During spring 2015, SoVA hosted Pau Figueres, a visiting scholar/artist from Bilbao, Spain. Pau was working on a project, Remix and Sampling of Mass Media and Advertising in Visual Art: Aesthetics and the Problematics of Anti-Consumerism Critique, with New Media faculty member Eduardo Navas. While here, as part of his research, Pau staged a temporary 'intervention' of an ephemeral art piece in the form of the iconic Nike 'swoosh' that was placed in the Palmer Museum of Art plaza. His temporary installation brought to mind the malleability of the power of the commercial icon—an inference about how pebbles are eroded from river flow, yet the stones also shape the course of the river. As Pau explains:
“My work as an artist deals with the concern of how late capitalism affects society. For the past year I have focused on and questioned consumerism as a privileged medium of brands for territorializing our landscape. Built with systematic and ferocious stimulus that make us consume further more than what we would probably really need. Brands as a life experience are the new golden fleece, and the swoosh rises as one of its most popular icons among consumerist believers.
The corporate identity of brands such as Nike, Coca-Cola and McDonald’s are among the most sampled images in art. At the beginning of the 50’s and 60’s, Coca Cola was used by most of the Pop artists who were talking about the new way of consuming and were also amazed by the design of the new emerging visual culture. But further in the century other artists started sampling many other brands with different purposes.
In the era of the remix, the purpose of this intervention is not just to take advantage of the powerful visual attraction of this icon, but also to mesh it with the environment as an element that already belongs to our mediascape. This work is also an homage to all those who have previously sampled and used successfully and unsuccessfully this icon, straggling with legal, copyright and authorship issues.
Might late capitalism somehow not be respecting its own course as it flows straight, ignoring the strength of stones? Should we then accept this mediascape as the way to go, have we already accepted it? Do we really want to live in a world without Nike, Coca-Cola and McDonalds?”
During the one-day event in the Palmer plaza, a passer-by posted the following comment on Instagaram: “You know you go to the right school when you see this…”