– a brief period during which something flourishes before dying out.
In the late 90s, with the ban on tobacco advertising approaching, a well-known cigarette manufacturer ran a semi-subliminal advertising campaign. By combining American landscapes with cryptic phrases, they aimed to bemuse target smokers, and occupy their thoughts after they’d turned the page.
This series of double exposures records my reaction to the psychological hooks used to sell a deadly product. By layering images of departed icons on top of these magazine adverts, I explore the concept of ethical manipulation. While reflecting on my own sense of loss from the early demise of those I admire, and the holes left in our cultural landscape.
Those were the early days of the attention economy. Modern technology has cranked things up a notch, and those wishing to exploit our appetite for distraction have easier ways to do it. With thousands of adverts coming at us each day, our eyeballs are under siege. The casualty is our focus, the key ingredient for anything meaningful in life.
It’s been said, we have two lives – the life we live, and the unlived life of our aspirations. If our time here is the most valuable thing we own. We should ask ourselves, which one are we living?
Expressing your opinion in 21st century is not as straight forward as it used to be. Questioning the socio-political consensus comes at price and the perceived cost of holding opposing views is too high for some. Self-censorship is on the rise.
The internal struggle can feel like being in a cognitive jail cell. Sometimes we’re the ninja skilled at escapology, other times we’re the prison guard slamming the door. In the long run, our integrity, self-respect and intellectual honesty take the hit. If we don’t risk offending people, how will we know what we think?
For Bukowski, life was not all champagne and skittles. There were school bullies, dead end jobs, nights sleeping rough, back alley fights, jail-time, whores, hangovers and hardships. But through it all was a crazy kind of contentment. What mattered most to Hank was how well you walk through the fire.
The world’s problems are systemic. The systems are complex. Those in charge don’t understand them. So they lie. We know it. They know it. And they know we know it. Its a post truth world where emotions come first. Angry people click more. But do they come up with solutions? Time will tell. But for now, we act like nothing’s wrong.