Turbines that look sexy? Engines that make you feel naughty? Welcome to the lascivious world of General Electric.
The equation goes like this:
Duchampian approach + everyday object + decontextualisation + recontestualisation + a vintage effect obtained with an Instagram filter = a new way to look at a washing machine.
‘The spectator experiences the phenomenon of transmutation; through the change from inert matter into a work of art, an actual transubstantiation has taken place...All in all, the creative act is not performed by the artist alone; the spectator brings the work into contact with the external world by deciphering and interpreting its inner qualifications and thus adds his contribution to the creative act.’
"The Writings of Marcel Duchamp (Marchand du Sel)" e.d. Michel Sanouille and Elmer Peterson, New York 1973, pp. 139-140
Marcel Duchamp came up, one day, with an idea: if you put any object in the context of the art gallery’s white cube, with the right story and concept behind it, it can easily be seen, perceived and eventually sold as art.
After Duchamps’ readymades – such as Bottle Rack, Bicycle Wheel and, ça va sans dire, Fountain – countless artists brought objets trouvés and everyday objects into the gallery: Joseph Beuys, Peter Blake, Jeff Koons, Kurt Schwitters and, last but not least Damien Hirst. Now, every time we look at a wrecked car inside a museum –check Charles Ray’s Unpainted Sculpture (1997), for instance – we see it with different eyes; we concentrate on the details, follow the curves and focus on the consequences of the impact, interiorising the gravity of the situation.
Someone calls the whole thing a scam, somebody else uses the word “conceptual art”; I call it “a smart way to make people look at things they see every day and every day ignore, then someone says hey, wait a minute, this is a great object, I’m going to put it in an art gallery so everybody can look at it and go wow”.
Back to the real world, the same concept can be translated and adapted to social media.
Two case studies.
ONE - General Electric.
GE started using the photo sharing app last year. They asked professional photographer Noah Kalina to run the company’s Instagram and Tumblr accounts where the photos are shared, but eventually decided to turn to the community in order to find a new ‘Instagrapher’.
Users interested in the deal had to show their photos on Instagram, with the tag #GEInspiredMe, choosing from four categories as a source of insipartion: Moving, Curing, Powering and Building.
Submitted photos were then shared on GE’s Facebook page – which is visually extremely attractive, as well - where fans could vote for their favourites; then a jury would select the finalists, and, finally, the winner.
To take the Call to Action to another level, they even included a video to promote the competition
It is almost a weird feeling, a “I should not be enjoying this” kind of sensation, a twisted and sudden titillation that comes from, well, looking at engines. As Business Insider’s Arden Pennell put it: ‘As a consumer, I don't know much about GE's engineering division, and I might not profess to care. But amazing, color-saturated photos of engines and repairs, which turn my iPhone into a portable gallery of industrial-flavored art? Yes, please.’
Do you want something a little more extreme? Check their gallery of “Badass Machines” the company produced throughout the years, on Pinterest.
TWO – Chiappe Dental Lab Covington, LA.
The guys at Chiappe Dental Lab Covington, LA. thought there would be someone on Facebook interested in images of dentures, details of dental bridges and snapshots of patients before and after the cure. Bringing together the power of Facebook, the importance of visual content, the idea of “inform and entertain”, the concept of niche and Duchamp’s teachings, they came up with a very interesting – although rather unusual – page.
Once again, the quality of the pictures and the focus on the details and materials make us feel confused, almost guilty to look at things we are not supposed to find interesting or engaging. Denture pornography, at its best.
What do you think?
London Web Agency Appnova – keep following us on Twitter @appnova and “like” us on Facebook for useful news and tasteful digressions about geeky stuff.