‘The Smoke’ and ‘The Mirror’

‘The Smoke and The Mirror’, is a web-based project that seeks to expose the aggressive techniques of certain subliminal ‘product placements’. It  looks into a particularly heinous, but previously unexamined, ‘Lucky Strike’ campaign, by British American Tobacco (BAT), that blatantly sought to exploit the responses of both West and East German cigarette smokers to 9/11, in the immediate aftermath of the event.

The work also uses a particularly shameful example of the willing complicity of popular media – in this case, the mass circulation, German weekly, Der Spiegel (The Mirror). Whenever the revenue stream from carrying branded messages becomes the lifeblood of a publication, ethical publishing standards may be flouted – by any means, but preferably undetectable.

Helpless to resist subliminal marketing ploys, the addicted are lured into ‘Nets’ of carefully calculated associations.

In addition to the web-based piece, I plan to distribute its contents via a ‘zine.

Of course, it can also be exhibited as a continuous slide show.

The images here have been converted from the pages of my ‘Nets’ project web-site. They are my gallery of potential photos for Sharon’s catalogue.

I will follow up with more discussion, as I get feedback here and elsewhere.

Note to Posters and My Project

I’ve tried to put all new posters on the bog roll (oops, the blog roll) – if you’re not, let me know. If you would like your name linked to your personal blog or a related web-site, just let THE ADMINISTRATOR know. Thank you. If anyone has any probs or beefs, I will be in the office, probably until submission day at least. Things are hotting up.

This is the first SnapWeb result. It’s a strange, but very good feeling, to be putting up my project stuff. I’ve put quite a lot of work into it, over the past while, and I still see detailing required. Nets is a great reason to put it together now. And, look, I’m truly sorry if it’s not hand embroidered. Actually, I’d rather it was a Michael Moore documentary .

As it is, it will be either a slideshow or a compilation of  as large print-outs as I can get out of SnapWeb  resolution. I’ll find that out soon. Then there will be the centre-piece of the historic Der Spiegel cover, hopefully (again) mounted in a secure display case (behind a silk rope barrier).

There should also be some document folders – on a table.

One way or another, printer’s going to be running through the ink.

Work to be done.

Anyone notice how less stingy I was with post space when it came to my own? Perks.

Novia University ‘Virtual Gallery’

Eeva Dahlberg – Senior lecturer at Novia University of Applied Sciences, Turku has been visiting us in Cumbria this week. She has developed a wonderful ‘Virtual Gallery’ for us to use within the Exhibitions. The ‘space’ is modeled directly on their gallery space at Turku. We thought that it would be better to use their Virtual gallery space and populate it with images of works from Australia, UK and Finland. By retaining the space of the Finnish gallery it locates the overseas work firmly within a Finnish context.

The Virtual gallery at Novia University of Applied Sciences was created by Albert Mueller and Eeva Dahlberg. Eeva will post a link to this site with details of how to send images to her to be populate into the gallery space. Also looking forward to meeting up with Valerie on 21st June here at Cumbria.

My Nets Project

Hi Sharon in particular. Hi Karen Griffith, now Facebook friend from Cumbria – fishing her dog out of the canal, tending her allotment asparagus and being funny. I’ve been off the air. It’s good to see how the blog has been up and  running – new names and work up there. I mean I know I have gone on about categorizing posts, but that and a bit of formatting aside … alive and well.

Sharon emailed me weeks ago, sent me a web-site, asked how I was. You know – busy. I thought it time to check the submission date – next few weeks, have to get it done. Get it done? What if the input is actually already done, or mostly, and the output is do-able before 1 July? I decided to buy some shareware, SnapWeb, that creates high-res images of web pages in multiple formats. I await only the email with license information – under 12 hours. This is going to enable me to produce my project content through my A3 printer – I totally admit that I had been uncertain how I was going to ‘realise’ the virtual. Whoo, hoo!

I’m going to post them as they are done. As gill-netters are to fishing, big tobacco is to advertising. They lie so regularly, it’s a wonder they don’t leave con trails.

Net Curtain

Blind-Sided

Today (23 March), I got this email from a friend in Germany.

‘Hi Michael,

Hope everything is fine and your project is going in according to plan – somehow to plan.

I organized also “Der Spiegel” from week 38 – 9/11. When I show it to people they are really shocked, but you are right – it was never realized at that point in time.

Jürgen’

These few lines renewed my sense that the subject of my ‘Nets’ project was worthy of the attention and considerable time I have put into it – so far. From previous workshops, some people will already be familiar with the outline of my proposal. I’ll leave you to get the details on my (totally updated) ‘Advertising’ project web pages.

Jurgen works for a large automaker. Those whom he shocked are probably also employed in the German corporate world. His message also helped me to see some other variations of ‘net’ that would have been working, in those special circumstances (but would certainly have equivalents today), with the result that ‘… – it was never realized at that point in time.’

Although the main topic addresses external ‘nets’ – in this case deployed by advertising agencies, on behalf of their clients to ‘phish’ for potential consumers – other, internal, ‘nets’ create ‘blind spots’ that help sustain the existence of unethical practices.

All advertising is, to varying degrees, a fiction of selective imagery. The reflective surface of the new automobile, in a TV commercial, ‘blinds’ us to the inevitable trauma of the first scratch. Smokers and alcoholics don’t see the marketing of products they know will be harmful to their health – and may well cause their early death – as ethically problematic. The addictive condition removes the capacity to make a rational choice around the substance of addiction.

The real surprise is that the non-addicted majority doesn’t demand sanctions on the promotion of the products that are killing their relatives or friends – especially when it is society, as a whole, that has to suffer the economic and traumatic consequences. Underlying the ‘predictive analytics’ of modern marketing is the principle that fear not only sells, it silences.

Algorithms

The mysterious nature of the internet: under the last drawings I posted, there is a segment ‘possibly related posts’ – I imagine it is put there by the WordPress family of algorithms.

And one of the posts they think might be related is ‘a cowboy grandpa’!  I’ll give a small prize to anyone who can come up with the best relationship to my drawings – that will really be a network!