Noel Douglas

Identikit Hot

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How the media uses technology to create unrealistic images of women


"Our interest is in the appearance of sexiness, not the existence of sexual pleasure, passion isn't the point... Hotness has become our cultural currency, and a lot of people spend a lot of time and a lot of regular, green currency trying to acquire it. Hotness is not the same thing as beauty... Hot can mean popular. Hot can mean talked about. But when it pertains to women, hot means two things in particular: fuckable and saleable."

Torture Couture

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Post-9/11, there's a trend towards combining torture and pornography.



The blurry, pixelated images of a dead Saddam Hussein on the covers of our newspapers were just the latest evidence of the way the "war on terror" has helped produce and normalise a voyeuristic image culture of death and torture. It is an "aesthetics of terrorism" that has drawn on the darker corners of violence and pornography in US culture, and helped, in turn, to bring those formerly fringe values into the mainstream.

Urban Inspiration

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"The rich may have to live in gated communities while the poor roam the world outside those few enclaves," said Branko Milanovic from the Development Research Group at the World Bank in 2002. Taking a visit to any major city in Britain will show you this process in action.

This process is particularly acute in East London as the City bonuses continue to soar, and the Olympic juggernaut comes closer. While little social housing is built, everyday it seems that a new luxury gated development goes up alongside the council estates and run down markets and shopping streets. With names like "Tequila Wharf", "Zenith e14" or "2N1" and facilities such as private cinemas, all encased while building work goes on, in bright hoardings, where young professionals smile down on us, flushed with success.

Here and Now

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Sometimes when advertisers stop attempting to sell us that brand of toilet paper or this brand of baked beans and apply their creative energies to a more needy and worthwhile cause they can produce stunning pieces of visual communication.

This campaign for Amnesty International called "It's not happening here, but it's happening now" is by the Walker advertising agency in Switzerland. It uses a trompe l'œil technique to produce the effect of transparent billboards, so that various human rights abuses around the world can be brought right to your local high street.

Don't Go, Don't Rush, Don't Spend

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Cesky Sen (Czech Dream) is a film that documents the largest consumer hoax the Czech Republic has ever seen.

Filip Remunda and Vit Klusak, two young Czech student documentary filmmakers, in co-production with Czech Television, set out to explore the psychological and manipulative powers of consumerism by creating an advertising campaign for something which doesn't exist.

Time for a Commercial Break?

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Have you found that while waiting for the 73 bus you hear voices?

Or have you come away from the stop for the 149 smelling of the latest fragrance from Givenchy?

Well, fear not, you're not going insane - these are just a few of the bus stop shelter "innovations" that companies like JC Decaux are promoting as outdoor advertising gimmicks to try to tempt the pound from out of your pocket.

Nike Loses Ground from Hackney to Vienna

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It's unusual for Hackney's New Labour council to come over all anti-capitalist. But wonders never cease. The council has threatened Nike with legal action after the sportswear giant produced a range of kit and equipment bearing an exact replica of the council's logo, without seeking permission.

It is demanding financial compensation to spend on sports development in the borough. The Hackney council logo, a round "H" surrounded by the words "The London Borough of Hackney", which appears on public buildings, council vans, staff uniforms and street signs across Hackney, has been used by Nike on T-shirts, vests, trainers and footballs designed to promote Nike's grassroots football campaign for the World Cup. As well as demanding money, the council has said that it wants assurances from Nike that all this kit has been ethically produced.

Reality.net

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Making visible the invisible is a key concept in Marxist and modernist aesthetics.

The arrival of the internet has given a new lease of life to this attempt to represent the dynamic of the real world of exploitation, violence and oppression behind the smooth surfaces of a society that freezes appearance and formally separates the world into artificially distinct categories.

The New McCarthyism

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On the morning of 21 May 2004, artist Steven Kurtz awoke to find his wife Hope lying dead beside him.

Kurtz immediately called paramedics. On arrival, the response team noticed assorted laboratory equipment in the home - petri dishes, microscopes and test tubes. Nervously, they alerted the FBI. The Joint Terrorism Task Force soon descended on the Kurtz home and agents and confiscated Hope's body, and gathered a variety of materials for scientific analysis. They also impounded the artist's passport, lesson plans, books, car, computers, and even his cat.

The Overall Sale Experience

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Anyone entering the Selfridges store in London for their new year sale in January may have wondered if the store wasn't doing its best to put off potential customers.

Bold red, black and white signs incorporating phrases extolling the distortion of desire that comes with commodity fetishism were everywhere. It was as if a bunch of Marxist subvertisers had crept in late at night and hijacked the space. Critiques of consumerism sourced from Malcolm X, Charles Baudelaire and Edgar Allen Poe, among others, were everywhere - as part of a collaboration between New York artist Barbara Kruger and the store.

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