Photography and universal truth have long been debated; from its chemically ‘fixed’ analogue past into its forever-malleable digital present, its indexical qualities have been tested to their limits. Claims of photography as depicting life ‘as is’ have given way to more nuanced arguments of representation versus reality. Is it not now, more the case than ever before, that images rely (perhaps solely) on the belief of the viewer? (Straus, 2020)
Images have the ability to evoke emotion, decide fate, illustrate our inner visions (the limits of which set only by our imaginations) and elicit memory. When we consider these abilities within the realms of the socio-economic, the political, and within the free market of neoliberal capitalism (and when coupled with their slogans and text counterparts) we can begin to see their potential power in the decision making and behaviours of respective citizens, whether this be through advertising, political campaigns or social media technologies, for example – all of which harness our inherent desires and aspirations as means of coercion and control.
Through the appropriation of archival and contemporary advertising imagery and text, I intend to draw attention to the imbued semiotics and visual language of capitalist imagery; to both highlight and ultimately subvert their initial, intended messages. Using faces and gestures from shopping catalogues and their televised advert counterparts, I intend to personify ‘the invisible hand’ of capitalism as a chameleonic beast with many faces - disguised to look (and act) like you and me.
Juxtaposing archival imagery with contemporary photographs of my own, I aim to create an immersive ‘space’ in which temporality has broken down; to mirror the continuous “extreme present” (Chiocchetti and Stein, 2016) and cyclical, self-perpetuating nature of imagery under capitalism – in which history has, can and will always repeat.