Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Oi, Robocop. Lend us a pencil, will ya?

So after yeserday's little rant-ette about the de-humanising effect of technology I've just walked into a real-life example that (you'll be relieved to know) actually relates to advertising. It goes something like this:

I needed an art director to create an image of a bear wearing a mask. (I won't bore you with the details, suffice to say, it's gonna be fucking genius - awards, champagne, wine, women, wealth, slaves, horses, the lot!) Anyway, I'd presented the intial concept as a simple (VERY simple) drawing of a stick-bear with a bit of elastic round his head and a mask perched over his face. Admittedly, this did look like the result of a mental illness, but in the context of an ad agency it was easy, clear, and obvious. Piece. Of. Piss. But now, 24 hours, 1 Mac and an art director "working it up" in Photofuckabout 9 later, I can't even tell what's bear, what's mask, or what the hell I'm even looking at.

"Could we not just do it in illustration?" I said.
"Nah, it's not right," I'm told. Stubbornly.

Now, I don't want to diss the talents of moody Mr. Art Director (he'll crack it in the end) but it occurred to me that this ability of his to transform a hiccup-simple concept into a mind-raping visual cocktail surely stems from a kind of over-dependence on the technology at his disposal. So his Mac, rather than liberating the creative process, now seems to do the opposite.

See, once upon a time, Mr. Art Director would've used his pencils, his markers and his own FUCKING JUDGEMENT to visualise a concept. Nowadays though, he can sit for days kerning at an atomic level, absorbed, lost, glued, obsessed and (sadly) crippled by the sheer choice of effects and tools available to him. And that (ultimately) is de-humanising. He's been tricked into thinking the Mac is cleverer, than him - that technology is the only answer.


It reminded me of the story of NASA spending millions of dollars developing a biro that would work in zero-gravity, whilst Russian astronauts just used a pencil. Or people who use pelican crossings when there's no traffic...

So I wonder how much worse off we'd actually be without Macs then? Without being limited by what stock images we can find. Without the endless list of imperceptible tweaks and amends. Without dicking around right up to the last minute.

Hmm, I wonder...


Leon said...

Hey John,

Don't be so despairing o' th' macs. I did a google search for a "bear in mask" and got about 2,140,00 results in 0.28 seconds. Fucking brilliant.

I'd sack your Art Director if I were you and get an iPad - pointing stupidly at a plastic screen must surely be better than talking to a person and using a basic (pointing) tool like a (ugh) 'pencil'.

Even better, you can really get into semantics and try "bear" in a "gay" context - I bet that would be fun?

Or did you mean "bear" as in furry animal. Don't you just love the double plus good effect of technology?


John said...

You need to disable the "Queer Search" option on Google, dude.