Hypermodern International Congress 2175

Remember, it wasn't raining when Noah built the ark.


They have bottled it.


I'm the Charlie Manson of the Digital Age!

Hi, I'd like to introduce you to Genesis, to whom the titular quote above belongs. He's a character in a movie called Suicide Club, which you should all check out. Right in the middle of the movie, he puts on a music video with his band for his hostages, while they're being raped and tortured. The lyrics appear below.

"The Dead Shine All Night Long"

Time and time again
The sky is blue
And yet it's strange how people
Seem to always fall in love
An unfamiliar yellow dog
Keeps grinning as it tears us from the ones we love

Because the dead
Because the death
Because the dead
Shine all night long

I want to die
As beautifully as Joan of Arc
Inside a Bresson film
Lesson one
Apply the shaving cream
And smile as you then slowly
Slice away at the heart

Because the dead
Because the death
Because the dead
Shine all night long

Feel the warmth of the spring rain
As it gently moistens down a cheek
That's streaked with dried up tears
A guiless boy but five years old
Stares blankly in the face of death
While the heart is cut and torn away

Because the dead
Because the death
Because the dead
Shine all night long


Shepard Fairey or The Full Time Ad-Guerilla

Hypermod prophet and South Carolina art freak, Shepard Fairey has long been a hero to many of us involved in the International Club. Fondly, do we recall slapping those “Andre the Giant has a posse” stickers on our lockers and furniture. Fonder still, the exhibit of his work at our alma mater. Indeed Mr. Giant does have a posse, and these days his posse seems to include a bunch of suits with high powered ad-men inside. Fairey is involved with a “collaboration” called 2050. 2050 refers to the year when census projections believe “ethnic” population will surpass…well, white people in America. Trends, so says 2050, start in the streets and “trickle down” to the rest of us. And I quote “This population change (we call Project 2050) is creating a new, diverse self-defining generation of young people averse to staid traditional advertising noise and muted marketing messages. Project 2050 knows how to reach this new generation through unique, non-traditional marketing techniques. And, Project 2050’s management team is unparalleled in the industry combining the expertise of four trailblazers in youth culture marketing today.” Youth culture marketing, I was wondering how I should classify graffiti and sticker art. Non-traditional techniques indeed. Perhaps, you’ve seen Sprite’s new “subLYMONal” advertising campaign. Way back when, advertising was subliminal – Coke spliced 1/8th of a second Coke ads into film reels. Then that fell out of favor during the Manchurian Candidate 60s. Now, aping the techniques of mind control and hypnology, subliminal advertising has returned to us as hip, slick “art,” which then declares itself to be both advertising and mind control. Rank post-modernism, brothers and comrade-sisters. Oh Melpomene, my muse, sing of the rank treachery and gimpy incapacity of this thing “art” that it must be so supported by such money changers and hawkers, by such plagues upon the people!

In the early days of the “Obey Your Thirst” campaign, Fairey seemed to court the wrath of his corporate patrons by tagging Coca Cola (the parent company of Sprite) with OBEY. “Sometimes I feel like a double-agent…” Fairey said in a 2004 interview. While declaring himself a “capitalism-embracing entrepreneur”, the infamous street artist still goes “bombing” at night, spidering around to plaster his signature images around various cities. But, I think it’s worth asking, once you’ve sold your trademark to a multinational corp, regardless of whether your subsequent use of that trademark is sanctioned or not, aren’t you now advocating for them by continuing to practice that art. Fairey should know the first rule of being a double agent – once you’re an agent, there’s only one team to play for. The spy game itself is just that, a spectacular game of conflict, which covers the fact that the ends desired by both “sides” were never different.

For those who need reminding, The Coca Cola Company is one of the most ruthless multinationals ever to have walked the globe. In 2003, NGO’s in India tested Coke products (including Sprite positive) for the toxic pesticides DDT, lindane, malathion, and chlorphiriphos – all of which are cancer causing and potentially deadly. Their over-use of water around Kerala, India caused a drought that forced the shutdown, and in numerous other areas allegations have cropped up about the pollution of groundwater sources by Coca Cola bottling plants. Notorious union-busters from Zimbabwe to the Phillipines, Coca-Cola is currently in court over numerous human rights violations in Colombia. I quote a 2004 Fact Finding Delegation based out of New York City:
To date, there have been a total of 179 major human rights violations of Coca-Cola's workers, including nine murders. Family members of union activists have been abducted and tortured. Union members have been fired for attending union meetings. The company has pressured workers to resign their union membership and contractual rights, and fired workers who refused to do so. Most troubling to the delegation were the persistent allegations that paramilitary violence against workers was done with the knowledge of and likely under the direction of company managers. The physical access that paramilitaries have had to Coca-Cola bottling plants is impossible without company knowledge and/or tacit approval....

I will say nothing of the chemical aspartame, Donald Rumsfeld, the CIA, the bribing of US justices, their relationship with Germany in the 1930s, the murder of union leaders in Guatemala in 1981, or the reason why Coke products are banned by most trade and student unions in the Republic of Ireland.

For my money – and according to Fairey, money is my god – Fairey is the Andy Warhol of the Hypermod generation. Talented – without question. Visionary – certainly. Politically ambiguous – indubitably. Far be it from me to rebuke an artist for cashing in. Further yet, to judge by a form (commercials) of which he is clearly no longer in complete control. But still, if this is some kind of Gnostic object lesson, of the sort that Andy Warhol was fond of, the point is too fine for my taste. Come back to us, Shepard Fairey. I call you to account to the Hypermodern International Congress, and answer for your actions to explain yourself without doublespeak and leering side-glances.





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