Unproductive User Generated Hell

artist statement
UUGH (Unproductive User Generated Hell) is a web-based project by multi-disciplinary artist Lingxiang Wu as an archive of fake everyday social media posts created using AI tools. The project questions the ever-more commodified digital space and how commodification in the attention economy changes how we engage with social media.

The project's title plays the term "UGC" which stands for "User-generated content," and has become popular lately as a way for passive income through affiliated marketing. This trend spurs the production of soulless content, which is often mass-produced with AI tools such as ChatGPT and so onโ€”populating social media with visual content that is disingenuine to the actual life but truthful to its capitalistic desire. Hence, Wu changes the term "UGC" into "UUGH," resembling the sound of "uh" (ๅ‘ƒ in Chinese) to express the constant frustration and unpleasantness of being fed such content.

The project documents the transcript of conversations between Wu and ChatGPT as a record of his daily experience for a month, Instagram captions generated by ChatGPT, and images/videos generated through those captions in Dall.e, Midjourney, or D-ID. Everything is compiled and displayed on a website resembling a typical social media platform. The project explores the meaning of posting as a daily practice of reflection instead of laborious production. At the same time, Wu hopes to examine and experiment with alternative ways of using or collaborating with AI tools besides mass production. Teasing the cold language AI model creates moments of breakage where the conversation feels slightly absurd but familiar.

Many thanks to Nashwa Lina Khan at Whippersnapper Gallery for managing the OD/FR residency that supports this project's creation and to Kianna Nomsa Mkhonza, Omar Musleh, and Nael Abu-Jazar for building this website.

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