Culture of Echoes

Uncategorized — Andrew Simone @ 12:46 pm on March 23, 2009

I’ll spare you my usual critique of the Post-Warholian aesthetic, but there is no doubt that the aesthetic has permeated our culture. The democratization of art injected into the scene pop culture and, consequently, greater, more fragmented imagery. We became a culture of repetition and allusion, a culture of echoes.

Regardless of whether or not you agree with my geneology, the allusion and repitition is here to stay. Digitally it manifests itself in link blogging platforms like tumblr and its more immediate cousin, the retweet. It has even challenged the ideas of authorship and artistic integrity, let’s take Shepard Fairey’s Obama poster as a preeminent example.


There have been a number of comparisons with revolutionary propaganda ranging from Russian to the Black Panthers. The similarities are striking, if you check the previous links, and certainly some of the fundamental ideas of both Russian and Black Panthers, specfically bringing power to the people (where “the people” are the oppressed or ignored and marginalized), were emergent in the Public consciousness during the election.

Second, there are religious allusions, at least if the Warholian echoes are assumed, it reminds me of the Andy’s Madonna/Marilyn. The head almost shimmers or glows, he is to be understood as brilliant man (literally and visually). Also, the term “hope” is an religious term, i.e. “Faith, hope, and charity,” and brings to mind an eschatological notions. Here is the man who will bring change we can count on. “Hope,” of course, has is not just a suggestion, but a command. Remember Shepard’s “Obey” posters with Andre the Giant? The tone is admittedly softer hear, the typography is cleaner and unitalicised, firm but not demanding like “yield” as opposed to “stop.” Still, it echoes his earlier work.

Lastly, a uniquely visual metaphor: Obama is not looking us in the eye, he is looking upwards and outwards. We cannot see what he can see, but he looks certain, serious, and purposeful. This is what we want in a President, a man who knows were we must go, a visionary.

The image, regardless of one’s politics, is striking and it is the juxtaposition of these visual allusions which makes the above poster iconic. Again, we see the power of visual rhetoric.


  1. I also think it’s notable that the traditional colors of the US flag have been muted. The colors seem faded, suggesting what? Age? Tradition?

    Comment by Dave Gray — March 24, 2009 @ 10:57 am
  2. […] first two in the series are on repetition and allusion. This is largely new territory for me, so any thoughts/critiques would be […]

    Pingback by Visual Rhetoric : clusterflock — March 24, 2009 @ 1:42 pm
  3. I miss that, Dave, and I have been mulling it over since you posted this. I think the tradition element is there, but I wonder if the muted colors are to mute the patriotism. Not that patriotism is bad , but the popular conception (right, or not) was that the Bush adminstration appropriated the concept to legitimize their perspective and delegitimize the opposing perspective.

    In other words, muting the colors might mean distancing himself from the Bush patriotism. At least, that made sense this morning when I was bleary eyed in the shower.

    Comment by Andrew Simone — March 26, 2009 @ 12:44 pm
  4. I woke up this morning depressed but after reading this article my state of mind got better.

    Comment by Electronics — July 5, 2010 @ 10:08 pm
  5. I don’t like the sound of all those lists he’s making – it’s like intriguing too innumerable notes at philosophy; you feel you’ve achieved something when you haven’t.

    Comment by Mark — July 14, 2010 @ 7:35 am
  6. […] post was originally found here. This entry was posted in Design, Sophism. Bookmark the permalink. ← Christopher Walken […]

    Pingback by Culture of Echoes | just enough is more — February 20, 2011 @ 5:55 pm
  7. Very similar to this poster of MalcomX

    Comment by Rui — March 14, 2011 @ 12:58 pm
  8. […] reading about this guy Shepard Fairey. He is the man behind the OBEY graphics and more recently the Obama graphic. Fairey created the “André the Giant Has a Posse” sticker campaign in 1989, which […]

    Pingback by OBEY « Patchoulidumptruck — April 23, 2012 @ 6:48 am

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
(c) 2015 Marks and Meaning | powered by WordPress with Barecity.