August 15, 2021
The artist and Social Media critic on his work subverting the manipulative practices of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter
How artist Ben Grosser is cutting Mark Zuckerberg down to size
When the history of the first decades of this century comes to be written, there will be few more telling artworks than Ben Grosser’s film Order of Magnitude. In the 47 minute video, Grosser, a digital artist and professor of new media at the University of Illinois, has spliced together every public instance in which Mark Zuckerberg has talked of “more” and “bigger”. The resulting montage of interviews and presentations is a fast forward of the rapid growth of Facebook as, in the chief executive’s mouth, thousands become millions then billions. It makes a mesmerising monologue, the story of our times.
“The idea that Zuckerberg latched on to even more than anyone else in Silicon Valley,” Grosser suggested, when he spoke to me from Urbana via Zoom last week, “was the need to grow as big as fast as possible, get the largest market share. And everything was subservient to that.” The film is part of a double act. Grosser has also spliced together all the moments he can find of Zuckerberg ever mentioning numbers diminishing or things getting smaller. This film runs for 30 seconds, though in a new version for his forthcoming exhibition at the Arebyte Gallery in London, he has slowed those seconds down so it also runs for 47 minutes.
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