post modern, self-referrential shout out

Ben Kunz, our man in Connecticut, posts on Transactional Analysis and the role it plays in social media. And being the post-modernist I am (sooo old skool), I note that he has a link in his post to mine. So I blog about a blog that mentions my blog. It’s all the rage!

Musing about this further has got me thinking about more and more ads about ads, or the ad industry.  We’ve had cba and the determined to be differentbroo-ha-ha (which I just found a rather raunchy spoof of here) V’s new outdoor work saying ‘as seen on bus stop ads’. Even naked’s work about an intern being sent on a contiki holiday has a bit of a “goings-on-behind-the-scenes” vibe to it. The Gruen Transfer – a show were ad people talked about the ad industry – broke all kinds of viewing records here (well, maybe not, but it certainly had a lot of people watching.)

So all these ads and stuff about ads. It reminds me of art that refers to art.  It’s very post-modern. But doesn’t connect to a wide group of people because they just don’t get it – they don’t understand the frame of reference. They don’t study or “live” in the art world, so it isn’t interesting to them. But art that does tend to float their boat deals with bigger themes. I saw a great talk that Bill Hensongave at AGNSW one evening where he said art that deals with the issues of art excites a small group of people. He said he was never interested in that circular world, but perhaps found his footing by working on ‘the big meaty stuff’;  big themes that we all think and dream about – morality and mortality. That the big stuff like life, sex, love, death will always be fascinating and magnetic for people. 

I did an art history degree so I love art that refers to itself – I have a vested interest and if I’m honest with myself, if I understand the reference then I feel very clever and my degree wasn’t a waste of four years.  And I know that people connect to a work more if they are given a little bit of an ‘in’ (I rant a bit more about this here) – a piece of information they can access, a thought or an idea they can get their head around.  But work like Henson’s doesn’t play on my intellect – it hits my guts. I feel his art.  I remember the first time I saw his photos in 1990 in a little gallery in Darlinghurst and it floored me. It was dark, disturbing and guttural, but also beautiful and mesmerising.

The wild success of the Gruen Transfer means that there is a whole bunch of people out there who don’t work in marketing but are interested in understanding how the ad industry works. But I wonder how connected they are to ads that reference ads simply as they are? Is it just a clever wank for the industry to be self-referential, or are people really into the ad world and want to connect to brands via a window into the world of advertisers?  Do we want people to think of the ad as ‘clever’, or make people feel something about the brand? My guess is that latter, but it appears we make ads that are sometimes ways for a creative director to feel flipping cool.

Which brings me 360 deg and back to Connecticut where Ben Kunz muses on the new Wrangler campaign that is so cool, it’s positively chillin’.  And apart from that, it appears not many people have any idea what it means. But it sure does look pretty.

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