First and foremost, Think Indifferent was a formal and structural experiment. Rather than look for big new ideas, its aim was to find a new way in which an artwork could be assembled and presented.
I wanted to transfer the process of creating a compilation documentary to a different medium — YouTube. Instead of downloading the videos and editing them in the old-fashioned software way, I decided to use its cloud parallel — a playlist — that way using the possibilities (and annoyances) inherent to the medium and not infringing the copyright.
The artwork’s subject works with the concept of consumer fetishism and brainwash-like qualities of the advertising — after noticing similar patterns in the user-generated unboxing videos of Apple products, the idea was to put them into such context that would highlight the ritualistic behavior of the users. What followed was a research on how they connect to the fetish Apple creates out of its products using advertising and introduction conferences, alluding to the practices of religion and cult, e.g. Steve Jobs echoing “an iPod, a phone, an internet device” reminding of “the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost” or Jony Ive calling the iPad magical. This resulted in a playlist assembled in such a way that would resemble of a mass — with an opening prayer, a sermon, a ritual, and a closing prayer.
Once the playlist was created, a question remained: how should it be viewed? Traditional screening didn’t seem appropriate but, fortunately, the CAS tower with its four iMacs provided a great environment to develop a unique, site-specfic viewing experience built upon the mass structure.
The process went as follows: after entering the room, the participants were welcomed by a Mac voice telling them to divide and sit down in front of the iMacs. The room was then locked and they were given these instructions:
1. You can’t pause the video but you can skip the advertisement.
2. Don’t talk to each other.
3. You're free to leave the room but you’re not allowed to return.
4. Enjoy yourselves.
5. Think different.
Then they were asked to play the playlist. Once finished, the Mac voice thanked the users and reminded them to never stop thinking what Steve Jobs would do.
Results of the experiment:
1. What worked was creating an unusual situation — a paradoxical viewing that’s intended for a mass and yet it’s individual. It could be seen as one of possible interpretations for Lev Manovich’s vision of multiple-window cinema.
2. One of the shortcomings was that the concept of using a playlist like an editing software didn’t always work, especially when there was a need of a clash between the single “shots” and instead there was either a loading delay or an advertisement started playing. However, the ads popping up and each participant pressing play at different times produced a strange soundscape with echo of singular phrases, thus reaffirming what has been said.
3. The subjects complained that the rhetoric of the work didn’t say anything new and only recycled old ideas. Nonetheless, using a rhetoric was secondary.
4. The most striking outcome of this was only one participant not willing to continue playing the video after the initial Thin Different ad — therefore actually “thinking different."
5. What would be interesting to see if/when repeating this experiment is the reversal of the roles of a presenter and participants — giving one participant the opportunity to conduct and observe four performers in this kind of ritualistic behavior and create a kind of theatre piece with one person as an audience.
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