Autotem
22 × 30 in, poster, inkjet print, 2013.
Advisor: Bethany Johns.

This project studies the potential of recontextualizing consumer products with religious things. The title “Autotem” comes from “Automobile + Totem”. According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a totem is a being, object, or symbol representing an animal or plant that serves as an emblem of a group of people, such as a family, clan, group, lineage, or tribe, reminding them of their ancestry (or mythic past).

My research on the forms of front chrome radiator grills of famous models from ten most popular automobile companies in America refer to people’s desire, spritiual-mythical belief and fantasy such as luxuriousness, richness, higher class, power, nobility, etc.

In this modern sense—and also inspired by French sociologist Jean Baudrillard’s thoughts on consumerism as modern myth—I adapt the shape of consumer products into the religious formal language of the totem pole. In terms of car decorations as modern consumers’ new tribal totem, a mythical memorial and a monument of aspiration. As a result, through this recontextualizing process, the consumer goods attain religious value which mirrors our modern life.