As Real As It Gets
An exhibition of imaginary products and fictional brands. Organized by Rob Walker

November 16 – December 22, 2012 at apexart, 291 Church Street, New York, NY. Installation views here.

Featured work by:
Kelli Anderson, Conrad Bakker, Beach Packaging Design, Matt Brown, Steven M. Johnson, Last Exit To Nowhere, MakerBot Industries, The Marianas (Michael Arcega and Stephanie Syjuco), Angie Moramarco, Oliver Munday, Omni Consumer Products, Staple Design, U.S. Government Accountability Office, Ryan Watkins-Hughes, Marc Weidenbaum/Disquiet Junto, Shawn Wolfe, and Dana Wyse.

Special product placement courtesy of Blu Dot.

In the savvy 21st century, we view commercial material culture as inauthentic, phony, and less than legitimate. Or at least, that’s what we say we think. As Real As It Gets puts a different idea on offer by gathering fictional products, imaginary brands, hypothetical advertising and speculative objects, devised by artists, designers, writers, musicians, companies and in one case, a government entity.

Here’s the pitch: The ambiguity in the relationship between our selves and our brand-soaked world is exactly what’s worth taking seriously, not waving away. When the consideration is filtered through an open and unpredictable mind, anything seems possible, if not exactly plausible: ersatz brands get defictionalized into buyable existence and non-products get shop-dropped onto retail shelves. Imaginary brands and fictional products can become a means of expressing joy, fear, humor, unease, ambivalence — the real stuff, in other words.

The medium is the marketplace. Come browse for yourself. No purchase required.


As Real As It Gets from R Walker on Vimeo.

Featured: Live MakerBot printing of special exhibition-specific 20th anniversary edition of Shawn Wolfe‘s RemoverInstallerâ„¢, and related prints. More on the RemoverInstallerâ„¢ here. Original commissions: Beach Packaging Design for Respirer; Kelli Anderson for Future World; Staple Design for Tono-Bungay. Oliver Munday and Disquiet Junto for The Ladies’ Paradise.

Press: Imprint Culture Lab interview; PIG Mag review (Italian); Capital New York review; Beta Beat review; Rhizome review

More here, and here. More on fictional products and imaginary brands here.

Illustration by Oliver Munday

Illustration by Oliver Munday

Related Events:

Speculative Sound Performance: Tue, Nov 27: 6:30 pm

Musicians from the Disquiet Junto collective perform speculative sound works. Featuring Shawn Kelly (Arcka), Brian Biggs, Ethan Hein, Kenneth Kirschner, Tom Moody, Joon Oluchi Lee, and Roddy Schrock.

More about the musicians, and videos of the performance here.

More about how this event/project came together here.

Listen to “A speculative exploration of sonic retail environments” by Marc Weidenbaum & Disquiet Junto.

Imaginary Brands with MakerBot:

Liz Arum, head of Education Outreach and Curriculum Development at MakerBot, guides participants through the process of designing and printing models of their own products. More.
Sat, Dec 8: 11 am & 2:30 pm

Psychology of Branding:
Debbie Millman illustrated lecture on the psychology of branding. More (including video).
Wed, Dec 19: 6:30 pm