Friday, 18 October 2013

Artists inspired by movies: Shepard Fairey

I'm sure you've all seen Shepard Fairey's art, especially that famous and much imitated Barak Obama campaign poster, even if you don't know his name. His other famous creation OBEY originated from his Andre the Giant Has a Posse sticker campaign, but due to legal wranglings he had to stop using the Andre the Giant trademark and instead starting using a phrase lifted from the John Carpenter 1988 film They Live.

They Live is about Nada ('Rowdy' Roddy Piper) finding a box of sunglasses from a raided radical church and, in putting on a pair, discovers that the Earth is run by aliens and and everything from books to money to TV are subliminal messages telling us to conform and to OBEY. The "obey" logo that Fairey uses is lifted from a billboard, one of the first commands that Nada sees.

They Live is an anti-consumerist warning against totalitarianism at its core (on the surface, a rather fun and silly sci-fi from a master of horror), and with Shepard Fairey's debate about messages that are seen but not seen, it is an obvious appropriation for the artist to make.

"The OBEY sticker campaign can be explained as an experiment in Phenomenology. Heidegger describes Phenomenology as “the process of letting things manifest themselves.” Phenomenology attempts to enable people to see clearly something that is right before their eyes but obscured; things that are so taken for granted that they are muted by abstract observation." - Shepard Fairey, 1990,


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