in our fireplaces, then allow fire to burn down our houses--all to maximize our destruction--our consumption--of goods?"

-Michael Dawson, The Consumer Trap

I'm sure everyone has heard conspiracy stories of car manufacturer's capabilities of producing cars that won't need servicing for 50 years and can run on dramatically lower levels of fuel--or some of the first generation light bulbs that have been in operation for over 100 years, all in efforts to ensure the perpetual dependency of the consumer to their goods. Unfortunately, this is the natural progression of maintaining a 'healthy' economy. A rational argument would be that if manufacturers made goods to last, their markets will cease, and in turn the demise of the company, and so on . . .

More important than making goods that don't last (how many ipods/cellphones/computers have you gone through in the last 6 years?) is the detailed offensive against the consumer created to ensure dependency and confidence despite the longevity of usefulness of a product. Welcome to the world of disposable everything. Now companies rely on marketing strategies to keep us buying, disposing, and buying again. Internet networking sites, email service providers, and search engines blossomed into a marketer's wet dream, carefully and meticulously collecting valuable consumer data from the “counter cultures” they have tried oh so hard the past 60 years to replicate and authenticate to sell right back at you. Anyone that has gmail is usually perplexed to find several advertisements pitching you something that vaguely is connected to the last email you wrote.

The sad state of affairs is that most of ideological foundations of rationalizing consumer culture is our agency granted through capitalism with the wide variety of goods we can choose from. And if there aren't, we have the power to create our own good to provide competition (monopolies don't exist, right?)--moreover, our identity is somehow imbedded within our consumption choices (are you 'green'?). We are only what we buy. If there were some agency, marketing is set out to destroy it. Some would say that its pervasive qualities have made marketing successful in this arena. This microcosm of the self in our own consumer universe is intentionally perpetuated through marketers' strategies of individualizing the consumer, to the point where it has influenced the general form of marketing. Iphone, Ipod, myspace (and shortly afterward—even campbell's soup got in on it). This is, in part, to ensure your identity is affiliated with their product (are you a Malboro Man?, or maybe a anthropomorphized version of a mac or pc?), and also to ensure the notion that you are so important to their company's wellbeing. You not only exist through these products, but for these products. Even worse, one's decision to avoid consumption of products on a moral or ethical stance reaffirms the existence of individuals only as consumers (I am terribly guilty of such actions).

I don't intend to take some anti-consumption or anarchist related stance on the issue at hand (not today, maybe next week), but it may be interesting to take some time to evaluate advertisements that seem to glorify your individualism, sell you 'you', or attempt to jump start your identity.

marc horowitz - free gold (consumption)


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

With Souls Like Baby Birds...

... mouths wide open, eyes closed, waiting blindly for "stuff." Pac-Man's in there, too: a voracious consumer and nothing more (a round-headed Patrick Bateman?) — the perfect mascot?

Consumption - graciela.

I guess I'll write too but I'd like to make a point for consumption. This is an opinion piece with bits of a conversation I have with an alternative universe version of myself.

Consumption as Individuality
One of the things that drives mass consumption and production, strangely enough, is our need to be individuals amongst the masses. It’s not enough that we physically are different but we need to show people that we are. Through some combination of marketing and our own issues about living in modernity, we’ve managed to extend our personalities, interests, and individuality to objects outside of ourselves. These things represent us and we use them to communicate things about ourselves to others around us. You can tell some things about people, like their tax bracket, musical interests, beliefs, etc. just by looking in their closet or around the house. For some of us, consumption makes us feel guilty and if you’ve become aware of the fact that you do “express” yourself with objects, it can be even more cumbersome. But what is the alternative?

A few months ago my dad went on some tirade about how we don’t need 70 different versions of the same shoe. But imagine if there were only 2 styles of shoes that came in 3 colors. We’d like to believe that we’d be okay with this because we don’t need to consume. As though somehow we’re on some kind of fringe where no one can touch us. But how could any of us be “different” from one another if we are limited by our consumption choices? G-d forbid any of us dress exactly like Britney Spears because that is the only choice in the market. Products help define us and it extends beyond fashion and bleeds into any and every aspect of buying power.

“Ok, well how could the laundry detergent I buy say anything about me?

Well, which kind do you buy?

“The Seventh Generation one. You know, the eco-friendly one.”

Eco-friendly. You take the time to buy a product for laundry that fits into your personal convictions and you don’t think that purchase says something about you?

“Hmmm. You make it sound like I can’t escape it.”

That’s exactly what I’m telling you. Why do you want to escape it? Because you think you’re different and you’re not comfortable being manipulated by ads and marketing?

“Well, yeah. Don’t you?”

Not really. It’s not about running away from consumption. It’s about being more aware. Aren’t there some businesses that you want to support?

“Of course. I like local businesses in my community and there are even some large companies that pay good wages, offer programs for their employees, and heck, even some want to help with causes I care about.”

Then be an educated consumer, do your homework, and make your money count for something more than a T-shirt or soap. After all, it’s your money. Just because they market to you doesn’t mean you can’t come to an educated decision about your purchase.

Consumption as Conscience
I’ve come to accept my role in the world and I’ve come to terms with the fact that I buy things and I buy things that I feel represent me in some way. I don’t think that makes me sad or delusional. It makes me more aware of the game and if I understand the rules, I have a better chance of winning. What makes consumption and marketing terrifying is that a lot of people choose to be oblivious to the ads being fed to them and the companies they buy from. It’s just easier to block out some of the truths about sweatshops and other ills because we can’t be bothered to do some research when we have full time jobs and a family to care for. The ad men exploit the fact that everyone fits into a market and that too many people are lazy or apathetic about their buying habits. So it’s up to the individual who wants to run away from that to make wiser choices and start different buying trends that are healthier. It’s why some companies shifted to sweatshop-free models and manufacture clothing in the US. Or even how all types of companies are trying to create eco products and operate in a sustainable way. They didn’t wake up one day and want to do it out of the kindness of their own hearts. Consumers drive consumption and we don’t have to fall into the pitfalls that make consumption evil. We can change things and there is a growing trend of “conscientious consumers” emerging in the market. People who care about where and how a product was made. The market will have to shift to meet those demands.

“So consumption in itself is not evil.”

Not at all and we can control it no matter what they’re trying to advertise.


My name is Jessalyn Wakefield. I am a writer and letterpress printmaker. My website is am i human. Thrilled to be participating in this blog. I suppose my contributions will mostly consist of very short fiction.


There is what is consumed and then there is what consumes me. What mouths I offer my Self to, what stomachs I am seized by. There was once woman who appeared to me as a bear. She left me tongueless. I kissed her and she devoured my voice. Consumed what I said and the organ of the saying as if they were perfumed sweets. Or as if they were hers. Rolled my tongue around her tongue, slow and full. And then: that swallow. My flesh became her flesh. Afterward she told me, I come from a land where we feed on books, our piss smells like old leaves, I come from the land of....


Isn't that what Satine had in Moulin Rouge? A progressive wasting of body tissue. The state of being consumed.


I haven't been buying very many things lately, not because of the recession or whatevs but because I had plans to move across the country which changed into plans to go to Europe with S. Vanoni for the next few months and so I decided I didn't need lots of things to store away or worry about.. It was pretty fun taking a closet full of clothes I never wore anyway and zillions of pieces of music equipment and either giving them away or selling them on craigslist. Now I just have a few guitars and a few boxes. I still have a lot of shoes though!

Anyway. Is that what we're talking about here? I'm not the best at this blogging thing yet. I see people being consumed by stuff and I can remember what that feels like a bit, but living simply is really beautiful and I admire my friends who have learned to truly live off the land. A couple of my good friends are into organic farming and communal living and while I realise that isn't for everyone, we could all probably incorporate at least a little bit of that lifestyle into our everyday existence.

PS: Whenever I hear someone go, "What recession?" I always think of "Who is John Galt?" from Atlas Shrugged

PPS: Hi I'm Chelsea Wolfe, you can check out my blog or to hear more of me yeauhh
Thanks for the invite to this blog Richard and Jesse - you are two of my favorite artists in our lovely town of trees.

Consumption -- Richard St.Ofle

Keynoted Lilt (Entitled Yolk)

Katie Shapiro // Consumption

Cans from 35 Years

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

in time-limited world, the words of others

"Among us English-speaking peoples especially do the praises of poverty need once more to be boldly sung. We have grown literally afraid to be poor. We despise anyone who elects to be poor in order to simplify and save his inner life. If he does not join the general scramble, we deem him spiritless and lacking in ambition. We have lost the power even of imagining what the ancient realization of poverty could have meant; the liberation from material attachments, the unbribed soul, the manlier indifference, the paying our way by what we are and not by what we have, the right to fling away our life at any moment irresponsibly,--the more athletic trim, in short, the fighting shape." --William James--

Monday, April 6, 2009

Icky Mickey

Since I'm a writer, and not an artist in the same vein as many of the rest of you, here's my contribution to the topic of consumption.

The image Aaron posted below brings up a good question that's been weighing heavy on my mind. What is it about Disney that is so repugnant to us? How deeply flawed is the Disney franchise, when we're talking about selective consumption for children?

For me, Disney isn't so much evil as it is culturally de riguer. It's not the lowest common denominator, but it's annoyingly easy to access. It's McDonald's and Amazon and Applebees all rolled into one. But it's also super fun, iconic roller coasters, some great nostalgia-driven films and songs, and most frustratingly, it is the laughter and happiness of one's children - a narcotic so strong it pleasantly eclipses my own best intentions on a daily basis.

Since most of you don't have children, perhaps it's easier for you to discern the more repulsive aspects of this brand. Do the positive parts of Disney, and the way that some of us might selectively choose what we like about the brand, outweigh the vile aspects?