Tag Archives: Art

Occupier + current system + social media = ?

20 May 2012: The police crack down pretty hard on the Occupiers in Chicago today during their Anti-NATO protest.

I found this photograph moving around Facebook and I thought I’d post it.  I thought the Occupy protests were winding down, but based on this chaos, I’d say I was quite off the mark.

The focal point of the image is the young man guarding himself against a police officer, as well as on the overwhelmed and scared woman with the camera.  I feel like this image represents three main elements of the entire Occupy movement really well.

The young man represents the generic Occupier: the recent college graduate, possibly a hipster, who feels the need to stand out against the current regime and say that he doesn’t approve of the current status quo.  His hands are up to shield himself against the night stick, but the look on his face isn’t necessarily one of fear.  There is determination there, a confidence that comes out if you stare a little longer at him, and you can see that he isn’t just going to defend himself against the police officer, he is willing to take him on.

The police officer is not only representative of police presence and the issues that have come out of that during Occupy, but the illustration of faulty government itself.  The police are supposed to protect citizens, just as the government is supposed to benefit the people, but clearly the police were not protecting anyone but themselves in Chicago today, and clearly the system is not working for the governed because groups like the Occupiers and the Tea Partiers exist.

Finally, the woman with the camera represents media, more specifically social media.  Before social media took off, people heard about things like this through news articles or segments done by professionals.  Ideally, the news is supposed to be unbiased but it rarely is.  Now, with social media, people who were actually there in the moment can show their own evidence to anyone they want at lightning speed for free.  With these kinds of resources, the moments like this will always be available to the public and the truth will never be forgotten.

The Occupier, the current system and social media. Put them all together and what do you get?  Based on this photo, a real Charlie Foxtrot.



Red Propaganda?



Notice anything about these two images? The top one is an image being used by the Occupy Wall Street movement, while the bottom image was used during the Soviet period in Russia. Both use the same format, with a person, in this case a working woman and Lenin, on the Right, looking to the left, and Roman numerals on the left, with grain detailing. The OWS protesters seem to be using old propaganda from the Soviet Union and reusing it now.


Here is another image being used by OWS. Again, they are incorporating more Russian and Soviet motifs, like the sickle and hammer that is the Russian national symbol. Like in my post “What do We Really Want,” it seems like the OWS movement is taking notes from the Bolsheviks and the Soviet system. Both OWS and the Bolshevik Revolution have focused on the working class as their primary point of interest. Just to point out something, all three images that I have posted have a common primary color being used: red. Red was a symbol of Communism and still connotes that today. While it does draw the eye, does it also hint at something a bit more sinister? Food for thought.



Just a disclaimer about this site: I do not support this site, nor do I agree with everything that is mentioned on the blog. I merely used the site because that is where I found the images that I used.

Shepard Fairey and OWS: is his art helping the movement? – Part 1

Shepard Fairey, arguably one of the most popular American artists of our time (or at least one of the most visible), announces support for the Occupy Wall Street movement on the his  website. Although it seems obvious that his support of the movement would assist the movement in terms of popularity and visibility, one particular artwork actually hindered the movement by presenting the wrong message to its viewers.

Original Print by Shepard Fairey

Fairey’s original image raised concerns within the OWS movement, which considers itself non-partisan. This original print directly addresses the President in addition to mimicking the iconic HOPE poster that Fairey created in support of Obama’s campaign. Upon receiving a letter from an anonymous OWS protester that expressed concern with the image, Fairey indicated that he thinks that President Obama could be an ally to the OWS protesters, while the anonymous protester points out that Obama has gotten much monetary support from Wall Street and that he is not supported by OWS. The anonymous letter continues to offer suggestions for Fairey, including changing the message from “Hope” to “We are Hope”. They also suggest moving away from the Obama imagery all together with the sentiment that “To reduce us to an Obama re-election campaign will not help anyone. Our political system is corrupt and broken. As naive as it may sound, we have to stop looking to leaders and we must be the change.”

Interestingly, Fairey makes very few of these changes. He removes the direct appeal to the president, changing the sentiment from “Mr President, we hope you’re on our side” to “We are the hope”, and adds “Occupy Wall Street” onto the 99% button.

Revised Version

Fairey’s written response to the message gets a little defensive; he states that “I did not make the Occupy HOPE image to become THE image for Occupy. I believe very strongly in the Occupy movement, but I’m looking more at the politics of the entire nation than the politics within Occupy.” Yet, with his level of fame and the influence of the internet, how could Fairey NOT expect this image to be important?

Interestingly, besides this specific post, I was unable to find the poster in Fairey’s archives on obeygiant.com. The original poster was not found on Fairey’s website at all.

As much as Fairey supports the OWS movement through various posters, this particular poster became a big concern for many OWS protesters and may have led to some confusion should viewers make the connection of this poster with the Obama HOPE poster.


Linkage Does More than Complicate Meaning

In “Toward a Hyperphotography” Fred Richin discusses the Cubist nature of internet images. Internet allows for a unique opportunity to piece information together by linking websites and images. He argues that this cubistic quality of  internet imagery complicates viewers’ understanding of images by adding additional information that can subvert or complicate their original purpose.

Richin only touches upon one of the qualities  linkage. With the example of an image found while searching “occupy wall street art” in google search, one discovers that this cubism goes further to help a movement and to promote individual success.

by Guy Denning

This image by Guy Denning comes up on the google image search. On this post he is described as  “Guy Denning Homeless Artist From Occupy Wall Street” The website from which this image comes offers a link to another. This new website offers the story of Denning, a self-taught artist who participated in the Occupy movement and illustrated some of its imagery. More linking exists and the information about Denning and the Occupy movement proliferates.

A link to Dennings’s youtube account provides videos of his process. He has 91,571 video views (and counting). One can purchase his artworks through another link to his website.

The benefits of such linkage work both ways. Those interested in his approach to art might become interested in OWS, thus helping the movement. Those interested in OWS might become more interested in his art, therefore helping the artist.

This example shows that image linkage promotes the success of individuals and interest in OWS while complicating meaning simultaneously.

see:  Ritchin, Fred. “Toward a Hyperphotography,” After&Photography. W.W. Norton & Company, New York: 2009.