K-HOLE’s Youth Mode: A Report on Freedom

Screen shot 2013-12-06 at 11.31.43 AMK-Hole is a trend-forecasting group based in New York that irregularly releases a free, downloadable PDF report that tries to make sense of the corporate and consumer strategies that are enacted on everyone, everywhere. Founded by a group of five writers and artists—Greg Fong, Sean Monahan, Chris Sherron, Emily Segal, and Dena Yago—K-Hole operates in both the art and marketing worlds, trying to open up the conversation between the two. While most commentators scramble to legitimize the merging of these industries, as if culture is involuntarily expecting a bastard child, K-Hole aims to create tools to understand this hybrid reality.

Its most recent issue, made in collaboration with the Brazilian market research company Box 1824, is titled “Youth Mode: A Report on Freedom,” and is an examination into the general deficiency in explaining the impact of new technologies and globalization through generational theory, and how this is fucking things up for everybody. “The behaviours we’re seeing based purely on age aren’t really as indicative as other behaviours based on more psychological or emotional factors,” Segal has said.

The report details how the mainstreaming of individuality (“Mass Indie”) has only made difference more scarce. “Youth Mode” teaches us that being special is very different from being free. “We’re trying to shed light on how decisions are being made in the world,” explains Yago, “how our experiences are being constructed and where the potential for actual freedom lies.”  “Normcore” is K-Hole’s proposed alternative. “Normcore doesn’t want the freedom to become someone. Normcore wants the freedom to be with anyone.” It’s not about being in the know but about knowing how to be adaptable, not exclusive. Empathy trumps tolerance. Creating connections outdoes being connected. As a culture we’ve mastered difference, and, making a U-turn in what it means to be cool, the report quips, “To be truly Normcore, you need to understand that there’s no such thing as normal.”

And so what about the myth of the artist? “We’re not pretending to be anything other than what we naturally are,” says Yago. “And culture is everyone’s problem.”