The Project for the Study of Corporate Personhood

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Project Description

The Project for Corporate Personhood (aka Kenyatta Co) is a three month performance that explores the topics of "corporate personhood" and personal identity.

The American Supreme Court and some politicians have declared that corporations should be treated as persons. So what happens when a person voluntary assigns their personhood to a corporation? Can it be used to raise awareness of the issue of corporate personhood and create spectacle in the process?

Kenyatta Cheese (creator of Know Your Meme, an artist, an activist, and a person) will sell the exclusive use of his name to a corporation for a period of three months. That corporation will assume both the real world and online identity of ‘Kenyatta Cheese’, reimagining his personhood as a brand with the help of ethnographers, lawyers, focus groups, public relations departments, a creative agency, and friends and acquaintances. During this period, Kenyatta (the person) will not be able to use his name except in the case of emergencies and air travel.

In order to develop Kenyatta Cheese (the product), the corporation will conduct research and development, mining his personal life, online profiles, and browser data for uniquely identifying information. The corporation will hire his friends and family to “be” Kenyatta Cheese at public events, speaking engagements (technology and media conferences), and social gatherings, interacting with people based on their own ideas of how they think Kenyatta Cheese would behave.

These public interactions will be documented through hidden video and interviews will be conducted to capture the thoughts and feelings of the Kenyatta Cheese “betas”.  People who interact with these betas will be given a business card directing them to complete a customer service survey online.

This documentation will serve as the basis of standard operating procedures for being Kenyatta Cheese, brand guidelines, and a marketing and media buying plan.  The corporation will then hire social media “gurus” to take over and run all instances of Kenyatta Cheese online including Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and a personal website.  Strangers will be hired off of Craigslist to represent the brand at public events in cities around the world (complete with afro wig and business cards).  Like the research beforehand, the interactions of these Craigslist hires will be documented and they will be interviewed.

The three month project will culminate in the compilation of a dozen or so interview videos, the creation of the corporate and product documents, the capture of company interactions in social media, and hopefully two public panels: one at SXSW (or similar conference) exploring the topic of personal identity and marketing featuring 4-5 “Kenyattas” and a second panel at the New Museum exploring the topic of identity through the stories of several Kenyatta’s, artists working on similar issues, and representatives from each of the companies involved in creating Kenyatta Co.

Possible Kenyattas will include but not be limited to author Baratunde Thurston, technologist Anil Dash, artist Kevin Slavin, writers Nick Bilton and Clive Thompson, entrepreneurs Nora Abousteit, Know Your Meme co-creators Jamie Wilkinson and Elspeth Rountree, performers Mike Rugnetta and Patrick Davison, actress Michelle Krusiec, sociologist Tricia Wang, and Kenyatta’s mom.


A Short Bio of Kenyatta Cheese
Kenyatta Cheese is a professional internet enthusiast. He is probably best known for co-creating the web series and internet meme database Know Your Meme, often cited as the go to resource for understanding web culture. Kenyatta is often called upon to comment on the state and meaning of internet culture by the likes of NPR, MSNBC, The New York Times, and the parents of close friends. In previous iterations he has been the Senior Technical Manager for the Eyebeam Center for Art and Technology, Director of Technology at Manhattan Neighborhood Network, and Chief Operations Officer at the online video network Rocketboom. Nowadays, Kenyatta continues his study of Internet Culture under the guise of consultant work.
Kenyatta Cheese is doing this project for a few reasons. He became fascinated with the political and philosophical debate around ‘corporate personhood’ while setting up his own corporate entities. He also thinks a lot about the intersection of the quantified self and Singularity theory. Also, as the only person in the world with the name ‘Kenyatta Cheese’ he always thought there was probably an interesting project to be done with identity.
image via WP

A Short Bio of Kenyatta Cheese

Kenyatta Cheese is a professional internet enthusiast. He is probably best known for co-creating the web series and internet meme database Know Your Meme, often cited as the go to resource for understanding web culture. Kenyatta is often called upon to comment on the state and meaning of internet culture by the likes of NPR, MSNBC, The New York Times, and the parents of close friends. In previous iterations he has been the Senior Technical Manager for the Eyebeam Center for Art and Technology, Director of Technology at Manhattan Neighborhood Network, and Chief Operations Officer at the online video network Rocketboom. Nowadays, Kenyatta continues his study of Internet Culture under the guise of consultant work.

Kenyatta Cheese is doing this project for a few reasons. He became fascinated with the political and philosophical debate around ‘corporate personhood’ while setting up his own corporate entities. He also thinks a lot about the intersection of the quantified self and Singularity theory. Also, as the only person in the world with the name ‘Kenyatta Cheese’ he always thought there was probably an interesting project to be done with identity.

image via WP

Budget and Timeline
Budget
Corporate Filings
IP and corporate lawyer ($1000)
Accountant ($1000)
Product Research
Ethnographer/Survey Designer (in kind)
Product Management
Social Media “guru” ($1500)
Public Relations (in kind)
Participant/Craigslist hire stipends ($2500)
Documentation
Videographer ($2000)
Post production ($2000)
Designer ($1000)
Rhizome Contribution: $5000
Personal Contribution: $6500
Timeline
Week 1:
Establish the corporation (either LLC or S-Corp, TBD)
Draft legal documents handing over control of name to corporation.
Recruit participants for research and development.
Begin contacting event coordinators to secure their participation in public interaction and documentation.
Establish research questions and methodology.
Interview potential “social media gurus”.
Design interim corporate website.
Draft press release, marketing campaign for the product.
Week 2: 
Establish corporate officers.
Hand over control of the name “Kenyatta Cheese” to the corporation.
Announce product acquisition through press release and social media campaign #corporatepersonhood.
Begin corporate management of personal accounts online.
Establish and schedule research and development sessions.
Enter pre-production on documentation of public interactions.
Week 3:
Conduct a focus group of friends and family.
Schedule and perform 10 company “engagements” on social media platforms (engagements should include both “personal” interactions and updates on the progress of the product.)
Weeks 4-8:
Perform and document three participant interactions with the public.
Release videos of participant interactions, focus groups, product updates.
Create product bible documents (standard operating procedures, brand guidelines)
Create and execute marketing plan based on R&D. 
Week 8-12:
Announce the release of the product, begin marketing campaign.
Hire people off of Craigslist to “be” Kenyatta, document their interactions.
Week X:
Begin planning two public panels on The Project for Corporate Personhood based on the process.

Budget and Timeline

Budget

Corporate Filings

  • IP and corporate lawyer ($1000)
  • Accountant ($1000)

Product Research

  • Ethnographer/Survey Designer (in kind)

Product Management

  • Social Media “guru” ($1500)
  • Public Relations (in kind)
  • Participant/Craigslist hire stipends ($2500)

Documentation

  • Videographer ($2000)
  • Post production ($2000)
  • Designer ($1000)

Rhizome Contribution: $5000

Personal Contribution: $6500

Timeline

Week 1:

  • Establish the corporation (either LLC or S-Corp, TBD)
  • Draft legal documents handing over control of name to corporation.
  • Recruit participants for research and development.
  • Begin contacting event coordinators to secure their participation in public interaction and documentation.
  • Establish research questions and methodology.
  • Interview potential “social media gurus”.
  • Design interim corporate website.
  • Draft press release, marketing campaign for the product.

Week 2: 

  • Establish corporate officers.
  • Hand over control of the name “Kenyatta Cheese” to the corporation.
  • Announce product acquisition through press release and social media campaign #corporatepersonhood.
  • Begin corporate management of personal accounts online.
  • Establish and schedule research and development sessions.
  • Enter pre-production on documentation of public interactions.

Week 3:

  • Conduct a focus group of friends and family.
  • Schedule and perform 10 company “engagements” on social media platforms (engagements should include both “personal” interactions and updates on the progress of the product.)

Weeks 4-8:

  • Perform and document three participant interactions with the public.
  • Release videos of participant interactions, focus groups, product updates.
  • Create product bible documents (standard operating procedures, brand guidelines)
  • Create and execute marketing plan based on R&D. 

Week 8-12:

  • Announce the release of the product, begin marketing campaign.
  • Hire people off of Craigslist to “be” Kenyatta, document their interactions.

Week X:

  • Begin planning two public panels on The Project for Corporate Personhood based on the process.
Work Samples
Hmm. Not much work that qualifies as being “similar” to this project. Instead I’m going to list a bunch of other work that speak to my ability to put together similarly cheeky large scale projects. Like this project proposal, all of this work was accomplished by working with other people.
Know Your Meme (2008-2010)
Unmediated (2004-2007)
RNC Redux (2004)
ScreenSaversGroup (2003)
image via

Work Samples

Hmm. Not much work that qualifies as being “similar” to this project. Instead I’m going to list a bunch of other work that speak to my ability to put together similarly cheeky large scale projects. Like this project proposal, all of this work was accomplished by working with other people.

Know Your Meme (2008-2010)

Unmediated (2004-2007)

RNC Redux (2004)

ScreenSaversGroup (2003)

image via