Monday, August 10, 2009

Apollinaire Redux

Were a literary critic writing copy for Advertising Age, you might find the following headline: Celebrex® TV Spot Reclaims Ground Expropriated By Visual Poetry.

Pictured above is a montage of three screen shots taken from the 2009 tv commercial for the controversial arthritis drug, Celebrex. I have pieced them together to show the movement toward the viewer of the snowflake copy. The commercial itself can be found on YouTube.

The entire voice-over of the commercial is handled graphically as pictograms. A dog. Two bicyclists. A leaf. A kite. Snowflakes.

They call to mind the calligrammes of Apollinaire. But the commercial goes further: the pictograms support a narrative. Rather than subvert the commercial as some have done on YouTube, I suggest take advantage of this narrative technique and put it to another use.

One need only look at the advertisements for Absolut® Vodka, where famous writers were employed to write “stories” around (both literally and figuratively) the Absolut bottle, to see the insidious, if not pernicious, effect of advertising.

To my mind one of the best instances of expropriation of a product is the coca cola field, done by the Brazilian concretist, Décio Pignatari. By a series of substitutions he transposes
beba coca cola (drink coca cola)
to cloaca (cesspool)

all on a field of red, very near the PMS red of Coca-Cola®.

If I may be self-referential, the intent of my post entitled, “Seizing the Tools of Art,” was exactly that: expropriation. Art is not the exclusive province of “artists.”

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