At this current juncture in history we continue to watch the revolution that is Industry 4.0 transform and contort our everyday lives, encouraging a new era of manufacturing that has taken on the label of ‘smart’ through the integration of the IoT, AI, cyber-physical systems, and Cloud and cognitive computing. During this autonomous movement we continue to see the corporatisation and co-option of public space, on and offline, transforming how we navigate through cities with the rise of the share economy, or the precarious economy dubbed by its dedicated labourers, alongside social networks becoming unrecognisable and akin to the NSA, developing targeted, algorithmically produced ads and troll farms, harvesting and utilising your data to expand hyper-capitalist conglomerates and increasingly totalitarian agendas.
Amidst the rubble of a pre-internet utopian neoliberal ideology, where corporations are supposedly more trustworthy than governments, algorithms have been permitted to run free, evolving and reproducing at an alarming rate. Where is the hole that the human race slots into within this new world? Will we still be needed? Were we ever? How does an artist function when an android has the ability to produce a priceless work of art, or a painting farm in a far-off country can be commissioned over the internet to produce yet another copy of the Mona Lisa? Soon, androids and AI systems will be competing alongside us, as equals and individuals in a new world order, eventually inserting themselves onto every rung of the societal ladder.
Duty Free seeks to analyse these contemporary consumerist questions and ideological quandaries, with the book featuring documentation from the exhibition and a number of essays grappling with these increasingly pertinent subjects, from the corporatisation of public space and the influx of utopian ideals to the automation of industry and everyday activities accompanied by the capitalisation and utilisation of the internet as a space for corporate ownership within an increasingly gamified culture.