Consumer examines the influence of consumer culture on the visual landscape. Throughout the project I bought advertising space around Cardiff city centre and filled it with posters in which images and text are combined using tropes from advertising, to encourage people to think about the contradictions of capitalist consumption rather than impel them to buy something.
This project was supported by an Arts Council of Wales production grant.
In contemporary consumer culture I am required to delay gratification and demonstrate a strong work ethic in order to fulfill the need for production. I am also simultaneously impelled to consume to excess under the hedonist incitement to ‘treat myself’ in order to fulfill the need for consumption and capitalist growth. Lure focuses on this contradiction in advanced capitalist society. Diet foods are commodities par excellence; they conform to the dictum of self-denial without contradicting the imperative to consume. They enable me to appear restrained and indulge myself in the same instance. The objects in Lure suggest equivalence between duped prey, a consumer dazzled by an advertising image, and the ‘absorbed credulity’ of a fetish worshiper.
‘The decanted infant howls; at once a nurse appears with a bottle of external secretion. feeling lurks in that interval of time between desire and its consummation. Shorten that interval…’ Brave New World, Aldous Huxley, 1932
Pacifier considers consumption, particularly consumption to improve the surface appeal of the body, to be a distraction. Each artwork contains multiple surfaces all vying for attention, and textures implied by the faux surfaces of the ellipse suggest trickery and lack of substance. The vignettes can be read in terms of portraiture or, more disturbingly, as the beheaded trophies of a hunter, implying that the consumers suggested by these images are victims and decorations as well as sex toys.
Consume: Celebrate (Scales)
Scales considers the social stigma attached to being fat and the medicalisation of the overweight body. The photographs were produced for a series of advertising posters displayed in Cardiff City center in January 2015. I wanted to draw attention to the abrupt shift in advertising rhetoric once the Christmas and New Year period is over. The images in the posters allude to the excesses of the holiday period that are often followed by self-recriminations and sometimes lead to diets and even surgery.
There was no label this time with the words "DRINK ME," but nevertheless she uncorked it and put it to her lips. "I know something interesting is sure to happen," she said to herself, "whenever I eat or drink anything: so I'll just see what this bottle does." (Lewis Carrol, Alice in Wonderland)
Consume: Christmas Consumer 1 & 2
Placed around Central / South London in December 2016 to accompany PhD viva exhibition Consumed: Stilled Lives and the Pathologies of Capitalism at the Dyson Gallery, Royal College of Art. Because they feature torn and chewed photographs of the foods features in the ad-style images, these posters aim to bring to mind the way we consume images of food. Made with the assistance of BA (Hons) Photography students at Anglia Ruskin University and produced installed with the generous support of City Centre Posters.