VHL Artist Statement
From the 1950’s tobacco advertising campaign to today advertising has become more insidious and ubiquitous. This long lamented fact is only one side of the coin. Cultural critics should ask why ads become more and more complex. Visual Hyperliteracy (VHL), I believe, is the answer. Consumers, though not always successful, become more and more critical of the ads they see. It only takes one moment when the fresh breath Crest promises does not lead to that date or promotion to demote toothpaste from magical commodity to mouth goop. Crest then, by necessity, must find better and better ways to advertise if they want to continue selling such goop.
Concurrently the evolution of the internet into social media has exploded the number of images produced and consumed. The average internet user now views well over 1,000 images every day, many of them mediated for the sole purpose of advertising.
These two phenomena result in constant torrent of images. How is it, then, that we are not overthrown? How are we not reduced to fully mindless consumers? We have developed a skill, a visual hyperliteracy, that allows a preconscious evaluation of every image we see. We know immediately when an image seems dishonest and therefore afford it less attention than those that seem more authentic.
the ability to read and evaluate image saturated culture
in order to form independent judgements.
I have created an artwork that seeks to prove the existence of this skill by activating it consciously. My custom deck of poker size playing cards features 52 original images. Each is a metaphor for VHL. Shrimp seek out food from garbage, white blood cells attack pathogens, gatekeepers refuse entry to ads… Metaphors like these pass through the viewer's visual field as they play a favorite card game.
The resulting phenomena will be a highlighting of images they like and a forgetting of images they don’t. They will use their VHL on the work thus exposing its existence as they define it. It is my hope that this skill can then be acknowledged and used more consciously by consumers and other culture jammers.