January 16, 2017

Two Minutes: Scracity

(N.) c. 1300, from Old North French escarcete (Old French escharsete), from eschars (http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=scarcity&allowed_in_frame=0)

Does not negate abundance (antonym), but does put it in place, mostly by relating it geographically, by individual, market, nation-state or region. Creates an impression that something cannot be done for lack of a certain resource in another location (and the implied impossibility of sharing the resource, as it would be unfair to the place it is currently abundant in). Reversely, scarcity (whether present or potential) is also used to justify preemptive incursions to preserve future abundance.  

Creates competition and struggle. A scarcity of attention and time is distributed amongst a multitude (or superabundance) of voices and topics- creating a market for loud shouts and polemic, statements, allowing for the surfacing of a dominant voice that is amplified (rendered abundant), after which the voice, though abundant, becomes scarce (and has an interest in maintaining an abundance of presence and relevance vs. scarcely anything new to say). Also used as a means of control- perceptions of needs create an ongoing scarcity of material resources (see: finances, rent, bills), which has to be continuously opposed in by competing and labouring for the resources needed to maintain current abundance vs. personal scarcity. Occasionally results in the perception of a scarcity of self amidst an abundance of aqcuisition.

Can foster division as the perception of scarcity embeds itself into personal lives. Can also be overcome with common sense. 

related questions: is the perception of what is scarce and what needs to be abundant created an upheld? can this be influenced by withholding commodities?

December 18, 2016

The Random 2016 Archive

It's been a year of quiet introspection for me- a lot of which happened in the form of calligraphic sketches. In what follows, I collect these in an attempt to oder thoughts and create a dialogue between letters- admittedly, talking to myself- and archive them in a digital format. The result is random, at times incoherent, just as the year that it charts left little room for a consistent focus- much needed. As it draws to a close, I find myself looking forward with renewed hope- not in political systems, or economic ones, but in the ability of people to look beyond their differences and discover the common goals that lie beyond apparent divisions. This may sound very old-fashioned, and possibly not outraged. The challenges that face the world as a whole go beyond petty economics and the global theatre of politics and national securities (in fact, they may be caused by the preceding), they are global in scope and will affect most lives. Brand this fake news (it ain't news) if you will. And so- onwards, with little hearts, Taheyya dancing in the background and love, unto 2017.

January 13, 2016

#MeMu's: La Vache qui Rit (Adham Bakry, 2010)

La Vache qui rit is a brand of french processed cheese popular in Egypt. The packaging presents the consumer with the image of a laughing, happy cow. For years- since 1991 according to one author, this was the Egyptians nickname for their president, referencing his rural background and portraying him as a peasant. Additionally, it associated him with foreign imports and a particularly soft cheese that spreads easily on any kind of bread.

Prior to 2010, this nickname was mainly used verbally, in jokes or asides, but was popular with a people known for their sense of humour and sarcasm. In 2010, in the run-up to rigged parliamentary elections, Adham Bakry formalised the symbol by designing a sticker depicting a pink, crossed out Vache qui rit Logo (1). This visual reference to the thus branded president was taken up, both by demonstrators on Tahrir square (3), leaving outside observers to wonder at why the Egyptian people were demanding bread, freedom, social justice and no processed cheese for the country. Though it uses advertising language and is a highly visible sticker (2), it is a communication that very much uses local codes to attract attention, though online spread and contextualisation may have demystified the meaning of this sticker for many. Carlos Latuff, a caricaturist working mainly in the online space created an anthropomorphised version of the cows head logo for those who do not want to research its history, using the opportunity to show the Mubarak regimes hidden and obvious geopolitical allegiances. (4)

Allen Peterson, Mark; http://connectedincairo.com/2012/04/07/telling-mubarak-jokes/; 2012

January 10, 2016

#MeMus: You look somewhat bookish

Amongst many other things, the MeMu's are an evolving set of volumes.

This is a quick development shot from v2's dummy.

January 7, 2016

#MeMu: Hope Poster (Shepeard Fairy, 2007)

All images are the copyright of their various authors. 
In 2008, Barack Hussein Obama was seen by many across the world as a vehicle for change. His anti-war rhetoric, apparent sincerity, embrace of youth culture and progressive domestic agenda made him the American president the world would vote for. During his election campaign, which used elements of social media marketing, viral and crowd-sourced advertising, Amber Lee Ettinger became Obama Girl, will.i.am produced the song “We Are The Ones“ to express his support of the candidate alongside various American Celebrities. Shepeard Fairey, who came to fame for producing the Obey Giant posters, independently designed an iconic poster (1), based on a photograph by Manny Garcia.

The artists intention, to create a poster that would “deracialise Mr. Obama, […] something that would elevate him to iconic status in the vein of people who had [preceded] him…” proved successful, as the poster became one of the central images of the campaign. 350 000 posters subtitled “Hope” were produced during the campaign, most of which were distributed through campaign workers and events. Associated Press, the copyright holders of the photograph that served as the basis for the poster, later sued Fairey for unlicensed use of the picture and he was heavily criticised by other artists for “brazen, intentional copying of already existing artworks created by others”. However, the poster and its bold, reduced colour scheme became one of the images most closely associated with Barack Obama, instantly recognised in many countries. The poster was satirised by MAD Magazine by depicting their mascot, Alfred E. Newman, as the “Hopeless” candidate (2), amongst many other humorous versions. It has become part of the visual vocabulary of current politics and is preserved in the collective memory as one of the most iconic examples of image politics currently circulating, widely spread and shared.

By 2010, as the popularity of the former paragon of hope and change began to fade, the images connected to him came to reflect this shift in public perception. The Hopeless (3) subtitle was adopted in a remix of the original poster, which spread rapidly through the internet. Fairey subsequently made a poster depicting a protester wearing a Guy Fawkes (4) mask in the same style in support of the Occupy Wall Street Movement. Although the initial version did reference the president with the line “Mr. President, we HOPE you’re on our side.”, for the artist saw the president as “a potential ally of the Occupy movement”, the quote was later shortened to “We are the HOPE” after the organisers expressed that they could not “in any way be connected to this design.”as it connected them visually and semantically to Obamas 2012 re-election campaign.

2013 saw the recontextualisation of this visual to suit the landscape of Egyptian politics. Nazeer, a graphic designer and street artist, adopted the language of the poster to express his opinion on the countries next president, Abdul-Fattah Al-Sisi, stating that “the Egyptian military junta and its American politico-financial ally are shown as making a mockery of the electoral process and civilian rule.”

He thus created a glocalised version of an image which is closely associated with the American political apparatus, a poster depicting al-Sisi in military uniform, using the same colour scheme as the original poster, Obama campaign pin displayed on his lapel, subtitled “Joke” (5).


REFLECTIONS ON THE HOPE POSTER CASE, Harvard Journal of Law & Technology, Spring 2012
 Vallen, M.; Obey Plagiarist Shepard Fairey; http://www.art-for-a-change.com/Obey/index.htm, Dec. 2007
 Mad Magazine; Issue #495; http://www.madmagazine.com/issues/mad-495; Oct. 2008
 A Google search will return 13.300 000 results
 Fairey, S.; OCCUPY HOPE, http://www.obeygiant.com/headlines/occupy-hope; 2011
 Gray, R. Shepard Fairey Changes Unpopular 'Occupy Hope' Poster Under Pressure; http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/2011/11/shepard_fairey_6.php ; Nov. 2011