Like if you Like Commodification


Clearly not an advertisement

It seems that last year’s Burn Wall Street‘s “ironic” use of Bank of “un”America logos, has set the tone for future Burning Mans to come.

Earlier in the year, we brought you news of the giant iPhone advertisement – which the artist assures us is just an ironic homage.

Now, Facebook is getting on the scene too. There’s gonna be a great big LIKE Thumbs Up out there on the Playa, for all of us to see. We go to the desert, to be reminded of our iPhones and Social Media – in an ironic way, of course. Ah, the Brave New World.

From the Huffington Post:

If Facebook were to disappear tomorrow, what would happen to all the precious “likes” accrued over the years?

This might seem like a trivial question, but Dutch group Dadara would disagree. The art collective has launched an Indiegogo campaign, titled “Like4Real,” that asks precisely this: “What happens if Facebook vanishes into the digital ether, or the Spring of Eternal Likes dries up one day… will we go bankrupt because of our investments in accumulating Likes?”

Dadara isn’t really attempting to answer the lofty question. Instead it is planning on constructing a massive effigy acknowledging our shared obsession with social network “liking” in the best way possible — a fiery art project at Burning Man. The giant installation — a golden thumbs-up symbol erected on a black altar — would allow playa visitors to “worship” at the foot of Facebook IRL, before the oversized sculpture is set aflame in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert.

like 4 real

Dadara, the group credited with constructing the Burning Greymen, theExchanghibition Bank and the Transformoney Tree, has already raised over $4,000 for its ode to “Like” culture, and has 31 days to go before its opportunity to raise its intended $10,000 expires. The lowest possible donation is $1, a contribution that earns backers their very own “virtual like.” The most expensive? A $1,000 donation that gets you to “Enlikement.”

So, if this project comes to fruition, what will happen to “Like4Real” after Burning Man? “After [the] burn, as a Phoenix emerging from hot ashes, Like4Real will rise to become an ongoing project in the real world,” the group explains on Indiegogo, “where we aim to explore the various facets of our real and virtual relationships.”

The symbol represented here, dates back to the Roman days in the Coliseum. It’s to do with giving the overlords the power of life and death over the population who serve them (slaves didn’t even get invited to the Games). When gladiators fought to the death, before dealing the killing blow to their brutally savaged victim, they would turn to Caesar. Caesar would survey the crowd, then signal “thumbs up” (they get to live and fight again, in servitude to their Master) or “thumbs down” (murder the other guy). It’s wonderful that we celebrate this symbol of authority’s control over life and death without understanding it, just like in an actual Cargo Cult.

[Update: there’s another Facebook project this year. This seems more clever and arty though…STATUS UPDATE]

No word yet on if the Google “Chrome Zones” will be popping up this year in Center Camp. Or perhaps we will all drink free “blue Bull”, or “Coke”…in an ironic fashion, of course.


chrome zone store

14 comments on “Like if you Like Commodification

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  4. I hate it. Sure, they can say that it has the intention of an effigy, but it’s a blatant ad for Facebook. If they get their funding, that’s because Facebook donated.

    On top of that, it’s not clever, it’s not intricate it’s not creative… it’s just devaluing burning man as an event because it’s demonstrating that companies can have ads on the playa.

    Whoever said they would break it before it burns is right. That or it should burn as soon add it is up, lest someone else ignights it for them.

  5. I think the thumbs up sign is a very intelligent artwork within the theme of Cargo Cult. We seem to have become dependant on getting Likes, we reach out for likes and we feel good about liking things. What value does that really have? Dadara points this out by taking Liking very seriously. This art work is from another level than just posting a sign that ironcally shows golden arches.
    The argument that this would be a reflection of commodities, well… Hasn’t Burning Man itself become a sort of commodity ?

    • Yes, I agree, Burning Man is becoming increasingly commodified with every year. The most blatant and consistent violator of the “decommodification” principle, is BMOrg…not Burners. If they put the like sign and said “Satan” or “CUNT” under it, I would find it more humorous and ironic, and less of an advertisment for Facebook.

    • Perhaps this would be better received if it were in some way perverted, I.E. thumb down. As is, I would say the line is too thin and it smacks of advertisement. Incidentally, is it ironic that I can log in with FB to post this comment? :-/

  6. Hate it. Thumbs down. Who needs this advertisement for Facebook on the playa? Totally hate it. I truly hope it doesn’t get all its funding. I’m not going this year, but I’d hope not to see it in the photographs after the event 😉

  7. Honestly, I hate it. I would much rather see more original ideas from the heart come to fruition at Burning Man, than some cheap temple of doom paying homage to all of that which we are trying to escape! If I saw this on the playa, I would break it before it burned…..because it enrages me soooo much. It might as well be an advertisement. Come on people, dig deeper.

    • As expected. For the great throngs of attendees the art is little more than window dressing for a Bacchanal drug fueled dance orgy. Which is fine and good, but I’m more interested in the art.

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