Concept and research

Aim of this brief set by Joshua Trees and intended to be part of the series of talks named ‘Free Criticism’ was to design and deliver a lecture on contemporary themes relevant to designers’ practice. Me and Chris Kieling teamed up for this project, having worked together in the past already on a video project (It’s Fair), and mainly because of our common interest in many fields of Design.

Initial intention was to present a lecture aimed at designers on the themes of counter-advertising techniques and visual education. We are both avid readers of Adbusters, and so we’ve been used to the term Visual Pollution, which relates to the overwhelming amount of advertisements and commercials we are exposed to everyday.

We then decided to make of it the central topic in our lecture, as we believe it is vital to raise awareness on this concept, especially in the arts/creative/visual sector. Gaining some feedback we soon find out that awareness on this issue exists already, as all of us are accustomed to the excess of visual inputs present in contemporary society.

But if we are aware of it, how come it’s still going on?

Our observations lead us to the conclusion that the common person from the street knows about it, but probably doesn’t fully understand the consequences on his behaviour and mental environment, probably because of a lack of visual and critical education. As Epictetus wrote, “Only the educated are free”.

Meanwhile, the designer simply ignores the problem and keeps producing more crap. But there’s no point in being too pessimistic, as slowly things are changing: for example, In São Paulo since 2007 all outdoor advertising is banned. Read the full article here.

We soon faded away from the concept of making a slideshow for our project, not because it is a common media, but simply because it couldn’t reach a wider audience. Also, we wanted to use the immense visual waste that is the substance of most advertising commercials nowadays. Everybody has the access to gratuitous amounts of crap, and as we all know, often surfing the web is in the end just about avoiding the stuff we are not interested to.

We have been very interested in culture jamming techniques, in “using the weapons of the enemy to beat it”, sort of speak. Youtube is an enormous database of ads, infomercials and presentations. We wrote our script, and we let the ads speak for themselves. The result in the next post.