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Archive for the ‘Art & Photography’ Category

Terry Richardson is an american fashion photographer. He is the artist behind each of the “erotic advertisements” found on Dr. Strangelove’s website, and his name is popping up everywhere.  This man has done ad campaigns for many different companies in the fashion industry. Some examples of work that can be found on his resume are ads for Gucci, Levi’s, Miu Miu, Eres, Tommy Hilfiger, Club Monaco, Supreme, Hugo Boss, Anna Molinari, Stussy, Baby Phat, Jigsaw, Costume National, Hysteric Glamour, Matsuda, and Sisley. He has also done editorial work for many different magazines including Vogue, V, Nylon and many others. He is also the man behind the banner on this blog.

So why am I writing about Mr. Richardson? Well, first of all, he is one of my favourite photographers and buy overpriced imported magazines just for the few glossy shots belonging to him that the magazine contains. Secondly, he is a perfect example of the aspect of High Culture vs. Low Culture being present in the year 2010. Although it has been said that these views are old fashioned and insignificant in the present times, they are still followed.

There is a difference between erotica and pornography. Pornography is categorized into Low Culture (along with other things like pop music, action movies and Gossip Girl novels), and Erotica is categorized into High Culture (with Mozart, French Cinema and Jane Austin novels). As discussed in class, for a long time low/pop culture was considered horrible. Today, though high culture and pop culture are intertwined.  Rich people are listening to Michael Jackson, people living in poorer conditions are listening to Bach. Terry Richardson‘s ad campaigns epitomize this.

Richardson’s photography (outside of ads as well as regarding them), consists of  naked people doing obscure things, snap shots of girls on their knees in front of a man depicting a scene of oral sex (which was probably occurring when the photo was taken), people having sex, men dressed up as Batman and Robin giving each other oral sex among other obscene themes.  As seen on Dr. Strangelove‘s website and in this banner, there is a high level of obscenity in his ads as well, (the banner is a Tom Ford ad). Richardson has mastered the art of merging high and low culture together, and he is finally being recognized appropriately, or almost.

As an artist Terry Richardson is entitled to photograph whatever he wants, without boundary. So why is it impossible to find his photography books in any of the Chapters, Galleries, or even the independent store Canteen on Dalhousie that hosts art shows and sells books relating to art and photography that are a rare find in one of the bigger chains in the city? It is even hard to find his books in Toronto and Montreal which are cities that are considered to be more open-minded/artsy than Ottawa. I have been to many different little shoppes, every chapters I’ve laid eyes on, even in New York I had a hard time finding any copies of his books. Yes, the content of them is obscure and obscene, but there are many other artists who have also produced questionable art that was accepted. The pornography aspect is still considered low culture/taboo by most people, so as for now, Terry Richardson is too.

As his talent becomes more appreciated ( he is now being compared to other artists such as Nan Gordin and Juergen Teller) and his name becomes more familiar, we can only hope that his work will become more accessible.

– Gillian Holloway

ps: I have decided to include some of Terry Richardson’s ad campaigns here at the bottom:

for Princess Tam Tam

for Sisley

for Sisley

for Jimmy Choo

For Sisley

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Given that we have only experienced an introductory lecture on the topics that will be discussed in class, I have decided that it would be a good idea to write about what one of the grandfathers of pop-culture and consumerism would think of this course/pop-culture today.

The quote in the title is one of the most popular statements made by Andy Warhol, said in 1968. 42 years later, does this still ring true? Undoubtedly. Pop-culture today is about as rich in content as Gossip Girl or The Hills (which are, although content and mindless, two of the most popular television shows on the air presently). Although we know that Britney’s most recent meltdown and the fact that *insert obscure indie band here* is not really as original as they may seem and are in reality biting the sounds of, hmm…, let’s say David Bowie, are irrelevant in our everyday lives, we cannot tear our minds away from these useless stories. As for products, we want what the rich have, and obsess over products that are as simple as Pepsi just because we saw Lindsay Lohan drinking one on TMZ the other night.  But is this all new? No, not really.

Today, because of convergence and different mediums being easily accessed by almost anyone, anyone can get their “15 minutes”, and without much effort.  For instance, the text Convergence Culture provides the example of a highschool student who had photoshopped a picture of Bert from Sesame Street with Osama Bin Laden by his side (as well as a few other images), to make the slogan “Bert Is Evil” a household slogan. What he didn’t expect, though was a publisher in Bangladesh to use the same images on anti-american posters, t-shirts and billboards in a rally demonstrating hatred towards our southern neighbors.  The student received nationwide attention, and there was major conflict about who the creators of Sesame Street would take legal action against for the slandering of one of their characters, the student or the anti-America demonstrators.  Regardless, for a few weeks, everyone who watches CNN knew the name Dino Ignacio.

Is Warhol’s prediction coming true? In a sense, yes, as seen with Dino; but at the same time, the vast differences between pop-culture during his time and pop-culture now would have been impossible to predict.  This is because of what Jenkins calls  “convergence culture, where old media and new media collide, where grassroots and corporate media intersect, where the power of the media producer and the media consumer interact in unpredictable ways”.

This convergence culture can be seen in a number of things today, online magazines, radio stations on the television, photoshopped images of larger females moshing turned into parodies of Beatles’ album covers (as seen below, this also got a bit of media attention as there was about 100 different scenes created with her picture without her permission.  See below for an example). It deals with three things in particular as well: media convergence, which is when different forms of media combine and collaborate to achieve a greater result than what they were receiving on their own; participatory culture which explains the relationships the media provider has with the audience in the way that they consume it as no two audience members are the same; and lastly, consumption and collective intelligence which deals with people gaining more knowledge by pooling our resources and combining information and the power that this will allow the media producers to have.  Convergence culture is still relatively new but is growing in popularity and acceptance.

So what would Mr. Warhol think of this new term? Personally, I believe that he would be thrilled. He was already ahead of his time with this concept by combining consumerism and high-art together, converging two things that no one else would have even dreamed of considering. Maybe because of this, he would not be so surprised, but it is easy to say that he is resting easy in his grave when discussing the topic of Pop-Culture.

These pictures graced many message boards with their presence and were once a "hot topic". Everyone knew who "Moshzilla" was. Unfortunately, they are harder to find these days.

– Gillian Holloway

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