Product Displacements, 2021-22

Digital media has come to define our experience with the world. It has become natural to think that our lives are completely different from the past. In many aspects, including technology, there is a truth to this assumption. Yet, the past often haunts us in unexpected ways, and the conflation of identity and consumption is one such issue with historical precedence. In the not-so-distant past, every product, character, catchy slogan or stylized font had a syrupy facade within its message of destructive consumerism. This nature was often masked through brand elegance, freedom of choice, or the pursuit of status. Although blurred by the passage of time, and changes in taste and culture, the conspicuous need for consumption promoted by brands are equally adhered to now. In this series, “Product Displacements,” product labels sourced from magazine print advertising of the 1940s and 1950s are rendered as ambiguous artifacts that challenge the implicit meanings of these products by leaving empty shells. In the present, many of our lives are mediated through social platforms that survive on the basis of advertising capital. Are we as the French animated film Logorama (2009) predicts, headed to destruction by brand culture? Or is there a future where brand worship and a consumer-oriented lifestyle is challenged and satirized as “Product Displacements” proposes?