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The raving thoughts of a misanthropic academic

July 28, 2011

Before and After Workout Exhibit

The website My Modern Met showcased an interesting art exhibit earlier this week by French photog Sacha Goldberger.

One half of the layout shows pictures of joggers that have just completed a brisk workout. The second half of the layout shows the same joggers in professional attire, posing in the same light, and manner as they had the week before.

According to Goldberger, the photos are intended:

"To show the difference between our natural and brute side versus how we represent ourselves to society," Goldberger tells us. "The difference was very surprising."

[Link]

Here's an example of Goldberger's work, courtesy of My Modern Met.

Joggingseries3

Goldberger's premise isn't terribly insightful. Everyone presents an image of self to the world around us. But the exhibit is dramatic in that it underscores just how highly constructed the image we present to society actually is. Think about how much of our day is spent maintaining the image we wish to present.

Your morning shower. A, hopefully, daily ritual to evince good hygiene, and keep one's bodily odors at bay. Why? So that you and your co-workers can co-exist in relative, cubical harmony.

The clothes you wear. As one fashion blog put it, the entire fashion industry exists for the sole purpose of producing 'wearable art.' I kid you not. They really said that. By this logic, you choose to wear clothes that make an artistic statement about you to the rest of the world. My t-shirt and jeans, for example, probably say to the rest of the world, "I hate you."

The car you drive. Chevy struck advertising gold in the early 2000s in its effort to persuade Americans that you are what you drive. While trying to hawk its massive, and over-priced Silverado pick-up trucks, Chevy cleverly implemented the tagline "Like a rock." Alas, this would be the last clever thing Chevy ever did.

The point of the "like a rock" campaign was that "you may be a bit soft about the gut, but by God if you drive a Chevy you're just like a rock all the same." According to the Wall Street Journal, the "like a rock" campaign was so successful among middle-age men, Chevy just might bring it back. The point, of course, is that the vehicle you drive says something about you to society.

For example, one good friend, who shall remain nameless, drives a Kia Spectra circa. 2004. His choice of car says to society, "Please, don't hit me. But if you must hit me, I have lots of insurance." Yes, my good friend is an attorney. My own, battered Chevy Colorado says, "I decided to start law school in the desert west before the economy tanked, and moved here from a major city where I didn't need a car. This is all I could afford."

The accessories you carry to work. Being but a lowly student, I don't have a real job per se. But since I am a student, I've given considerable thought to the kind of backpack I carry. I think my Timbuk 2 bag tells society, "I could be a hipster, in a real city." And once society believes what the bag tells them, it says, "I kid, I kid! The limeade racing stripe was supposed to let you in on the joke."

Etc.

I suppose I've quite belabored the point by now. But the exhibit really is interesting in that it underscores how nearly the entirety of our waking existence is spent shrouding the image on the left in the trappings of the image on the right. Naturally, this doesn't address the real question.

Exactly why do we care so much about what other people think of us?

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Organic, free-range thought courtesy of your average, coffee-addicted, American Indian, academic. Program Manager @IGPatUA.


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