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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. It was very much about finding a purpose or some reasoning behind my inherent need to photograph the everyday in urban life beyond the act of aesthetisizing reality. I wanted to deploy the use of photography that did not center around the idea of photography.
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 while spotlighting the viewer's own positionality in relationship to the subject matter at hand. I wanted the audience to see these ads juxtaposed against what normally clouds our visual culture whether that be an ad on the latest fashion trend or newest technology. Diction was composed to be implicit yet sociopolitically diagnostic.
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 very demograph. Because millennials and gen-z's are becoming of age to be in a place of ascendancy, it is imperative that we understand our social obligations and that we act upon them.
The centerpiece, Is the access to plumbing a privilege or a human right?, was made with in 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 execution was not readily doable. Instead, I decided to create smaller scale additions to run on Instagram ads. The platform was selected to offset the glamorous visual culture often depicted in the infite scroll known as the newsfeed.
The ad campaign ran for a 7 day period without the use of hashtags. It was funded by crowdsource 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.