Monday, 2 October 2017

Picture Post #29 Stripping Down the Tailor's Dummy









'Because things don’t appear to be the known thing; they aren’t what they seemed to be neither will they become what they might appear to become.'


Posted by Tessa den Uyl and Martin Cohen

A Shop Window in Florence, Italy, September 2017. Picture credit: Antonio Borrani
      
We can all wonder what we will do next. What to invent to keep on going while deadlines mark pressure on time schedules. And even when we have no idea what to talk about or to show, surely with something we have to come up. This is a crazy world, more bound to production than quality, and even when we have nothing to tell, we will fill the page, when we have nothing to sell, we fill the shop window. With (non)sense?

The image above shows a ‘flying’ woman in a, perhaps, rather dubious position. Her legs are revealed, which assuredly does exalt her shoes that anew lead up to her legs and higher up to her bottom without underpants. Of-course the woman is a tailor’s dummy, not a real woman. Still, the shoes and her dress are made for real, living woman. In short: what does this puppet represent?

The female figure seems to shape a larger social imagery than we are used to seeing explored for the male. Erotically the female body seems much more consumed for commercial purposes. Imagery is a driving force in many plays, to start with the daily role-play we dress up when we wake.

Something must attract the consumer.

One purse and one shoe exposed for sale, two glass frames containing sand that can be turned around. Like the image of a woman? Or is this a representation of sand dunes? The time? A woman suspended or, perhaps better to say,  a woman pending, in the air.

This, is the fashion to follow.



4 comments:

  1. Here’s an instance where context matters in an essential way. If the scene were intended primarily (even solely) as ‘fine art’ — which is one context — then flights of fancy as to interpretation might be a fun, even if potentially exasperating, exercise. ‘Fun’, because the scene might strike the onlooker as novel, creative, and imaginative — an engaging canvas to gaze at as a work of interpretive art, with the potential for cultural, sociological, philosophical layers. (Playing, that is, to fine art’s strengths.) ‘Exasperating’, because the interpretations might be as many as the number of people (passers-by) engaging with the scene, with all interpretations of equal value and legitimacy. The artist’s creative, interpretative intent is perhaps unknowable by virtue of its abstraction, thereby becoming of questionable consequence beyond curiosity. But is that enough?

    If, as here, the scene was intended as ‘commercialism’ or ‘marketing’ — which is a second context — then the window arrangement seems, to me, to break the fundamental ‘function-before-form’ rule, which has long been the mantra of commercial designers. In the world of design (more or less excepting fine art), form advances function. That is, the goal — the messaging’s ultimate measure of success (in this case, units moved and profits earned) — should not get smothered by undue emphasis on exhibiting design cleverness. Because the ‘interpretations might be many’, the risk of design bravado and preeminence is that the potential shopper will be baffled and therefore disinclined to make a purchase, moving on unstirred.

    The possibility of many interpretations might especially deter the ‘impulse buyer’, who by definition is operating impatiently on a short timeframe, from emotionally connecting with the showcased products and accordingly deciding to spend money. The ‘risky design’, by virtue of its edginess, might also unnecessarily lose an important slice of potential, but offended, buyers. In that commercial (marketing) context, ‘form’ — the show window’s arguably strained attempt at a clever design — overwhelms ‘function’ — the show window’s goal of rousing interest and inspiring a purchase from the largest number of people. (Some may view ‘commercialism and marketing’ as the more mundane of the two contexts, but I wouldn’t say that to Adam Smith’s face.)

    Many thanks, Tessa and Martin, for a deeply interesting and thought-provoking post.

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    1. Thanks, Keith! And thanks for another thought-provoking comment too...

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  2. I wonder whether the creator of the image even knew himself or herself what they were doing or intended to do. And then I thought beyond the image -- as you do, too, in speaking of role-play. It is all of it -- our thoughts, actions, representations -- a sign of the times, nothing more, nothing less. Well done on drawing out some of the meaning here.

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  3. Dear Gentlemen,

    Like how art has become a big business I do understand Keith’s reference towards a possible artistic imprint. However talking about artistic abstraction in this image is waiting for rain in the desert, (IMHO).
    Today, art and marketing are connected, profit should be the outcome and what sells best, is experience. We do not buy products, we buy the experience a product reflects. ( S.Zizek expands on this subject).
    The ‘risky design’ is pure marketing, after all, we are talking about it. (Ouch!)
    Put in other words, I believe this is part of what you wrote Keith (?) and in combination with Thomas his comment (quote) 'It is all of it… nothing more, nothing less’, looking back to the picture I do wonder how many persons passing by this shop-window will grasp this combination of thoughts? After all we are overwhelmed with images and many in which the woman does appear in a certain, if one would like to emphasise, submissive way. In that sense the image above turns out conservative, and makes me question: what is fashion actually about?

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