Tuesday 28 October 2008

two oppositions

A reader says yesterday's blog was 'harsh' on green advertising campaigns,

Are you saying that the connection between the language of consumerism to promote lifestyle choices necessarily produces superficial activities? I think that there's a connection between the aesthetics or the 'how' of a 'message' being delivered and the message itself. But I also think that for some people, the actions that they might take in response to that may be significant for them, meaningful for them, in ways that can't be predicted.

To clarify, there are two oppositions here. One is between green thinking and consumerism and the contradiction involved in using consumer techniques to push green messages. Consumer advertising has a dominant tone/style that's hip, jaunty and sexy and this tone largely crowds out other voices, emotions, experiences. It's as if green messages are having to dress up in someone else's clothes to gain any visibility. At some level, form affects content.

The other opposition is between advertising, which closes down meaning to push a single message, and art/literature, which opens up meaning and possibility and doesn't try to control how it's interpreted.

It's not that the activities that green campaigns promote are superficial. It's that a campaign poster or ad or video has to be instantly digestible. As a form of communication, that makes it superficial. The actions that flow may well be beneficial and meaningful, but judging that isn't part of critical discourse about the arts.

see also on this blog: art, ads and agit-prop, keep it distinct, the message is not to have one, artists and activists and just asking.

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