Categories
Art and Design House Technology

Neutralizing reality to sell

Liked this house may or may not be real (Tumblr)

In my travels as McMansion Hell, I’ve increasingly been confronted with houses full of furniture that isn’t real. This is known as virtual staging and it is to house staging as ChatGPT is to press release writing or DALL-E is to illustration.

The better this rendering technology gets, the more it will rely on these totally neutral spaces because everything matches and nothing is difficult. You are picking from a catalog of greige furniture to decorate greige rooms.

This is where things are heading: artifice on top of artifice on top of artifice. It’s cheap, it’s easy. But something about it feels like a violation.

If neutrality makes a house sell, then personality – at all – can only be seen as a detriment.

So who’s doing this? The answer is real estate itself aided by their allies in mass media who in turn are aided by the home renovation industry. In other words, it’s the people who sell home as a commodity. That desire to sell has for some time overpowered all other elements that make up a home or an apartment’s interiority to the point where we’ve ended up in a colorless slurry of real and unreal.

Emphasis mine.

Categories
Art and Design Culture Society

Article pairing: the monotony of modern culture

Why Culture Sucks by John Ganz

There’s something very slight and unsatisfying about recent film, television, art, architecture, design, fashion, cuisine—you name it… It often feels like we’re being fed the cultural equivalent of Soylent, a kind of nutrient-rich goo that we’re supposed to believe does the same thing as food.

In place of art, we have “content,” which in its very conception makes cultural products totally interchangeable, just stuff to fill up space.

See also: The Homogeneity of Millenial Design

20th century modernist avant-garde movements implicitly understood the experience of world-loss and their projects were often about reinvesting the lifeworld with an aesthetic character. They built world-views as much as artworks, trying to come up with new entire styles of architecture, design, novels, poetry, painting, and sculpture.

(Emphasis mine)

 

Pop Culture has Become an Oligopoly by Adam Mastroianni

In every corner of pop culture––movies, TV, music, books, and video games––a smaller and smaller cartel of superstars is claiming a larger and larger share of the market. What used to be winners-take-some has grown into winners-take-most and is now verging on winners-take-all.

See also: Where did the long tail go? by Ted Gioia

As options multiply, choosing gets harder. You can’t possibly evaluate everything, so you start relying on cues like “this movie has Tom Hanks in it” or “I liked Red Dead Redemption, so I’ll probably like Red Dead Redemption II,” which makes you less and less likely to pick something unfamiliar.

Another way to think about it: more opportunities means higher opportunity costs, which could lead to lower risk tolerance.

A couple years back I had an art project that sold shirts, and posted for some advice in a t-shirt forum. The other sellers wished me luck selling original designs: the only thing people wanted to buy, in their experience, were IP that they liked. (I suspect that’s partly true, but also that discoverability is a problem. If you just want a cool t-shirt, it’s a lot of searching and browsing to find something totally new that you like versus looking for a Star Wars shirt.)

Movies, TV, music, books, and video games should expand our consciousness, jumpstart our imaginations, and introduce us to new worlds and stories and feelings. They should alienate us sometimes, or make us mad, or make us think. But they can’t do any of that if they only feed us sequels and spinoffs…

We haven’t fully reckoned with what the cultural oligopoly might be doing to us.

See also: Book industry insights from Penguin Random House merger trial

It’s like anti-entropy: culture converges when profit is the sole motivator, and efficiency is nirvana. Why take risks when the formula works?