I really fundamentally dislike Coke Life.
Because it’s a cop-out. It’s not low-calorie: whoever thought that “two thirds of the calories” could be a USP? It’s not natural: it’s a Coke. Its label isn’t even all that green.
Perhaps I dislike it because it’s just bad marketing - and, you know, not
that I see marketing as such a force for good in this world that I’d like all of it to be ultra-effective. But I’d like it at least to try. I don’t believe Coke Life does.
It is indeed exactly a “Fitter, Happier, More Productive” view of health - which is to say “A pig. In a cage. On antibiotics.”
Or maybe it’s just American.
Three women go on a diet. The Brit says, “Oh well, guess I can’t eat cake for a while.” The French woman says “Bof! I have been reading all these informative books about how ‘French Women Don’t Get Fat’. I will eat a very small slice of rather expensive cake, washed down with some champagne, naturellement - then smoke a Gitane & skip lunch.” The American says: “Geez you guys, it’s not that hard! Just eat diet cake.”
Coke Life is diet cake.
Health is a funny thing in media culture at the moment.
There are some truly amazing things going on. The Health At Every Size movement, first up. I think our knowledge of diet and metabolism is making great strides, with hormones & psychology coming to replace an oversimplified calories in / calories out model. We’re understanding behaviour better, with technologies such as fitness trackers helping people achieve their goals where willpower alone was struggling. And there’s a new narrative of female strength, and positive messages such as reasonstobefit.tumblr.com go viral.
Lots of so-so stuff too, of course, such as the normative nature of fitspiration, continued body part objectification, and a continued moral fixation with discipline and perfection rather than, say, humanity, pleasure or balance.
But overall scientific reason - so long so dualist - is finally providing theories that reconnect body and mind. (Many traditions knew that all along, of course - not least Buddhist meditation, seeing a revival under the guise of ‘mindfulness’).
So overall I am hopeful for health. I think we’re getting somewhere.
And then Coke Life comes along, with a mealy-mouthed compromise model that just doesn’t seem to get this. Mark Ritson said as much in Marketing Week: “Consumers who opt for a more natural beverage are, by definition, going to switch categories to find it.” Quite.
As he puts it, "Wedgwood has remained the leading brand of fine china for more than 200 years. Its problem isn’t brand equity but rather the almost total collapse of the fine china category it resides within. …That, unfortunately, will eventually become the fate of both Coke and Pepsi."
In her wise and moving essay on the Iliad, Simone Weil characterized power’s manifestation in human affairs, what she called force, as “the ability to turn a human being into a thing while he is still alive.” Power or force, then, is the ability to objectify. Deadly force, Weil observes, literally turns a person into a thing, a corpse. All less lethal deployments of force are derivative of this ultimate power to render a person a thing.
It is telling that the most vocal, and sometimes violent, opposition to Glass has come in response to its ability to document others, possibly without their awareness or consent. To be documented in such a way is to be objectified, and the intuitive discomfort others have felt in the presence of those wearing Glass is indicative of an innate resistance to the force that would render us an object.
—A Position Of Control
by LM Sacasas (@thefrailestthing) on Medium
27 August 2014
The Nu Guard is more concerned with what it means when the notion of “subverting conventions” becomes the convention. When Josh Kline or Timur Si-Qin smear or squeeze Axe body products on canvas or gallery walls, they aren’t mocking painting or the Axe corporation; rather, they are pointing out the obvious connections between art world conventions and consumer product conventions. They are implying that they are not only equal, but essentially go hand-in-hand, and are mining the depths of this implication. Everything about this implication is antithetical to the Rearguard’s Marxist-influenced objectives. At this point though, appropriation and parody have become second nature tools for communication for the Nu Guard. Abstract Expressionism is cool as long as it doesn’t take a long time to make the painting. Deodorant is chill as long as it’s aluminum-free. But I mean, really, “It’s all good.”
Art Sugar Net Magic
by Keith J. Veradi
The quote comes from an essay on what happens when art meets internet:
"It’s 2013, going on 2014. Every artist, critic, or curator seems to have something to say about the endless ways in which the Internet and social media are affecting how artists, especially young artists, are now making art, seeing art, thinking about art, and disseminating art."
This the context in which many of my artist-friends are working, and I welcome gladly any essay that helps me understand what they do. So much modern art appears primarily to be in conversation with other art and with art world norms - as an outsider, it’s not always easy to read.
As an outsider from the world of marketing & consumer culture, I’m particularly interested in why a lot of contemporary artists are interested in consumer culture too. More precisely, I’m interested - let’s say confused - by how they’re approaching consumer culture.
Academics within the social sciences are interested in consumer culture, whether from the perspectives of historical geographies, cities, malls, Benjamin’s arcades & the development of the ‘modern’ (this was much of the content of my MSc at UCL), or more contemporary cultural studies and sociological approaches. These approaches are typcially critical. Critical doesn’t mean saying “consumer culture is bad” - but it does mean understanding the power dynamics behind consumerism’s growth & development. Who benefits? How is it promoted? What impact does it have on consumers? As those same consumers as workers, producing the consumer goods or in industries marginalised by new consumption models… There’s a lot to think about.
Consumer culture is weird in art because it no longer seems to be critical.
As art historians tell us, artists have felt a pressure to find a distinct “voice” since Modernism. This activity once manifested itself as the artist’s “signature style”: Pollock’s drips, Weiner’s words, Antoni’s body. Now, artists seem to be concurrently embracing and exploiting the consumerist culture of capitalist America with far less confusion or reticence than ever before, shifting this “style” into a “brand.” Instead of signing oneself up to produce giant action paintings, poetic vinyl texts, or identity art forever, the way a subsidiary would, artists are now thinking like major corporations, if only to mock major corporations (the same corporations from whom they routinely purchase products).”
A while back I was watching a bunch of net art names (who I shan’t name!) having some conversation on my friend’s Facebook page. They were being assholes. Why? Because assholism was their personal brand, and being a dickhead was their model of performing and epitomising our current media age. Or something. Maybe they were just assholes.
But anyway. That’s the context behind why I posted this quote. I think it captures the kind of ‘flattening’ that’s taking place in how art is connecting to brands. If only Veradi’s comment about “mining the depths” of how art & brands are alike was true. I’m seeing a lot of parody, irony, appropriation, aspiration. Nike Frees at your Red Bull sponsored opening. I’m not sure what I’ve seen that I’d call ‘depth’.
Mid-2014 Hashtag Roundup
This diagram was cobbled together in MS Paint during March 2014. Some of the action on these hashtags has died down since, but not because they’re totally over. Instead, we’ve seen them turn from hot-debate items into more-or-less stabilized concepts. I initially kept it un-posted because I wanted to wait until I had made a slicker-looking version, but then I forgot about it. Now, it’s an interesting relic from the brief moment these terms turned into full-blown memes— or, in the case of Nu-Guard, before they didn’t.
Epic. Someone else is diagramming subcultures :D
(My network diagram of the semantic network around health goth)
Watch a Union Metrics Reblog Tree Grow:
I tracked a week’s worth of reblogs on a single post, thanks to Union Metrics. This animation shows a series of reblog trees, growing over time as reblogs spread the post across Tumblr. The single circle on the left is my original post.
When reblogs occur, new circles appear to the right of the original post circle. As others reblog, more circles crop up, growing from left to right. The larger the circle, the more reblogs came from that blog. The top three amplifying blogs were socialgoodness, analyticisms and unionmetrics. Thanks for all the reblogs (and likes)!
The animated GIF really ought to be used more as a reporting tool - it’s a way of showing change over time in something that’s SO much simpler & more manoeuvrable than video.
I also want to build myself one of these - either through Union Metrics (I think I have a personal account?) or manually, for the exercise.
Could be a really useful tool to identify influencers and hubs in the street-goth account I’m seeking to grow.
Early ideas tend to have disproportionate influence over the rest of the conversation. They establish the kinds of norms, or cement the idea of what are appropriate examples or potential solutions for the problem.
Loran Nordgren. Kellogg School. “Brainstorming Doesn’t Work; Try This Technique Instead”
When doing any group discussion, it’s vital to give everyone the opportunity to capture their own experience, in their own language, prior to sharing. This is a part of how I work that often frustrates client - for it means that there are portions of the group or interview where the only person talking is me. This can feel like a waste, but this insight dates back to the Asch conformity studies from the 60s or 70s. There’s great video here.(via peterspear)
Particularly good advice.
I tried to do this while a teaching assistant on an undergrad geography course - despite not knowing more about group facilitation than I’d read in a few blog articles - mostly just to get more contributions. It can be hard to get people to speak up in seminars, and so I wanted to make sure that every single person had a thought ready before I asked them to share. It also gives shyer or more introverted people more time to gather their thoughts before speaking.
But it’s interesting & useful to think of this in terms of not just getting more contributions, but getting a better debate overall - because norms aren’t set too early, and therefore a wider range of ideas can be considered by the group.
Pretty cool. One for all us researchers to makes sure we build into our methods, of course.
Six Degrees Of Health Goth
So I took my hand-sketched semantic network map from yesterday and did it again, properly.
1. Start at health goth, and look at the 3 related topics that Tumblr gives you. Write these down as sets of pairs:
health goth - street goth
health goth - seapunk
health goth - vaporwave
3. Ladder up from the 3 related topics, looking at each of their related topics. Do this process 6 times, building a list of pairs.
4. Import the dataset as a .csv file into Gephi as a list of directed edges.
5. Force Atlas 2 layout, weight node size by in-degree, and node colour by modularity.
6. Tweak node colour a bit manually so the different communities show up better.
Working assumption: Tumblr’s related tags are based on tags co-occuring in the same post. Consequently it’s based on user behaviour (not say hand of mod), and we can look at how tags are connected as a proxy for how Tumblr users think these ideas & concepts are related.
The relationships between tags loop round and keep interconnecting:
health goth —> seapunk —> grunge —> vintage —> retro —> hipster —> girl —> women’s fashion —> chic —> korea —> women’s fashion
Where a group of tags keep linking into each other - e.g. one around women’s fashion, chic, street style, korea, china and girl - that forms a community (in network terms). The modularity algorithm can detect which groups of tags are most closely linked like this.
1. 79 tags are within 6 degrees of health goth. Given that each tag has 3 related tags, that shows there’s a lot of interconnection between them (we could potentially be dealing with I think 364 tags: 3^0+3^1+3^2+3^3+3^4+3^5).
2. Health goth itself has in-degree of zero, aka none of the tags it links out to ever link back to it. This suggests it’s a small subculture
3. Vaporwave has the highest in-degree, of 6. Now, this is partly because it’s close to our starting point so it has more opportunity to gain “ins” - but moreso because it’s the hub for a number of different design/art aesthetics: net art, web art, webpunk, seapunk, the word ‘aesthetic’ and of course health goth itself.
4. HBA links round to itself - ok strictly speaking hba links to hood by air, but I aggregated the two to get a nice loop :0
5. Korea and China are huge tags around women’s fashion and chic. This is massively interesting. I’m seeing it around streetwear and street goth too, though it doesn’t show up in this map. As a teenager I grew up on the FRUiTS magazine books of streetstyle from Tokyo… But it’s now looking like Seoul’s stolen Harajuku’s thunder.
6. Women’s fashion is correctly punctuated, but mens fashion, mens clothing and mens style are not.
Aww damn I’ve ruined it!
So my network mapping post of course included both terms “health goth” and “street goth”, as they were the two originary tags I laddered out from.
And then my post got 60 reblogs and shows up in the ‘most popular’ under the health goth tag…
…And so of course I’ve inadvertently nuked my dataset and my ability to reproduce the dataset. Shit! I was going to redraw it in Gephi…
First post in a series I’ve got planned on Tumblr trends, coming via my style blog street-goth:
Subsequently: health goth (late 2013, 2014)
Street goth born: July 2012
#7 in Complex.com’s 10 Best Trends of 2012 So Far
“The trend has gained more popularity as of late with avant-garde designers like Rick Owens and Raf Simons leading the way. It consists of mostly black, minimalistic and raw-edged items. Often, you’ll see a sick drapey jacket here and there. This year, we’ve seen celebrities like Tyson Chandler adopt the trend.”
However it’s pretty rare to find the term outside Complex magazine or references to it.
Became visible to Google Trends: January 2013
First part of 2013, blogs like Complex.com and KreepNYC.com are posting the what-is and how-to type posts:
10 Jan 2013: Clothes Get Weirder: What is Street Goth? (Complex.com)
14 Jan 2013: High Snobiety takes a closer look - with the best definition so far: “In short, the style consists of dark, minimalist clothing cut in modern ways and finished with premium materials like leather”
29 May 2013: 10 Signs You Are a Street Goth (Complex.com)
27 June 2013: Street Goth Style For Beginners (KreepNYC)
Defined on Urban Dictionary: 19 June 2013A fashion and music trend in the hip hop community that steals the term ‘goth’ in order to look edgy, and yet hasn’t a clue as to what the original goth subculture is about.I’m exactly the same as any other hip hop fan but dress in black and call myself a ‘street goth’ because everybody knows that being a ‘goth’ means that you’re dark and dangerous.”by Jaded Goth June 19, 2013 “The canon, as defined (and/or overexposed) by end 2013:Celebrities: A$AP Rocky, Kanye West, Tyson Chandler, Pusha T.High fashion: Rick Owens, Ricardo Tisci, Raf Simons, Alexander Wang.Labels: Hood By Air, Pyrex, En Noir leathers, Nike Air Force 1s.*
Current big Tumblrs in this space
(Whether or not they’d call themselves street goth, these are the monochrome streetwear blogs getting the most reblogs)*Where now, eight months later? Well, that’s the question - there’s no definitive answer. But I’m seeing a few things currently going on:More white. More transparency and layering (influences from techwear). More high fashion influences, like Comme des Garcons & Martin Margiela. A move into more general high-end streetwear, as people like trillaparade suggest here (as the streetwear types move out of their all-black phase). Working out what streetgoth womenswear might mean.So I may be kinda late to the party on Tumblr, but there’s still shit to be playing around with ;)