An army of profiles crafted to love and like. Constructed to resemble and be counted as audience members on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. Like zoooming in on a laugh track, replicant memories of the small figures on an architects scale model, the family that came with the picture frame.

Thousands of real looking profiles, who’s attention is for sale on Ebay and shady websites. You buy, the army clicks and likes…..you! Images of stranger’s weddings, other people’s picnics shape them to look like actual persons. With additional popular hashtags from a hashtag top 1000 database to complete the artificial identity. Hashtag selfie. Package deals with high retention followers, slowly delivered to your account, you shall have 100k followers that will not be deleted immediately. You will look like you are loved and noticed. You might even trick yourself into thinking you are worth all the attention the number of followers suggests.

Somewhere out there tonight, like any other night, someone is assembling these followers. Writing algorithms that compile profiles from random images harvested online in all languages of the world. Seized from countless representations of personal ambitions, disconnected from their origins and aura. Cropped to fit the square Instagram format, like salvaged identity collages. Beautiful fictional portraits, assembled without emotion and sold to the highest bidder. A human can see if the profile looks fake after some practice, but continuous parameter changes prevent automated deletion. 5 images, following thousands of people, and no one cares about their life. They can be used to influence politics, by supporting political causes online, and even add relevance to art. Amassed from appropriated content, hashtag icebucketchallenge, hashtag Assad, hashtag Nike, hashtag post-internet.

Audience is a commodity. A commodity to sell to advertisers, to sell to ambitious artists that want their work to be seen. A target group of people to captivate, thrill, and buzz whatever to. Mediated and visually captivating brand retention to ensure burgeoning cultural significance with a dash of sex and rebellion. Audience is what we want, the reason people once fantasized being on television game shows, the imaginary crowd that lets you finish your sentences.

As Brad Troemel stated in his 2013 essay ‘Athletic Aesthetics‘ in The New Inquiry: “…what the artist once accomplished by making commodities that could stand independently from them is now accomplished through their ongoing self- commodification. This has reversed the traditional recipe that you need to create art to have an audience. Today’s artist on the Internet needs an audience to create art.”