Sadverts {never pick a fight with a man who buys ink by the barrel}

Throughout this project I have continuously referred to a very large stock pile of newspapers that I’ve scrounged.

I also found 10 amazing cardboard mouldings being thrown out in a bin which were packaging material that I knew instantly I wanted to use as picture frames.

I decided I would like them to resemble the ubiquitous handheld devices that everyone is transfixed to these days with their constant blue glow.

I intend to backlight the units with a blue LED type light to emphasise the Screen-like quality. The images, I decided, would be a comment on media manipulation and collective morality – how “we” are better than “them”.

I am awaiting lettering and signage for the top of the “media wall”. I wanted it printed professionally and we lacked the equipment here. The quotation will read as follows:

“Never pick a fight with a man who buys ink by the barrel” – attributed to Mark Twain, a.k.a Greener’s Law

Never pick a fight with a man who buys ink by the barrel

Never pick a fight with a man who buys ink by the barrel

The PR industry… the Mainstream Media, is an irradiated weapon aimed accurately at humanity with deadly force… nothing more, nothing less.

The “Sadverts” are a series of artworks based on the the immense propaganda powers of mainstream media, the culture industry and the PR industry of advanced western capitalism. Whether it be the “nudge-unit” of political spin-doctors, the Media-mogul’s political and social agenda, the use of neuro-linguistic programming, or the softening of stories and complete omission of radical voices to fit the “balanced” agenda esposed by the BBC.

 A statistic that shocked me personally is that “The UK commercial television stations use only 1 of 2 advertising companies” (BBC Radio 4, Media Show, 18/9/2013).

We as a population are influenced by what we are fed by a select group of powerful agencies that control the media and dissenting voices are rapidly quietened, turned into social pariahs or ridiculed into silence. The psychology of decision making is big business.

I wanted to comment upon the culture industry, the media industry, The dependency by Big Media upon Big Oil and ultimately this feeds the War Machine.

I wanted to comment on the daily onslaught of propaganda and of the wilful ignorance I see on the part of a superficially “happy” society.  to comment upon modern western capitalism and a cultural schizophrenia.

Philosophical Inspiration and further reading

“What our civilisation is, is roughly 7 billion people trying to make themselves happy by standing on each other’s shoulders and kicking each other’s teeth in.

It’s not a pleasant situation. But if you stand back and look at this planet and see that we have the money, the power, the medical understanding, the scientific know-how, the community and the love to produce a kind of Human Paradise” – Terence McKenna  (November 16, 1946 – April 3, 2000) was an American philosopher , psychonaut , ethnobotanist , lecturer , and author.

Roland Gérard Barthes (French: 12 November 1915 – 26 March 1980)

was a French literary theorist, philosopher, linguist, critic, and semiotician. Barthes’ ideas explored a diverse range of fields and he influenced the development of schools of theory including structuralism, semiotics, social theory, anthropology and post-structuralism.

Semiotics and myth

Barthes’s many monthly contributions that were collected in his Mythologies (1957) frequently interrogated specific cultural materials in order to expose how bourgeois society asserted its values through them. For example, the portrayal of wine in French society as a robust and healthy habit is a bourgeois ideal that is contradicted by certain realities (i.e., that wine can be unhealthy and inebriating).

He found semiotics, the study of signs, useful in these interrogations. Barthes explained that these bourgeois cultural myths were “second-order signs,” or “connotations.”

A picture of a full, dark bottle is a signifier that relates to a specific signified: a fermented, alcoholic beverage. However, the bourgeoisie relate it to a new signified: the idea of healthy, robust, relaxing experience.

Motivations for such manipulations vary, from a desire to sell products to a simple desire to maintain the status quo. These insights brought Barthes in line with similar Marxist theory.

In The Fashion System Barthes showed how this adulteration of signs could easily be translated into words.

In this work he explained how in the fashion world any word could be loaded with idealistic bourgeois emphasis.

Thus, if popular fashion says that a ‘blouse’ is ideal for a certain situation or ensemble, this idea is immediately naturalized and accepted as truth, even though the actual sign could just as easily be interchangeable with ‘skirt’, ‘vest’ or any number of combinations.

In the end Barthes’ Mythologies became absorbed into bourgeois culture, as he found many third parties asking him to comment on a certain cultural phenomenon, being interested in his control over his readership.

This turn of events caused him to question the overall utility of demystifying culture for the masses, thinking it might be a fruitless attempt, and drove him deeper in his search for individualistic meaning in art.

“The large part of the media is diversion. Also, there is isolation.
You wanna make sure everybody is alone. Each person is
sitting alone in front of the tube. You don’t support one another. You don’t have any organizations where you can get together and try to work things out.” – Noam Chomsky