“I was thinking about this the other day,” Soda says on a rainy Tuesday in Brooklyn, where she is currently based, “when did I start waking up everyday and scrolling mindlessly through Instagram and Twitter first thing. When did that transition become routine. What did I used to do when I first woke up? Did I look at my phone at all? In a lot of ways, yes, I would like to distance myself from these habits. But at the same time, my work is so much about those habits, and about the sadness linked to them.”
Soda is of the first generation to truly grow up with the internet. On her notorious social media accounts, all of which have amassed cult followings, Soda breaks down our posting habits to the reaction we hope to receive. We post selfies to feel beautiful, we tweet to feel funny. This is not in and of itself a particularly groundbreaking idea. The nuance is where this lies within the artworld, and it is within this nuance that Molly Soda feels at home.
Soda is of the first generation to grow up with the internet. On her notorious social media accounts, all of which have amassed cult followings, Soda breaks down each post into the reaction we hope to receive. We post selfies to feel beautiful, we tweet to feel funny or intelligent. This is not in and of itself a particularly groundbreaking idea. The nuance is where these posts belong within the artworld, a nuance in which Soda feels at home.
Can you tell us a bit about what you [did] at NADA?
Yeah, so at NADA I [had] booth with 315 Gallery, and we basically [did] a sort of reiteration of a piece I did with them in June. The piece was a laptop that I had bought and essentially filled with content, and files, and what not. So I invited the visitor, or viewer, to rifle through the computer and do whatever they wanted with it. So, essentially, they’re looking through someone else’s stuff. They’re able to do whatever they want– there are no parameters with the piece. So if you want to say things, delete things, or add things, whatever you want to do is up to you. So we made the booth again, but we added a new layer. I created a chat-box that talks to you. The bot lives on the computer with the files, and it’s kind of customer service-y. Maybe it’s just a bot, maybe it’s me, the artist, or maybe it’s whatever you want it to be. It’s there to interact with you, if you’re interested in doing so.
When did you begin sharing your art online?
Well, I’ve been someone that grew up with the internet. Most people my age, and younger, did. But for me, in high school, I was really into early online social media and vlogging - particularly live journals, myspace even, so I started posting stuff online at a really early age. It came really naturally to me. When I was in school studying art I started to blend the two together, because I had felt like I needed to keep these two world separate. I made art, and that was my art life, but my personal life was online - I was posting pictures, and writing these public diary entries, so I decided to combine those. And I think that really happened in 2009, when I started my Tumblr, that was the first time I ever used the name Molly Soda, and really started experimenting with performance and the internet.
I loved when you did a 30 minute karaoke livestream, and just watched as the numbers started dwindling.
Yeah, it’s interesting how you have numbers. Everything online is just numbers. I think it was like, maybe with the advent of myspace, where you had a top 8, a ranking system, and now it’s likes, there’s this weird feeling of collecting people, or collecting numbers. I guess people become numbers.
Totally. I was just talking to my friend about this yesterday. Since brands have started recruiting “influencers” online, it seems the only way to show you worth as an artist or whatever is through your follower count.
Yeah, it’s a marketing thing. Likes equal money, or social capital. Either way, that can really translate into “opportunities,” it’s weird, it feels like everyone is showing their resume, or subconsciously applying for jobs, but we don’t know what they are.