Imagine going out to the movies with your friends. You have two ticket options available to you. 1 ticket costs $10 for a traditional movie experience. The other ticket is $0 but rather than previews, you will be required to watch a disturbing 30 second video instead. Which would you choose? Overtime, which choice might have a deeper influence on your life or even society as a whole?
Hello everyone and thank you for continuing this journey with us. 10 years ago, we founded Zachary Bxllion with the belief that we could positively impact global culture through art and design. And thanks to your relentless support, investments and the collaborative power of our community, this vision has come to fruition in ways we could have never predicted.
While rewarding, this journey has been anything but smooth. In 2020, I took a step back to breathe and look at the bigger picture. I found myself reflecting on culture. What is culture exactly? Culture itself is just a series of learned behaviors amongst a group of people. I’ve always stood by the idea that race is merely a socioeconomic construct, while culture is a true and prevailing force within humanity that cannot be ignored. Technology has influenced culture for thousands of years so there’s no debate that culture driven by the internet is here to stay. This isn’t inherently negative. It’s the learned behavior aspect that we need to confront.
As we sit at the dawn of a new decade, the mission remains the same. This time, let us think more carefully about emerging technologies and their relationship with us. I intentionally say ‘relationship’, because impact is trivial. Lots of things can have an impact, for better or worse. It is the technologies' relationship with us that can either sink us or elevate us culturally and creatively. The 2020’s will be no different than the 2010’s in that people will continue to use online spaces to create and connect with others. Our current online spaces are merely 2 dimensional simulations of base reality in which anti-social behavior and radicalism for the sake of radicalism are rewarded, as radicalism drives engagement. Our challenge lies in that human connection comes second to the monetary goals of the de facto platforms we depend on. While more content was created in the last 10 years than all of human history, we paid a hefty fee. It wasn’t culture that was created, but anti culture. Culture that works against us, not for us.
The way the software we depend on is designed, has psychological effects on us comparable to drug abuse. While we just wanted to create and engage with likeminded people, we ended up just getting high almost every day for more than a decade. And in 2022, it’s no wonder why the culture feels sluggish, apathetic and hungover. This was never sustainable in the first place. Our social feeds and devices are spreading depression, social intolerance and even sociopathic behavior. It is literally written into the code and consequently, these socioemotional ailments are written into the code of our culture. This is suppressing our collective creativity and has introduced what I call the very first digital dark age. An age in which there are no originals, but infinite copies. TikTok culture and Hollywood’s dependence on 20 year old IP is proof that we are stuck in a loop. What they are trying to do is automate the colonization of culture by keeping it in one place infinitely. What makes the future the future is not the fact that it exists at a later point in time. What makes the future the future is how distinguishable it is from a previous point in time. At this rate, how much different can 2030 look from 2020? The world is already betting against western culture and without a deliberate and dramatic shift, it is a solid bet.
It’s obvious we need to make a change. But how exactly? What's the solution? In my opinion we have to 1. Kill hustle culture and replace it with community centered design thinking. And 2. Consciously dissolve the walls between artists and technologists making collaboration between the two of them common practice. In fact, I’m betting that the best artists will be technologists themselves. When engineers and product designers meet, we need them to open their doors. Culturally impacting changes to code are made without us, and creators are forced to adapt with no questions asked in order to maintain, rather than designing the products with hands-on creator input in the first place.
In 2020 we renamed the company Zachary Bxllion Virtual Studios (ZBVS) to aid in this deliberate shift and give techies and creators the tools and space they need to work together and help revitalize the culture. Our vision is to usher in a new era of digital collaboration, not just communication. An era where both creators and consumers are compensated for the value they bring to the internet. We view platforms such as OnlyFans and Fanbase as models for the future. Despite not being perfect, they are proof that people are willing to pay creators directly for the things they put out into the world. By paying for content, you’re investing directly into the studios that are making the things you enjoy. This weeds out the freeloaders, spectators and manipulative middlemen, creating a deeper connection between investors (fans) and creators, serving as the foundation of a healthy community. This will shake our current system of technocrats, brands and advertisers to its core and mandate genuine contribution from all parties involved. Algorithms will become an asset to the community rather than the platform at hand, while influencers and product pushers will be replaced by true builders of community.
Art will continue to be one of our most valuable cultural currencies. Our art is how we express ourselves and how we communicate with people of the present and future. Art is no longer just a fine sculpture or a painting hanging elegantly on a bright white wall waiting to be observed and critiqued. It’s immersive and interactive. It is experiential. It pulls the viewer off of the sidelines and demands their participation. If changes aren’t made, we can expect the digital dark age to not only continue, but become more immersive. We have no interest in seeing what that looks like. When was the last time something felt truly new and exciting? Instagram’s next product update will not elevate us. The next dance challenge will not elevate us. The next memecoin will not elevate us. It is 100% our generation's responsibility to deliberately create something completely new and share it with the world. No excuses.
These challenges are not merely political or technical, but existential in nature. Just as we need to fight for the preservation of the earth's climate, going forward, we must be equally conscious of the health of our social climate as well.
Thank you for supporting Zachary Bxllion, Attractive Stranger and ZBVS as a whole. As a studio we will remain committed to creating the best experiences on and offline with the sole intention of elevating together and designing the future we deserve.
Founder / Artist