Friday, February 04, 2011

History and the Meme

Just what is it that makes today's salads so different, so appealing?  (Look here.)

When I encountered this web page a little earlier, my first actual thought - aside from the initial reaction of "oh cool, this is funny" - was how close this amusing collection was to history.  And also how far.  On one hand we have an intriguing foray into the history of images - if not necessarily the history of form, then the history of gestures and positions, which provide material for history of forms anyway.  (Maybe take a look at this.)  (There is never truly a "purely graphical" comprehension of visual work; all understanding is in constant conversation with the porosity of forms and what they're attached to.)  But at the same time, we lack the history: though we can guess where these images of happy women eating salad come from, and we might be close to the mark, without the writing we do not know how these images were situated.  The meme is, in effect, harmless, toothless - because we cannot make real connections to the publications (print or digital) where they've been disseminated, to tie them to the obvious discourses of (feminine) health and (feminine) body images.  This is criticism which undercuts critique, in a sense: the instance where the laughing is finally squared solely upon these women in these pictures, with only a shadowy hint of "society" putting them there, so that one does not draw out information - one assumes one is "in on the joke," but gods forbid one uses boring old information to clarify a problem.

1 comment:

JeanRZEJ said...

I'd be most impressed if all of those images were culled from advertisements and articles about dental hygiene. All of those images remind me of wartime propaganda posters encouraging women to work - with a smile!