Guerilla Art, Humor, Social commentary

The Morning Commute

A poem for disimpassioned cubicle workers:

Copy, file, e-mail, check.

Triple check.

Procedure seizure ensues.

Never thought you’d spend your days in a windowless cube?

What to do?

Go back to college, buy an acronym?

But you see half zip up, Sperry wearing trip ups, carrying a debt like a boulder with that chip on their shoulder.

So, you write.

Creating art fuels you when the computer drools you.

Don’t want to live for Friday to Sunday

Today, you celebrate Monday!

 

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Psychology

Distressed Denim

“OCD-estroyed”, $122

“ADD boyfriend distressed”, $72

Bored of your wardrobe, ladies? Well, you’re in luck. DSM Denim just released a sneak peek of their fall line, now available for pre-order. Pick the pair that bests suits your personality… or, heck, splurge on all four.

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As children, most of us our taught not to label one another, to avoid stereotypes and to not judge a book by its cover. Yet, modern psychiatry has developed an entire bible of labels used for diagnosis known as the Diagnostic Statistical Manual.  Yesterday’s idiosyncrasies have become today’s disorders. Personality disorders are an interesting phenomenon. The list of disorders in the diagnostic statistical manual grows bigger every year. Instead of viewing a bout of depression or anxiety as a transitional phase, the DSM terms it a mental disorder.

  Little beings who haven’t even fully come into their own personalities are being diagnosed with personality disorders, conduct disorders, ADHD, or autism. The latter wasn’t even a concept that existed thirty years ago. Perhaps a child’s hyperactivity is playful curiosity, or a result of the sugary granola bar snack and juice box they consumed at recess.

As children enter adolescence and high school, hormones are thrown for a loop. Troubling feelings may arise over not fitting in, being teased, the onset of acne or many  other milestones on the journey to self-discovery. It used to be called growing pains. Now it’s a condition. Lest us not forget homosexuality was coined a disorder in the DSM up until 1973. As we become more aware of the complexity and underlying humanity in our unique differences, we should see the danger in diagnosing.

In my first abnormal psychology class in college, I was forewarned by my professor not to be seduced into self-diagnosing. He said it happens all the time when new students begin reading symptoms of a disorder, they can identify with certain experiences and may begin to question their “normalcy”. The truth is, it’s all normal.  There is no cookie cutter for health. There is no cookie cutter for disease. Perhaps there is a bizarre comfort in conforming to an archetype, even if it has negative connotations. Maybe it is a quick fix to just deem ourselves defective and shop for prescriptions.

I think embracing health means honoring our differences, instead of casting them aside as deficiencies. There is something incredibly empowering about refusing to let an emotion or behavior define you. We can learn from all of these experiences… then move on.

“Schizo Splattered”, $98

“Bi-polar Skinny”, $88

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Psychology

Time is Money

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A doctor’s waiting room is the kind of place you find yourself flipping through the pages of a golf magazine. Credit cards and watches were the content of every other ad and practically every other page. Even as a non-golfer I was offended with the lack of putt  content.

Credit cards and watches..

The watch always struck me as the kind of thing that was pure status symbol, especially in  days where you can easily replace its functionality with another device. Who needs a watch? I  had a drawn out conversation with my brother once who  explained their symbolism as man’s relationship with technology. I found it to be an applaudable and romanticized justification for his fashion accessory hang-up.

I did some research into the history of the watch and to my surprise, they were once predominant among military men in order to synchronize maneuvers. While they may be a status symbol to some now, a part of their origin coincides with a cultural association of masculinity.

Flipping through the pages, I was annoyed by the blatant luxury propaganda but, it was strategic marketing. The arnold-palmer-sipping, leathered man whose idea of  travel is a golf weekend in Palm Springs might be swayed by the 24 karat, white gold Rolex he’s once seen on his favorite player. He can fantasize about it on himself. He can purchase a credit card to finance it. Then, when it’s quarter to six one lonesome night at the office, he can patiently watch it tick.

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Psychology

Subvertising

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So many implicit, normative cues dominate our culture via advertising. It’s easy to take these for granted. Less than a score ago, an entrepreneur developed an African-american flesh tone band-aid. However, for major brands like Johnson&Johnson, “flesh tone” is still synonymous with Caucasian. Why haven’t they accounted for the abundance of minority populations? When will it pay to be politically correct?

The spoof ad I created above is my foray into subvertising; a playful way to “culture jam” and subvert the messages of mainstream media.

Kindly stay posted for more works to come.

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Complaining, Humor, Psychology, Rants, Vent

One of THOSE days. Why do we love complaining?

I woke up this morning at 7am, well-rested, happy to get in to work early. A snooze button free rousing is usually the sign of a great morning. It means I will be able to ease into daily preparations, leisurely bike to work, and be rewarded for my early bird behavior with an early bird departure from my job. The tone was set for an excellent day…until I stepped outside.

“My bike seat looks lower than… no, no…  it’s just not there.”

Upon the realization that someone took advantage of my quick release seat, my expectations for a great day were immediately depleted. Then I remembered that I took cash out the night before (another rare preparedness). Relieved that I didn’t have to scavenge for the nearest ATM, I began to console myself on the speed walk to the subway station. “The seat is replaceable and at least I’m still sort of early for work.”

I fed my twenty dollar bill into the machine. No entry. I tried again. *Bzzzz* Frustration was building and the unmistakable noise of missed train faded out of my ears. “Why!?”

I flattening the bill on the groove of the machine, attempting to regain calamity. My bill ripped apart as if it was perforated. I flashed the two ripped pieces of paper to the Septa agent with a saddened look on my face. He simply shrugged his shoulders.

“We don’t have change”, he said.

“UGHHHH but you don’t GETTTTTTT IT, I’M LATE FOR WORK MY BIKE WAS STOLEN ANDITJUST RIPPEDDON’T YOU HAVE TAPE!? YOU DON’T HAVE TAPE JUST A PIECE OF TAPE??”

“Sorry Maa’mmm”, he shrugged again.

A tear rolled down my cheek and I panted in despair.

At that moment he waved me through. I felt like a gigantic baby, but suddenly everything felt okay again. I debated whether or not I should reiterate this frustrating morning as a ‘one-of-THOSE-days’ story to my boss. Partially as an excuse, but maybe partially as a conversation piece. Then, I realized how lame of a conversation that would be.

These narratives SUCK. Yet, they are pervasive. They are ever present in the peeved Facebook status, the angry yet humorous Yelp review, the water cooler talk, or the hour long therapy session. They are boring stories, but we tell them. Over and over and over again. Why? Because we are rewarded for it. It’s a bit of a Catch-22, as we need empathy (and in situations like this morning, a free Septa ride), but maybe we can consider how often we indulge in complaints. During the rest of my commute I realized I was actually grateful for some of what transpired.  I didn’t have to bike in the freezing cold. I didn’t have to use all of my cash on tokens. It’s kind of amazing what a few moments of pause can do for your attitude.

Scholarly Stuff: A book I am reading now has really aided me in becoming aware of when I am about to complain and assessing the necessity of the complaint and my reaction. It’s called, Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love and Wisdom by Rick Hanson, Ph.D. It’s not brain science to know that complaining is harmful, but learning the science behind our positive and negative thoughts is motivating knowledge.

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Consumer Culture, Psychiatry, Psychology

Efficacy Is In the Eyes of the Beholder

Feng shui, mood rings and marketing have long utilized emotive associations with color. One might avoid painting their bedroom red if they want a good night’s sleep, or try to eat off of a blue plate if they wish to eat less. One group of researchers (de Craen et. al.) wanted to see if these associations crossed over into the medicines we consume. In their literature review they found that in placebo trials sedative effects were repeatedly associated with blue colored pills, while red, yellow, and orange pills were associated with stimulant effects. There were even studies which demonstrated color effects the perceived strength of a particular capsule. White capsules are perceived as weaker, while black and red colored medicine is often associated with higher potency. There is still limited research in this area of study, but luckily placebo research is on the rise.

Preparation of a drug, interaction with the prescribing doctor and perceived competency of a doctor all contribute to the therapeutic outcome as well.  Placebo research is often used in critique of pharmaceutical formulations, but I believe it provides an optimistic and empowering awareness. After all,  if something as subtle as color influences one’s treatment, there is something to be said about the mind/body connection.

md29263  This vintage ad of Sinequan – a dual acting antidepressant and tranquilizer, plays up color associations. In blue it reads, “the antidepressant that is a tranquilizer” while in red it says, “the tranquilizer that is an antidepressant”

Scholarly Stuff: Harvard Psychologist, Irving Kirsch, researches placebo effect. In his studies, he has found that difference between anti-depressants and placebo is clinically insignificant, in fact… more people are helped through placebo. His book, The Emperor’s New Drugs provides many eye-opening theories for why this may be the case.

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Consumer Culture, Defining Art, Guerilla Art, Social Activism, Subliminal Messages

The Art of Advertising

 

This weekend I was walking in New York City and a graffiti covered street corner caught my eye. I noticed a faintly familiar image of my favorite brand of ginger ale. I had no doubt that this was a piece of advertising. However, as the brand is nowhere as prominent as Seagram’s or Coca Cola, at least a handful of passerby will perceive this as art or even an act of defiance.

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The melding of consumer culture with art is not a new phenomenon. However, up until recently, it has served primarily as satire. Warhol’s reproduction of Campbell’s soup cans tested the constraints of low and high culture by mass-producing art in the very fashion we mass produce material goods. His iconic Campbell’s soup cans leave viewers unsure of how to discern art from the mundane, manufactured reproductions of the commercial realm.

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Shepard Fairey’s 1989 OBEY street art project followed in a similar vein. The original message of his guerrilla art campaign was to poke fun at commercial culture and the subliminal, brainwashing effects of advertising. Fairey stated, “… obedience is the most valuable currency. People rarely consider how much power they sacrifice by blindly following a self serving corporation’s marketing agenda.”

Whether known or unbeknownst to Fairey, his earnest message would soon become the very corporate marketing agenda it was meant to critique. The anti-establishment origins of the OBEY graphic is now an iconic brand name sold on everything from hats and tee’s to magnets and mugs.

  img_0006 OBEY Retail Space In London, UK

               Current culture more than ever has muddled the lines of art and advertising through a proliferation of mimetic imagery. The freedom and creative expression of art (especially guerilla)  traditionally served to subvert the status quo and inspire questioning. Warhol and Fairey attempted to implant messages in their spoofs of advertising. Yet, art’s imitation of advertisement risks paradoxically perpetuating the system it wishes to disengage from. It seems modern advertising’s imitation of art is cashing in on this fallacy.

Let Me Know, Comment Below:  What are your thoughts on art imitating advertising and advertising imitating art? Is distinguishing the two necessary or even possible?

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