Aidan Fitzgerald consuming content.
Aidan Fitzgerald consuming content. Screenshot from Work Day

From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today, Seattle "interdisciplinary content generator" Aidan Fitzgerald plans to scroll through Twitter and Instagram on his phone, becoming the ultimate consumer of the internet's number one commodity: content.

He's live-streaming the performance, which he's calling Work Day, on YouTube. Watch it here:

A recording of the performance will be featured in Content – Aware, his upcoming show at Mount Analogue. In addition to the video, Fitzgerald will also present installations, prints, books, drawings and sculpture that investigate "the separation of Art and Content, and the impossibility of the artist to fully realize their endeavors." Curator Colleen Louise Barry describes the show as "a group show, except it’s all made by one guy."

The idea binding these works together might particularly resonate for those of us who spend most of our lives feeding or eating the internet.

The internet flattens visual art, literature, journalism, blogs, and entire human beings into an addictive scroll of endless content. Resistance is futile. Just listen to the way we talk. Openly and without irony editors and publishers refer to the stuff they publish in their outlets as "content." Becoming an artist or writer means daily tending to your personal "brand" by adding "content" to your various social media feeds. (People used to say those words with quotes around them. Now they don't.) That content often takes the form of paintings, poems, stories, and sentences in various stages of completion—and it's presented alongside memes, bad opinions, hot takes, fake news, and photographs of people drinking wine at wineries while wearing broad-brimmed hats.

Though the internet has flattened all these modes, it hasn't necessarily democratized them. Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerburg, Tim Cook, Jack Dorsey, and Sundar Pichai are the world's new curators/gatekeepers. If you want the world to see your stuff, you have to game their algorithms.

And yet, the physical stuff—or, if you will, which you shouldn't, but you might—the "soul" of the content actually does live in the world. The painting is propped up in a studio. The story is printed in a quarterly magazine, which is resting on a shelf at a Barnes & Nobel or Open Books. The sculpture is covered in cloth waiting to be viewed.

The fact of all that matter, according to Barry and Fitzgerald, raises some interesting questions: "What does this work look like in a gallery, when it knows it’s on the way out? What does art look like when it doesn’t know what it wants to be, and knows that at the end of the day it’s just content to be tapped and scrolled past? What is the work made by an artist who has no idea how to make work anymore?"

Full disclosure: Aidan Fitzgerald, the artist who created this high quality content, is a friend. But that also means I have his phone number, which means that I can text him while he's sitting in that white chair scrolling through his phone, which means that you, me, and that interdisciplinary content generator in the livefeed above are about to make some collaborative art starting....