A meeting of minds and a conversation in time between Vonn_R of Curated Futures and Not Vogue’s Steve Oklyn… We’re casting our gaze beyond 2014. In fact to be more precise, we’ve pitched up in 2023. Everything as we knew it in the “here and now” – socially, culturally, economically, politically – has altered.
Artwork by Jordan Ivan Cohen.
I begin to stir from my sleep. My mind is chaotic, the room is spinning. I grab the phial marked RETROSPECTIVITY and gulp it down. It’s the only way I am going to be able to get through the day. The spinning stops. The other thoughts begin…
We have lived through extreme and unsettling times; key components of society that we had taken for granted as always being “the way,” are no more. They say everything appears in slow motion when you’re involved in a car crash, all the detail vividly transfixed waiting for the intake of breath, and reality, to hit. Looking back now, in hindsight, to the series of global events that did then “hit,” it is all so clear; the austerity measures, world-scale fraud cases, power-grid collapses, banking misdemeanours, the list goes on… The historians, statisticians, sociologists working away in musty back rooms and the politicians trying to effect a positive “spin” on that period, here, today, have labelled it as the “Disruptive Directive 2008-2013.”
What followed was a time that gave rise to bottom-up power assertions and shifts in power bases – globally, governmentally, industrially, and sociologically. The ensuing panic led to the “Great Inversion” of 2013-2018, a dystopic period equivalent in many ways to the “Great Depression” of the 1930s. The great novelist Joseph Conrad was quoted as saying: “To the destructive element submit yourself.” Had it been resubmitted in these times, this mindset could have, should have, saved the reckoning that was soon to unfold. However, those fearing change, with attachment to control and a “fight or flight” culture – i.e. governments, educational systems, global “top-down” organisations – collapsed in on themselves, dragging the masses behind them. This was the final shedding of all pre-transformed life…
My retrospectivity is pulled back sharply by an alarm going off in the background; it’s 09.45, 01.08.23; time to get ready and go meet Steve Oklyn…
While waiting for Vonn R., I check my watch. It is time for the red CHEMS. I swallow one 100 mg pill stamped “DROMOS.” Within seconds, my brain awakens with heightened acuity. Vonn arrives. Without any greeting, she transfers a file to my phone entitled RETROSPECTIVITY: VIRUS. After a few moments of reading and deliberation, I begin my response.
THE DISRUPTIVE DIRECTIVE: 2008-2013
On September 29, 2008, GOOGLE stock was trading at under $400 a share. I was in the waiting room of SinoPharma in Taipei. That day, my access to CHEMS was all that mattered. My reference symbol was OKLYN-5. Stage one of neural and behavioral design beta testing had just begun. The top designer at SinoPharma was a pre-NOT VOGUE follower of Steve Oklyn’s webcast entitled “ANTIPATHY.” All primary subjects were named OKLYN, and numbered one to infinity. A well-funded post-doctoral research team at MIT was in charge of the mind control program. The beta testing was a high-security matter for all involved. Noted virologist Dr. Canyon T. Phipps helmed R&D at SinoPharma. I forgot to mention that SinoPharma was owned by LVMH. The goal was to develop an addictive drug to enhance and prolong the global consumer’s biological and psychological dependence on consumer rapture. It was to be marketed as COME, a pill for enhanced sexual performance. Male boomers started taking the pills in mass quantities. It is now known that the chief side effect of LVMH-C (COME) was profound ethical disengagement, especially in relation to financial matters. In a few short years, the world’s resources went from a balanced division to a radical upset as the one percenters – focused on reliving the virility of their youth – acted out a pathological need for absolute control and personal gain at all costs. On July 16, 2013, SAC Capital Advisors founder Steven A. Cohen was hit with criminal charges from federal prosecutors and the FBI. The Wall Street drama that ensued marked the end of the era referred to as the DISRUPTIVE DIRECTIVE. This five-year period of massive global criminality on a governmental and corporate scale seems to lead, in retrospect, to the blue CHEM stamped “COME.” I can clearly remember the ads that appeared globally in 2010: Kate Upton, nude with parted lips, shot by Terry Richardson, with the word “COME” centered low on the image in large, sans-serif letters. It took only two years of global C-RAPTURE addiction to create the DISRUPTIVE DIRECTIVE algorithm: The one percenters control world resources and wealth + consumer rapture = global selfhood theft. In the spring of 2011, Steve Oklyn detected this destructive pattern, and began to formulate an intellectual antidote to the worldwide loss of individual identity: the NOT VOGUE project. From 2011 to 2013, Oklyn authored a series of words, symbols and signals to disrupt the primary DISRUPTIVE DIRECTIVE signal No.1. – making www.notvogue.com the global platform for the counterculture vs. the over-the-counter culture movement. By the summer of 2013, the majority of creative youth in every cultural capital had been brainwashed into believing that corporations created the culture, and that their role was solely to consume. The most successful method of youth control was branded fashion. Branded fashion operated according to a strategy referred to as THE ARCHITECTURE OF INFLUENCE, which was developed in the 1990s. It is an idea based on a simple insight: Choose a small, submissive and scripted team of influencers to take control of all public media imagery via every available platform of message delivery. During the five-year DISRUPTIVE DIRECTIVE period, it took less than 2,500 global “controls” to brainwash the other seven billion people on earth. GOOGLE stock price on July 26, 2013: $885.35 a share.
THE GREAT INVERSION: 2013-2018
For decades, Paul Virilio had been laying the theoretical groundwork for what happened next: Accelerated modernity leading to an era poignantly described as the ACCIDENT. Virilio rightly foresaw that humanity was in the process of a massive global, social and human science project. What happened in the wake of the DISRUPTIVE DIRECTIVE was the same fundamental network failure and societal systems collapse that he’d predicted years before. His prediction that this breakdown would evolve into an aesthetic was profound. The simultaneous rise of GOLDMAN SACHS and GAGOSIAN made perfect visual sense: a beautifully structured logic bomb. At this same historic moment, the founders of the two largest fashion-industrial-media complex conglomerates were rapidly expanding their brands’ global footprints – and using their expanding personal fortunes to spend billions of dollars on contemporary art. At this point, the key visual propaganda was being manufactured by Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst, Richard Prince, and Takashi Murakami. The art of arbitrage and the art world became one. An important mechanism in this ACCIDENT was the involvement of the luxury goods conglomerates: 10 IPOs + 100 artworks = 100,000 handbag sales. All described using the terminology of the art world. All orchestrated and promoted with a finely tuned barrage of spectacles. It was a beautifully constructed era of human brainwashing and ultimately, human control. This global mind and money grab even had a triumphant theme song:
IT AIN’T HARD TO TELL
I’M THE NEW JEAN MICHEL
SURROUNDED BY WARHOLS
MY WHOLE TEAM BALL
TWIN BUGATTIS OUTSIDE THE ART BASEL
I JUST WANT TO LIVE LIFE COLOSSAL
LEONARDO DA VINCI FLOWS
RICCARDO GIVENCHY CLOTHES
– JAY Z, “PICASSO BABY” 2013
Then something undetected began to happen. While engineering the drug COME, the team at SinoPharma had secretly been developing an antidote: a cultural virus with the code name DROMOS. The antidote was never meant to leave the freezers of the underground facility at SinoPharma in Taipei. What happened leads us to the GREAT INVERSION. Dr. Canyon T. Phipps, the aforementioned lead researcher and developer of LVMH-C (COME), was secretly part of the cultural insurgency movement headed by Steve Oklyn. Dr. Phipps (nicknamed “Topanga”) arranged for Steve Oklyn – under the name “Mark Even” – to become a beta test subject for LVMH-C. But instead of administering the blue pills to Oklyn, Phipps was actually testing the red antidote: DROMOS. A headline in the FINANCIAL TIMES from July 25, 2013 is considered a key moment in the reporting of the next five years, now known as the GREAT INVERSION: “ARCTIC MELT IS ECONOMIC TIME BOMB.” Warming – in both the ecological (CLIMATE REVOLUTION) and cultural sense – took hold very quickly. As quickly as the DISRUPTIVE DIRECTIVE of identity control had materialized years before, a global underground now formed around the concept of identity freedom. Here was a movement where individual human expression and warmth of spirit were respected. A revolution based on words rather than symbols of wealth. The underground was exchanging ideas based on individual human empowerment, not government- or equity-backed power. The shift was an elemental one, from consumer content to human contentment. In the fall of 2018, a superstorm hit the coast of Eastern Long Island. Three thousand structures were destroyed. The area was declared unlivable, and began a slow return to its natural state. In 2018, WILDER QUARTERLY magazine’s readership reached 750,000.
THE WHOLE EARTH: 2018-2023
On December 14, 2018, sustainability pioneer Stewart Brand celebrated his 80th birthday. The President of the United States declared that henceforth December 14 would be a national holiday in honor of Mr. Brand and his contributions to the sustainability movement. The next five years were transformative in real terms. The long list of previously admired cultural arbiters and icons were summarily devalued and discarded. VOGUE Magazine, KATE MOSS, STUDIO 54, SAINT LAURENT, ST. BARTHS, ART BASEL MIAMI BEACH, and many others were viewed as irrelevant and blatantly insensitive to emerging societal agendas. STARBUCKS was getting major competition from an independently-owned and operated coffee purveyor named DROP CITY COFFEE. The hydroculture community in Detroit was 5,000 people strong. The most popular t-shirt spotted at all of the major alternative music and tech festivals in 2023 bore the slogan: “INFORMATION WANTS TO BE FREE.” On July 18, 2018, actress Chloe Moretz appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live wearing a “JOLIE for President 2020” button. When the cameras zoomed in on the button, the audience erupted into loud applause. For two years in a row – 2021 and 2022 – The Museum of Natural History in New York was the most attended museum in the world. In January of 2023, POTUS Angelina Jolie devoted most of her State of the Union address to re-establishing the idea that global human rights and equality would be the priorities of her administration. First husband Brad Pitt left Washington the next morning to supervise a community-based home building project in Newark, New Jersey. Maddox Jolie-Pitt, now 21 years old, is managing the project. After 12 years of operation, NOT VOGUE has a yearly viewership of over five million.
August 1, 2023
VOGUE SEPTEMBER 2023
Anna Wintour, Editor-in-Chief of the American edition of VOGUE, is 73 years old. Grace Coddington, Creative Director of the American edition of VOGUE, is 82 years old. Cover model Kate Moss is 49 years old. Dress designed by Karl Lagerfeld for CHANEL. Designer Karl Lagerfeld is 88 years old. VOGUE, as a publication about fashion, society and the arts, is 114 years old (based on the year Conde Montrose Nast took control, 1909). The population of the world is now eight billion. The majority of the world’s population is older, less caucasian, and concentrated in urban centers. The megacities are Mexico City, Lagos, Cairo, Karachi, Mumbai, New Delhi, Jakarta, Singapore, Shanghai, and Beijing. 18.5% of the national populations of America, Japan, Western Europe, and Russia are over 65 years old. In China, Taiwan and South Korea, the percentages of the national population over 65 years old are 23%, 27.5% and 27% respectively.
Bernard Arnault, Chairman of LVMH Moët Hennessy • Louis Vuitton S.A., is 74 years old. According to the Bloomberg Billionaires index in January 2023, he is the fourth richest person in the world (excluding royal families and heads of state) with an estimated net worth of $50 billion.
August 15, 2023 9AM
I am writing this journal entry on my Korean-designed and manufactured smartphone while sitting on a bench in Hyde Park, London. I logged onto style.com and read that Calvin Klein passed away – just months before his 81st birthday. If any one fashion designer represented youth and youth culture on a global scale, it was CALVIN KLEIN. YOUTH. The molecular ingredient of fashion has come to an end. YOUTH. The molecular ingredient of personal technology is still in its infancy. YOUTH, as defined by the fashion-industrial complex, has been generated and regenerated so many times that the fastest-growing segment of SAINT LAURENT is BABY SAINT LAURENT. The Autumn/Winter 2022 designs were so popular that Karl Lagerfeld ordered the whole collection in duplicate for his twin Singaporean test-tube sons, Karl Jr. and Karl II, who just celebrated their third birthdays with a party at DISNEYLAND Paris attended by 1,000 of their closest Facebook friends. They have a combined Twitter, Instagram and Facebook following of over 15 million fans. It is rumored that Lagerfeld’s twins have signed a contract with Renzo Rosso to produce their own branded collection starting with the Autumn/Winter 2024 season. The brand name is rumored to be KL2.0. L’OREAL has signed the twins to a long-term fragrance and cosmetics contract. It is rumored that the first fragrance will be called DROMOLOGY. It is said to be an homage to their father, Karl.
September 25, 2023 2PM
I am writing this journal entry from my hotel room in Lagos, Nigeria. I am staying at the SOHO HOUSE Lagos. I am here to attend LAGOS FASHION WEEK. It is owned by JAY Z and PHARRELL and operated by ROC NATION MEDIA. Please note that a number of the major fashion brands no longer show in Paris and now show in Lagos. The demographic and financial climate in Paris has deteriorated so rapidly for designer clothing that the MAISONS have drifted to Lagos, with its very young and enthusiastic support of designer fashion. VOGUE Lagos is now considered the most influential and fashion-forward of the 28 international print editions of VOGUE. The issue of influence is not the September issue of American VOGUE but the September issue of VOGUE Lagos. In fact, VOGUE Lagos leads all other editions of VOGUE in terms of ad pages, issue sales and the societal influence of its cover models. The Editor-in-Chief of VOGUE Lagos is Edward Enninful. The Creative Director of VOGUE Lagos is Jenke-Ahmed Tailly. The Culture editor is Shala Monroque. ROC NATION FASHION owns VOGUE Lagos in partnership with CONDE NAST INTERNATIONAL. Willow Smith is the cover model for the September 2023 issue of VOGUE Lagos.
October 1, 2023 10AM
I am writing this journal entry from AVALANCHE HOUSE, a creative members club in Bushwick, Brooklyn. I logged onto style.com and read that KERING – owned by Francois-Henri Pinault – has started a new pharmaceuticals division. The first group of drugs to be rolled out are designed to treat obesity. In a second announcement, KERING’s luxury fashion brand division – which includes GUCCI, SAINT LAURENT, BOTTEGA VENETA, BALENCIAGA, and STELLA McCARTNEY – will be adding PLUS SIZE products based on consumer needs.
October 3, 2023 4PM
I am writing this journal entry from the garden of MoMA in New York City. I just attended a press conference announcing the new Fashion Department at the museum. FIAT heir Lapo Elkann – along with his brother, FIAT Chairman John Elkann, who is a member of the Board of Directors at MoMA – have just announced that the new department will be devoted to the art and design of fashion beginning in the 20th century. During the press conference, they introduced the director of the new department: noted British fashion exhibit designer and historian Ms. Judith Clark. Ms. Clark enthusiastically announced the first exhibition as HERMES: The Martin Margiela Collections 1997-2003, which will open in May of 2024. Ms. Clark introduced Axel Dumas, Executive Director of HERMES, who commented on his family’s proud support of the exhibition and HERMES’ long-term support of MoMA’s Fashion Department in the years to come. During the reception that followed, Lapo Elkann explained in conversation that he would be a global ambassador for the department – and that he was headed to Seoul to meet with SAMSUNG family members and executives to finalize a significant corporate sponsorship program.
October 4, 2023 8AM
@MoMAFASH Rei Kawakubo donates CdG S/S 1983
October 7, 2023