Read Time 7 minutes
MØRNING wants you to Be Less Shit
Expanding their remit from making good trouble behind the scenes for some of the world’s most influential brands, creative strategy agency MØRNING are now bringing their punk-positivity to the masses, through their first physical product [a zine titled BURNBØØK], and an event to mark their inaugural trend report.
Authenticity, fantasy, vibe-shifts, reality, aesthetics, artificial intelligence, identity and rebellion – sinking their teeth into these gargantuan, unwieldy subjects has been a monumental group effort from the MØRNING team, and the result is a stimulating tribute to the times we live in, from the monstrous to the magical.
We spoke to creative director Rhianna Cohen about BURNBØØK, technology and modernity.
Why did a physical zine feel like an important part of a project which largely explores digital culture?
Our digital worlds are becoming increasingly harder to mediate, and there’s a new feeling of collective existentialism. Fake news, beauty filters and echo chambers of truth, the ‘virtual’ has become a dirty playpen, but for MØRNING the internet really is our playground. That’s why we chose to explore our concepts of Doomscape and Dreamscape extremes in the zine and wanted to create a cultural timestamp of this moment, as well as exploring a physical manifestation of our brand.
Our physical and digital lives are permanently infused together, we are existing in these blurred territories and liminal spaces; while we focus on digital culture we like to stretch our brand in different modes, formats and outputs. That’s why we birthed Ø – an interactive chat bot that takes the shape of a three-headed dog, our brand mascot and accomplice on our joint mission: to help the world Be Less Shit.
How does MØRNING reconcile a punk, anti-establishment identity and a scepticism of the capitalist system [‘be less shit’] with the belief that ‘brands are powerful vehicles for good’?
We thrive off sticky tensions, tough conversations, and unpacking the ugly truth. Infiltrating from within by bringing our values and approach to the biggest brands in the world. Good trouble takes bravery, intellectual mischief and sharp delivery.
We’re hopeful romantics. We know real change comes from the bones of a brand and having punk-positive conversations. Collectively we have a responsibility to right the wrongs and push culture forward.
There is an extensive section on the future of artificial intelligence in the Dreamscape section of the book – we’re also very fascinated by this future here at Darklight. How did you conclude that it belonged in Dreamscape rather than Doomscape?
Emerging tech [be it AI or crypto, VR or AR] exist as tools for humans to utilise however humans choose to do so. Technology is inherently bad. It’s how we use and apply it. It’s a positive thing that people are apprehensive and it is normal to feel fearful, there’s some really powerful things being built that could have hugely impactful consequences but equally, I think there’s an amazing community out there of people who are passionate about doing real good in this space – building some beautiful things.
How can creatives check the ethics of the AI tools they’re using? Any practical tips from MØRNING?
As we enter this new phase of open source and consumer facing programs, the impact of ‘artificial intelligence’ is becoming very real. With each iteration, it’s able to replicate the marks of humanity more. Consciousness, creativity and bias were all once considered distinctly human traits.
But the aim should always be to be ethical, democratised and localised. At MØRNING we work with creative tech partners that share our values and are majority minority owned inc. iindyverse, a majority POC owned business, and HERVISIONS a Femme-focused XR, Web3 and Metaverse curatorial agency founded by Zaiba Jabbar.
Ethics in AI is a growing concern and Getty has just launched a commercially safe generative AI offering and Numbers Protocol do amazing work in this space – as an open and decentralised network designed to ensure provenance for all types of creative works created by humans and AI.
You mentioned that every member of the MØRNING team contributed in some way to the zine, that’s a lot of voices! How do they all marry?
A multitude of voices allows for multiple modes and truths that exist. We use the power of our internal hive mind and wider community to allow for dialogue, collaboration and creative paradox. We collect these insights and zoom out to find the red threads to create future predictions. We utilise our global community that takes shape in our Shadow Committee – an internal engine for cultural scanning, that creates opportunities for us to speak through the work of the wider community to amplify their voice.
You know the meme that is like ‘imagine showing this to a Victorian child?’ when it’s something absurdly modern and sensory … I thought about that a lot when I was reading BURNBØØK, both in terms of content and design. What does modern mean to you?
Sorry to cause you stress Victorian Child, it’s confusing even for us––we’re living in a metamodernist time––oscillating between worlds and polarised ideas; reality and surrealism, totality and fragmentation, fast and slow culture.
All images courtesy of MØRNING.