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In an attempt to make sense of The Documentary Impulse as described by Stuart Franklin, one of the photographers credited for the 1989 photograph of "The Tiananmen Square Tank Man," Street Photography Ad Campaign was a project made to activate photographs that would have otherwise been buried in an endless digital hoard.
Within the personal context, this was much about finding a purpose or some reasoning behind my inherent need to document the everyday in urban life. Through years of meditation, this practice has become second nature and unlike the ethnographic photographer, this goes beyond the practice of social tourism or the act of aesthetisizing reality. The social implications came after the photographs were made after the selected images were meditated on. Through an ad campaign, I wanted to deploy the use of photography that did not center around the idea of photography itself.
Although ads traditionally aim to sell a product or to drive revenue, this project was made to provoke critical thought about civility and social urgencies. The copy was designed to spotlight the viewer's own positionality in relationship to the subject matter at hand. Although the diction was composed to be sociopolitically diagnostic, it admittedly does little to remedy the symptoms.
What I am going to call the American Apparel or Viceland aesthetic, popular amongst millennials and gen-z's, was adopted for its sans-serif uniformity, minimal use of color, and quick readability. These design elements were intended to be familiar and approachable for this demographic population. Because millennials and gen-z's are becoming of age to be in a place of ascendancy, it is imperative to start fermenting our social obligations so that we can act upon them in a timely manner.
The centerpiece, Is the access to plumbing a privilege or a human right?, is framed in the aspect ratio of 2-sheet subway platform ads (60" w x 46" h) and was intended to be installed in various markets. However, due to the costly nature of exhibiting ads in public spaces, this was not executed in real time or space. Instead, I decided to create smaller scale additions in a 1:1 aspect ratio to run on Instagram ads. The platform was selected to offset the latest fashion trend or newest technology often depicted in the infite scroll known as the newsfeed creating a social contrast in our visual culture.
The ad campaign ran for a 7 day period without the use of hashtags. It was funded by crowdsourced donations solicited from the same platform. Donors include Sebastian "Bashh" Ageday, Zachary DeCastro, Joshua Espinoza, Thang Nguyen, Diana Shao, and other anonymous donors.
It came as no surprise that this type of work was not popular on Instagram. Only an alarming average 4% of all viewers "liked" the images whereas most photographs average a 25% viewer-to-like ratio. While this project was not initially about mining data, the information revealed certainly ended up painting a quick portrait of the millennial and gen-z psyche and the priorities that commands its attention–the things that illustrate a glamorous lifestyle..