Dear Mr Zuckerburg
Dear Mr Zuckerberg ~ A song for Surveillance Capitalism
For 2 years, Jeremy Hutchison has been corresponding with Mark Zuckerberg. Posting messages on his own Instagram account (@jeremyhutchison) the artist's letters to the tech billionaire cover everything from geo-politics to climate change, data privacy to Facebook’s trial in US congress. Some letters chart more personal territory, keeping the tycoon abreast of domestic trivia and absurd reflections from the bathtub.
Now the artist has transformed his correspondence into a music video - starring Zuckerberg himself. Made in collaboration with the artist Oisin Byrne @byrneoisin and sound designer @donalsweeney, the work is a synth-pop anthem, performed by dozens of animated maquettes of the singing tech tycoon. Hutchison describes the work as an absurdist monument to the Silicon Valley oligarch:
“At a moment when monuments of white imperialists are being torn down” the artist says, “I thought it would be nice to erect one to Mr Zuckerberg - to reflect on his colonial legacy.”
Hutchison began writing to Zuckerberg in early 2019 - in response to his friend joking that he physically resembled the Facebook founder. “I started to realise how much we had in common. Two white guys, nudging middle age, juggling work and family life. I wanted to address him as an equal.
“During the lockdown, the letters have acquired a new dimension. They’ve become a vehicle to articulate our shared experience, quarantined in our white privilege, watching economies tank, governments lurch towards fascism, and race relations explode across the streets.”
But the underlying theme of these letters is the labour contract: the one that Facebook and Instagram depend on. Given that Zuckerberg generates revenue from his users’ online labour, Hutchison’s correspondence offers a wry acknowledgement of the unspoken servitude that connects him to the tech billionaire: “If I’m going to work for Mr Zuckerberg”, Hutchison says, “I should probably report to him.”