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Updated: Aug 2, 2019

A critique on power, sexual abuse, and the emerging "purpose driven culture" led by youth.

Inspired by the Japanese concept of Ikigai, I've spent the majority of this past weekend coming up with this little symbol, and I think it's the most important design I've ever created. Why?

All great artists have a signature. A design, a style, a font, a color, a texture, or a similar reference that represents both their work, and if they're special, something greater than themselves. Think Virgil Abloh's "quotation marks" and how it serves as a cultural critique.

This is mine.

It means purpose. And just by laying it over images, it reimagines what the meaning of such images.


NOTE: While currently I am pairing the graphic with text, over time the graphic will adopt the meaning of the text and it be used on its own.

Kevin Spacey, George Pell, and Michael Jackson, all powerful figures in different industries, have each been widely documented for their sexual abuse of young boys stemming from their cultural power.

Just like the way Virgil uses quotation marks to change the meaning of a piece in relationship to its environment, "purpose" serves the same... purpose.

Think about the transformation in meaning of these images over time.

1) Photo of a famous individual
2) Photos of multiple famous individuals next to each other who have all used their power to sexually abuse children
3) Overlaid text and graphic on the images meaning "purpose"

Each layer speaks to a specific culture and time.

When these portraits were taken, these men were respected and revered. Each at the height of their careers, shown as single images, these pictures represented role models in different fields who filled us with the hope, passion, and drive to become the best and most talented versions of ourselves.

Then, the pictures laid out next to each other forces you to confront their shared history of power and sexual abuse. At its essence, looking at this row of photographs makes you disappointed and ashamed of our culture- one that institutionally protected individuals who committed such indecent acts.

But when you overlay the graphic and the text, the message changes drastically. It fundamentally moves the message from one of hate to one of love. The focal point shifts away from these men and their shared history of sexual abuse, and it becomes a defining message of the next generation- a message of purpose, a message of promise, a message of accountability, a vision for a better future led by young people who are not afraid to speak up against what is broken.

As one of these young people, this represents my role within the culture- a role that requires me to push the dialogue forward when it comes to certain issues like sexual abuse by powerful men. It has taken decades to hold powerful men like these accountable for their actions, and now I question where we currently stand amidst the height of this "influencer driven culture." While the culture of power abuse has likely become worse in this "influencer driven culture" ruled by likes and followers, the support for those who have been abused has never been stronger. And it will continue to get stronger. Ultimately, we are experiencing a cultural movement away from this "influencer driven culture" towards a "purpose driven culture" led by youth who will defend those abused by power, speak up for issues they care about, and lead the implementation of a new moral foundation for our society.

-Michael Orso


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