I’ve noticed, in my long years of toiling wage slavery, that certain products created exclusively for corporate consumption, specifically those products meant to be used in office kitchens and bathrooms, are, shall we say, “different” from their consumer level counterparts. These are purely functional items whose exteriors fall somewhere between the total austerity of military issue and the frenetic high-gloss of supermarket fare. These are items not aimed at individual consumers and so most pretense of friendliness is absent. Fittingly they eschew all up-beat and desire-kindling market-speak, employing instead the dry, litigation-resistant language of the work-place. Strangely, however, these products still maintain evolutionary vestiges of graphic design once meant to please and comfort end-users. These are products in a grey limbo of package design. They inevitably exhibit an odd, inelegant, half-hearted sort of aesthetic which seems almost to originate from a different culture or, indeed, a whole other era.
Speaking of which, take a closer look at the example product pictured above…
Does anything strike you as particularly odd or comical about this Non-Aerosol Metered Air System Refill?
It strikes me that the confluence here of everything I outlined in the first paragraph, a sort of perfect synchronicity of the graceless handling of dry language combined with the use of vague, indeterminate, graphical elements, lead to an absolute miracle of accidental product misrepresentation…
In an attempt to simplify (and create a brand name from) the straight forward descriptor “Timed Mist” the letter “d” is dropped. The resulting text is then layered over top of a meaninglessly unspecific but decidedly vortex-like swirl graphic.
Well it’s unquestionably a spray which not only freshens the air, but which in some arcane manner bends or warps or splits or pierces or otherwise modifies the very fabric of Space-Time!
When I saw this product I laughed, but my brain, like a poorly behaved brat-child, instantly clamored for a small graphical addition to the label, “oh please, oh please, come on, oh please,” and who am I to refuse my darling brain anything? less
Now that is package design I understand!!! At my brains request I took the liberty of mocking-up a label for the reverse-side as well (I spoil him, I know.)
Have you ever wondered when it was exactly that clowns became terrifying to people? I mean, sure, there must have always been little bed-wetting children here and there who were put-off by clowns, all the way back to Scaramouche’s day and beyond. But at what point did clowns transform, in the minds of vast swaths of people the world over, en-masse, from absurd and funny haha to pant’s-crapingly yikes frightening? And Why?
Today the scary clown (or evil clown) probably finds more representation in our pop-culture than the funny clown. (Think Poltergeist, Stephen King’s IT, Killer Clowns from Outer Space, The Joker, and yes, John Wayne Gasy just to name a few.) I have a theory as the when and why the shift came about, and just exactly who those with acute coulrophobia can direct their undying scorn toward for ushering in a cultural shift that tortures them.
Witness, through the magic of scrolling pictures, the machinations of…
“Horror By Association!”
Lon Chaney Sr. in A Blind Bargain
Lon Chaney Sr. in The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Lon Chaney Sr. in Phatom of the Opera
Lon Chaney Sr. in London After Midnight
Lon Chaney Sr. in He Who Get’s Slapped
Lon Chaney Sr. in Laugh, Clown, Laugh
Or to put it another way-
Ok, ok, maybe it’s not all his fault. But he knew what he was doing.
“There is nothing funny about a clown in the moonlight.” -Lon Chaney
Indeed not sir, indeed not.
Got that? They’ll be a quiz. Originally from Little Pet’s Picture Alphabet, 1850’s.
Shot recently on the Brooklyn back-streets.
Quote: To fear death, my friends, is only to think ourselves wise, without being wise: for it is to think that we know what we do not know. For anything that men can tell, death may be the greatest good that can happen to them: but they fear it as if they knew quite well that it was the greatest of evils. And what is this but that shameful ignorance of thinking that we know what we do not know? -Socrates Via Plato
Today IO9 linked to a page re-telling the story of Sergei Brukhonenko and the severed dog’s head he reportedly managed to keep alive with his autojector. It’s a fascinating historical tidbit. Anyhoo, I’d completely forgotten about it until today, and IO9’s gentle reminder was all the excuse I needed to whip-up this homage to that poor, nameless, zombified pooch-head and its gruesomely miraculous horror. (Maybe I’ll make it a T-shirt eventually.) In related linkage, a classic: The Museum of Hoaxes Top 20 Most Bizarre Experiments of All Time.
In conjunction with my post over at the Nonist proper about the poster art of Tomi Ungerer I would like to offer some related content here, namely some pieces Mr. Ungerer created for an exhibition at IBM’s New York City headquarters. The exhibition, held in 1966, was called Some Computer ABC’s. See below.
Quote: Cease to brag to me of America, and its model institutions and constitutions. To men in their sleep there is nothing granted in this world: nothing, or as good as nothing, to men that sit idly caucusing and ballot-boxing on the graves of their heroic ancestors, saying, “It is well, it is well!” Corn and bacon are granted: not a very sublime boon, on such conditions; a boon moreover which, on such conditions, cannot last!—No: America too will have to strain its energies, in quite other fashion than this; to crack its sinews, and all but break its heart, as the rest of us have had to do, in thousand-fold wrestle with the Pythons and mud-demons, before it can become a habitation for the gods. America’s battle is yet to fight; and we, sorrowful though nothing doubting, will wish her strength for it. New Spiritual Pythons, plenty of them; enormous Megatherions, as ugly as were ever born of mud, loom huge and hideous out of the twilight Future on America; and she will have her own agony, and her own victory, but on other terms than she is yet quite aware of.
Nostrodamus Thomas Carlyle, 1850. Make of it what you will.
Came across an interesting item tucked within hamletworks.org, titled: Visual Representations of Hamlet, 1709-1900. Check it out. Meanwhile, by way of augmentation, a quick search reveals: Hamlet on the Ramparts’ Art and Production Stills, Hamlet lantern slides, Delacroix’s Lithographs of Hamlet, The Royal Shakespeare Company’s Hamlet page, NYPL Hamlet, Wikimedia Hamlet, The Folger Shakespeare Library, and Shakespeare in pictures.
Came across the site Branded in the 80’s which has among its offerings a pretty dynamite collection of nostalgic stickers for your viewing pleasure. And no, they don’t all depict monsters, despite the two I decided to feature above.
In honor of Mr. Carlin, whose work I enjoyed. And a larger version for genral use.