Advertising is getting scary good. Intel’s latest gambit, to promote a new chip that most of its audience will have no reason or ability to effect the sales of, is the Museum of Me, the fanciest Facebook data visualizer to date. It’s what you might expect – here’s a few of your best friends made up to look like their portraits are hanging in a white cube, here’s a big wall installation of the words you use most often (“crabmeat”, apparently), here’s an inexplicable giant geometric sculpture of the “Like” button – and it does it well. There’re a lot of jokes to be made here – are identity artists, like automotive workers, in danger of being replaced by robots? – but ultimately, it comes down to this: Intel’s figured out that making people feel special and important, and appealing to their basic worries about self-depiction, is a good way to sell microchips. They’re right.
This got me thinking about something else – how good would Antony Gormley’s One and Other, the Fourth Plinth livecast unicycling naked Nazi balloon extravaganza two years ago, have been as a marketing stunt? Gillian Wearing’s Pin Ups? Businesses have an interest in creating the perception that they’re different, that their system of relations isn’t the scary corporate system but rather a friendly, neighborly, this-is-about-you-and-me system, and the last two decades of art have made that a lot easier. I give it ten years before the President of Citigroup is serving people curry. While you wait, check out the app. After all, it’s tough getting museum shows.