Throwing Voices – Celebrity & the Attention Economy

David Campbell, Mark Durden, Ian Brown

Research output: Other contribution


This research extends Campbell’s investigation, with the artists’ group Common Culture, into the processes of commodification within popular culture. It explores the relationship between “celebrity” and the “attention economy”, which is understood as the environment in which digital products and services relentlessly compete to capture our attention. By appropriating, mimicking and recontextualizing material from celebrity interviews, YouTube vlogs and their online responses, the research investigates the use of ventriloquism to interrogate and challenge the forms and conventions used by television and online media to produce attention capital. Each of the works employs humour and contextual displacement to explore the principle of ‘throwing voices’ to create a viewing experience in which the normative forms and conventions of media representations of celebrity are defamiliarized and made available for critical reconsideration.
The video installation Vent parodies television celebrity interviews through a fractured ventriloquist act in order to explore how traumatic personal content is molded and monetized as popular entertainment. In the video works The Age of Chopping Off Heads Common Culture composed and performed pop songs drawn from celebrity confessions, which are then interpreted through dance as music videos. OMG I love common culture !!!! ❤️❤️❤️❤️ was made in response to an American internet celebrity who in order to capitalize on the intimate relationship he had built with his online followers, had trademarked the name ‘Common Culture’ to brand, promote and sell a range of products. By turning the gallery into our own Common Culture shop, with logo, weblink and an accumulation of graphic stickers based on the online posts of the celebrity’s fan base, the exhibition involved a parodic mimicry of the internet celebrity’s commodification of himself and his products. It explored how the aesthetics, interactions and transactional intimacy built by internet personalities are ruthlessly deployed to convert followers into consumers.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationMidlands Arts Centre, Birmingham
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jul 2016


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