Employees or visitors to Facebook’s main campus in Menlo Park, Calif., may have noticed some interesting street signs and other artwork, and it turns out that the source was Los Angeles-based artist Matthew LaPenta.
Animal New York reported that LaPenta was responsible for the following four pieces of artwork in and around the social network’s headquarters:
- “Big Brother,” next to the construction site for Facebook’s West Campus expansion.
- “Neighborhood Watch,” at the entrance to the main campus.
- “Mutilated Thumb,” at the Menlo Park Skate Park.
- “Share/Take,” at the entrance to Facebook’s offices.
LaPenta also handed out T-shirts at the Silicon Valley Art Fair.
LaPenta has been creating Facebook-related art for three years, and he told Animal New York in an email:
I think I’ve honed it in more with these and gave them better context.
I got fed up with my own addiction and the way Facebook treats its users.
The funny thing is I still use Facebook as a communication platform, I just don’t believe in some of their practices and the way they actively exploit their users.
The artist also offered more details in an email to Business Insider:
I became a bit obsessed with the Facebook color palette a few years ago in some of my minimalist Internet interpretations. Facebook had become such an integral part of my life, and I thought that it was a bit pathetic, to be honest. But on the other side of it, I have friends all over the country and the world, so it is integral in my everyday routine if I want to keep a connection to all these “friends.”
The reason I created this new body of work was inspired by Facebook’s aggressive attack on its users’ rights — specifically the part when they say, “Whatever you post to Facebook is ours.” Or maybe it was their use of controlling your News Feed to do psychological mind experiments. Or it could have been their continued partnership with the NSA (National Security Agency).
Look, I don’t hate Mark Zuckerberg, I just think he needed an artistic/comedic reality check. There are a lot of similarities between the 1984 novel by George Orwell and Facebook. They have the ability to control the information you are fed and they can see all of your social activity. We have given up our rights to use this free software platform, however. It was the users who actively decided to forfeit a bit of freedom.
Maybe it’s the users that need a comedic reality check. Maybe I made this work for myself. Maybe I need to stop using Facebook so much.
It’s also ironic that I’ll probably post this article to my Facebook page. Am I bragging? I don’t think so. Am I self-obsessed? I try hard not to be in this selfie world, but Facebook has reach and power. It’s almost counterproductive to not use it. We just need to always be looking over our shoulder from now on.
I was expecting to get a bunch of likes on my Facebook page. And that’s exactly what I got. I think people get it, but they don’t open up a dialogue about it.
Readers: What did you think of LaPenta’s artwork?
Photos by Matthew LaPenta, via Animal New York.