Thursday, August 26, 2010

Reading Pictures: Sexual Expressions: Erections & O-faces

It's a classic Hollywood maneuver, a couple embrace in a kiss and the woman's leg bends at the knee and rises. A visual metaphor for arousal and erection. It's also an excellent example of what Freud referred to as "predicate thinking", the treating of dissimilar objects as equal when they share physical attributes, common in the primary process thinking of dreams.

Madonna with her own less subtle metaphorical erection.

A Bath and Bodyworks promotional coupon for a new product called "Dark Kiss" featuring a cosmetic photography cliche, the o-face.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Reading Pictures: Levi's Outdoor Exposure

What is happening in this picture?

The model is exposing himself to us.

He sits on the corner of a car's trunk, legs slightly spread. His crotch is dead center of the image. A tarp, pulled up and tucked beneath his crotch reveals the car beneath, reinforcing and doubling the expression of "exposure". The position of the gathered tarp and exposed, protruding portion the the car draws further attention to his genital region and focuses energy into the image's center.

This is not a flirtatious exposure, but a menacing one, as is clear by the model's non-verbal expression. The fact that he is sitting on a car also has communicative significance. If the car belongs to someone else, it is an act of dominance and transgression. If it belongs to him it is a display of possession, of "owning".

It is no accident that the tarp is blue (jeans are blue) and the car red (the color of genitals flushed with blood).

Is it going too far to look for further connections between the car and sexualized behavior? Cars, in the context of advertising, are often fetishized sexual objects. Acts of indecent exposure often take place in modes of public and private transportation.

Reading Pictures: The Ambush

It's as if, walking down a city street you've turned and found yourself face to face with a gang of male assailants. The visual narrative of confrontation, the ambush, of imminent attack so popular in fashion photography and music of all genres.

Reading Pictures: Raped and Left for Dead

Another fine example of one of fashion photography's favorite narrative cliches, the raped and disposed of model.

Previous post from March 02: Reading Pictures: Raped & Left for Dead

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Sense of Smell: Stinky Utility Bills

Utility bills that smell of rotten eggs.
As part of a safety campaign, Puget Sound Energy is including a scratch-and-sniff pamphlet with its billing statements to remind customers of what leaking gas smells like.

Natural gas is odorless, but providers add a chemical to the gas that has a distinctive, sulfur-like aroma similar to rotten eggs so leaks can be detected.

VIA the AP: Wash. utility adds rotten egg smell to bills

Friday, August 20, 2010

Demographics: Single in the U.S.

VIA CNN: Single? You're not alone

About 46 percent of all U.S. households are maintained by a single person, says the Census Bureau. More than half of the unwed are women. Know what else? For every 100 single women, just 88 single men are available.

There are 96 million people in the United States who have no spouse. That means 43 percent of all Americans over the age of 18 are single, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

"Single" is defined as adults who have never been married, are divorced or are widowed in the bureau's America's Families and Living Arrangements survey of 2009.

An increasing number of these single Americans -- more than 31 million -- are living alone, according to the census. They make up 27 percent of all households, up from 17 percent in 1970.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

On Color / Off Color: Pink vs Brown Nipples

The color of skin has a way of eliciting strong human emotional — even irrational and superstitious — responses. In Tanzania, witchdoctors kill albinos and ritualistically harvest their body parts.

In Japan it seems that nipple color has such a powerful significance than many woman are seeking cosmetic assistance in changing them from brown to pink.

And there’s a belief in Japan that pink nipples denote purity, while brown ones … don’t. A female plastic surgeon I know who works in Tokyo put it this way: “Japanese girls want to have pink nipples because Japanese guys like them. For some Japanese men, the less sexual experience a woman has, the better. Little experience means she is clean and precious for them.”

It turns out some women in Japan really feel this way. Why? “Because pink is cute,” she told me.

VIA The faster Times article by Daniel Krieger: Why the Japanese are Turning Their Nipples Pink

And one last bit from a healthcare perspective: What the Color of Your Areola Tells About You (Yahoo).

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Sunday School at The Sherman Foundation

Saturday, August 07, 2010

I'm Comic Sans, Asshole

A wildly amusing monolog via McSweeney gives voice to the font that many in the "design community" love to hate. Here's a brief excerpt:

While Gotham is at the science fair, I'm banging the prom queen behind the woodshop. While Avenir is practicing the clarinet, I'm shredding "Reign In Blood" on my double-necked Stratocaster. While Univers is refilling his allergy prescriptions, I'm racing my tricked-out, nitrous-laden Honda Civic against Tokyo gangsters who'll kill me if I don't cross the finish line first. I am a sans serif Superman and my only kryptonite is pretentious buzzkills like you.

I'm Comic Sans, Asshole by Mike Lacher

For the pretentious and controlling there is a website devoted to the extermination of comic sans: Ban Comic Sans

For the highly evolved there is always The Sherman Foundation and this blazing essay: As Stupid as a Graphic Designer: The Slippery Subject of Style.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Sunday School at The Sherman Foundation: Most People are Unsane

I just finished rereading Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind by Al Ries and Jack Trout. (They put out a very nice hardcover, 20th anniversary edition. One of the finest books on marketing ever written.) Towards the very end they reference Alfred Korzybski and his concept of insanity. It's so good I thought I'd type it up and share it.

What's the difference between sane people and insane people? What exactly do insane people do? Alfred Korzybski, who developed the concept of general semantics, explains that insane people try to make the world of reality fit what is in their heads.

The insane person who thinks he is Napoleon makes the outside world fit that notion.

The sane person constantly analyzes the world of reality and then changes what's inside his or her head to fit the facts.

That's an awful lot of trouble for most people. Besides, how many people want to constantly change their opinions to fit the facts? It's a whole lot easier to change the facts to fit your opinions.

Unsane people make up their minds and then find the facts to "verify" the opinion. Or even more commonly, they accept the opinion of the nearest "expert," and then they don't have to bother with the facts at all. (Word of mouth.)

2 of Korzybski's books are on The Sherman Foundation Dangerous Ideas Reading List. I highly recommend the General Semantics Seminar. Science and Sanity is incredible but not an easy read.