deviantArt legend Tohad has been creating ‘Badass’ fan art, taking pop culture icons and turning them on their heads, it’s an idea that has been done but never in this way. Tohad keeps the cartoon nature and bright colours, creating a collection of badass characters presented in similar ways. Props to Tohad, I love this series.
Whilst in Japan I tried to take a photo of anything Hatsune Miku related I saw, just to document her dominance in Japan and get first hand research for my interchangeable looks idea. I soon realised photographing everything was unrealistic, I tried my best but this is a tiny percentage of the Miku stuff around Japan, not including her official merchandise inside shops. Note that these images are from all districts, even the expensive Chelsea-like district of Shibuya.
I attempted to take photos of Kyary Pamyu Pamyu’s presense in Japan too, but this was nearly impossible. She was on the trains, in the shops on the streets on the TV on the billboards. Everywhere there was a place for advertisement or any pop culture areas she was everywhere.
What I oped to achieve with this research was to prove that pop culture icons change their looks to fit consumerism. They become what they are needed to be rarely wearing the same thing twice, they are what the advertisers want and what the consumer needs them to be.
In preparation for Japan there is one dress I have decided to buy before hand. Most outfits will be bought in Japan because anything I would order for the project will be shipped from Asia so there seems no point. However this dress needed to be bought in the UK as its very unique. For my consumerism/ product placement look I bought this dress. It’s all ready to go to Japan and has got me excited about the photographs.
‘The society of the spectacle’
Guy Debord – 1967
Key relevant notes
I Separation Perfected
4. Images control human social relationships. “It is a social relationship between people that is mediated by images.”
“Weltanschauung” – meaning a world view of a group/individual.
15. “the spectacle is the chief product of present day society.” – consuming/ watching the performance of consumerism.
18. “it is inevitable that it (the spectacle) should elevate the human sense of sight to the special place once occupied by touch; the most abstract of the senses, and the most easily deceived” – consumerism and mass media means that sight is more often deceived less reliable than it once was.
19. “So far from realising philosophy, the spectacle philosophises reality, and turns the material life of everyone into a universe of speculation.”
21. “The spectacle is the bad dream of modern society in chains, expressing nothing more than its wish for sleep. The spectacle is the guardian of that sleep.” – Metaphor for consumerism, not allowing opinion movement or the basic human needs.
25. Through the spectacle cultural promises are never met. Promises aren’t realistic. Much like the American dream.
27. The spectacle allows no freedom apart from activity, which is banned in the spectacle. No freedom, must do what the spectacle says is right.
35. The more independent you are the more you are cut off. Reminds me of Corey Doctorows book ‘Little Brother’ if you try and be different or make a stand you become isolated and a target.
II The commodity as spectacle
38. The spectacle only cares about quantitive. It’s more about numbers than it is substance. No one cares what you are buying as long as you are buying something.
III Unity and devision within appearances
59. Behind the glittery surface of mass media and the spectacle are passive consumers.
60. The portrayal of the celebrity is the unachievable version of labour. Work hard, buy products and this could be you. It’s a goal for consumers which in unattainable.
69. Each product you buy is a shortcut to total consumption.
21st Century Geisha, Magical Girl and Product Placement. These are all “looks” of our protagonist. Female pop cult icons change their visual identity in order to comply with whichever product or theme is in demand. They become like dolls boundlessly changing whilst simultaneously being branded as unique and liberating. Consumers are led into a false sense of empowerment, told we are free to choose how these icons look, when really we are being drip fed options. Our so called freedom is choosing from a series of pre-selected branded looks which demand we pay before getting access. This transcends into all aspects of consumerism surrounding these transmedia icons, figures, photos and trading cards all offer different variations, we buy into choices in order to show we don’t conform. When the act of needing them suggests the opposite.
We live in a society in which we passively communicate, and whilst many people see this as a negative thing, I don’t. I made this series to portray the emotion and comfort technology can bring us in relationships, long distance ones in particular. Each Image is named after the singular light source used in the image.
Adam Hinton’s book ‘Lovin’ it’ initially caught my attention because of the book title. The iconic McDonalds catchphrase paired with the city lights instantly made me think about consumerism and advertising. The book is Hinton’s exploration of Shanghai, China. His work aims to comment on the drastic social changes occurring in Japan during 2004-2007 when these images were taken. Whilst acknowledging the benefits of technology and consumerist culture Hinton looks at how the speed of change is having a darker effect on Shanghai.
Some images are even paired with quotations from communist leader Mao Zedong. Who’s government rule led to the death of millions of citizens. Hinton uses these quotes to relate to China’s current situation to that of Hinton’s ruling. All the sudden drastic changes mean people and places get left behind.
The other aspect that drew me to this book is the styling. There is something quite surreal about the use of night/ twilight. Maybe it stems from the relationship between the content and the primary lighting coming from technology. I have explored this before in my series Digital Rest. Technology as a lighting source fascinates me, especially when it’s relative to the content.
“The neon lights from the shops and adverts produce this surreal manufactured environment which creates this feeling of hyper-reality.”
– A quote from An interview with photographer Adam Hinton by Nigel Warburton.
Hinton also explains how the lighting creates a hyper-reality, one of the key themes in my work, and from this book I can see that surreal nature that first drew me to the book does have an alternate/hyper reality feel to it. The use of night time and twilight paired with advertising lighting is something I need to explore more. Maybe through work that has nothing to do with consumerism. Detach the content and focus on how the styling effects the sincerity of the image.
In another interview Hinton talks more specifically about the consumerist influence of the project. You can read the full interview here.
I suddenly remembered this advertising campaign I found, and decided to re-look at it. It could be used as one of the consumerism examples of a cute and sexy representation of women.
The image below in particular uses the iconography of hello kitty, cute dickie bows and pink throughout the image. But this is harshly displayed against black latex corsets. And a bowl of white liquid (strange for a makeup ad) which connotes questionable material. The style of lighting also resembles a cheap singular flash. The kind of lighting used by amateurs which emphasises the colours and makes the image almost trashy. The great thing about this as an example is it’s advertising a Western product via a Western photographer. Much like my already existing example of Nick Knight’s shoot of Brittany Spears is.
Supporting the idea of sex and cute, connoting Otaku culture the models appear at the product launch with a plastic look, and appear to be standing in a giant box. Reflecting the idea of figurines/ barbie.
Alex Gross’s mixed media pieces take vintage cabinet photos and transforms them into modern pop culture icons through paint. The majority of the photographs are transformed into fictional characters from comic books, by transforming sepia, simple images into fantasy like images completely transforms the purpose of the subject. A person who is forgotten in time, and a family photo which has somehow become lost suddenly is given an identity and use, in a way it is comforting as well as comical.
Los angeles-based artist alex gross has created a collection of reconfigured cabinet cards from the late 19th and early 20th century.
the vintage photographs have been altered by means of mixed media to portray the figure depicted the image as an imagined or
contemporary comic book super hero. the photographs, originally a commercial printed portrait standard forms gross’ collection.
The cabinet cards will be on display along with nineteen new mixed media pieces in gross’ solo exhibition ‘product placement’
at jonathan levine gallery in new york city beginning february 25th, 2012.
Product Placement @ Jonathan LeVine gallery
February 25, 2012 through March 24, 2012
Product Placement is a solo exhibition by Alex Gross featuring his painting and his multi-media art, looking at consumerism, pop culture, and branding.
Here are some of his paintings…
JeongMee Yoon’s ongoing series ‘The Pink & Blue project’ explores gender association within children and how we can be manipulated by consumerism.
My current work, The Pink and Blue Projects are the topic of my thesis. This project explores the trends in cultural preferences and the differences in the tastes of children (and their parents) from diverse cultures, ethnic groups as well as gender socialization and identity. The work also raises other issues, such as the relationship between gender and consumerism, urbanization, the globalization of consumerism and the new capitalism.
The Pink and Blue Projects were initiated by my five-year-old daughter, who loves the color pink so much that she wanted to wear only pink clothes and play with only pink toys and objects. I discovered that my daughter’s case was not unusual. In the United States, South Korea and elsewhere, most young girls love pink clothing, accessories and toys. This phenomenon is widespread among children of various ethnic groups regardless of their cultural backgrounds. Perhaps it is the influence of pervasive commercial advertisements aimed at little girls and their parents, such as the universally popular Barbie and Hello Kitty merchandise that has developed into a modern trend. Girls train subconsciously and unconsciously to wear the color pink in order to look feminine.
Whilst the idea that each gender of child is almost obsessive with one colour is a really interesting idea, the thing that engages me with JeongMee Yoon’s work is the idea of popular culture and consumerism, within each of the girls image we see barbies, hello kitty and the boys we see thomas the tank engine and superman it shocks me how consumerism effects children. From a young age we are exposed to branding and advertising and it’s becomes second nature to want what the TV tells us is good. Popular culture icons are part of our life from a young age and these images represent the variety of cultures and ages and that need everything fast and in mass like popular culture today, it is sickly, and over the top. The children placed in the middle of their belongings represents how they are almost trapped by there belongings.
The Spacetaker website describes the work of Magid Salmi and how it comments on modern society in a unique way.
Spacetaker is excited to host Alternate Reality, a solo exhibition by Houston artist Magid Salmi, as part of its ARC Exhibition Series. Salmi’suniquely constructed still life photographs feature the use of common household and perishable items to create an alternate reality which investigates the notion that what we consider strange and shocking at this point in time may become the standard of things to come.
It is within this process that he describes and encapsulates our society’s obsession with consumerism, and how prevalent technological progress has become in our daily lives. “My photographs suggest that ideas, concepts, and truths are only as pertinent as the time in which they exist,” states Salmi. Taking a humorous approach to many of his works, Salmiencourages the audience to discover their own individual connections and interpretations to the images.
On Magid Salmi’s website the series is called iTECH this name along with the consistent use of white makes a direct reference to the iconic and global brand, Apple. The browning of the bulb reminds us that these items are perishable and makes me think about how temporary modern society is, within a year or so this garlic phone will have lost it’s initial integrity and end up in the bin, much like our latest technology will be in a year. It is hard to know if this is the meaning Magid Salmi meant to convey because he provides no description to his work, and is keen to let the viewer create their own relationship with the image and the idea behind it.
It’s important to me that my work contains some sort of social commentary, but I also want to find a connection with my audience by utilizing and transforming items that everyone might be familiar with.
Salmi’s representation of our society through an alternate reality reaffirms my idea that a photo can be constructed to become a reality in it’s own right. A portal into a non existant world, and in this case the portals purpose is meant to make us reflect on our own relationship with technology.