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Exciting times for all the hamburger lovers -- as a stellar response to the boycott and a pork surplus, McDonald's re-released the MicRib and Clown House was blessed with mc-hosting Giovanni Bertolino's "Luxury Elite Mirage" collection. Who better to explain the animated short, and accompanying images, than Bertolino himself?

When I asked Bertolino to offer some more details about who he is as an artist/director he declined to comment but instead offered a personal insight into what "Luxury Elite Mirage" is to him. Which, IMO, turned out a thousand times more interesting.

Bertolino's Personal Statement:

In the depths of my creative psyche, there exists a hauntological spectre, a spectral figure that waltzes through the corridors of my memories, weaving a delicate tapestry of nostalgia and artistic yearning. Mac Tonight, with his crescent moon head, and the enchanted world of the McDonald's Play Place, dance like ethereal phantoms in the theatre of my mind, forever haunting the canvas of my artistic endeavors.

How vividly I recall the neon glow of Mac Tonight's iconic face, grinning mysteriously against the night sky. The jazzy tunes that accompanied him as he tickled the ivory keys of his cosmic piano became the soundtrack of my childhood.

Photos of Bertolino's Bedroom

The memories of those late-night visits to McDonald's, where the golden arches beckoned like a portal to a whimsical realm, are etched into the very fabric of my being. The Play Place, a labyrinth of colourful tubes and secret alcoves, was a sanctuary of youthful joy. I navigated its plastic tunnels like a fearless explorer, discovering hidden realms and forging friendships amid frenetic play.

It was a dreamscape where time seemed to stretch endlessly, and the only currency was laughter and boundless imagination.

Yet, as the years unfurled like a surreal tapestry, Mac Tonight and the Play Place metamorphosed into spectral entities, haunting my adult consciousness. The hauntology of these cultural relics became a surreal mirror reflecting the transience of time, a reminder of the inexorable march into the abyss of adulthood.

Mac Tonight, with his otherworldly charm, embodies the paradox of the temporal. His retro-futuristic visage is a testament to the ephemeral nature of pop culture, a spectral figure who refuses to fade into the recesses of forgotten memories. Instead, he persists as a nightmarish muse, an apparition urging me to delve deeper into the shadows of my creative process. 

We all grow up, we discover that things that we enjoyed as children all have malicious intentions. Mac Tonight, like most childhood commodities, is deceiving you- the now-conscious adult. What was a resemblance to my childhood innocence is now a symbol of hatred and an index for endless consumption.

As I grapple with this nostalgic revenant, I find solace in the realization that the past is not a static graveyard of memories but a living, breathing entity that continues to shape the contours of my artistic landscape. Through the haunting presence of Mac Tonight, I have learned to dance with the ghosts of my past, transforming the nightmarish into a surreal ballet of inspiration and self-discovery.

Bertolino's Artist Statement:

"Luxury Elite Mirage" delves into the complex history of McDonald's iconic character, Mac Tonight, and the concept of a hauntological fever dream. The video exposes the intentions behind Mac Tonight's commercial use and explores themes of exploitation, disillusionment, and the longing for lost futures within the vaporwave aesthetic.

The video begins with Mac Tonight, once the headlining figure of McDonald's advertisements, returning after a prolonged absence. However, instead of a triumphant comeback, he finds himself discarded on the outskirts of the company, a mere fragment of vaporwave nostalgia. Through his resurrection, Mac Tonight aims to expose the hidden motives behind his commercial persona - manipulating consumers' desires and selling an illusory dream.

Notable abstractions are made between the Big Mac Index and Mac Tonight as a vaporwave character. The video opens by showcasing the iconic imagery of the Big Mac, a globally recognized symbol of fast food and consumer culture. It introduces viewers to the economic theory known as the Big Mac Index, which measures purchasing power parity across different countries using the price of a Big Mac as a reference.

This abstraction highlights the inherent complexities and manipulations within the global economic system, where a seemingly harmless burger becomes a tool for understanding economic disparities and distortions. In contrast, Mac Tonight embodies the vaporwave subculture, a nostalgic reflection on the cultural artifacts of the past, yearning for a utopian future that remains elusive.

As the video progresses, Mac Tonight confronts the entity that shaped him. In a symbolic act of rebellion, he hops back onto the Big Mac, exposing the illusory nature of the product and the deceptive practices that fueled his image. In a tragic twist, Mac Tonight's attempt to reveal the truth results in his demise, becoming a martyr for the distinction between the "Luxury Elite Mirage" and his genuine history as a marketing performance.

"Luxury Elite Mirage" challenges viewers to reflect on the power dynamics of consumerism and the exploitation of dreams. It prompts us to question the allure of false promises and the price we pay for embracing illusions in pursuit of happiness. Through its evocative imagery and narrative, the artwork encourages a deeper understanding of the complex relationship between advertising, nostalgia, and the human desire for a better future.

For more of Giovanni Bertolino make sure to follow his YouTube, Instagram and Twitter.

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