Our minds on media.

Musings on the effects of media on cognition.

Andre the Giant Has a Posse

  Andre the Giant Has a Posse Originally uploaded by ruzel.

Now this is a classic! This meme (created by Sheppard Fairey) is infamous and has clearly made its way across the Atlantic. Sheppard Fairey can really be credited with a modern incarnation of Situationism, a school of thought he refers to as Phenomenology.

From the Obey Giant web site:

“The first aim of Phenomenology is to reawaken a sense of wonder about one’s environment. The Obey campaign attempts to stimulate curiosity and bring people to question both the campaign and their relationship with their surroundings. Because people are not used to seeing advertisements or propaganda for which the motive is not obvious, frequent and novel encounters with Obey propaganda provoke thought and possible frustration, nevertheless revitalizing the viewer’s perception and attention to detail. The medium is the message.”

Situationism was an artistic movement that in many ways believed that art had to be removed from the walls of museums where it had become so cold that viewers simply kept their distance and were no longer moved by artwork but rather studied. Of course, situationism by its very chaotic nature was deemed to be many things. For instance, from spunk.org: “The aesthetes, faithful to the program of unitary urbanism, called for a democratized art, for the reunification and universalization of high culture and popular culture, and for an aesthetic eruption to transform the city into an emsemble of gratifying ambiences.”

While I don’t think Sheppard Fairey had any intention of reviving situationism, the timing of the appearance of his meme couldn’t be more appropriate. In a world where our self-image is constantly bombarded with images, language and ideas (memes) that lure us to believe that a certain way of life is better than another (read: BUY our product and you will be a BETTER PERSON) — it should be no wonder that many artists have taken to creating an alternative. What that alternative means will likely be up to the viewer. As Fairey himself says, some may be threatened by it while others want to belong to it. Either way, free memes (those without economic intent) seek to make our world a more interesting and less homogenized place. Advertising and the commercial meme have no such intention. If anything, the artist is the one with no ulterior motive while it is the corporate artist who clearly spells their motive out.


« Previously: