29th November – The City part 2

Strategies to creatively explore the city:

Situationism:

“Be Realistic – Demand the impossible!” – Anonymous graffiti, Paris 1968

Formed in 1957, the Situatonist International was characterised by a marxist and surrealist perspective on aesthetics and politics. Art and politics coming together in revolutionary terms. They analysed the world from the POV of everyday life. Core argument was an attack on the capitalist degradation of life and the fake models advertised by mass media. Explored the construction of situations, unitary urbanism, phsycheogeography, union of play, freedom and critical thinking.

Situationist legacy includes: Punk, Reclaim the Streets, Banksy and Adbusters.

Phsycogeography:

Defined in 1955 by Guy Debord as:

“The study of the precise laws and specific effects of the geographic environment, conciously organised or not, on the emotions and behavior of individuals.”

Detournment:

An artistic practice conceived by the Situationists for transforming artworks by creatively disfiguring them.

Some examples include someone camping in the city by having a car shaped tent and ‘parking’ it in a parking space at the side of a road. Or students who found their roof growing grass and used it as an additional area of space to relax in rather than treat it as a roof.

Derive:

From french word meaning to drift. Defined by the situationists as the ‘technique of locomotion without a goal’ in which people drop their usual motives for movement / action and get drawn in by attractions of the terrain and what they find there.

Flaneur:

Derived from french word ‘Flaner’ which means to stroll.

Charles Baudelaire defined it as “a person who walks in the city in order to experience it”.

Susan Sontag says “The photographer is an armed version of the solitary walker” and “the flaneur finds the world picturesque”.

Urban Exploration:

Urban explorers are those who are enthusiastic about history and architecture and share a passion for investigating abandoned buildings and their secrets.

Parkour:

human reclamation. Stepping outside of what is now considered ordinary to replicate movement in the manner of primordial humans. Teaches to touch and interact with the world and to move using natural methods.

Advertisements

15th November – Advertising

The most commonplace form of imagery in our lives is advertising.

The term branding comes from branding cattle, which was done as a mark of ownership and used to distinguish between cows.

The function of advertising is to sell a product, campaign or idea and to promote a brand. Advertising is not always commercial and can take the form of charity advertising, political advertising.

Early advertising came in the form of painted proclamations. Many people were illiterate so signage and symbolism was important.

Chromolithography provided new forms of packaging by the 19th Century. By mid 19th Century, the streets were covered with print and advertising.

In this time of early advertising, adverts were wordy and descriptive, this changed as it became apparent that imagery is more effective in advertising, especially in the modern day world where people are always in a rush and many no longer spend much time stopping and reading. The key features of advertisements are image, logo, slogan and the type used.

During and after WWII designs for advertising became more complex and a variety of methods were used, including surrealism.

Information is said to drive behaviour, something proven by Edward Bernays who led woman to believe that smoking in public was a sign of freedom and strength, using the phrase “torches of freedom”, creating the idea that smoking made woman more free. This is evidence that objects can become symbols of how someone wants to be, and adverts that engage people emotionally with the product rather than commercially are effective. A modern example can be the John Lewis christmas adverts, well known and done in the form of a short narrative which makes them memorable.

Other methods used in advertising include subvertising, often messages added (e.g. graffitied) which challenge the original advert. Also, the halo effect is often included with coded advertising which gives the viewer a sense of accomplishment when they decipher the meaning.