PRINCE VARUGHESE THOMAS: "MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE" | ARTIST STATEMENT: "Masters of the Universe" is a series of portraits of the top earning YouTube stars. They are known as “Content Creators” and their subscriber base earns them millions of dollars in income. Within this series, I have created portraits of these stars that span the range from serious content creators who use their creativity to produce new forms of engagement with their audience to the absurd. These portraits of YouTube stars are appropriated from the internet and integrated into famous paintings by Masters like Rembrandt, David, or Goya to humourously give gravitas to this cultural phenomena. YouTube as a platform gives voice to the voiceless. Those marginalized, that would generally be ignored in mainstream media platforms such as television or film, have an opportunity through YouTube to create content that is entertaining and/or educational. For example, Lily Singh & Liza Koshy. Both bring creativity and intellect to their channels in humorous, thoughtful, and entertaining ways. In addition, they are two examples of how the social/internet media can give a voice to underrepresented communities that could not historically have the same opportunities in mainstream media. Both are minority women of South Asian ancestry that found a way to be heard without the means of traditional modes of engagement. They are two examples of what the potential of the medium has to offer in the sea of fluff. I present them in the same way that I do the other YouTube personalities that are more vacuous (in my opinion) to not necessarily put a value judgement on it but simply present the vast array of possibilities. What I find interesting is what we call “content” these days and the willingness of millions of people to watch countless hours of other peoples’ daily lives. This includes watching others play video games, put on make-up, go out partying, or “unboxing” various toys or luxury items. These stars are clearly tapping into something in culture that is of interest to vast majorities – whom am I to say that what they are creating is not of value?
Saturday, April 4, 2020 to Saturday, May 9, 2020