Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Culture Jamming

Today marks the final ishotkatemoss workshop for the spring at The School of Visual Arts (SVA). There has been a great deal of wonderful interaction with students at both Parsons The New School for Design and SVA and we will be featuring, as we did last year in the Desire & Disgust series, many of the student submissions to the ishotkatemoss collage over the coming weeks.

Was it by chance the today that iskm founder, Zev Jonas, finished a book by John Higgs titled "The KLF: Chaos, Magic and the Band Who Burned a Million Pounds”? For long time followers of this blog, you will be aware that Zev is greatly influenced by two brits (Jimmy Cauty and Bill Drummond) both individually and collectively - going by various monikers including The KLF, The K Foundation, The Timelords, The Justified Ancients of Mummu and The JAMs.

During the course of reading this fascinating book, Zev highlighted a passage that he thought was worth appropriating here on the iskm blog … not only for the workshop students, but for all blog readers and contributors to this project:

“… A more useful model would be to view them [The JAMs] as what the Situationists called détournements.
   The Situationists were a group of thinkers and critics who were active in the Fifties and Sixties, mainly in France. At the heart of their thinking was the concept of the spectacle. The spectacle can be thought of as the overwhelming representation of all that is real. In the simplest possible terms it can be understood as being mass media, but that simple definition should really be expanded to include our entire culture and our social relations. The spectacle is both the end result of, and the justification for, our consumerist society.
   The spectacle draws our attentions away from what is real to what is merely representation. The Situationists saw in our culture a shift in our focus from being to having, and then from having to appearing to have. This is a process that the users of Facebook will probably grasp immediately. This absorption in the image of things, they felt, was the cause of our modern alienation. The Situationists were not keen on the spectacle, yet it is the central idea at the heart of their self-referential reality tunnel. (1)
   The thinking behind Situationist détournements goes like this: every day we are bombarded by adverts, images, songs or videos. They are part of the spectacle of the system, distractions that keep us numb and alienated. Importantly, we get these whether we want them or not, for it is almost impossible to live in the modern world and not be subject to this bombardment. They are a form of psychic pollution, one which is forced on us by capitalists. As we cannot escape from this onslaught, the Situationists argued, our only honourable response is to fuck with it. 
   Détournement, then, involves taking the cultural images that are forced on us and using them for our own ends. It involves changing the text or context of an image in order to subvert its meaning. The Situationists altered cultural images in the pages of their pamphlets, perhaps by taking a newspaper advert for the consumer product and replacing the text with quotes from Satre about alienation. These days it is more frequently seen in the graffiti, or across the internet on Tumblr blogs and social networks like Facebook, where it is known as ‘culture jamming’ …”

Ladies and gentlemen ... following on the heels of the Dadaists, the Situationists, Discordians, and of course The K Foundation, amongst others ... we give you ishotkatemoss détournement:
Observe. Slow. Down. Shoot. Submit. Culture JAM.

(1) The book defines a 'self-referential reality' tunnel as: "... a philosophy, religion or ideology that was complete or satisfying and which fully explained all of the details of the world, assuming that you did not question its central tenet. This central tenet was an idea - often an appealing one - for which there was a distinct lack of evidence, such as the idea that there was a judgemental patriarchal creator God, or that a property-less communal utopia would be the final stage of society."

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Nothing tastes as good as image retouching feels

French Bill Barring Ultrathin Models Clears a Hurdle
By Alissa J. Rubin (published NYTimes April 4, 2015)

PARIS, FRANCE - Controversial new measures to prohibit modeling agencies from hiring dangerously thin models and to require that retouched photos of models be clearly labeled overcame a major legislative hurdle on Friday, winning approval by the National Assembly, the lower house of Parliament.
If approved by the Senate, the measures, which are part of a larger overhaul of the French health care laws, would put France in the vanguard in punishing the fashion world for its use of very thin models.
Dr. Olivier Véran, the legislator and neurologist who championed the bills, said he was “fighting malnutrition.”
“A person should not be obliged to starve herself in order to work,” he said.
Backed by the French government, the measures are intended to protect models from being pushed into losing unhealthy amounts of weight and to reduce the images of extremely thin women popularized by the fashion industry, which lawmakers say encourages young girls to become anorexic.
“Malnutrition is a major health issue,” Dr. Véran said, noting that those who suffer from anorexia often develop osteoporosis, gum disease and heart problems.
Doctors who study anorexia say that while young girls who starve themselves may feel fine at the time, the consequences can affect their health later, even if they recover from the anorexia.
Spain and Israel also have rules against the use of ultrathin models, but Spain’s rules are far more limited than France’s proposed measures.
Under France’s proposed new rules, a doctor would have to certify that a model was fit to work and that her weight was at an acceptable level for her height. The level would be set by the French government using the body mass index, but could be adjusted by the French health authorities for considerations like bone structure. Most versions of the index suggest that a woman who is 5 feet 7 should weigh at least 120 pounds, although some put the minimum at 115 pounds.
If the measures pass the Senate, they then go to Parliament’s health committee for further refinements. Employers who violate the law would have to pay a fine of about $83,000 and could serve as many as six months in prison.
Another provision would make it illegal to encourage anorexia on the Internet. Some websites encourage and reinforce efforts by women to lose weight in an unhealthy way, French legislators said.
A third element in the proposed law would require that all commercial photographs of models’ bodies that have been retouched digitally, with the goal of making a woman’s figure appear either thinner or fatter, must be labeled retouched.
Modeling agencies objected strongly to the measures. “It is very serious to conflate anorexia and the thinness of models,” said Isabelle Saint-Félix, secretary general of the National Union of Modeling Agencies.
“When you look at anorexia, you don’t just look at the body mass, but there are other criteria such as their psychological state, loss of hair and dental problems,” she told Agence France-Presse. “It’s a little bit simplistic to think there will be no more anorexics if there are no more very thin models.”
So far, few fashion houses have commented publicly, although they are often the entities asking the modeling agencies to provide very thin models. They are also likely to object to the labeling of retouched photos.
It is difficult to determine how broadly the authors intend the photo retouching provision to apply. It could apply to photos used in advertisements for a multitude of products, not just those related to clothes or fashion.

Commentary from iskm
1. Dear Isabelle Saint-Félix, in the words of kate, "Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels".
Now why would anyone ever conflate anorexia and the thinness of models?

2. Pop quiz: which of these people is used to market the idea of 'beauty' to you?

3. Hmm, would anyone ever resort to photo-retouching in an attempt to make you purchase something? 

Maybe skin bronzer?

... or maybe make-up?

Maybe we should just change the name of our project to i-photoshopped-katemoss and then all of these so-called famous photographers, and the fashion houses who employ them, could send us their images to bombard us into making us feel self-conscious, overweight and less beautiful with the only solution being to purchase something ... oh wait, that is the world we live in.
Do we really need laws such as these that France is proposing? Unfortunately, yes.

So, for a bit of fun, we thought we would investigate the idea of digital manipulation and representation to the other extreme ... how about an aged-kate? or a slightly more hefty kate?

According to the German site intouch anything is possible with Photoshop! They state, "Photoshop is only one there - to make unattainable beautiful stars. There is a wrinkle? Away! Flab? Whoops, gone! ... the Photoshop fans have conjured up for us again in the future on the computer."

Observe. Slow Down. Shoot. Submit.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Looking for a girlfriend?

New York Magazine recently published the following piece:
Man Who Posted ‘Looking for a Girlfriend’ Flyers All Over NYC Says He’s Been Laid 118 Times By Jessica Roy
Dan Perino, the 51-year-old New Yorker who pasted flyers of his face saying he was "looking for a girlfriend" all over downtown last fall, claims his campaign has been wildly successful. In fact, he told, he's gotten laid 118 times. That is ... a lot.
"It’s been going great," he said. "I’ve had ... hook-ups with 118 girls, but the dating is a lot more than that."
He's also parlayed the attention into an Indiegogo campaign so he can make a documentary about his search for a girlfriend, and is looking to become a spokesperson for a dating service. But in case you think Perino sounds like your type, be forewarned: He only dates models. 
"I've been seeing models," he told Vice. "I like models a whole lot better than a cute, short blonde. I dunno, maybe I should put on the flyer that I'm only dating models now."
At least he isn't letting this whole thing get to his head.
Looking for a model Dan? Here is a recent submission to the ishotkatemoss collage, an ode to you Mr. Perino ... 
As they say in the classics: "Looking for love in all the wrong places"
This particular ode takes its name from a one Mr. Young MC's Bust a Move sent out to all those searching the streets of NYC for that perfect model ...

And, while we are at it, here are some other SOHO inspired kate submissions:
Observe. Slow Down. Shoot. Submit.