By emailing the book's text back and forth, two design students collected the ads generated by Google to rewrite Bret Easton Ellis' seminal novel
This is a project firmly in keeping with Bret Easton Ellis' murderous commentary on the shallowness of 20th century capitalism. Rhode Island School of Design students Mimi Cabell and Jason Huff emailed the text of American Psycho back and forth to each other, knowing that Google would generate ads in keeping with the content of the emails. Essentially they created a 21st century version of what Google might want to sell Patrick Bateman based on his confidential interactions.
Given that Bateman is an obsessive consumer besotted with brands, a depraved sexual predator and callous murderer, surely Google would throw up some interesting results?
On Mimi Cabell's site, she says, "We collected the ads that appeared next to each email and used them to annotate the original text, page by page. In printing it as a perfect bound book, we erased the body of Ellis’ text and left only chapter titles and constellations of our added footnotes. What remains is American Psycho, told through its chapter titles and annotated relational Google ads."
When Cabell and Huff exchanged via email the famous part in which Bateman stabs a homeless man and stamps a dog to death, Google supplied numerous ads for knives and knife sharpeners. Interestingly though, the ad for Crest Whitestrips Coupons appeared the highest number of times at non-specific points in the text, offering no reason for why it had been selected. "This 'misreading' ultimately echoes the hollowness at the center of advertising and consumer culture," says Cabell.
We can't think of a more brilliant way to reapppropriate the tale of a man both bewitched and betrayed by the allure of capitalism. Download the PDF here, and in honour of Google's birthday have a look at the company's most mysterious moments.