Hidden Persuaders – are you content or maladjusted?

Research and resources:
“…I do not intend to be well adjusted to an economic condition that takes necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few, leaving millions of God’s children suffocating in an air tight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society.” –                                                  Dr

Martin Luther King, proud to be maladjusted calls on “men of good will to be mal adjusted”
This post is in response to the many discussions surrounding the need for designers to be more responsible in their practice and also to the text in reference to hidden persuaders.
I guess I think its key not to just understand one’s own practice but also the landscape which that practice inhabits. It’s fine to talk about our own ideas but what about the idea’s of others we work with and for, what about their ideologies? I do not claim to a full knowledge of design practice (I do after all come from a background of Illustration which has some correlations but differs at other points) but a large amount of what seems to go on is connected to products, selling and advertising in some form. This could of course be extended to the ‘selling’ and branding of campaigns etc. The quote above is from a documentary by the film maker Adam Curtis called “The Century Of The Self”.
Adam Curtis’s background is in television but more interestingly attended Oxford studying genetics, evolutionary biology, psychology, politics, sociology and elementary statistics and has worked with acclaimed theatre company Punchdrunk. He also taught Politics there for a time. The documentary is fascinating not least for it’s content but also for the way in which it was made. This is essentially of old footage spanning several decades collaged together and is visually unusual and entertaining at points ( this particular way of working is given a more arty and total visual treatment with type etc in his film It Started With A Kiss,made in collaboration with Punchdrunk).
Much of the content has bearing on our society’s issues at present and also it’s history, the how and why of where we are now. It touches on many themes linked to the texts we’ve been given (I give broad headings and a link below) crucially obsolescence and  consumerism. These subjects as we are all aware are hot potatoes today given the green agenda, financial crisis etc. I also give other links to resources that have bearing on theses subjects so here they are:

Century Of The Self (subjects that may be of interest as jumping off points for wider research):
Edward  Bernays (the father of advertising and PR and nephew of Freud whose ideas he used) Crowd Control and herd mentality

Consumption Capitalism/Consumer Democracy v the citizen

Subliminal messaging and product placement

The Engineering of consent, advertising, branding and politics

The idea of the individual advertising and marketing

Planned obsolescence (should we make things to engender people to buy/want more? Does this impact environmentally, socially and economically?)

The psychology of selling (how it came about what it is how its been used)

Self style taste and consumerismControl consumption corporations and politics

Advertising, marketing, industry and the happiness machine
THE LINK TO THE FILM: http://www.archive.org/details/AdamCurtis_TheCenturyOfTheSelf
For further info on consumer capitalism see the Frankfurt School in particular :
Theodor Adorno – The Culture Industry (book)


Noam Chomsky The Manafacture Of Consent (book)

Raymond Williams Culture and Materialism

Mike Featherstone Consumer Culture and Postmodernism (book)

Andy Warhol The Philosophy Of Andy Warhol (always good copy and funny even if you disagree! Book)

Georg Lucacs Reification and the consciousness of the proletariat (online book from University Library in Vancouver)  LINK: http://www.sfu.ca/~andrewf/books/Reification_Consciousness_Lukacs.pdf

People and groups :

Bob an Roberta Smith artist who challenge art and art markets amongst other stuffBook: Make Your Own Damn Art  LINK: http://bobandrobertasmith.zxq.net/

Guy Debord (key member of the SI and other groups) Society Of the Spectacle

Edward Murrow – (coined the phrase television is the opiate of the masses) speech at rtnda LINK: http://www.rtdna.org/pages/media_items/edward-r.-murrow1106.php

Situationist International:
Ken Knabb: author, radical theorist  and translator of SI texts esp. Guy Debord LINK: http://www.bopsecrets.org/  (contains almost all SI material)  note this site is connected to the Centre For Digital Discourse and Culture (CDDC) who also have a site at Virginia Tech (eg academic). This houses info on digital publishing and issues etc v interesting

Brown University Online exhibition and access to texts Radical America LINK: http://dl.lib.brown.edu/radicalamerica/shelf.html

Edward Murrow Speech (the guy who coined the phrase television is the opiate of the masses Link: http://www.rtdna.org/pages/media_items/edward-r.-murrow1106.php
Resource On thought Stanford Uni online reference PLato: LINK:http: //plato.stanford.edu/
Film : The Corporation (quite cheap on itunes winner of the World Cinema Audience Award at Sundance and winner of the Special Jury Award and the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam)

RSA (Royal Society Of Arts) – lectures online including one interesting one on collaborative consumerism (digital networking and the web to enhance social relationships and community in the real world )
just a taste of what’s out there!


Posted on February 25, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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