Today was all about books. I went to the film museum in Amsterdam and browsed through their library to search for some interesting sources that could eventually become the backbone of the paper I'll be writing. Some would describe that as the "boring part." The truth is, it wasn't boring for me, but probably a little too boring for a blog post. Alas for the blog! I'm making a post anyways, just to stick to my principles.
Art vs. Advertising
What I found interesting was the tension between 'art' and 'advertising.' When these two concepts are dealt with simultaneously, it usually begins by stating that these two are often seen as mutually exclusive. Many of the books I found focused on either one or the other, OR on the debate as to whether they can be considered one and the same.
As a side note, I'd like to mention that it's not hard to find instances of art and advertising united as one and the same. Alfonse Mucha, Warhol, Norman Rockwell, anyone? In Mucha's case, it's interesting to note that he used the same style for his advertisements as he did in his personal artwork.
Can an advertisement have significant artistic or cultural value? Of course anything can be analyzed from a cultural viewpoint and yield interesting results. Take for example the atrocious advertising campaign of Cillit Bang, which even involved the creation of a fake blog that supposedly belonged to the really annoying Cillit Bang guy, Barry Scott. Everything from the heinous, aggressive shades of neon pink, the comical character of the mascot, and the multimedia-oriented approach to the advertising campaign can be analyzed to reveal interesting observations about today's media and culture. But at what point can an advertisement also be considered 'art'?
Artistic advertisements: Selling out?
One of the questions my teacher asked me when I proposed my research plan was: "What is your opinion of animated shorts being used as parts of an advertising campaign? If shell approached you to make an animation to promote the use of oil, would you do it?" Many of my findings at the library today were about the threat of new media and advertising on cultural heritage and more expressive, less commercial forms of expression. Shortly put: the threat of mass media on the fragile, helpless individual and its morals and culture.
My personal opinion: There is an 'art' to creating an animation for promotional purposes. There is a way to do it that leaves room for creativity while still achieving its original goal, namely to promote or advertise. I stumbled across a book about Animated Shorts used for propaganda purposes in the U.S during WWII. Whether that's relevant to my research is questionable, but it is an interesting parallel. Why are people fascinated by these animations and write books about them? Because the ways in which these animations promote a certain ideology is fascinating, whether you agree with the ideology or not. It's not about the end, it's about the means.
And to answer the question my teacher asked me: No! I wouldn't! Somewhat randomly, this reminds me of a pretty cool commercial I saw on Belgian TV this weekend, intended to tentatively promote the idea of nuclear energy in Belgium: