Baxter St at the Camera Club of NY presents Yummy, a solo exhibition of works by Elizabeth Renstrom as part of the Mid-Career Initiative. Anchored by the pages and images of three issues of a fictional magazine titled Yummy (Teen Edition)—which Renstrom created in collaboration with designer Elena Foraker and writer Coralie Kraft—the exhibition interrogates our individual and collective relationship with mass media as well as the ways in which media representation shapes identity, for better or for worse.
In this case, Yummy (Teen Edition)’s glossy images and catchy headlines were created entirely through AI—a model trained on a generation’s media consumption and synthesizing an imaginary world set in the realities of the early 2000s. Fashion spreads, photographs of teen heartthrobs, and dogmatic advice columns reflect the value systems promoted through media culture in the early aughts, reproduced perhaps as readily and uncritically by an AI model as they were consumed by young readers at the time. Brightly colored headlines, advertisements for beauty products, diet and exercise tips, and a homogenous array of teen faces fill magazine covers and interior pages in a context that is both dated and yet still reflective of much of today’s media culture. Targeted specifically to young women, these pages recall and reinforce a shaping of ideas about diet culture, desire, and self-presentation, while also underlining the inherently sexist, fatphobic, and racist themes present throughout.