Friday, May 20, 2011

The Branding of Iconogrphy: Making a career out of branding things already made by others

In the previous post I attempted to articulate how the artist  Haroshi has taken a pop culture icon like the Mac “Apple” and turned the idea of iconography inside out by attempting to overvalue the iconic image through the artwork  itself. I think he’s successful and makes an otherwise everyday icon brand into something with more inherent value. His comment on iconography is more meaningful then the image he attempts to copy, thus creating transformative iconography. But then there is this:
Southern California artist Daniel Douke (pronounced doo-kay) not to be confused with Dookie or Robin Williams’ comic genius concerning Gucci branding turds by painting three red strips on them for the wealthy class to salivate over .  However, turds do fall into various shades of brown and at times beige, so they could be accessorized with most clothing items.  Trendy art goers can wear it and  drink  it while gleaning pretentiously over  manufactured dookie or the co-opted branding of 3rd world nation children with guns.
Portriat of a Young Libertarian by Shepard Fairey

Not only will we take a look at Douke's refinery, but also it is "Critique the Critic Day" @upstArt . Today's write up is by Victoria Dalkey (pronounced doll-key) not to be comfused with Douke.
”Since the 1970s, Douke has been making boxes and industrial objects that fool the eye into thinking they are real rather than meticulously rendered trompe l'oeil artworks. “ 

iMac by Douke

Basically by placing his work in a gallery/ museum, the public is thus trompe l’oeiled into thinking it is “art” rather than an object to be placed into the recycle bin once you have set up your imac.  The phrase “trompe l'oeil” is used here to elevate something that is far from interesting, or in other words refined puffery.  Just saying “real looking” doesn’t allow for the kind of elitist pastiche art critics are loved for. Without refined puffery and well, French words, any run of the mill community college student that took an art history class can make a living as an art critic. I’m all for adaptive reuse and minimizing my foot print though, so save the box and use it for a receptacle for your cat dookie.


Notice that the only place you’ll see this version of an imac is actually in a dumpster. Ironically and sadly, this “art” of co-opted branding is now fawned over while the original and once useful object has now been rendered obsolete in our ever tech obsessed world.  So is the artwork obsolete?
“Unfortunately, a lot of people simply walk into the room and walk right out without examining these objects carefully.”
 Or perhaps they are, and they know how irrelevant a counterfeit object is among the already mundaness of their lives. So the answer is yes.
“As artists such as Andy Warhol and Karen Shapiro have done, Douke elevates common commercial objects to the realm of art, reminding us that they are products of designers that epitomize our time.” 

“The degree of verisimilitude that Douke achieves is truly miraculous.”
Yes indeed stupefying. Is Douke like Warhol before him, the god of commodification and monetary profit? But how truthful is it to take a product that has already been vetted as marketable to the public, and then try to recommodify that product for your own personal gain in order to fool people? It’s quality branding and advertising, but is it “art?” Is it an ode to the actual designer?  I don't think so. I’d rather see an actual imac box in original condition under a plexi case with a statement from the original designers of the box. I want to know their ideas and their reasons for design.
 “Challenging our assumptions about reality and artifice, Douke's marvelously rendered "Boxes" epitomize our era and the development of electronic devices that promise a "utopian" future that ironically is profit-motivated.”
I know the main market force that persuaded me to buy into the “utopian” movement of Mac products was certainly to obtain a “utopian” standard of living with free pizza and rivers of flowing Pabst. 
A Warholian paean to hipsters

In reality, I happily traded over my hard earned dollars hoping that I was buying art that would only increase in value, but I got stuck with a constant discharge in battery power and a crappy internets connection. Yet, how ironic is it that a consumer product would demand profit? Furthermore, is it ironic to assume that art by Warhol, Koons and even Douke is  created to deliver a “Utopian” future and do we need it fêted with dead celebutants in hyper color,  balloon animals and  iMac boxes? I want that Utopia, thank god I can get it at any street corner MOMA.

But I'm a consumer and I want a utopia that is simultaniously product minded, eco freindly utilitarian and could be outfitted in every MOMA.  Thank god the genious of Marcel Duchamp lives on.  I give you the  R. Mutt that epitomizes our time, how we spend it and how we value art.
iPottie by Marcel Duchamp
 Lean to shuffle.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Iconography of Branding.

Young artists of today love Andy Warhol except for his postmortem work of course. But thanks to Andy Warhol making money continues to be the new art. However, with or without him pop culture is a sure money maker. Pop culture is such a deep market that it allows “artists” such as Jeff Koons to make a living alongside stiff  competition.

Unabashed talent

Yet, I want to focus less on the super villains of pop art and more on artists that stretch beyond the confines of their assembly line profit mentality.  Jonathan LeVine Gallery has finally gotten it right this time with the exhibition of Japanese artist  Haroshi in the Future Primitive show. Haroshi breaks the redundant boundaries and limitations within tired pop art by not just commenting on objects, but transforming pop art into new organic representations. Haroshi creates what I call “Transformative Iconography,” essentially recreating representative iconography through the morphing or manipulation of branding with new modalities. This isn’t your grandma’s  soup can anymore.
Big Apple  Haroshi

His series “Apple” is not simply a co-opting of the apple icon and brand. He is not simply replicating an image; he is creating new representation through the symbolic nature of his work, craft and his own personal connection to his media.  His manner of production is influenced by culture tradition in much the same way that Japanese wooden Buddhas are constructed.  The layering of wood (used skateboard decks) in mosaic pattern gives a unique and ornate sculpture method to his work. Not to mention the history surrounding his used decks. To go a step future, the trendiness of being green also might score brownie points in a modern climate change context.

Nike SB Dunk Haroshi

Outwardly many of his artworks traditionally reveal how cultures place value on commodities and branded objects. Interestingly, these are constructed forms made accessible from other commodified objects completely unrelated to the constructed form, but inherent of his process and ideals of the iconography that he intends to relate to the viewer. What is fresh is what lies inside; these works have what he calls a “soul.” The true value lies within the object, a value constructed with material that the artist himself finds contextually significance. He places items unseen to the naked eye inside his works, which for the artist seem to transcend the observable and subjective nature of the work. Like the layers of skate board decks, his work is multi facetted.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Jeremy Geddes paints in a Perfect Vacuum

Melbourne Aussie talent, Jeremy Geddes just dropped a new painting on his blog.  It is the first in a series based on a book of short stories under the same title by Stanislaw Lem.  

'A Perfect Vacuum' by Jeremy Geddes

I first stumbled upon Geddes' work a few years back by way of Josh over at Creep Machine, purveyor in all things of import in the world of so called underground art, except without the pretentions.Besides Geddes' talent and skill in depicting high detail of his figures, he is also a master of background. Too many talented artists seem to forgo the challenge of scene and the narrative that should envelop the figure.

Geddes has been focusing on sci-fi iconography of the astronaut a ’la Space Odyssey and the waste land myth for some time now.  I argue this is not mere gimmickry or trendy pop. There is intelligence behind his art and as the "Low Brow" or whatever you wana call it art scene seems to get more trite and pretentious; we need this kind of work to bring us out of the crayola coma and away from computer crutch art. His figures are juxtaposed in the natural world, but in isolation and often in harm or hurt. The concept of astronaut alone in space seems to act as a foil to enhance his narrative. His worlds are often depicted as stark, cold and abandoned muted environments. The astronauts, as if wounded, attempt to engage this world only to fail. These figures are often surrounded by pigeons, known in San Francisco as homeless birds often found competing with bums for food scraps in the Mission. Here too they often seem to represent the loss of humanity and clearly contrast the stoic figures drifting in unsatisfied solace.

'There is Glory in our Failure' Jeremy Geddes

'The Street' Jeremy Geddes

Friday, May 6, 2011

Branding: Trust and Obey

Prescript: While reading this, play Kinkade’s Trust and ObeyCd.

I can’t think of any other “artist” to honor with my first post other then the legendary prophecy of the art world. Our lord and savior, purveyor and curator of all fine “art” goods and products: Kinkade.  Despite his list of accomplishments concerning calendars, screen savers, and lawsuits; none the less a capitol “artist” .  A painter of light in an otherwise dark, bleak world blighted by capitalism and money hungry zombies.  A world perfectly suited to his exploits. However, while Kinkade is adored by high bow art collectors and midwesterners,  Shepard Fairey has taken the same blueprint of domination to the underground.

Shepard Fairey is his modern day protégée, although hiding under the guise of underground activist profiteer. Shep does not infringe on Kinkade’s cornering of the religious destitute in seek of symbols to plaster their homes with to signify their devotion to god and capitalism.  He has cornered his own market of radicals and lay about activists. So that they might cover the walls of their Brooklyn trust fund to signify their devotion to trendy conventions of a beleaguered generation of wayfarer couch surfers and destitute upper middle class hipsters.  I own one of his prints myself and keep it in the closet waiting for its value to rise so I can ebay the sucker.

Various super artistic OBEY swag: note studs on flannel colar

Can you blame them for mass production and slapping their brand on products they have never touched and never will? They are industrious, put otherwise untalented people to work and make people feel good about themselves when they fork over their hard earned coins to be able to curate a kitchen calendar by a Kinkade or an Obey consumer good that goes through the wash every week or so.  We should all be so lucky, so I want some of this pie and we should all have some of this pie.
I’ve drawn out 5 essential steps to creating and producing your own brand in order to dominate the art world:
Step one: Create your brand like Kinkade and Obey.  Kinkade as a brand is old hat. Don’t use your own name; it’s boring and really trendy. Use something alerting and semi controversial. Create a moniker such as “Mr. Brainwash“ for example.
Step two: Find your market. Currently the religious and hipsters are being sapped of all their net worth, so you’ll need a fresh market.  Some modern day artists are pushing the doll “art” market (big eyes/ long necks art ).  This market for example, transcends not only tween girls, but also 20 something’s not able to take the adult leap yet.  However, they only have their allowances to spend, so it is not a growth market.
Step three: Create your gimmick.  As every Kinkade painting can be turned into a pin the cottage to the canvas painting, you’ll need something that taps into the inner nostalgia of your targeted market.  For instance you might think about working with  hot girls smoking cigarettes , painting  cuddle bears,  Co-opting other culture's  spiritual and ritual symbols.  Hey I’m 1/16 Native Canadian, do I get to wear a native headdress?
charmaine olivia

Step four: PR. You can’t sell a thing unless it has some sort of intrinsic value to the cultureless masses.  This is related to gimmicks. You can have simple PR while publishing work that has tattoos on it or you’ll need to hype yourself up through intensive blogging, internet art venues, Juxtapoz , Hi-Fructose or any other art publication that sets the trend in the current art markets.  Sadly, you have to buy your way in or bring your pug dog or white tiger to Shooting Gallery in order to get noticed. Remember be aggressive and make people think that your brand matters.
Step five: Create your products. This basically means get a team of people with University degree debt to produce your goods and wares.  It’s better than cheap foreign labor, because they are skilled and educated in the field, but you get to still pay them nil in comparison to your GDP because you can hold their college loans over their heads and they get to work with an over hyped demigod of the art world.  Young 20 something’s are the new cheap sweat shop labor for America’s corporations, so step in line. It also helps if you can somehow get your brand on a fixed gear bike or on some American Apparel clothing.