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The DART Board: 05.28.2020

By Peggy Roalf   Thursday May 28, 2020

During his recent exhibition, “Dream Date”, at ClampArt, Joseph Desler Costa spoke with Gregory Eddi Jones about conditions that have influenced his highly polished, machine-made- and very expensive-looking photographs. Jones, Founding Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of In the In-Between, said, “The fabrication of your work gets me thinking about art as a product, and on how art pictures essentially act as advertisements for themselves. In one sense you’re making pictures to sell, they are shiny, alluring, and “sleek”, if I might borrow a term that’s been beaten to the ground. Your pictures fictionalize their own performance of selling the products within them. At the same time, it’s still not entirely ineffectual promotion for those products. Your pictures could still very well prompt a viewer to go buy a pair of sneakers or some fries from McDonald’s.” Above: work by Joseph Desler Costa, Installation view V, courtesy of Clampart.

Costa responded, in part, “It’s something I’ve thought about a lot actually, that my pictures are advertisements for themselves or for something. But then I ask myself: what am I advertising? I like sneakers and I like french fries, but what I am more interested in is how these things pull on us. How wanting something informs most of our decision making — from what we look at, eat, aspire to be and live our lives. And unfortunately for me, I feel this way of looking at pictures — where they invoke their will upon us to be unsatisfied with what we have, where we are etc. — has not only affected my present, but has started to affect the way I remember things.

These pictures are about that, the way the aesthetics of advertising are merciless and have polluted my own memories and understanding of my past and present life.…Idealized and imagined reality leave little room for what is actually happening. This is the way that way advertising works, so rather than fight this, I thought, why not embrace it and let it creep into the pictures.”

I was reading this interview yesterday while looking at several publishing platforms that are responding in creative ways to post-Covid-19 realities. In a double-take-inducing coincidence, Polaroid announced this morning a new ad campaign that takes Costa’s stance as the given of global culture today and bends it in reverse. “Forever Now,” the 108-second commercial, created in collaboration with Ridley Scott Creative Group Amsterdam, asks what it takes to capture this moment, drawing a parallel between human chemistry and the Polaroid film chemistry that occurs after each shot—and the magic that happens at the intersection of art and science, according to the press release. 

Opening with a quarantined couple under lockdown, a moment of perfect lighting inspires the young man to make a photograph using a Polaroid Now camera.

The male voiceover, measured and dispassionate, speaks of passion and chemistry, saying, “Today we are living in an impulsive society. A world where everything is instant and disposable, and nothing seems to settle long enough for it to become meaningful. As technology advances, creating more and more efficiency, we are losing aspects of our most basic humanity, things such as truth, empathy and connection….beautifully complex thing…capture the magical moments that will stay with us forever."

The press release continues, “The film celebrates our human experiences and the magic of capturing it on a tangible Polaroid photo in the digital age. No screens, but memories instantly in hand”. The commercial can be seen on YouTube

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