Baudrillard wrote that, “Disneyland is presented as imaginary in order to make us believe that the rest is real, whereas Los Angeles [is] no longer real, but belongs to the hyperreal order and to the order of simulation.” (Simulacra & Simulation, 1994).
This movieclip of the shoe brand DC is like the Disneyland for adolescent males and takes the whole idea of a commercial to another level. A new genre is presented here, situated in the Simulacra County of Universal Studios: the Megamercial.
Remember the Information Decoration essay which argued our so-called information society barely employs our human bandwidth, as most of the data in our lives is presented in square, electronic screens – rather than using the richness of patterns in our environment as information carrier?
Over time, Information Decoration grew into a design methodology that is applied in numerous times and places. As it would be against its own argument to read the original essay on a computer screen, the text is now also available on an elegant 100% silk scarf. Designed by Mieke Gerritzen.
Run click to the store and toast your neck with it for 69 euro.
In the film Mastering Bambi, artists Persijn Broersen and Margit Lukacs have stripped the landscape of its cuddly, anthropomorphic characters. Over the course of the film, the camera pans across empty forest scenes and winter fields, accompanied by a chorus and orchestra. Using 3D photographic collages, the artists reconstruct elements of the backgrounds from the classic Disney film, which presented an unrealistically idyllic vision of nature. According to Broersen and Lukacs:
“…an important but often overlooked protagonist in the movie is nature itself: the pristine wilderness as the main grid on which Disney structured his ‘Bambi’. One of the first virtual worlds was created here: a world of deceptive realism and harmony, in which man is the only enemy.”
Does Mastering Bambi imply that the audience has finally mastered nature by eliminating all its inhabitants? It may be a more stark comment on the destructive capacity of humanity than Disney’s decision to kill off Bambi’s mom. Once the harmonious woodland inhabitants are gone, we are left to uncomfortably wonder if we are their only replacements.
Persijn Broersen and Margit Lukacs will be presenting Mastering Bambi at the Next Nature Power Show on November 5th.
Kellogg, the proud copyright holders of Toucan Sam, recently asked a the Mayan Archeology Initiative to reconsider their logo. Despite the fact that the two birds have entirely different colors, shapes, and expressions, Kellogg’s lawyers insist that they have a special claim to family Ramphastidae.
It’s particularly strange that the corporation would go after a Guatemalan non-profit when dozens of other companies have used toucans in their branding. Neither does Kellogg have time on their side: they registered Toucan Sam in 1963, while Guinness began using its iconic toucan in 1935. While the Kellogg lawsuit is frivolous, it does raise some questions about the commodification of natural images. When do animals become so wrapped up in a corporate identity that they loose their own?
In twenty years, the mobile phone has become man’s closest utensil. Can you imagine living without this umbilical box? Too bad it’s often still a box that we hold to our ears…
Not if it’s up to the CollabCuped-shop: Its jolly phone camouflage wraps the technology into a second skin. Hold it like if you are scribbling your cheek.
For just £1.19 ($1.99, €1,59) you can download an app for your iPhone which offers tips and guidelines with the sacrament, “the perfect aid for every penitent” as the description reads. This, on itself, is not so special. There are dozen of apps which help you to confess, though this is the first which is officially approved by the Catholic Church.
The app allows users to keep track of their sins, and guides them through the sacrament (where Catholics admit their wrongdoing through). The app is launched shortly after Pope Benedict XVI gave the advice to embrace digital communication. Although he adds: “It is important always to remember that virtual contact cannot and must not take the place of direct human contact with people at every level of our lives.”
Hopefully there will be a ‘Pocket Pope’ app in the near future.
Twenty-first century Fata Morgana. If only. Accidental photograph by Pauline Gerritzen.
That’s no reindeer, and it’s certainly no moose. It’s an Irish Elk, Megaloceros giganteous, a deer that happens to be neither an elk, nor really all that Irish. What it does happen to be, though, is long extinct. Renowned taxidermist Ken Walker has reconstructed Megaloceros from the tanned hides of once-living Canadian deer.
The mount is made of elk skins stretched over a custom foam form, and fitted out with a pair of fiberglass antlers. Using Paleolithic art as a guide, Walker also gave the giant deer a prominent shoulder hump with contrasting coloration. Walker’s prowess with taxidermic reconstruction isn’t just limited to extinct animals. He has also won awards for Thing Thing, a panda made from the dyed fur of other bears.
Taxidermic reconstruction occupies a particularly strange area within the already weird world of taxidermy. It uses the parts of recently deceased (but still extant) animals to create a scientifically accurate fantasia of an animal too rare to kill, or so long gone that no modern human has seen one alive. In other words, it’s fake nature at its most realistic.
The Coca-Cola introduces the PlantBottle. Partially made of plants, this bottle is 100% recyclable. Next step will be a natural bottle fully growing on a plant. In the meanwhile, I am still waiting for my Organic Coke.
Unsatisfied with the variety of vegetables in your local Supermarket? Why not try the Art Gallery? Morphotheque #15 (2011) is a form collection that consists of 27 elements, 1:1 copies of peppers. They’re made out of plaster and finished with acrylic paint. Peculiar image of the week by Erwin Driessen & Maria Verstappen.
Coming saturday, your faithful Next Nature editor/designer Hendrik-Jan Grievink will perform Beyond Recognition – a corporate poem about the image of words, at Sameheads Gallery in Berlin. It would be nice to see you there, if you happen to be in Berlin…
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Every time we eat a piece of food, we take a bite out of the world. All these small bites tell a dozen stories. A carton of eggs presents the story of contented hens, a bottle of olive oil the tale of Italian grandmothers. Yet these pastoral scenes barely hide the realities of a food system that leaves one billion people starving and another billion overweight. Moving beyond food-based fictions, how should we react to the truth?
By Maartje Somers
It happened in a trendy restaurant. A breadbasket and a small bowl of olives had just been brought to the table. Our hands reached out to take some, when the waitress stopped us. “Wait,” she interrupted, “I have to explain the bread.” Explain the bread? Yes, that one variety of bread had been baked with hard durum wheat from a village just south of Tuscany, the other one came from a bakery slightly north of Amsterdam. The olives were kalamata olives, imported from Thessaloniki, and olivas violadas (olives ‘raped’ by an almond) from Basque Country in Spain. It took the waitress about five minutes to finish her lecture. Then, finally we could dig in.
All our food comes with a story to tell, and usually it is the story we want to hear. In the supermarket the story is about the price of the food, in a restaurant it is about the taste and the origin.
These days all our food comes with a story to tell. Usually it is the story we want to hear. In the supermarket the story is about the price of food, in a restaurant or delicatessen it is about taste and origin. Very often stories about food focus on authenticity. That is the way food would like to be – authentic and natural – like in the old days when people harvested their own crops. And this is exactly what we want to believe. The jam in my fridge has ‘a natural taste’ and the milk is ‘pure and honest.’ Eat colour, it says on the posters in the street, displaying juicy red peppers. And these shiny vegetables almost jump from the page in the cookbooks by Jamie Oliver and Nigella Lawson, bestsellers the world over. But at the same time we are buying more and more ready-made meals.
Live size version of the lustrous strawberry cow from Farmville. If only. We would have strawberry milk straight from the farm. Peculiar image of the week.
A scientist in Mysore, India has figured out how to color-code his backyard ants. Mohamed Babu’s wife noticed that the ants’ abdomens turned white after drinking milk, so it was only a short step to filling the ants with more vibrant colors. The insects were picky, preferring yellow and green sugar water over blue and red. The experiment goes to show that for ants, at least, those extra calories really do go right to the ass.
The rock formations in the High Altitude photo series don’t exist physically, yet they are very present in our society of simulations. The photos visualize the development of the leading global stock market indices over the past 20-30 years.
Each stock market index, such as the Dow Jones (shown above), Nikkei, Nasdaq or the more specific Lehman Brothers stock quote downfall, corresponds to a impeccably rendered unique mountain range. Photographer Michael Najjar used the images captured during his trek to Mount Aconcagua (6,962m) as the basis of the high altitude data visualizations.
Corporate logos constantly have to adapt to survive. With the lion of the Peugeot car brand this resulted in a parade of poses over time. Peculiar image of the week.
On Youtube, there’s a whole sub-genera of safari videos that show, in gruesome detail, what exactly it means to live and die in Old Nature. The above film is a particularly stomach-churning example, depicting African hunting dogs that eviscerate and devour a kudu while the antelope is still very much alive. It’s the sort of material that winds up on the editing floor during the production of a typical nature documentary. Wildlife films sanitize the predator-prey relationship. Death occurs off-screen; if it is shown, it’s bloodless and quick. Amateur nature videos remove a layer of artistic interpretation between the audience and “authentic” nature. Without a sound track or a narrator contextualizing the hunt, death becomes neither triumphant nor tragic. It doesn’t impart any moral lessons. In nature, as in YouTube, death just happens.
Amateur videos like “Survival of the Fittest” compete for page views, and so still maintain the entertainment edict of traditional wildlife filmmaking. Web cams trained on nesting birds or savannah waterholes offer an even more immediate experience. They’re instantaneous, unedited, and usually unrecorded. In other words, wildlife web cams are the next best thing to being there. It used to be that professionally produced films, articles, and books were the main means for city-dwellers and office-workers to experience any wildlife more threatening than a pigeon. Advanced digital technologies have helped to restore some ‘truth in advertising’ to the workings of wild ecosystems. In some sense, YouTube and other websites have become unintentional parks that uphold the conservation of unmediated nature.