Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2015

Author's School

Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts

Author Department/Program

Graduate School of Art

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Visual Art

Degree Type

Thesis

Abstract

Entertainment has become one of the fueling fires of society. In today’s world of nonstop broadcasting and streaming, many begrudgingly trudge through their 9 to 5’s only to live for their few post-work hours of leisure, which have been reserved for this week’s latest items on the viewing queue. Netflix and Hulu have become the opium of the masses. Consequently, this obsession with constant entertainment has now morphed into a shared yearning for the people that are watched and followed religiously through the screen – the celebrities. In this cultural moment, the concept of fame has become a vital element of society.

Additionally, this desire for a celebrity often times distorts itself into a desire to become that celebrity, especially within the millennial mind sight. Through my art practice, I address this trajectory from mere observer to active participant within the viewing process. By tracking the psychological effects of this movement, both on the individual and societal level, I question my own place within this pattern of continual obsession and its effects on my perceptions of self, other, and reality.

This thesis works as a consolidative piece of writing, fusing my research of pop cultural issues regarding the manipulation of personal and collective identities with my work as an artist. Providing contemporary examples of this issue’s relation to celebrity culture, ranging from Michael Jackson’s sudden passing to the recent demise of the Jonas Brothers, I correlate the impact and role of the celebrity with my own videos, performances, and installations.

Language

English (en)

Program Director

Patricia Olynyk

Program Director's Department

Graduate School of Art

Committee Member

Heather Bennett

Committee Member

Heather Bennett

Committee Member

Jessica Baran

Committee Member

Buzz Spector

Artist's Statement

Social networks and websites, like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube, have created a generation obsessed with the self, and with each post, the conception of self is further fabricated. We all want the "likes" for approval, the "favorites" for satisfaction. We all want to be recognized. We all want to be famous. While celebrity status was once achieved through talent and skill, the reality television phenomenon opened up the parameters of fame. And in a post-Internet culture, where everyone has the potential to be famous and upload their images online, everyone then feels the need to stand out from the crowd - to be special, an original. Thus, the greatest fear of any millennial is becoming a "basic bitch", a drone following the uninventive trends that are propelled by mass appeal. But what does it mean to be a basic bitch in a post-Internet culture, where there is no original and everything is simply a copy of a copy of a copy—a low-res JPEG or GIF? When everyone is attempting to be Internet famous and reach that goal of 1K Instagram followers, essentially no one is special. Basic-ness then becomes an inescapable cycle. "Calling all the basic bitches, there is a new announcement…WE'RE basic."

As a born and bred millennial artist, who thrives on mass media overindulgence (most emblematic in my need to scroll incessantly through my Twitter, Facebook and Instagram feeds), I reference images from pop culture that are prevalent and exhausting, like the Tumblr GIF, the viral video, big-brand commercials, and reality television. And while my videos are often humorous and bizarrely quirky, they are reflective of mainstream America's superabundance - the classic clusterfuck of images. Thus, I find insight from the millennial's go-to sources for all knowledge - television and the information superhighway. And as an ironic viewer of these seemingly shallow and mundane mass media outlets, I simultaneously take pleasure in it while also subtly critiquing what I see. Even though I recognize the grotesqueness of this culture, I cannot look away. I hate it. I love it. I gluttonously consume it.

See more at www.stephaniekang.com

Permanent URL: https://doi.org/10.7936/K7PG1PX1