This is the world of the 99-cent lifeform. Like a social media profile or an online shopping list tailored to our hobbies, we collect genetically modified pets, engineered to look like their owners.
Welcome to the world of the 99 cent life form. Alexey Marfin brings us to a nearby future where social media takes on a new pet-like life form. Pets are genetically modified and engineered to look like their owners.
What if your Facebook profile is just a little pet that looks like you?
I wanted to tell a story that bridged two worlds of social media culture. On one hand, there’s this world of the perfect profile: a world of narcissism, a world where we love ourselves and create online profiles on social media to share a perfectly curated ‘pet’ image of ourselves with everyone else. That’s what it is, basically, the Facebook profile — creating a little pet that kind of looks like you, kind of has the same tastes and interests as you, but all in a very controlled and artificial way. On the other hand, there’s a whole industry cashing in on this self-love. Data brokers like Acxiom buy hoards of this personal data; categorizing and manipulating our ‘likes’ and ‘check-ins’ for market research and targeted advertising, effectively commodifying us and our lifestyles. For example, in 2014 our medical details were worth around 25 cents, whereas our shopping details were worth only 0.1 cents. In total, a person is worth around 1 US dollar, digitally. So the second part of the story is about de-personalizing the personal: looking at the same ‘uniqueness’, but now from a very un-individual and commercialized perspective.
Where he has originally charmed us with the blue-eyed fish in the trailer last year, we quickly realize that the film takes it a deeper step further. While keeping the pace soft-spoken, we are kept on the rails through a clean and zen-like environment that showcases a perfect image, while getting grittier when seeing the backside and business part of the social profile.