"Not only has Micah Purnell grasped the toxicity of Affluenza, he has used imagination and playfulness to provide artistic vaccines against the virus. Congratulations on such a fine idea!"
Oliver James | Author and Psychologist.
Arts Council England & Arts Council Wales funded billboard projects across Manchester and the Welsh Capital.
The work has since toured and has been exhibited in South Dakota, USA, Belfast, Northern Ireland and Cheltenham, England among others.
During two week in 2014 billboards across Manchester City Centre, England and Cardif, Wales displayed word play artwork that discuss some of the challenges facing consumers of Western progress. The project creator, conceptual artist and graphic designer Micah Purnell generated an open dialogue about issues including identity, fantasy and presence. Thousands of beermats, flyers, posters and badges accompanied the project and were found in bars and pubs around the city during the outdoor exhibition.
Purnell who grew up in urban Manchester is predominantly a text based artist and graphic designer. He uses both skills to debate contemporary ideology stemming from his love hate relationship with advertising.
Purnell says that:
“Facebook, Twitter and Youtube connect people; films, online gambling and computer games entertain; Ebay and Amazon provide click quick shopping to your door and the iphone has it all, but are we missing something?”
Much of the work has been influenced by Oliver James’ book Affluenza. The Affluenza virus, as described by James, is a set of values which increase our vulnerability to psychological distress: placing a high value on acquiring money and possessions, looking good in the eyes of others and wanting to be famous - all encouraged by mainstream media and advertising. Many studies have shown that this increases our susceptibility to the commonest mental illnesses: depression, anxiety and personality disorder.
“For all the time saving, life giving consumables available it seems that it is actual life that we are missing” adds Purnell.
Dear Progress is an open letter to the contemporary idea of progress and asks ‘are we really going forward?”
The work itself is originally crafted using a 1960s Smith Corona Corsair typewriter; a nod to it’s decline in the 70s and the introduction of the technological revolutionDear Progress was devised to encourage a conversation about how to manage the incessant overload of desire eliciting nature in mainstream media.