Constant Dullaart has created a new piece that takes a critical look at social media. With High Retention, Slow Delivery (2014) Constant Dullaart targets the contemporary attention economy as brought to life by social media networks like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.
Constant Dullaart has created a new piece that takes a critical look at social media. With High Retention, Slow Delivery (2014) Constant Dullaart targets the contemporary attention economy as brought to life by social media networks like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter. With their sharing mechanisms (e.g. „Likes“, „Retweets“, „Followers“ and „Friends“) these social media stimulate “an appreciation system based on popularity over quality, and social skills over talent”. The more Followers, Likes, Retweets and Friends you have, the better. The more attention you get, the more valuable you become in the context of social media. Attention has become the new, extremely hard currency – and “Friends” have become the agents of this economy. Ultimately, the quantification of everything leads to a total capitalization of community1.
However, sometimes the numbers of Followers, Friends, Retweets and Likes seem to be improbably high. Constant Dullart got interested precisely in these “unnaturally” high numbers. Who were all these Friends and Followers who constantly Liked, Clicked and Retweeted? Going through hundreds of profiles of various „armies“ of Followers the artist soon noticed that many of those profiles were entirely machine-generated, consisting of randomly harvested photos and names of people found online. Most of these fake ‘Potyomkin’ profiles display exactly five photos and bear strange combination of names.
You can buy these machine-generated Followers in packs of thousands in order to increase your fame: “It’s not who you know, it’s who follows you.” Ebay is the preferred place of trade. “High Retention, Slow Delivery” is an advertisement slogan used to sell fake Followers: It refers to the amount of time the Followers stay with one’s account, and how they are ‘delivered’: they will be added slowly and in small groups, and therefore everything will look just normal.
With High Retention, Slow Delivery Constant Dullaart has created a social media hack that has the goal of literally, quote, „spreading attention economy socialism“. How does this work? Dullaart buys large quantities of artificial Instagram (and at a later point in time also Twitter) Followers whom he then assigns and spreads exactly evenly to various people on these platforms. For this project he uses the Instagram and Twitter platforms as here one does not have to explicitly “accept” Followers, unlike on Facebook and LinkedIn for example. One could potentially add an unlimited numbers of Followers to any Instagram and Twitter account.
„Spreading attention economy socialism“ means literally that Constant Dullaart will set the amount of Followers of a certain number of people to the same number, thus making it impossible to see who is more popular than the other. Numbers thus become useless because everybody is the same.
This performative, time-based work exists during the social media hack and consists of the processs of temporarily altering relations between points/actors. There is no material object, only an online video documentation with a voice over explaining the process. High Retention, Slow Delivery (2014) messes up the process of quantification which is so central for the current attention economy. By re-distributing and re-assigning the new hard currency of our increasingly quantified society it renders a central element of social media useless. Oh, btw, Dullaart is a real name. Like it or not.
Dr. Inke Arns
1 / See Byung-Chul Han, “Kommunismus als Ware”, Süddeutsche Zeitung, 2. September 2014, http://www.sueddeutsche.de/politik/neoliberales-herrschaftssystem-warum-heute-keine-revolution-moeglich-ist-1.2110256
Website : http://net.artdatabase.org.