uniform posts

The Colosseum guards story July 14th, 2011
Part 2 of 4 in the series whatsyourstory

We recently redesigned our business cards. While business cards are hardly the sexiest of collateral and perhaps of questionable relevance in the West, we were excited about the opportunity to take a simple instance of our identity and play with it, without worrying too much about impact on other elements like our site, and so on, that might be more challenging for us to take on ourselves.

Our new cards consist of a few different designs, each with a photograph on one side and the question “What’s your story?”, pointing to this series of blog posts. Over the next while, we’ll be presenting each of the images we chose and offering some of the background, context, or what we saw in the image. Of course, we welcome your own interpretations, questions, examples, etc.

Here’s a photo I took in Rome, in May 2010, while walking through Trastevere.

What’s the story? The body language says heading home from a day at the office, but the outfit suggests a man lost in time. This juxtaposition is the sort of thing that amuses me a great deal.

Later in our trip we made it over to the Colosseum, where we saw costumed, muscley fellows posing for pictures with tourists, presumably for tips.

You can’t even see the poor tourist in this picture as he’s being aggressively dominated. It was getting close to a private moment as this guy seemed to be having the time of his life pretending to be abused, manhandled and perhaps even slaughtered!

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ChittahChattah Quickies May 2nd, 2010
  • Consumed – Faux-Authentic Uniforms [NYTimes.com] – The authenticity question is a particularly interesting one to parse. A pair of worn, faded jeans does reflect a history shared by object and owner. For many years now, manufacturers have sold a shortcut to that idea by wearing out and fading jeans before they hit the shelves, by way of a variety of industrial processes (often charging a hefty premium for this outsourcing of the item’s physical past). These Burton pants embrace the worn-denim trope but take it a step further. They’re actually made of a waterproof Gore-Tex fabric and made to look like jeans through “photo sublimation,” according to USA Today: “a photo was taken of a pair of tattered jeans then printed onto the garments via a technical heat process.” So what we have here is a representation of a simulacrum of tattered, faded, authentic pants-with-a-history.
  • Why You Shouldn’t Believe A Company’s Word Lore [NYTimes.com] – By promoting the “sound of the machine” origin for the once-generic kisses, Hershey is engaging in what Kawash calls “strategic corporate forgetting”: “they invent an original story for marketing purposes to make it seem unique to their candy.” Notably, Hershey’s historical whitewash took shape in the late ’90s, just about when the company’s lawyers were beginning an ultimately successful battle to trademark kisses. They didn’t use the story in their legal arguments, but it played right into their efforts to associate kisses uniquely with the Hershey brand. When a company is trying to make its product iconic in the minds of consumers, it doesn’t hurt to inject a pleasant etymological tidbit, no matter how easy it is to disprove.
  • Making Sense of Complexity [NYTimes.com] – Unless the subject is TV remote controls, Americans have a fondness for complexity, for ideas and objects that are hard to understand.We assume complicated products come from sharp, impressive minds, and we understand that complexity is a fancy word for progress….What we need, suggests professor Brenda Zimmerman, is a distinction between the complicated and the complex…Performing hip replacement surgery is complicated. It takes well-trained personnel, precision and carefully calibrated equipment. Running a health care system is complex. It’s filled with thousands of parts and players, all of whom must act within a fluid, unpredictable environment. To run a system that is complex it takes a set of simple principles that guide and shape the system.“We get seduced by the complicated in Western society,” Ms. Zimmerman says. “We’re in awe of it and we pull away from the duty to ask simple questions, which we do whenever we deal with matters that are complex.”
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ChittahChattah Quickies February 24th, 2010
  • chat roulette – a short film by Casey Neistat – Chatroulette is a emergent online phenomena, connecting random people via webcams. Casey acts as participant-observer, experimenting with the service and observing what happens, as well as reflecting on his own feelings about the experience and ruminating about the implications.
  • The worst Olympic uniform [Rob Walker] – If there’s a more pure example of conformity trumping practicality, I can’t think of it. Oh, wait, sure I can: Phony-holed jeans. For years the hollow claims of every marketing guru who insists that consumers “demand authenticity” has been neatly debunked by the success of the high-end “distressed” denim phenomenon. Buying jeans whose wear-and-tear is implemented by far-flung factory workers and machinery, according to specific standards devised and overseen by layers of corporate design-management — and in fact paying extra for such jeans, and pretending that this somehow signals rebel style — is a capitulation to simulacra-culture so Xtreme it would make Debord giggle and Baudrillard weep. Or vice versa. Whatevs.
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