Cool Kool Shirts Presents: "Thot Collection Series 1" by Dana Jones
The first Collection of Thot sculptures created by Dana Jones while working as Cool Kool Shirts spokesperson and sponsors artist. Each sculpture is embedded with small screens that play animations of Dana's memories of his experience while working under the Cool Kool Shirts brand. The audio coming from each screen is the various music samples from the vinyl used to create the thot sculptures. The screens and audio do not exist within Dana's reality. The screens are there to give a viewing audience full context of the narrative that informs the sculptures. Each of the five sculptures/screens display a individual theme that together tell the story of Dana Jones relationship with Cool Kool Shirts. In chronological order the themes of each sculpture/screen are : Ideology, Unsustainable, Rise to Fame, Realization, and Acceptance and Embrace.
Stage 1 "Ideology"- The first Stage of Dana Jones’s narrative with the Cool Kool Shirts brand is focused on illustrating the main concept behind Dana’s art practice. I started the Cool Kool Shirts brand so that my art projects could self-fund themselves, I wanted to be a self-made artist. Dana Jones mirrors this same obsession with being self-made, but to the extreme. The main concept behind is practice is that he wants to create a complete autonomous concept without any outside influence. When Dana Jones creates abstract thot sculptures he creates each thot in an improvised manner. He makes them without thinking about the shape, believing that this process represents his pure unfiltered consciousness. Dana thinks by not preplanning his work he will outcast all outside influence and instead rely on his purely improvised instincts to guide all gestures and choices that are his individual self. One of Dana Jones biggest character traits is his need to be a unique individual. This is his driving force, so much so that he makes art about it. Dana’s goal of making art that is devoid of meaning and influence is futile; parodying conceptual art. He is making art objects that seem pointless. Yet, through analysis and contextualization all human endeavors take on meaning. Ironically, Dana’s goal runs parallel with my desire to spend the majority of my time on personal artistic practice. The animation of this stage displays Dana Jones in the process of making Thots. It shows how he makes them from melting the vinyl with his laser eyes and transforming them into abstract shapes. Also, the animation highlights Dana Jones’s thoughts. Illustrating his desire for art without influence. The animation Ideology portrays Dana’s notion that his vinyl record sculptures capture his unfiltered consciousness. To visually show this I use a thought bubble filled with scribbles as a visual cue. The scribbles represent Dana’s unfiltered consciousness and mimic the shape of the thots he is creating. By matching the shape of the scribbles with the thots I signal to the audience that Dana is filtering his actual thoughts into the thot sculptures. The scribbles inside of the thought bubble are constantly moving and shaking to show that Dana’s thoughts are living entities. In this animated cycle, Dana is shown with an intense expression with brow wrinkles and sweat dripping down his face to express how transmitting one’s consciousness into a physical form is hard work. The video’s repetition helps to amplify Dana’s effort and care he puts into his work. Dana is not concerned with each individual thot but what they can become when they come together. At the end of the sequence all the Thots sit together on a pedestal towering over Dana in the shadow. Dana is scaled small but he has a proud look as he gazes at his accomplishment
Stage 2 "Unsustainable" - During this stage Dana’s struggle is made apparent. He is having a hard time staying away from outside influences due to his inability to fully rely on his art practice to sustain itself. Dana Jones learns that making thots alone does not pay the bills. There is not a way that Dana can fully support his art practice without taking up work that will influence his thots. In the animated sequence Dan Jones is attempting to purchase food, pay rent, and buy vinyl records with his Thots. Dana stands in line at a grocery store trying to buy food. He offers the cashier his Thots for the food but the cashier refuses. Dana attempts to pay his rent with his thots but his Landlord refuses. Lastly Dana attempts to buy more vinyl records so he can make more thots but the record store doesn’t accept his thot sculptures. Dana’s art practice is so rooted in his own personal creative autonomy it’s hard for other individuals to understand it’s value. This stage introduces the audience to Dana Jones’s main problem; his art practice is not self-sustaining. Dana clings to his plan to value his thot sculptures to the level of currency. He has no interest in doing any other type of work that is not working on his personal art projects. The last shot of this sequence shows Dana sitting on a giant pile of thots after others have denied its value is representing his immersion in uselessness in the eyes of the rest of the world.
Stage 3 "Rise to Fame"- Dana Jones needs financial stability in order to continue his practice. In the Rise to Fame stage Cool Kool Shirts approaches him with a deal to fund his art practice and in return, Dana’s agreement to act as a spokesperson for the brand. When Cool Kool Shirts sees Dana, they see an image of a “trendy self-made individual.” They want to use this image to promote and market their shirts. Cool Kool Shirts will fund Dana Jones’s art practice and in return he will spread his conceptual message under the Cool Kool Shirts platform. This offer is a once in a lifetime opportunity for a struggling artist and Dana Jones jumps at the chance and accepted the offer. During this stage Dana Jones rises in popularity as a brand mascot. His art practice becomes well known and Cool Kool Shirts sells more products. This stage builds up to the narrative climax. Dana is at his happiest during this stage. He is living his dream of working on his thots, people are being made aware of his thots, and he is being sustained by Cool Kool Shirts. As the success of the t-shirt sales grow and Dana’s fame grows as the brand mascot, so does the association of the thot sculptures with Cool Kool Shirts. Because Dana's practice is used to promote the sale of shirts, the thots become more of a marketing tool of Cool Kool Shirts and less about their intended concept of forming autonomous concepts. In the Rise to Fame animated sequence, Cool Kool Shirts is depicted as two giant hands. An ominous force that can create and destroy, the hands pop-up from the right of the screen with one hand offering cash to Dana The other hand is empty and motioning to receive his Thot. The next shot is one hand shaking Dana’s hand agreeing to the offer and the other hand has his Thot in the center of the palm. Cool Kool Shirts becomes a dominating force of Dana’s art practice. I animate a notable size difference between Dana’s hand and Cool Kool Shirts hand while they’re shaking hands in order to portray the power differential. The Cool Kool Shirt hand is so big it looks like it is crushing Dana’s hand in the act of shaking hands. This imagery foreshadows how Cool Kool Shirts is going to dominate the direction of this relationship. Dana Jones is shown as an optimistic little artist. His body is being overpowered by this handshake, showing how fragile he is in the eyes of Cool Kool Shirts. In the same shot Dana’s thot sculpture is resting in the Cool Kool Shirt hand. The hand is carefully balancing the sculpture trying not to crush the fragile looking Thot. Cool Kool Shirts now has Dana’s art practice and consciousness in its hands. In the animation, Cool Kool Shirts is represented by two giant hands. The hands grab Dana after they make their deal. The hands physically push and pull Dana up the stairs towards success. Visually, I am running a parallel between how Dana Jones treats his process of making his thots and how Cool Kool Shirts treats Dana by turning him into a far-reaching brand image. The act of Dana using his hand to mold his concepts into Thots is a forceful and somewhat violent process. After he melts the vinyl, Dana forcefully stretches and twists the materiel to form to his will. Metaphorically, Cool Kool Shirts sees Dana Jones as rough material with a lot of potential to form to its will similarly to how Dana sees the vinyl albums. After Dana and Cool Kool Shirts come to an agreement one of Cool Kool Shirt’s hands smashes Dana, only to reappear wearing a Cool Kool Shirt and is dragged up the stairs of success. As they ascend the stairs, t-shirts and dollar signs pop up in the background to show the growth of sales while Dana makes Thot after Thot, forming a pile at the bottom of the stairs. This whole sequence is to demonstrate that as the t-shirt success grows Dana’s art practice becomes heavily associated with t-shirts rather than crafting autonomous concepts. Cool Kool Shirts crafts Dana Jones into a spokesperson similar to how Dana crafts his thots when he is pushing his ideology on his sculptures.
Stage 4 "Realization" - The fourth stage is where Dana begins to understand that Cool Kool Shirts is exploiting his art practice to sell shirts. This is the lowest point of the five stages. With no way out, Dana freaks out and falls into a deep depression. He feels people sees him as a shirt promoter and not realize the weight of him trying to form autonomous concepts. Realization mirrors the action displayed in the first stage Ideology. Dana is getting back to his practice of forming Thot sculptures. In Ideology, a thought bubble shows Dana’s unfiltered consciousness that he directs towards his Thots. Dana has a determined face while making his thots and is proud at his creations. In the Realization Dana’s thought bubbles scribbles start forming into the shape of a t-shirt and his face is full of frustration. This shows the influence of being a spokesperson for Cool Kool Shirts is having on his art practice. Working for Cool Kool Shirts has made Dana unable to make work that objectifies his pure unfiltered consciousness. As shown in the previous stage, Cool Kool Shirts dragged Dana up the “stairs of success”, and while being dragged along caused him to drop his Thots to the bottom of the stairs. As the success of the shirts sales grow Dana’s image becomes more associated with the shirts rather than his Thot making practice. The brand has completely infiltrated his mind to the point that it has impacted his whole artmaking practice. Not only is his image now publicly viewed as a part of Cool Kool Shirts. His Thot sculptures are heavily associated with the brand. The image of the shirt in Dana’s thought bubble illustrates how Dana’s is pushing the Cool Kool Shirts association into his art practice because of his experience working under the brand. His Thots all start becoming objects to promote the Cool Kool Shirts brand. Unlike his sense of accomplishment in Ideology, Dana looks up at his new towering thot sculpture only seeing a promotion product for Cool Kool Shirts. Dana comes to the realization that Cool Kool Shirts has taken over his art practice to promote its brand.
Stage 5 "Acceptance and Embrace"- The fifth and final stage of the Dana Jones cycle is where he is now fully aware of Cool Kool Shirts’ exploitation of his art practice and image. Dana is fully aware of how the brand effects his practice. He must figure out a way to hold on to his artist integrity while in this commercial system. Without the backing of Cool Kool Shirts his practice is unsustainable. Thinking about his experience of being exploited by Cool Kool Shirts he realizes the parallels between his art practice and what the brand is doing to him. Within his practice Dana is melting down vinyl records (the creations and images of music artists) and forming it to hold his conceptual image. This is similar to Cool Kool Shirts forming Dana to fit their brand needs. He embraces this experience of being used for an image and puts those concepts behind his art practice. These concepts have been there with his use of vinyl records. He invokes the narrative between his use of vinyl records with his experience being Cool Kool Shirts brand image into his thot sculptures. This makes Dana’s relationship with Cool Kool Shirts push the concepts further. Allowing Dana, the ability to critique the commercial system that funds him while participating in it. In this animated sequence Dana Jones begins again the process of making thots but this time the thought bubble present in this sequence contains a looped image of a t-shirt turning into scribbles and back into a t-shirt. This represents Dana taking in the experience he had being Cool Kool Shirts spokesperson to be used to conceptually push his practice further. As Dana is making his new thots he makes a pile of them underneath himself. As the sequence goes on he builds himself higher sitting on top of a throne of his newly conceptualized thot sculptures. Dana Jone's thots will be focused on critiquing the Cool Kool Shirts platform, while working under the platform.