Monday News: Art & originality, sensory marketing, narrating different perspectives, and Bambi parody
There’s no history of art without borrowing, appropriation and in some cases theft. Certainly the past century is inconceivable without found objects — a urinal signed by Duchamp, a bicycle seat and handlebars turned into an animal head by Picasso, almost everything Jeff Koons has ever done. The 20th century began with collages made with images torn from newspapers and was dominated by Pop art, which meticulously reproduced the products of advertising and commercial design. Long eons of art have been devoted to small variations on familiar and beloved formulas, so familiar we have named them: the annunciation, deposition, sacred conversation, assumption. The Romans copied the Greeks, and thank goodness they did; much of what happened in the age of Socrates, Plato and Menander is known to us only through Roman facsimiles.
But there’s also been a history of forgery, especially as art became a valuable commodity in the 19th century. Forgers have even laid claim to legitimate status for their work, and appealed to the same arguments circling in conceptual art circles for justification. If Elaine Sturtevant, who was recently the subject of a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, can make near perfect copies of Pop art, and call it new, why should forgery be seen as illegitimate? –Washington Post
Aradhna Krishna directs the Sensory Marketing Laboratory at the University of Michigan and is considered the foremost expert in the field. She says that many companies are just starting to recognize how strongly the senses affect the deepest parts of our brains. The author of the 2013 book Customer Sense: How the 5 Senses Influence Buying Behavior, Krishna got into the field because she was fascinated by certain questions: Why does wine taste better in a wine glass than in a water glass? Why is an ad showing a piece of cake more engaging when the fork is placed to the right of the cake? Why does the smell of cinnamon make a heating pad seem to work better? Krishna realized that the senses amplify one another when they are congruent in some way. Because cinnamon suggests warmth, it can enhance a heating pad’s appeal and apparent effectiveness. Such influences are subtle—and that’s exactly why they are so powerful. Consumers don’t perceive them as marketing messages and therefore don’t react with the usual resistance to ads and other promotions. –Harvard Business Review
Of course, it’s risky to try to sound like someone so far outside your own context. A lack of authorial confidence can come across in the writing. And then there’s the danger of introducing a clinical distance between yourself and your character. Running every observation or insight through an intellectual filter—what would a person like this one say or do?—can have a deadening effect. This impulse begins as an attempt to legitimize the characters, but ends up dumbing them down.
There’s also a temptation to over-focus on the cultural details: unfamiliar customs, exotic details, the clothes people wear. The things, in other words, that seem interesting to us as outsiders. But part of establishing point of view is knowing what to omit. (One of the hallmarks of bad historical fiction is describing everyday details with the sociologist’s eye.) We have to be willing to present the readers with vocabulary or details they aren’t prepared to understand when the characters themselves would not explain it.
This is one of many reasons I admire Junot Diaz’s fiction; he never italicizes non-English words. Italicization would make those words doubly foreign or doubly unfamiliar, when actually they’re second nature to the character. To highlight these words would be a betrayal of point of view. –The Atlantic