Intensive Production | Reflections

Proposal Considerations:

  • Examining and drawing attention to the implications of data-surveillance within the public domain.
  • How are commerce and consumer behaviour used to display and perpetuate notions around taste, class and social identification [C. Lury, 2011; Phillips, 2003]
  • Exploring issues around ‘datafication’ of daily life, and whilst addressing discourses around ‘the digital self’, whilst addressing ideas around performativity, and the formation of collective and individual identities.
  • I have exclusively examined the image-sharing platform, ‘Instagram’ due to its growing popularity and widespread usage.  – Statistica 2018a Instagram
  • “is one of the most popular social networks worldwide” and as of September 2017) “the mainly mobile photo sharing network had reached 800 million monthly active users, up from 600 million in December 2016.” (Statistica, 2018)

Target Audience:

  • Both males and females students, or users of social media such as Instagram
  • Instagram demographic/Statistics:
  • ‘32% of all internet users are on Instagram’
  • ’59 % of Internet users between the ages of 18-29 use Instagram and 33% of Internet users between the ages of 30 and 49 use Instagram’
  • ‘Instagram was bought by Facebook in 2012 for $1 Billion’
  • ‘The most popular hashtags on Instagram are #love, #Instagood, #Me #Cute #Follow.’ à [tags such as #Follow and #Me directly indicate narcissism within social media use, as Follows, likes, shares etc have become a new currency, thus, likes and popularity makes a statement about how desirable and popular you are, in the same way, that having friends in the playground functions to display popularity.]
  • ‘59% of 18-29-year-olds use Instagram.’ + ‘39% of adults living in urban areas use Instagram.’ + ‘37% of adults with some college experience use Instagram.’[ https://sproutsocial.com/insights/new-social-media-demographics/]

Photobook Reflections

  • Carefully worked set of photomontages that have taken shape in the form of a photobook
  • Combination of Acetate and Folex allows the reader to physically peel back the layers of data, which not only works to highlight how complex, similar and interconnected data is as well as directly illuminating the areas in which these visual semiotics throughout these images; highlighting the areas within each image, in this case, highlighting the points in whcih each image begins from; the presence of branding.
  • Taken, analysed and reassembled digital data and have reassembled it in an analogue form

Digital Data | Emphemeral, free-flowing and immaterial

Presented as:

Physical Data | Analogue, Material, Fixed

  • Used Acetate & Folex, provides a textured, original and oppositional means to encounter data, the large body of Folex and acetate combine and create a material scripture and exudes plasticity and static | Metaphorical ties with data, electricity and charge, in addition to positive and energies..
  • Careful consideration of the materiality of this book; using a combination of both Acetate and Folex
    • Acetate | Transparent, Delicate, Awkward Encounters, Easily Damaged; gathering fingerprints, smudges, smears and dust.
    • Folex | Opaque, durable, Vaguely translucent; Provided me with a means to separate and differentiate between printed datasets.

Successes:

  • I have been precise, organised and productive across this project, Whereby, I had create a proposal that I mostly adhered too, Although, throughout across the duration of this project, my time has been focused upon ‘Physical Production’ of my assets and physical hand-in…

Limitations:

  • Thus, I have spent a large proportion of my time in, finding, researching and collecting data whilst also physically organising and curating my book, in addition to iteratively testing-out different print, preferences, such as scale, positioning and curation (Test-prints and swatches) à Being completely new to physically having to print out and create things is really quite challenging because you are forced to scrutinize and be realistic with your capacities and limitations of time, materials, costs etc. [Link to Last Semester’s feedback!]

 

  • Lengthy, monotonous and (at times!) boring process of collecting and organising actual data

 

  • Printing is a very new and unfamiliar medium which requires time, concentration, foresight, prior-consideration and an attention to detail, I feel that this semester, I have really pushed the boundaries by forcing myself to physically produce and hand-in a photo book rather than just a digital submission.

 

  • I initially faced issues with printing, with many test prints failing to work correctly, I faced issues with my image sets aligning correctly (This may have been due to printer alignment issues) as well as facing issues with misprinting although this was due to misunderstandings between myself and the print centre; although this was promptly resolved.

 

Video Reflections

Successes:

  • By reverting back to a more simple way of producing an authentic video, I was able to stretch my production a little further whereby I have created and performed an identity online which documents my project progress thus, am using the platform as a means to critique it; In sort I am using digital media to critique narcissism and performativity throughout social networking sites such as Instagram whilst also raising awareness to a visual language and affinity to branding that has emerged online.
  • My use of social media has also allowed me to create and re-present my argument and critique in a more legible and understandable format that adheres well to my target audiences… Whom frequently use platforms such as Instagram as well as those who also utilise brand-related hashtags as a means to perform a sense of identity through brand affinity

Limitations

  • Initially faced issues with file size and editing processes
  • Faced issues with rectifying and sustaining the scroll effect when attempting to recreate this in Premier so, to overcome this, I had decided to screen record content rather than attempt to simulate it within editing software.
  • These issues allowed me to change my approach to one that is more suitable and authentic to the nature of my project whilst also making the accompanying video piece allow me to achieve a level of consistency and brand whilst allowing me to create a performative element of my project by creating an Instagram account for my project [Thus allowing me to achieve a more authentic critique upon narcissism and performativity critiquing performativity  through a digital facade.

General Points

  • Using, the medium of Photo and Video, I have created a multi-faceted project that has drawn on issues around the use of big-data, data-surveillance, identity formation, narcissism and performativity through the analysis of modern social networking sites such as Instagram.

 

  • This project draws attention to the increase in ‘datafication’ and the ‘digital self’, in relation to narcissism and performativity, as seemingly mundane actions, and activity generates data, that can be used to target, tailor and market particular products, experiences or opportunities to us.

 

 

  • I am using manual photomontage as a means to visualise, arrange and organise a small section of data that is largely available within the public domain. [This distinction was integral]

 

  • I have digitally and physically organised and rearranged images, layering them over the top of one another as a means to simultaneously visualise issues around data surveillance, consumption and performativity within social networking sites

 

  • This multi-media production creates a contemporary critique that is easily understood and legible to a wide demographic.
    • Consider the use of branding within consumption, endorsement and identity articulation
    • ‘7 out of 10 hashtags on Instagram are Branded’ [ https://sproutsocial.com/insights/instagram-stats/ ]
    • Individuals use Branding as a means to stand out, fit in or even perpetuate one’s identity
  • Due to the nature of my production, I often struggled to differentiate, separate or break-down the complex interrelations between my analysis of data-surveillance, consumption practices and performativity.

Last Semester’s Feedback:

Achievements:

  • Well-grounded theoretical context and strong reflections upon different production processes.  [Yes, This semester, I have done lots of research throughout and this has allowed me to ground my project and I have taken time to reflect upon different production processes; listing successes and limitations]

 

  • The blog is rich in thought, references, research, experiences and critical reflection. [Yes, This semester, I have done lots of research throughout and this has allowed me to ground my project and I have taken time to reflect upon different production processes; listing successes and limitations. I have also taken time to research and reflect upon my project whilst theoretically grounding it within contemporary culture.] 

 

  • Made a strong critique on both the visual and theoretical language of consumption, this is grounded within my production and my critique on consumerism.  [This semester, I have altered the direction in which my production is taking whilst also making a broader critique of the language of consumption from the public’s perception, This semester, I am critiquing the visual language of consumption across social media platforms whilst examining how brand affinity operates to display a sense of identity, wealth or luxury.]

 

  • This project puts me in a good position to push my ideas into new territories and take risks in next Semester [This semester, I have taken this into account, and I have maintained my focus around issues of consumption, capitalism and identity, whilst also pushing and stretching the boundaries of my approaches, executions and thinking by broadening my considerations, I have also ensured that I have set out to take my work further and physically produce a photo book.]

Improvements: 

  • Initially hesitant to move beyond image sets although this was due to a lack of confidence. [ I have taken my feedback from last semester very seriously, and have made every attempt to respond and improve where necessary. This semester, I have adopted a slightly different approach to production by utilising existing data and imagery in a way to produce my own primary content, (this was an integral part of my critique) I have made every effort to produce something beyond mere images, in this instance I have  physically produced printed photo book and 2 accompany video pieces as part of my submission.]

Photographic & Artistic Research:

John Stezaker – Photomontage

Stezaker is a British conceptual artist that draws upon the appropriation of media and ideologies whilst incorporating conventions such as surrealism, collage, and photomontage. He examines the tensions between photographic truth and memory in relation to modern culture. John Stezaker skillfully juxtaposes images that are simultaneously conflicting and complementary. These act to function as a composition that invites critical reflection on compositional practices and the politics of representation.

“…coupling male and female identity into unified characters, Stezaker points to a disjointed harmony, where the irreconciliation of difference both complements and detracts from the whole. In his correlated images, personalities (and our idealizations of them) become ancillary and empty, rendered abject through their magnified flaws and struggle for visual dominance.”  (Saachi Gallery, 2017)

Unlike Kennard Phillips, Stezaker makes a very conscious and direct point, in the way that directly addresses the materiality and photographic processes that are involved in the construction of these conflicting yet harmonious creations.

Sean Hillen – Contemporary Photomontage

Sean Hillen is an artist that experiments with ‘traditional scalpel-and-glue photomontage’ (Hillen, S. 2018). He has been working since the early 1980s, creating documentary style photographs that were made in Northern Ireland. These were often politically fueled pieces that often made commentaries on the Northern conflict during that time. Hillen describes how he was “…grew up in Newry, a small but sometimes busy busy town just on the northern side of the Irish Border” and experienced troubling times. (Hillen, S. 2018). In 1993, Hillen discussed his project ‘Irelantis’, stating that it was ‘partly in response to my desire to get away from the ‘war’, and make more overtly healing works…”. Many of his works incorporate a ‘Dadaist’ approach, experimenting with materiality of found objects such as magazines, postcards and personal photographs. Many of Hillen’s pieces are are multi-media, in addition to collage, he incorporates sculptural, video and performance pieces. I was inspired by Sean Hillen because of his use of montage as a means to create ‘dialectic and political satire’ and his innovative and original aesthetics that dramatically draw attention to the materiality and joins between two conflicting images.

Kennard Phillips – Photomontage

Kennard Phillips uses his photomontage as a way of responding and reacting to political issues. “The work is made as a critical tool that connects to international movements for social and political change. We don’t see the work as separate to social and political movements that are confronting established political and economic systems. We see it as part of those movements, the visual arm of protest.” Represents and recreates ideology from popular culture and employes techniques such as satire and juxtaposition. I am particularly inspired by Kennard Phillips’ montages because of their aesthetics, the converging layers appear seamless and nearly somewhat realistic.

David Samuel Stern | Woven Portraits

Broklyn Based, David Samuel Stern is a photographer that adopts seemingly unconventional approaches to photography as a medium, whilst playfully examine the materiality of photographs. He also specializes in analog photo, drawing and portraiture. He takes several shots of the same subject and then carefully dismantles, and then reconstructs them.

This collection of portraits is the result of physically weaving together prints that portray the same subject. “They are an attempt to bridge dignified, direct portraits with a sort of abstraction that allows their subjects to hide within themselves and the photographs to be distinctly physical objects. In hiding some things, we reveal others.” (David Samuel Stern, 2018) The resulting process creates stunning visual effects whilst also create a hybrid sense of depth and texture. ”

With a light and airy palette, these breathtaking photographic prints become ghosts of themselves, two versions or the same person. Two different emotions are often present, creating an interesting dichotomy of the internal character. We are seeing two sides of the subjects, as the weaving alters and skews our perspective. Stern’s highly original technique abstracts the portraits so that they seem to be caught in mid motion. Both original images become blurred after they are combines by weaving. The once crisp photographic prints are transformed by their alteration, creating a painterly atmosphere. David Samuel Stern’s method is simple yet powerful, exposing two sides of each of his subjects.” (Nafziger, C. (2015).

Theoretical Influence:

‘Instagram’s hashtag following could be a new avenue for ads, misuse’

Peterson, T. (2017) Instagram’s hashtag follow could be a new avenue for ads, misuse. MarketingLand [Online] 12 December. Available from:https://marketingland.com/instagrams-hashtag-following-new-avenue-ads-misuse-230108 

“The addition of hashtag following — and the hashtag’s role as a proxy for people’s interests and a tool to reach people with those interests — could pave a new path for ad targeting and delivery on Instagram, as well as for misuse.” 

Brands can already create their own hashtags and hope they take off on Instagram, but in buying a hypothetical sponsored hashtag, the brand could receive analytics on how people used the hashtag, as well as ways to target those people and others who saw posts featuring the hashtag. Instagram could also promote the hashtag as a paid placement in hashtag-related search results.”

 People on Instagram — and Twitter and Facebook and any other platform that features hashtags — already hijack hashtags, adding them to the captions of otherwise unrelated posts in order to draw attention.”

Instagram is indirectly incentivizing this misappropriation by allowing a hashtag’s audience to organize itself and by broadcasting algorithmically selected posts using the hashtag to that audience.”

 

‘How Facebook Uses Your Data to Target Ads, Even Offline’

Klosowski, T. (2013) How Facebook Uses Your Data to Target Ads, Even Offline. LifeHacker [Online] 11 April. Available from:https://lifehacker.com/5994380/how-facebook-uses-your-data-to-target-ads-even-offline [Accessed 3rd February 2018]

“But as the targeted ads—the advertisements that take the data you provide to offer ads specific to you—get more accurate and start pulling in information from other sources (including the stuff you do offline), it’s more important than ever to understand their system.” 

“It boils down to this: the more information you put about yourself on Facebook—where you live, your age, where (and if) you graduated college, the companies, brands, and activities you like, and even where you work—determines what kind of ads you’ll see. In theory, it makes it so targeted ads are more relevant to you.” 

” Using your likes, location, or age, Facebook puts you in a demographic and advertises to you. But what happens when you don’t include any of that information on your profile? It turns out that your friends are used to fill in the gaps.”

 

Targeted advertising using behavioural data and social data mining – Conference Paper

Bhatia, V., Hasija, V. (2016) Targeted advertising using behavioural data and social data mining. Eighth International Conference on Ubiquitous and Future Networks. Austria, 5-8 July 2016. (no place) IEEE, pp 937-942

“The explosive growth of social networks has led to prolific availability in customer tastes and preferences. Users today share everything, be it their preferences in food or in clothes with the help of social networks on a regular basis. This data can be exploited to serve the customers better and offer them the advertisements they would be delighted to see.”

“Traditionally, the approach taken to target advertisements was to analyze a historical database of previous transactions of the customers, with the help of some methodical tools and identify a list of customers who are most likely to respond to the advertisements of the product.” 

“The young crowd which is generally more active on social networking websites gathered in such a large masses motivated us to evaluate our proposed model.”

 

‘The Data Self (A Dialect)’

Jurgenson, N. (2012) The Data Self (A Dialectic). Cyborgology. [Blog]. 30th January. Available from: https://thesocietypages.org/cyborgology/2012/01/30/the-data-self-a-dialectic/ [Accessed 13th February 2018]

“Sometimes we talk about the way online profiles are passive reflections of who we are and what we do and other times we acknowledge our profiles are also partly performative adjustments to the “reality” of the person.”

“Horning describes how we “convert ourselves into data”; we are “monitoring [our] vital statistics and uploading them for analysis and aggregation.”

“The “data self” as described here has everything to do with how self-creates, produces, collects and reveals itself through data.”

” Today, we are always living with the camera in-hand; we can always document our lives via status updates, tweets, check-ins, photos, videos, etc. Like those on reality TV, social media users are deeply influenced by the fact of near omnipresent documentation potential.”

 

The Rise of the Data Self

Horning, R. (2012) The Rise of the Data Self. Pop Matters [Blog]. 25th January. Available from: https://www.popmatters.com/153721–2495892321.html [Accessed 13th February 2018]

““ 

“…

““Since interactions within social networks are now easily captured and standardized, the quantifiable data thereby produced have become far more constitutive of identity.”

“The assumption is that by letting Facebook capture and process everything, a more reliable version of the self than our own memory can give us will be produced.”

““

 

Social Media – Real Life Performance? Or Post-Humanism | ‘Lil Miquela’

Squire, C. (2016) Meet Lil Miquela: The New Insta-Star Who Isn’t Actually Real. Grazia [Online]. 20th July. Available from:https://graziadaily.co.uk/life/real-life/lil-miquela-instagram-real/ [Accessed 12 February 2018]

It is interesting to mention that in a completely mundane and unrelated way, I stumbled across an Instagram profile called ‘Lil Miquela’. It is interesting to acknowledge that images and content featured under this account alias almost solely includes CGI imagery. Squier (2016) notes that “Lil Miquela whose Instagram account, having amassed over 58,000 followers in about three months, is causing a pretty big stir. Her mere existence is has left a lot of people, very confused, trying to figure out exactly what she is. Because Lil Miquela’s account might have selfies, pictures with friends, everyday life and classic memes but she is not a human..” (Squire, 2016) Although it is clear from images posted on this account that ‘Lil Miquela’ is not strictly human, but rather sits in the realm of Computer Generated Avatar/Imagery, however, it is interesting to stay with this idea around performativity. I think it is really interesting that a predominantly human platform is now being used in new and alternative ways; as the rise of cyborology and computer, citizenship takes hold in contemporary life. Despite this, no-one appears to definitively know exactly what ‘Lil Miquela’ is, some feel that this is account is linked with CGI imagery, others feel that this is a real person who is just heavily Photoshopped. It is interesting that accounts and phenomena such as this are increasingly blurring the boundaries between identity, humanness and cyborg lifeforms. Squier states “Whatever she is, Lil Miquela has blurred even further the already very hazy boundaries between reality and virtual or augmented reality.” (Squier, 2016) I  discovered this account, and I just had to slip it in here.. Especially as I am really interested in the idea of role play and performativity within social networking sites!. What a gold mine!

 

Disassociation through Repetition – Marshal McLuhan

After creating a separate Instagram account for this project, I have uploaded several different video edits that play around with the ways in which we encounter data. Katy S. suggested that I create another quick edit as to include some photomontages that I haven’t yet featured in my production. We began by attempting to experiment with the morph cut transition in Adobe Premier, although this did not work well. So instead, we decided to just manually recreate this effect through layering, organising and looping different sequences. This worked well as it created an odd morphing effect that is almost hypnotic in appearance. Whilst in the editing process, we had reflected on the visuals. The looping and repetition combined with the dreamy morphing of each layer as they build up and then peel back and so on; create an odd viewing experience as through repeated exposures the images on the screen appear as mere patterns. After some discussion around this, we had concluded that interestingly within my project; in creating looping videos with a set of similar visual characteristics; the meanings and significance of branding and its associated capital become completely obliterated! This is a really useful way of stripping back images to their basic indexical, structural and compositional qualities as this inspires a naturally occurring fixation on patterns and shapes.

  • Morphing, dreamy and contrived, creates a sense of motion whilst revealing and concealing the different layers in a rhythmic and hypnotic style
  • The stripping back of physical layers within the video acts to symbolise the process of analysing contemporary social media posts that have become loaded and saturated with symbolic, subliminal and contrived meanings, connotations and statements; removing all these qualities and bringing both the posted images and brand symbols back to basics of patterns, shapes and compositional layout.
  • The morphing and merging of layers within the latest video edits have come to symbolise and illustrate how all images and posts online under a particular dataset appear to all mimic and blur into one representation of popular Western Culture, taste preferences and consumption behaviours.
  • Its interesting to note that, when posting online, we are all contributing to a collective representation of a particular product, experience or action; simultaneously, we attempt desperately to differentiate ourselves by making visible our tastes, dispositions and preferences whilst also simultaneously blurring and merging in with a collective group of similar consumers; it is this collective representation and identity that influences how we perceive and understand how branding, advertising and commerce functions within the formation of identity.

McLuhan, M. (2018) Marshall McLuhan in Conversation with Norman Mailer. Available from: http://www.marshallmcluhanspeaks.com/interview/1968-marshall-mcluhan-in-conversation-with-norman-mailer/ [Accessed 8th May 2018]

“Marshall McLuhan maintains that violence is really a quest for identity and firmly nails down his prediction that the media will eventually hurl 20th-century man back to tribalism.” (2018: 2)

“Look Marshall, we’re both agreed that man is accelerating at an extraordinary rate into a super-technological world, if you will.” (2018: 2)

“It’s psychedelic. When you step up in the environment to those speeds, you create the psychedelic thrill. The whole world becomes kaleidoscopic, and you go inward, by the way. Its a inner trip, not an outer trip.” (2018: 2-3)

“It was the great triumph of the mechanical age, which is the age of fragmentation and specialism. But just at the peak of that mechanical triumph came the electric circuit, flooding in the whole electric image and world.” (2018: 3)

“He was quite aware that a new environment had formed around the old mechanical one. And whenever a new environment goes around an old one there is always new terror. And we live in a time when we have put a man-made satellite environment around the planet. The planet is no longer nature; it’s no longer the external world. It’s now the content of an artwork. Nature has ceased to exist.” (2018: 3-4)

“One of them is that we have not yet put a manmade environment around this planet totally. We have not abolished nature yet. We may be in the process of abolishing nature forever.” (2018: 4)

“The environment is not visible. It’s information. It’s electronic.” (2018: 4)

“Well, nonetheless, nature still exhibits manifestations which defy all methods of collecting information and data.” (2018: 4)

“But it’s like our Victorian mechanical environment. It’s a rearview mirror image. Every age creates as a utopian image a nostalgic rearview mirror image of itself which puts it thoroughly out of touch with the present. The present is the enemy. The present is the – and this will delight you, Norman – the present is only faced in any generation by the artist. The artist is prepared to study the present as his material because it is the area of challenge to the whole sensory life, and therefore it’s anti-utopian. It’s a world of anti-values. And the artist who comes in contact with the present produces an avant-garde image that is terrifying to contemporaries.” (2018: 5)

“I think there’s a lack of form and order and category in the nature of modern experience which to me speaks of nothing so much as entropy – to wit, that disease which concerns the dissolution of form.” (2018: 6)

“But you see any form when pushed to its limits always reverses its characteristics, and information overload is a nice example.” (2018: 6)

“Ray Bradbury was being interviewed not long ago and he pointed out something that struck me with great force. That violence is essentially the form of the quest for identity. And that, whether in an individual life or a whole culture, violence is the quest for group or private identity. Without that interface, without that roughhouse, without that encounter with the world, you don’t get an identity. Now this isn’t to say that identity is necessarily bought at its true price. We may pay far too much for it.” (2018: 7)

“The other matter, though, of reversal of form that we already got on to, there is in IBM, for example, a phrase that information overload produces pattern recognition. This is the kind of reversal I mean. When you give people too much information, they instantly resort to pattern recognition – in other words, to structuring the experience. And I think this is part of the artist’s world.” (2018: 7)

Olszewski, A. (2012) “Information overload equals pattern recognition.” Media Ad-vice: An Introduction by Marshall McLuhan. Advertising Alchemy – marketing concepts and techniques [Blog] 4th April. Available from: http://marketingmasterinsights.com/input/2012/04/information-overload-equals-pattern-recognition-media-ad-vice-introduction-marshall-mcluhan/ [Accessed 8th May 2018]

“Professor Key has helped to show how the deceits of sub¬liminal advertising can be a means of revealing unexpected truth: the childlike faith of the ad agencies in four-letter words points to our obsession with infantile bathroom images as the chemical bond between commercial society and the universal archetypes.”

“The study of advertising as contemporary cultural history, of history on the hop and in the hopper, of history as process rather than as a product, such is the investigation of Pro¬fessor Key. Advertising is an environmental striptease for a world of abundance. But environments as such have a way of being inaccessible to inspection. Environments by reason of their total character are mostly subliminal to ordinary experience.”

“Yet ads de¬mand a lot of attention in our environmental lives. Ads are focal points for the entire range of twentieth-century knowl¬edge, skills, and technologies. Psychologists and anthropolo¬gists toil for the agencies.”

Secrets Within Banality

“Today many people feel uneasy when serious attention is paid to objects and subjects that they are accustomed to classify as “trash.” They feel that the base commercial opera¬tion of ads is beneath any claim to their awareness or analy¬sis.Such people, on the one hand, have little heeded the les¬sons of history and archaeology which reveal how the mid¬den-heaps of the ages provide the wisdom and riches of the present.”

“…they know how their snobbish “freeze” (or surrender) in the presence of the horrid vulgarities of commerce is exactly what is needed to render them the cooperative puppets of ad manipulation. The ad as camouflage often uses the blatant appeal to hide more subtle and powerful motivations than appear on the surface.”

Subliminal Seduction 

“Thus part of the business of the ad is to seem frank, open, hearty, and direct. The business establishment long ago founded itself on ebullient attitudes of trust and confidence which were part of the discovery that “Honesty is the best policy” and “Crime doesn’t pay.” “Policy,” of course, is the Machiavellian term for “deceit,” so immediate and overt honesty can be camouflage for ultimate exploitation, in ads as in politics. However, we live today in the first age of the electric information environment, and there is now a sense in which we are the first generation that can say, “There is nothing old under the sun.”

“Ecology was born with Sputnik, for in an electric information environment all events become clamorous and simultaneous. An old adage at IBM is: “Information overload equals pattern recognition.” At instant speed the hidden becomes plain to see.”

Minds Are Quicker Than Eyes 

“Since the mind is very much faster than light (it can go to Mars and back in an instant, whereas light takes minutes), the hidden structure of many old things can now become apparent.”

“Whatever the practical uses and expediency of the subliminal may have been in the past, they are not as they were. Even the future is not what it used to be. For at electric speeds it is necessary to anticipate the future in order to live in the present, and vice versa.”

” For in the total information environment, man the hunter and scanner of environments returns to supervise the inner as well as the outer worlds, and nothing is now unrelated or irrelevant.”

“T.S. Eliot has two statements that directly concern our new simultaneous world of “auditory” or “acoustic” space in which electric man now dwells on the “wired planet.”

“In the magnetic city of the new electric environment we receive data from all directions simultaneously, and thus we exist in a world sphere of resonant information that is structured and which acts upon us in the auditory pattern.”

” So it is not strange that our time should witness a revival of many forms of oral culture and group performance, any more than it is strange that we should see on all hands the awakening and cultivation of occult traditions, and new concern with inner life and visionary experience.”

Subliminal Seduction

“Eliot and Joyce accepted language as the great corporate medium that encodes and environs the countless dramas and transactions of man. Their raids on this vast inarticulate resource have made literary history on a massive scale.”

“Meantime the enormous new environment of advertising has sprung up as a service for the consumer who hardly knows what to think of his newly bought cars and swimming pools.”

“The fact is that the ad world is a colossal put-on as much as the world of fashion or art or politics or entertainment. The stripper puts on her audience by taking off her clothes, and the poet puts on his public by stripping or dislocating the familiar rhythms and habits of expression.”

“The adman shows us the world through the mesh or mask of his product while playfully putting on our cash and credit as his own motley. But that there may be another level of reinforcement, the ads sometimes provide a barrage of optimistic innocence along with an undercurrent of guilty joys and fears upon which the blatant, gesticulating commercial rides piggyback. It is the quest of Professor Key to unconceal this hidden ground of the ad as figure, and to reveal the conflict between them.”

Scuba Diving into Hidden Backgrounds

“It may be that the impulse of the admen to use the hidden ground of our lives in a furtive way in their ads is no mere surrender to base impulse and greed for power. By replayingthe hot glamorous images in a cool scatological pattern, the subliminal message becomes a dramatic irony of the superficial and conscious one.”

“The subliminal replay of the open appeal thus offers an offbeat jazz quality of quarter notes sourly commenting on the full notes, by way of a wry twist. It is the role Freud himself played as diver into the dirty unhygienic depth beneath the dewy Romantic sentiment.”

“Professor Key brings out the struggle between these worlds as inherent in the very structure of the not-so-humble ads that provide the directives and the competitive taste patterns of our commerce and our entertainment.”

“Bugging and Sleuthing have become a universal Business, like education. The electric age is the age of the hunter. It is the age of simultaneous information. The simultaneous ends the subliminal by making it as much a structural part of consciousness as former specialism or monopoly or secrecy. The age just behind us was the opposite of the electric age. The mechanical and industrial society was the age of steam and hardware and highway and monopoly and specialism. It was a visual world.”

“The age of the electrical and simultaneous is the age of environmental and ecological awareness. Structurally speaking, the simultaneous is acoustic rather than visual. We hear from all directions at once, and that is why the reign of the subliminal is ending. The subliminal or the hidden can be present to the hearing when it is not accessible to the eye.”

“However, the new age is also subliminal to its predecessor. It is, therefore, easy to know that the eye may be solicited by lines it cannot see, and our judgments warped by motives that are not in consciousness nor in the habitual patterns of our nervous systems, “for the whole environment is full of subliminal influences which experienced psychologists have systematically neglected.”

“It is only fair to add that the electric environment is manmade and new, and experienced psychologists, quite as much as the rest of the population, continue to adhere to the older and familiar and visually structured world of the hardware age in which they invested all had. For the visual is the world of the continuous and the connected and the rational and the stable.”

“Since we have now put an electrical environment of resonant information around the old visual one, our daily adaptations and responses are at least as much to the new acoustic environment as to the old visual world.”

Predictions of the Past

“For good or ill, we have phased ourselves out of the older visual society by our electric technology that is as instant as light. If we want to get back into a visually ordered world, we shall have to recreate the conditions of that world. Meantime we have a new environment of instant information that upsets and “pollutes” all patterns of the old visual sequences.”

“At electric speed, the goals and objectives of the old sequential and visual world are irrelevant. Either they are attained before we start or we are out of date before we arrive. All forms of specialist training suffer especially.”

“Change itself becomes the only constant. We seem to live in a world of deceits and fake values where, for example, those engaged in news coverage are often more numerous than those making the news. But the creation of a total field of world information returns man to the state of the hunter, the hunter of data.”

Other Side of the Looking Glass

“The auditory man is an ecologist because he imagines everything affecting everything, because all happens at once as in a resonating sphere.”

“The new technology is acoustic and total. The old establishment is visual and fragmentary.”

“The fact that truth is making not matching, process not product, can never satisfy the visual man with his mirror held up to nature.
By contrast, Walter Pater plunged his readers into the forbidden world of the unconscious when he presented them with the image of Da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa.” He sought the truth on the other side of the looking glass:
The presence that thus rose so strangely beside the waters, is expressive of what in the ways of a thousand years men had come to desire. Hers is the head upon which all ‘the ends of the world are come,’ and the eyelids are a little weary. . . .”

Subliminal Graffiti

“It is plain that the subconscious is a wicked witch’s brew of superhuman interest for all boys and girls.”

“Does the discovery of graffiti in the deodorants and aids to glamor threaten the public of consumers, or does it merely reveal the childish itch of the admen themselves? For example, the title Gentlemen Prefer Blondes may be both immoral and immortal because it links hair and gold, faces and feces.”

 

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