Nicole Ruggiero is a New York based 3d digital artist that incorporates various elements of technology, #netart , and modern-day internet culture. Her latest project, HyperCulture Hana, presents the challenges of Black Friday, capitalism, and more in collaboration with digital artist Michael Perzigian.
FeltZine: What does Hana stand for?
Nicole: Hana represents the idea of accelerationism, hypercapitalism, and how that’s influencing our culture right now due to machines and algorithms. The more digital we become, the more we see these algorithmic consequences. You’re on Amazon and you’re looking at [rollerskates], then you’re on Facebook and you see an ad for skates on the side! You see social accounts on Instagram and wonder, “Is this person even real?”
She represents someone at this age and in this time that is totally accepting of that and unaware of other possibilities and options! She’s happy with who she is and to consume. She likes product; she likes buying things and the internet. She’s growing up in this culture, so [her situation] is ‘this is who i am’ and ‘this is where i am.’
Is consumerism the only form of freedom in Hana’s world?
Anyone within a group of people can make change happen. The more we’re involved digitally and interacting with people, the more it influences our country.
Hana was made with the idea in mind that the things driving this force are technology; We had Japanese culture in mind as well since they’re a leading tech hub. On a sub-cultural level, she was influenced by people that form their own communities online under certain hashtags (e.g. PastelGrunge). People in these cultures are just being themselves and trying to understand these things and making their place in this world. They’re usually growing up with this technology in this lifestyle and they’re not necessarily aware of changing anything, they’re just being themselves and trying to make their own place within this world. That was an important part in creating her.
How did your collaboration with Michael Perzigian come about?
We had talked about collaborating a while ago. We met about 6-12 months ago and i was just messaging him. He made a figurine recently and I said ‘I really like that, what if we made one together?’ and he said “that’s so cool!! i’m going to start right now!” We slammed out all this work in 4-5 days and it was very intense! We released between Black Friday/Cyber Monday and we were wondering about Cyber Monday like, “When did this happen?? Why is this different from Black Friday?? He has made figurines before and that was something he helped a lot with. I don’t ever put clothes on my characters, so he helped with that. We have very similar skill sets, so we were really working in tandem. He also did the music.
Does Hana bring any answers to how humanity can restructure society to avoid wealth disparity or inequality in that future world?
Well the reason we created was not to critique the current system, but to make people aware of it. So that’s a question I would ask you haha.
I see a character that has all of this freedom and control in terms of consumerism, but with an eerie feeling that this purchasing power is all they have. It made me think about freedoms that we possess now that might be erased in the future. Would future generations like HyperCulture Hana even realize that they lost those rights?
Speaking as an artist, you’re sometimes forced to work with these big brands and to move into that consumer corporate culture in order to live. We have the figurine ($10,000) and prints ($30) for the other end of the market. We knew there was going to be this disparity because the people interested in this figurine probably can’t afford it and that’s really interesting. The normal method of making a certain amount of money is to say, “Oh let me go to a brand or pitch to corporate so they can help me do this project.’ That can be cool sometimes, but it’s almost…necessary. I think it’s interesting that it’s a part of the way we’re living now.
Do you think this form of payment for the Rich and the Poor is good for the future art marketplace?
Being able to mass produce something and mass market it is great. A lot of things are crowdsourced nowadays and the work we did for this was totally reasonable for $10,000. We spent 5 days producing, creating, and spending money on the materials for this; So that’s completely a reasonable thing. If we’re only making one art piece for an individual to own, it kind of takes the idea of mass production out of it since that’s a singular thing that exists. That’s the art aspect of it.
We did the currency in pounds because i wanted it to relate back to PC Music. My work falls very in line with their aesthetic which is really cool. I had a lot of people talking to me about PC Music before I knew what it was! They’re people with style similar to mine, so that’s why it’s in pounds versus U.S. dollars.
Any inspirations that you’d like to note?
I want to give a shoutout to Michael Perzigian because we sat for like 5 days on Skype and neither of us left our apartment until we did it! We went through a series of emotional ups and down during this period of time. I also want to thank Nic Symbios who introduced me to accelerationism and taught me more about PC Music.
HyperCulture Hana is available now at: http://enterthehyperculture.bigcartel.com/
Nicole Ruggiero is currently based in Brooklyn, NY. For inquiries, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org