How stupid we used to be, how sheep-like, how easily manipulated, that one word whispered in our ear, one image flashed at the corner of our eye, and out came the wallet and we’d be buying whatever product we were being asked to. But look at us now. How we’ve wised up, become so consumer savvy that we can spot the Mad Men tricks from a mile away, immune to the hyperbole and able to sniff out the snake oil.
Yet this is a marketplace into which a cartoon character like Krusty the Klown, existing in the imaginary world largely to sell rubbish to idiots, can place boxes of cereal and have them flying off the shelves, bought by both irony-drenched students and heckled mothers alike. Where a knowingly subverted logo can be emblazoned across the t-shirt of a hipster wearing a pair of Converse trainers, brand stars shining unmolested. What is the real reality of consumer culture?
As Real As It Gets, organised by material culture guru Rob Walker, looks at fictional products and asks how different are they from reality, and to what extent are we really autonomous from the string-pulling of the marketing svengalis. Featuring work by a host of artists and designers, as well as musical accompaniment by Disquiet Junto and a hands-on make-your-own product event, it runs until 22nd December at Apexart on Church Street, New York.