The Clutter Crisis and Her Demons
I decided to look at the fashion industry with this piece, because I feel that the fashion industry is one of the areas of media that really try and manipulate their own tools to make people feel like they need to be that too.
So I have a collage and splattering of advertisements in the background of the piece; this represents all of the clutter that our world is filled with. I filled the walls with pictures of happy, smiling, laughing people; all of them women. I didn't find very many "designer" ads or fashion pieces about men, for it seemed the only time there was a man in the ad was when there was a fashionably dressed woman showing off her seductive qualities as the man looked like a sexy mannequin in the background. The ads that mainly featured men were cologne ads, and of course men’s clothing ads, but even those I rarely came across.
As I was looking through a good deal of magazine articles for this piece, I realized that I was seeing the same words very often in a lot of the ads and articles. Words such as, “perfect” and “beauty” and many phrases saying things like “Look hot!” or “Find the best… for you”. It made me realize that the agencies were playing on people’s fear of not looking “good” to everyone else, and their own desire to look sexy. Having the desire to look good is understandable, but where we get the idea of what “good” looks like is the ad on TV for the girl with the flawless skin and the beautiful hair. I even found an ad that was included in my piece, “My idea of good”. It voiced my thoughts exactly.
I also included a few faces of models in which I replaced one models lips with another one. If you remember, I did this with the Proactiv ad and a Covergirl ad, and I was able to align Drew Barrymore's face exactly with the Proactiv ad. I noticed that many pieces used in one ad can be applied to a lot of other images and phrases used in other media. You could swap the images in one ad and have them mean something completely different when paired with a different set of words. What it all showed me was that many ads are basically the same exact thing. That's why certain “designs” that break through are so sought after, because every ad needs that extra umph to stand out.
The 3D element that I included, the television and the man coming out of the television, (and thinking back on that, the figure probably should have resembled a woman, because I was focusing an a very female orientated industry) was to show how ads have evolved in a way. Ads, which are really just pieces of paper, images on a screen, have become our own images of what we have to become to look our best. They have become a desirable reality for consumers, and I wanted the figure coming out of the TV to represent that.
And you may have noticed the cracked screen on the TV, and that was just another way I was showing “breaking through the clutter”: literally.
I used quotes on the walls from the Persuaders, the Frontline documentary that we watched for this class. The one I felt portrayed the clutter aspect I was aiming for was the quote, “What advertising has always wanted to do is not simply suffuse the atmosphere, but to become the atmosphere.” Mark Crispin Miller said this in the Persuaders, and I feel like that's how I was viewing all of the clutter; it has grown from just being around us to actually filling the spaces, becoming the air we breathe and the world we walk through.
Overall, I enjoyed working on this project because besides being a hands on activity, I also walked away from the experience with some observations I wasn't expecting to make. Like the phrases commonly used and the “morphing” of faces that I played around with.
Persuaders. 2004. Narr. Douglas Rushkoff. Frontline. PBS Online. Web. 4 Dec. 2009.
Copyright 2010, Jordan Harvey