Friday, December 19, 2008



I'm thinking about an art project where I choose 10 citations at random from 10 books in the library and then write an experimental research paper around them. Sources may include an exploration of Irish heroin culture, the December 1989 newsletter of the London Maritime Society, and an encyclopedia of prominent Japanese businessmen. I wonder what I’ll prove. Instead of filling in blank spaces in the web of knowledge this project will bridge gaps that don’t exist. Really, I suppose the only thing any of these sources will have in common (if I make the selection as heterogeneous as I plan to) will be the fact that they were all randomly selected by me for this project. Perhaps their synthesis will offer a glimpse into my subconscious. Or a Dada commentary on the pointlessness of artifice and human creativity. Or a waste of time and paper.

he's so dumb he doesn't even know he's alive

I’m slipping through a dark Wisconsin on a big silver train. My eyelids are heavy and the actresses on all the laptops and portable dvd players seem more beautiful than usual, as if they had just been born. Hair falls in perfect blond ringlets or even sheets of deep red, well-lit faces say improbable things. They’re like ghosts, strange phosphorescent spirits flickering on the laps of those too poor or too senile or too Amish to fly. Real girls are not as pretty and at the same time much more beautiful.
I am surrounded by sleeping women. Diana is dozing off to my left. A girl with an enormous Semitic nose and tight black jeans is spread across two seats on the other side of the aisle. She is still wearing her glasses, as is the middle-aged woman majestically napping in the seat in front of her. I could never sleep with my glasses on, unless if I were quite drunk and didn’t think about it. Even then, they would probably fall off and be crushed underneath me. The middle-aged woman is awake now. She’s wearing a lot of jewelry; her empty coffee cup has a lipstick stain on the mouthpiece. She looks across the aisle, out the window of the strange old man sitting in front of me. She has drawn the worn blue curtain over her own window. A male child stumbles by, corrupting the feminity of the scene. A gay University of Chicago student stands, stretches, and walks off. A sturdy bald man whose elaborate head and neck creases make him resemble a Star Trek alien walks briskly past. I am alone with the sleeping women again. Diana’s mouth is slightly open. The middle-aged woman is asleep again. I’m going to get a crick in my neck if I keep twisting to observe the girl with the big nose. Her nose seems to get bigger every time I look at it. She’s wearing black chuck tailors, and something about her ass seems right to me. I like when the female form seems appealing and complete in and of itself. Am I being clear? When it can’t be measured in inches and pounds. We’re passing through a small town, a little oasis of orange light in deepest darkest Wisconsin. It’s not very big, but it’s probably the biggest town for miles. Farmers come here to buy underwear. We’re further north now—the river is frozen solid. I normally spend my time in the observation car, but it was too full of happy couples. One guy even had a guitar. A woman in her late thirties looks wrong in a baggy blue American Apparel dress (she is just too old for the blasé ironic kissing boys and getting wasted ethos of that dress) and shepherds her three daughters past me to the dining car. Diana is dead to the world. The middle-aged woman seems to have found her groove, as the bizarre mechanical idiom has it. She raises a hand heavy with rings and bracelets to her mouth for a moment. Her shirt is made of some shimmery white material, maybe satin or silk but probably polyester. I’m going to try to sleep.

Let’s look into how breasts are used to sell things. Honestly I’m most interested in developing some sort of metric to classify the degree and type of breast exposure in advertisements for a variety of products, then applying that metric to a variety of ads and examining the results. I guess you could examine it from one direction or the other: either evaluate how people respond to breasts in advertisements, or look into how advertisers use breast imagery. I’d prefer the latter method, because A. it involves the examination of ads rather than a big psych study with a shit ton of participants and B. I find advertisements very interesting in the way they reflect and influence our society. Questions: what sort of breasts (size, shape, etc) and what sort of breast exposure techniques (i.e. exposed skin v. form fitting tops) are deployed for what sort of product and in what sort of medium? Obviously ads for beer, action movies, and other awesome things will feature tons of tits, but commercials for more family friendly products will often feature subtle but noticeable boobage. For example, the box for my parents’ new television features a little color graphic of a happy family of three basking in the high definition warmth of their new idiot box, mom and dad half-embraced (a full hug would of course obscure one person’s view of the television) with Junior tucked between them. Just to the left of Junior’s head, mom’s pink blouse has flopped open a bit, giving interested shoppers a nice view of about three quarters of mom’s left tit.
What sorts of products are most associated with breasts? Have advertisers attempted to create a mental parallel between their product and breasts? Does packaging or logo design reflect this intent?
What about breasts in motion? Can a jiggle sell products that a pleasing line simply can’t? Maybe the jiggle is appealing because it reveals something of the texture of breasts as well as their shape. Can still images be manipulated to create the impression of motion, and hence an impression of texture? Where are the tactile ads? I want to be able to pet that puppy on the toilet paper and cup that tit on the cardboard cut out.

Man I sat down at this computer ready to moan for man but writing that “tits in advertising” research proposal cheered me right up. Some days I think I should be an advertising executive. People need to have things sold to them. Probably good money if you’re smart. Plus it would piss Sam off.
New business cards, maybe just a triple card we could present to clients:
Max Kuehn: Idea Man. Josh Mattson: Grease Man. Sam Walker: Asshole Man.

I’m going to take your advice once more and get a shorter letter out faster instead of laboring over this fucker for another week and squeezing out one more page. I’ll probably be there to watch you open this.


Pretentious title: The Bridge To Nowhere: A Subconscious Research Project. The key to every thesis is a good pretentious title with a colon in it. I Can Count To Thirteen Backwards: A History Of Angry Drunks. End Days: The Apocalypse In Retrospect. Lubricity: A Hodgepodge Of Nonsense.


constant_k said...

this is so frustrating

Josh said...

i am thinking about a project where we punch each other in the face until we are both dead. sam on the player piano.