Name, first nameMariaYear of birth1990UniversityECALField of Interest / research fieldArt Direction in Typography / in Photography Title of projectI pictured it like ParisAbstractI pictured it like Paris: visual representation of family, legacy and class in attention economy

The rise of Artificial Intelligence and automation of jobs has led humans to yearn for experiences that are perceived as authentic. In the World Economic Forum meeting held in Davos in January 2018 the founder of Ali Baba, Jack Ma addressed this part of our current: “I think we should teach our kids sports, music, painting, art – to make sure humans are different. Everything we teach should be different from machines. If the machine can do better you need to think about it.” The notion of authenticity prevails in all areas of the lifestyle market from cooking to hand-made objects and appreciation of skills, importance of the origin and the content we desire to consume. We live in the age of attention economy where there is an abundance of information and content creating a fierce competition of our attention. This raises questions I will explore in my thesis: what is authenticity in the context of attention economy? If anyone can be famous, who do we follow?

Relevancy in attention economy is achieved through building personal narratives, seen in the success stories of brands that strongly identify to a person. Steve Jobs and Apple. Bill Gates and Microsoft. Kylie Jenner’s lip kit. Tesla and Elon Musk. The Hiltons. The Kardashian-Jenners, Hadids, Beckhams, Smiths. I am interested in why the family unit as an brand and a concept itself has surfaced so prominently in the 2000s and how it is linked to attention economy. I and others are obsessed with ”the children of your favorite celebrities” who instead of land and constituencies receive beauty, connections and fame as a birthright. I use Paris Hilton as an case, positioning her as an prototype of the phenomena, a blueprint for the various reality TV family brands after her that have crafted an controlled image in their own terms.

In 2000, Vanity Fair featured an interview in the September issue titled Hip-Hop Debs with the Hilton hotel heiresses Nicky and Paris Hilton, 16 and 19 respectively. The interview was illustrated with images shot by David LaChapelle where the sisters are clad in skimpy clothes, standing next to a vintage Bentley with motel neon signs in the background. In one image, later sold as Cibachrome print at an art auction in 2017 with a title Paris Hilton: Grandma Hilton’s House, Paris Hilton is positioned as a rebellious character. She is wearing a miniskirt, aviator sunglasses and a top made entirely of fishnet. In one hand, she holds a cigarette. The other hand is raised to a middle finger. She is set, in what could be derived from the title, her grandma’s house in a room of grandeur with several antique seating areas, draped curtains and a large white carpet. Behind her on the carpet lies a discarded white morning jacket, a nod to Marilyn Monroe-like character of a femme fatale and seductress. In the interview, Paris Hilton is followed around by a film crew making a documentary TV show with a working title Guest List Only. She is quoted planning a cosmetics line together with her family: “We’re doing a cosmetics line together -- We’re calling it Paris and Nicky. My mom is really handling all that.” Almost two decades later, Paris Hilton has built a perfume business with an estimated worth of two billion dollars with over 20 fragrances, most featuring a campaign of herself. This is now a familiar pattern that doesn’t seem to have an end date. In my thesis I will explore how visual representation of family, legacy and class is intertwined with attention economy.
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I pictured it like ParisI pictured it like ParisI pictured it like Paris