This interactive installation uses QR codes to explore consumer culture, sexual and gender identity, imitation, and exhibitionism via social media.


//COMMENT!//SUBSCRIBE!// Trailer from R P W on Vimeo.

Hi, my name is Rachel Whitlock, though you may also know me as Rae. I have been selected as a Highlighted Artist for the 2013 {Re} Happening at the Black Mountain College campus on April 6th 2013. I am presenting an interactive installation that is very close to my heart, and I would like to share it with you!

This is a project which examines a narrow subset of American teenager, but it is about community and culture at largeIn the Fall of 2012, I became fascinated with the breadth of personal videos posted to YouTube and spent hours immersing myself in this subculture, trying to make sense of what I saw. In these videos, adolescent girls present an intimate portrait of their lives by vlogging, dancing to their favorite pop songs, or showing off their latest “mall hauls.” I immediately identified with these girls and was intrigued by the private matters chosen for display on the very public forum of the internet. By appropriating and curating these public diary entries, I offer a glimpse into the confusing world of female adolescence.Within 3 weeks of developing the concept, I presented the first production of //COMMENT!//SUBSCRIBE!// as a one-night installation at Static Age Records in downtown Asheville. Now it is time to expand my concept. The videos are presented via QR codes, which can be accessed with any smart phone or tablet and a QR reader app (which is free).

Some of the videos are silly and creative, some are self-concious and vain, and some are heart-wrenching and sad. So many of these girls are obsessed with presenting an unattainable image, rendered “true” through a constant onslaught of highly-processed media.

The overall effect is disturbing, raising questions regarding the private vs. public, prescribed gender roles, and the force of social media in our lives.

I find it important to represent these girls in a multi-dimensional way. It is easy to make harsh judgments about their decisons, about their seemingly unquenchable thirst for new products, their unchecked privledge and vanity, and their craving for positive feedback; underneath it all, however, you see in their eyes confusion, fear, and longing. They have been taught the pathway to love is paved with YouTube subscribers and massive view counts.

My funding goal is $500. Because I am doing a flexible funding campaign, anything you donate will go to the project (after a 9% service fee) whether I reach my goal or not. If I raise more than I need for this project, I will donate everything left over to Girls on the Run, a wonderful non-profit organization that inspires girls from 3rd-8th grade to live healthy, creative lives.

How Will the Money Be Spent?

I will transform one of the camp cabins into a teenager’s bedroom. The intimacy of the environment will contextualize the videos and allow viewers to empathize with the girls.

 $250 will be spent on bedding and bedroom decor. I will bolster this supply with my own teenage bedsheets (yes, I still have them). I envision posters, Christmas lights, and some nearly-forgotten stuffed animals. A blank diary will be available for comments and reactions to the piece.

-$60 to buy or rent a DVD player and TV. This will be set up inside a bedsheet fort in a corner of the cabin, looping a video piece I made which mirrors the appropriated videos.

-$50 for two sets of over the ear headphones and an output splitter to provide audio for the blanket fort video.

$40 will reimburse me for the costs of paper, ribbon, and printing for the QR codes. Twenty-three were created in December 2012 for the first presentation at Static Age Records; more will inhabit the cabin.

-$100 will allow myself and my partner to take a day off of our jobs to assemble this creation. No one gets paid for this sort of passion project, but you have the power to enable us to work.

Any bedroom decor I purchase (new or used) will in turn be donated to Habitat for Humanity, or given away on Craigslist. Your contribution will help a family in Western North Carolina.

Whether or not you can contribute financially, please share this campaign! Getting the word out about this project and about the {Re} Happening is immensely helpful. Please share on Facebook, in an email to your best lady friends, to your Women’s Studies professor, to your brother who just brought home his new baby daughter.

I hope you can join me on April 6th at the Black Mountain College Campus for an amazing evening, and I am grateful for your support.

Thank you so much for reading and sharing.