Thursday, September 24, 2009

Cinematic Truth and Curiously Strong Mints

For the last several years Altoids has been running highly-stylized print ads that draw on cinematic motifs of the 1950s and 1960s. Playing on the classic themes and situations of early films and television these retro-fit ads seem more absurd than nostalgic; a mode of production in which the denotations are alienated from their connotations, forcing them to negotiate the mechanisms of imagery. This is largely due to the lighting (which is cinematic) and the color (which is unnatural and clearly the result of post-production.)

The use of these "elements" not as subtle processes of design but as deliberate mechanisms of image production force us to consider the narrative "truth" of this image on several different levels and modes of reality. First there is the construction of a social myth (the tableau of a boy being caught masturbating by his mother), secondly there is the re-construction of a certain era or cultural sensibility (that being/ belonging to the 1950s and 60s) and lastly there is the appropriation of these two modes by the advertising industry for use in another context entirely.

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