That’s not the culture we’re in, though. We inherit a mainstream American culture based on advertising. Commodification of images has a long history, but we can start thinking about the time when mass consumer culture became “modern”—in the 1920s, the time when moving pictures, still images in print, and fashion all reinforced each other in an increasingly national web of production and consumption in which people were encouraged to define themselves primarily as consumers (by what they bought, wore, saw, and owned) rather than by what they made or did. These ads still have a lot of copy—but that was shifting, too, towards more images, in the attempt to persuade and tempt the consumers to buy the product.
Now there is no need for the word “Nike,” only the icon, and people gladly pay to walk around with it emblazoned on their chests.
People will also contribute small amounts of money, like $10, to campaigns such as the one to keep the Lime Green Icicle Tower at the MFA.
We need to think about visual culture as we experience it now, which means through networked and digital technology, like the internet. Think about how many pictures you take, how many pictures there are of you, and what they are for. Think about how many images you can access of any given object, and how you would do that.
Now, let’s think about ads, and with a partner, make an ad. First we’ll look at some spoof ads that parody real ads, pointing out the visual and emotional rhetoric of much advertising to bring some popular strategies into relief and get you thinking critically about something so ubiquitous. Then you’ll make your ads and we’ll share them at the end of class.