Event Title

True to Your ‘Self’: Exploring Authenticity in a Culture of Consumption

Presenter Information

Aria Dean, Oberlin College

Location

Science Center A155

Start Date

9-26-2014 3:30 PM

End Date

9-26-2014 5:00 PM

Abstract

The purpose of this research is to explore the relationships among individuals, consumer culture, and identity. Is participation in consumer culture—wherein the beliefs, behaviors, and practices that would traditionally define ‘culture’ are increasingly mediated by market values and the logic of capital—an ‘authentic’ form of identity formation and expression? Authenticity is a relative concept in culture; consumer culture, rather than operating as a threat to notions of freedom and authenticity, provides a rubric for self-understanding and selfexpression. While glaringly problematic in a number of ways, this rubric constitutes the dominant mode of identification in Western, urban, social contexts. For many, such statements signal the ticking of the doomsday clock. However, perhaps there is a way to recover ‘authenticity’ and ‘freedom’ while continuing to exist within the overwhelmingly capitalist twenty-first-century social schema. I evaluate theoretical texts from a wide range of intersecting disciplines—Western philosophy, critical theory, media theory, postcolonial theory, and others—most of which were written in the last forty years. Alongside close readings of these texts, I have examined and considered contemporary artistic works, the majority of which were produced since the millennium and fall within the loose categories of conceptual, net, and postinternet art. Such examples operate as part of a potentially endless network of case studies through which to explore these questions. The final product that I present here explores more than it draws hard-and-fast, normative conclusions, through both academic research and a series of my own text and art-based experiments. Rather than articulating what should be, I am interested in describing how things are or simply might be for a large number of us.

Notes

Session II, Panel 4 - Creative Consumption: Enacting Alternative Economies

Award

Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow (MMUF)

Project Mentor(s)

Julie Christensen, Art

This document is currently not available here.

Share

COinS
 
Sep 26th, 3:30 PM Sep 26th, 5:00 PM

True to Your ‘Self’: Exploring Authenticity in a Culture of Consumption

Science Center A155

The purpose of this research is to explore the relationships among individuals, consumer culture, and identity. Is participation in consumer culture—wherein the beliefs, behaviors, and practices that would traditionally define ‘culture’ are increasingly mediated by market values and the logic of capital—an ‘authentic’ form of identity formation and expression? Authenticity is a relative concept in culture; consumer culture, rather than operating as a threat to notions of freedom and authenticity, provides a rubric for self-understanding and selfexpression. While glaringly problematic in a number of ways, this rubric constitutes the dominant mode of identification in Western, urban, social contexts. For many, such statements signal the ticking of the doomsday clock. However, perhaps there is a way to recover ‘authenticity’ and ‘freedom’ while continuing to exist within the overwhelmingly capitalist twenty-first-century social schema. I evaluate theoretical texts from a wide range of intersecting disciplines—Western philosophy, critical theory, media theory, postcolonial theory, and others—most of which were written in the last forty years. Alongside close readings of these texts, I have examined and considered contemporary artistic works, the majority of which were produced since the millennium and fall within the loose categories of conceptual, net, and postinternet art. Such examples operate as part of a potentially endless network of case studies through which to explore these questions. The final product that I present here explores more than it draws hard-and-fast, normative conclusions, through both academic research and a series of my own text and art-based experiments. Rather than articulating what should be, I am interested in describing how things are or simply might be for a large number of us.