CHRIS HOWLETT, Prosumer.obj, 2017-19, 1-channel synched, HD video (16:9), Stereo, PAL. Duration: 5:06mins

The uninteresting idea of the prosumer is the professional prosumer. The one who lets us know what they think of a consumer product. For example, a professional hobbyist uploading a YouTube video on the latest drone aeroplanes this Christmas. Their…

CHRIS HOWLETT, Prosumer.obj, 2017-19, 1-channel synched, HD video (16:9), Stereo, PAL. Duration: 5:06mins

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The uninteresting idea of the prosumer is the professional prosumer. The one who lets us know what they think of a consumer product. For example, a professional hobbyist uploading a YouTube video on the latest drone aeroplanes this Christmas. Their purpose is to generate online sales for a product instore, maybe it’s to direct traffic back to their own website, or to generate click throughs to Amazon so they can share in the profits via YouTubes monetization platform. Often these videos can be helpful in working out the desired amount of money to spend, or which product is most affordable and outperforms the rest. The prosumer wants us to consume, they want us to click through, they’re trying to make us care, so we too become as informed as they’ve become, so we too can become better consumers. Unlike straight advertising, these enthusiasts and semi-professionals blur the roles between consumer and producer, but what happens when there is no line to blur, when the line to begin with was hidden from our sight.
This form of invisibility exists in the most interesting model of the prosumer that which is taken from a company’s perspective such as in Facebook’s case which stands out as the exemplar. The prosumer in this scenario does not know they are one. For instance, everyone on a social media are prosumers, their online interactions inside of Facebook are a form of consumption. They consume by completing software decisions, by inputting data, logging in to their soft cell every day. Yet they also produce information by commenting, posting, messaging, and becoming part of contemporary trends through participating in new apps, which all end up in deep data sets that can be sold on to third parties without their conscious consent. Whether they like it or not, they are all part of Facebook’s R&D (research and development) team working for FREE. Our personal data is their revenue and is currently the most valuable commodity on earth. So, “How Does That Make You Feel?”.

In prosumer.obj.mov (2017-19) this repeating, psychologist inspired question constantly repeats throughout the entire film. It starts off seeming like a therapeutic, even liberating opportunity to divulge the most pertinent feelings the narrator has about their self. However, over-time it turns into a taunt like anthem, repeatedly mocking and pranking the narrator into continually coming up with creative ways to answer it. The narrators aphorisms are both comedic and tragic, sometimes constructed from an assortment of private opinions, face-to-face stories, apple pie philosophy, or discussions inspired from online chat forums. The visuals on the other hand depict battle simulators and strobing infinite colour fields of terrorists (or rebel) and consumer objects drifting into nothingness.

The rebel consumer does not inspire dissent, but everybody knows that all we have to do is just stop buying Coke, stop logging into Facebook, stop buying plastic, stop exploiting 3rd world countries for their cheap goods and cheap labour, stop using cell phones, … and start recycling, start eating organic, start having less babies, start saving the whales, start using less water … then everything will be OK. So, “How Does That Make You Feel?”.

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