California College of the Arts Thesis Project
My thesis is about hype culture. Hype culture gradually changes from being a subculture into mainstream and is integrated into everyday life. The ideas and values represented by different brands also change, in order to appeal to the greatest market possible. I am considering how consumerism and spectacle operate through hype, as well as what they mean in society.
Research on how hype culture works
Hype followers are seeking for concept and ideas like recognition, affiliation, utilitarian, aesthetic, identification, isolation, scarcity and alienation through obtaining hype commodities. Similar to Monopoly, hype also tends to be an endless game since there are always more and more new attraction created and produced on a daily basis. To some degree, Monopoly shares a similar operating system with hype culture. In my opinion ,the success of this project is the fact that the metaphor meanings of Monopoly, which is “endless” and “consumerism”, match properly with hype culture.
Compositions to show the idea of “brandless brand”
For this theme I decided to create a series of compositions to show the idea of “brandless brand” based on the idea of “what the hype culture would turn people into”. The purpose is to answer the questions behind it: are we consuming the hype or is it consuming us? Are we becoming more different/unique or are we becoming similar to everyone else? As an exploration, I have tried to create a sense of “denial” by using a variety of compositions and the most effective one would be “crossed out text”.
A critical point of view towards hype culture
Anti Hype offers a critical point of view towards the fact that people seem to be more attracted to the external values of hype products than to their own traditional values, often even overlooking the material qualities and functions of objects. The product are shown as blurry photographs to emphasize the idea that consumers would be interested in something they do not have a clear understanding of as long as they are labeled as "hype". As a main concept of the brand “Faceless”, the works of Anti Hype combine the idea of “brandless” and the exploration of useless products to reveal the fact that external values of a product are more attractive than their traditional values.
A method to differentiate people from each other
The idea of Hype Tribe reflects the fact that people interested in hype culture tend to divide themselves into certain groups. Hype Tribe is method that I design to generate tribal markings by combining small parts of major hype brands to show the concept of tribalism in hype culture. Each symbol represents a group or community with individuals who are mostly interested in commodities, attitudes, political standings and cultural formulations of certain brands. Hype Tribe Poster is created with Hype Tribe Markings on human figures without any facial features to emphasize the concept of “Faceless”.
The "faces" of both "commodity and people" VS Hype
"Faceless" is the name that I come up with for my thesis brand because the "faces" of both commodity and people, which are value and personality, are not important anymore and the name "Faceless" seems to be fitting for this idea. My intention of the Faceless logo is to show the fact that traditional value and standards of knowing something or someone in hype culture is no longer active since it has been crossed out and reversed by a more powerful, symbolic and recognizable method: hype. I have developed a variation of the Faceless logo in order to apply this idea differently.
"Sold Out" Web Store
Extremely limited edition: nothing is available, sorry
The "Sold Out" Web Store is created to satirize the fact that most commodities in hype culture tend to support or even rely on the resale market due to the frequent uses of limited quantity releases. Since scarcity leads to desire, major hype brands often control the amount of their products to keep their brand value. In that case, I made a website with Faceless products listed as “sold out” so that customers have to click on the images to be led to a resale web store.
A symbol of challenging the traditional idea of value
“Face” has a metaphor meaning of “true color” or “personality” and since hype spectators tend to care about external factors such as outfit and collection instead of traditional standards such as personality, therefore “faceless” is indeed the current trend and standard of personal evaluation in hype community. It shows how we know someone nowadays: we either know them for a long time and actually understand them or we develop a shallow and simple idea of who they are by their appearance. The color-tape has a metaphor meaning of denial, which expresses the concept of “anti-personality” or “anti-self”. The final outcome of the Faceless graphic has a variety of color combinations to test how the graphic would turn out in different color ways. Some of the graphics have colored stripes with “Danger | Do Not Cross” or “Do Not Look | No Eye Contact” to reinforce the concept of denial in a more literal approach. Others have only colored stripes in order to make viewers focus more on the composition and its metaphor meaning.
2018 California College of the Arts MFA Thesis Design Exhibition