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LUCAS BENARROCH ANEZKA SEBEK | THESIS 1 GREETINGS FROM THE FUTURE FINAL PAPER DECEMBER 15th, 2011 http://a.parsons.edu/~benal710/thesis_1/
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LUCAS BENARROCH ANEZKA SEBEK | THESIS 1 GREETINGS FROM THE FUTURE FINAL PAPER DECEMBER 15th, 2011
Abstract How have we come to accept media as our reality? I am creating a faux multimedia campaign; based on iconography and symbols. The campaign surrounds a super heroine who fights against ennui, the listlessness and dissatisfaction arising from a lack of occupation or excitement. By branding this unreal super heroine and making people believe in her symbols, using the street and the virtual space as main platforms, I will attain my target audience. Hopefully making them overcome their imitations by fighting their own ennui. My audience is the millennial generation, the people who were born between 1985 and 2010. More specifically the creative people (musicians, artists, animatorsâ€Ś) who, I believe are in charge of the future well-being of the world and are lacking empowerment right now. The plan is to leave traces of my super heroineâ€™s reality in theirs. It started in September 2011 and it will acquire the big exposure from January to May 2012. There will be events that will give more clues about what or who the GFTF and Megaintoite are.
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How have we come to accept media as our reality? How that can affect our perception about ourselves? In Simulacra and Simulation, Jean Baudrillard1 warns us about the fact that we are getting lost in the "copies" of the way we see the world. Instead of knowing that they are merely copies of the world, we think that the copies are the reality. I believe these copies have the potential to become reality when people discuss them as real entities or when these copies are so positive and stimulating that they directly impact your personality, allowing you to be a better you. Adding to this the fact that the real and the virtual are interconnected, we then realize that everything we see and hear is what is real. I am creating a new sort of super heroine or what others have called “a simulation of a heroine”, based on a real person. I am not making a classic super heroine, in the sense that she is not going to be jumping from roof to roof in a glossy costume, but I want to make my audience believe that she is real by leaving traces of her reality in theirs. To do so, I will take advantage of the fact that both realities are interconnected and you will see now why. Although my character is a simulation, as soon as, and only if, there is belief that penetrates the psyche and emotions of the viewer, the character is translated to real life. That is what I attempt to do by creating this super heroine’s campaign, starting by her symbol. (See fig.1) By creating a campaign focused on her sign and her messages I will attempt to change people’s perception about themselves and their own realities. Since, 1
Baudrillard, Jean. Simulacres et simulation (Paris: Editions, 1981 Galilée), 9-68.
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according to Arthur Burks2, “a sign is not iconic unless the viewer recognizes that it is such”, the response of my audience is essential in the project.
My audience is the millennial generation, the people who were born between 1985 and 2010. More specifically the creative people (musicians, artists, animators…) who I believe are in charge of the future well being of the world and are lacking empowerment right now. Seeing that regular people are having more fun than them will make them want to change their lives. Some through the videos, some through the logo and investigating around it, others through the events, others through the game, urban artists through the posters; each one of the moves I make through Megaintoite touches different kinds of millennials in different ways. From studying their reactions I will get exactly to "what makes them change".
My super heroine is known as Megaintoite (Mega-into-it) and fights against l’ennui, the boredom. Megaintoite serves as a symbol (or any media that carries her meaning) through iconography (representations of her essential characteristics in posters and logos) and indices (pointing or speaking about Megaintoite as a "reality" in the interviews I have been recording of the people who "know" her). My super heroine tries to convince you to do whatever makes you feel like your own super hero. She motivates
Arthur W. Burks, “Icon, Index, and Symbol” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, June, 1949, 673-689. Accessed: 09/11/2011 05:24, http://www.jstor.org/stable/2103298.
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you to do something similarly important to you. A motivation that I already acquired from her, previous to this media proposal (and I am actually using to create it.)
Contextualizing my design concept
My project is inspired by DC comics that recently released "The NEW 52”3, a historic renumbering of the entire DC Universe line of comic books with 52 first issues. The new collection adapts the superheroes’ abilities, skills and powers to better respond to the twenty-first century life. In my project, I am changing the significance of a super hero by adapting it, not only to the new technologies, but also as a tool to improve people’s self esteem and their vision of the future. My super heroine does not fly and saves you from jumping from a bridge, but instead, by the time you get to the bridge hopefully you have seen her messages in the street and you can relate it to positive thoughts and avoid committing suicide. The French photographer Georges Rousse 4 and his signature "trompe l'oeil" techniques are also very inspiring to me. Rousse’s aesthetic greatly influences me because of the unique approach that shifts the relationship of painting to space. In my project I seek to shift individual’s understandings of what they see in their reality through elements (starting with symbols in a variety of media) that appear to be from another reality (but, in fact, are not). In doing so, I will call people’s attention to the possibility of acquiring a second sense of reality, or what I call the super-self-sense of reality, which exists simultaneously. 3
"DC Comics The New 52", accessed November 11, 2011, http://dcu.blog.dccomics.com/the-new-52/.
“Georges Rousse", accessed November 11, 2011, http://www.georgesrousse.com/.
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The Graffomat 5 is an example of branding the unreal. Their spray can dispenser machines are not real in the sense that you cannot acquire them. They are not selling a product, their final product are the videos, the website and mainly, people’s reactions and comments. These videos are the traces. They are branding the unreal to motivate graffiti writers. Making the writer’s dream a reality by not actually creating the product but only the idea of that product existing in the real world. It is a bit like “Michel Foucault’s “this is not a pipe” because it is actually the painting of a pipe. In my project, I am also leaving traces of an unreal super heroine in people’s reality by having other people talking about her (as a starting clue about who Megaintoite is.) In the movie “It should happen to you”6 by George Cukor (1954), a model obtains billboards in order to "make a name for herself”. She does not notice that she has become an icon just by putting her name up there. People do not even know there is no product or no point; however, they are totally into it. The title of the movie shifted from "a name for herself" to "it should happen to you" just as in this project, by assigning “the power of motivating” to Megaintoite I will try to convince you that you should become a super hero.
Communication (exposure) and design (creativity) are essential in this project in which traditional media (Print and video/animation) is accompanied by social networks, allowing instant connection to communicate with others, and propaganda, allowing direct exposure to the public. The scope of my thesis is to improve individuals’ self-esteem by displaying material both virtually and physically in the form of a “symbolic” super 5
“Graffomat", accessed November 16, 2011, http://graffomat.com/.
It should happen to you”. Directed by George Cukor. USA: Fred Kohlmar, 1954.
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heroine. I will use a viral communication technique (including graphic design, video/animation) and a meticulous street campaign focusing first on the super heroine logo, a diamond.
Megaintoite’s symbol is a diamond because it represents clarity, ascension, and wisdom. As Avia Venefica7 expressed, “there are a few other meanings in the geometry of the diamond. The middle part, the butterfly motif, conveys the element of rebirth, revitalization, and metamorphosis. The diamond symbol also represents attainment of the meaning of life, enlightenment, satisfaction, ultimate truth, awakening, insight, clarification, awareness and new beginnings. Furthermore, the diamond symbol is synonymous with refracting light to the alchemist’s perspective. As such, the diamond and triangle symbol is indicative of the journey our souls make while we are achieving higher understanding (it is an enlightened or clarified soul that is able to refract its light from the insight out and serve as a beacon to the outer world). The goal for mankind is to walk a path on which our souls will shine and sparkle as brightly as diamonds. On this path there will be many labyrinth turns (representative of the angles and facets of the diamond). But if we travel the path with honorable hearts (and motivated), and if we are aware of the reflective nature of our lives (our actions reflecting in our reality), we will accomplish our mission of light.” Research and Design 7
“What is your sign” ", accessed November 16, 2011, http://www.whats-your-sign.com/diamond-symbolmeaning.html
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So far, I have presented this diamond symbol to my target audience both in print and video. (See fig.2) These were used to evaluate the viewer’s interpretations and expectations of Megaintoite; for example, what is her purpose? What does she seek to do? And most importantly – who is she? After watching my project’s first iterations, my fellow classmates and faculty members of the Design and Technology Department at Parsons The New School for Design exhibited distinct reactions based on their responses to these aforementioned questions about her goals and identity. Reactions among female viewers indicated a positive reaction to the visuals of the teasers and project proposals. It seems that the diamond, representative of all the aforementioned qualities, is appealing for this particular subgroup target audience, sometimes because of the item itself, and sometimes because of the idea of a toy diamond (that I said I will create). Based on these reactions, Megaintoite’s symbol appears effective enough to be the basis for her campaign. In fact, the sticker of the diamond can be distributed; in this way, it is like being unable to send every single one an actual bouquet of flowers, but giving them a picture or posting it up to give them feelings of self-worth. Men, in the other hand, but also some women, were intrigued and puzzled. They showed more interest in wanting to know whom Megaintoite is, asking, “what is her purpose?” “What does she seek to do?” and “How is she a member of the GFTF Team?
The GFTF is a group of ten new identities that I created based on real people. They became super heroes by simply using their abilities properly. Influenced by the abilities of one of them, Megaintoite, I decided to create this campaign against ennui. I
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believe she could help other people too, and by mixing her abilities and mines, I attempt to motivate people to be their own superheroes, whatever that may mean for them.
The first step in my project was to create logos for each of the members of the GFTF team. Every super hero was chosen for a specific ability needed to complete the campaign. Medkit, through his film making abilities, is documenting it. Orazeus and Elseven, the musicians, embody the sound and story telling of the campaign. Maxjestik and Dvious are the character designers: sketching, illustrating and dressing up the heroes. Ziotronico and Drogaz take care of public relations and distribution, due to their ability to relate with people and online skills. Ariktra, through her anthropological ability, studies social reactions and further developments. Megaintoite is the spokeswoman. Maraka man, myself, creates the product. I ensure every single part of the campaign gets created: starting with the logos that will represent each superhero’s personality. (See fig.3) In fact, my thesis is based on my role, because if these symbols do not represent each character, I will never attain the objective of my heroes being perceived as real and engaging. The sign and what it represents, have to be one in people’s perception, like Christ and the cross.
The fact that the first application for those logos arose in the form of posters and stickers is not coincidental. Giving the size of the city of New York, it was only logical to start with some physical objects. The next step is creating Megaintoite’s online profiles,
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such as Facebook, Twitter, Vimeo and Youtube. These will serve as clues to encourage people to interact with this character and will “prepare” them for the big event, which will be based on reactions to my ongoing creations. (See fig.4)
In the second part of Megaintoite’s campaign, after knowing the audience’s reactions to my first interventions in the street, I am creating two pieces, two more clues. First, I am working Megaintoite’s animated logo representing the qualities of the diamond (and therefore Megaintoite's). And secondly, I am doing an interactive game using Processing that reveals some information about her. Both will be posted on her virtual spaces for further reactions. After obtaining these second results, I will be able to define what motivates my target audience the most and reproduce it for them through my character, Megaintoite. The idea is always to make the public think while visually pleasing them. If they really desire to see Megaintoite in person, she will be shown.
The “big event” or Megaintoite’s great intervention may or may not involve meeting her. But is not the main point here. What is of greater importance is to see how my campaign affects people, what do they think, even before this big event takes place. As a communication designer, I am looking to see the efficiency of my "fictional" campaign. People will be able to see Megaintoite (or, most likely, her icon) everywhere, both physically and digitally, and hopefully from people’s mouth-to-mouth conversations.
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I will be researching various fields to continue the development of my campaign for next semester. I will respond to questions from my critique by strengthening the fight against ennui and transforming the idea into a clear antagonist. In order to create a strong battle between my campaign and its newly developed antagonist I will explore topics that will help to find Megaintoite’s “raison d’être”. I will research the Situationist ideal system to help solidify the campaigns foundation. I will also research the concept of buyology (the study of why and how people are triggered to buy something) to see how humans respond to “stuff” along with the study of brand capitalism from environmental activist Naomi Klein. I will also analyze how my project has to do with immaterial labor. I will be working on new teasers and preparing the “big” event according to my production calendar. And mainly, I will find out how branding can be used for nonmarket purposes? Can the artifacts of my faux heroine inspire us to be creative?
I will send this project to animation, graphic design, and communication design festivals. It will also present it as art in galleries or comic stores, virtually on people’s blogs, or in even in the print form on a Psychology book about self-esteem and selfactualization. Regardless, the goal, in short, is to create an icon and using that icon, to motivate people to be their own superheroes, whatever that may mean for them.
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Apocalyptic Future: Consequence of the wild environment in which we live, where climate change and zombies dominate. Diamond: Megaintoite’s symbol. It represents clarity, ascension, and wisdom. Exposure: Appearance in public or in the mass media. Revelation. Extra Effort: Free action and can be performed at any time. Humans and super heroes can use extra effort simply by declaring they are doing so. Semiotics: The study of how signs and symbols relate to the things they represent. The meaning of a sign or symbol is not fixed; it varies over time and context, and by the intent of the speaker or writer. Scavenger Hunt: Game in which the organizers prepare a list defining specific items, in which the participants seek to gather all items on the list or perform tasks, as specified. Some scavenger hunts are held online, where players have to find particular information on the web. Shape shifter: Ability to modify your gear depending on the situation. Superhero: A superhero is a character dedicated to protect the public. ‘Greetings from the future’ will explore new media using the most recent communication tools to enlighten that public and therefore protect it. Super-self: The new self you acquire by getting motivated. Vandalism: Free advertising, usually performed in the street.
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1. Arthur W. Burks, “Icon, Index, and Symbol” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, June 1949. Accessed: 09/11/2011 05:24, http://www.jstor.org/stable/2103298. 2. Baudrillard, Jean. Simulacres et simulation. Paris: Editions, 1981 Galilée. 3."DC Comics The New 52”, accessed November 11, 2011, http://dcu.blog.dccomics.com/the-new-52/. 4. “Georges Rousse", accessed November 11, 2011, http://www.georgesrousse.com/. 5.“Graffomat", accessed November 16, 2011, http://graffomat.com/. 6. It should happen to you. Directed by George Cukor. USA: Fred Kohlmar, 1954. 7. Kenson, Steve. DC Adventures Hero's handbook. Seattle: Green Ronin Publishing, 2010. 8. Wein, Len. Legacies. Seattle: Green Ronin Publishing, 2011. 9. “What is your sign”, accessed November 16, 2011, http://www.whats-yoursign.com/diamond-symbol-meaning.html
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week 11/Nov 10
week 12/Nov 15
. Final paper draft . Production calendar (In process) . Update site
week 13/Nov 22 . Final M message . Logo animated_1 . New video briefcase . Megaintoite’s motto . Update site
week 14/Nov 29 . Presentation . 3 to 5 posters (messages) . Stickers 2 (1000) . Online profiles . Update site
week 15/Dec 6 . Final paper . Production notebook . Reorganize project . Update site . Online profiles
week 16/Dec 12 . Final Paper . Final Presentation Uploaded . Logo_animated_2 (diamond significance) . Used the final presentation/recruit opinions for big event. . Update site
Unless indicated, thursdays will be assigned to perfectionate Tuesday’s goals.
week 1/Jan 1 . New production calendar . 2 physical items for street campaign (“ Megaintoite please do cross” (PVC, 3 inches) tape) or (3D plexi) colored diamonds. . Update site . Research about the new fields and concepts (essay)
week 2/Jan 8 . Logo Animated_3 . Teaser “a few words from Megaintoite” (in process) . Teaser: “getting her ring”(in process) . Get into context . Online profiles . Update site
week 3/Jan 15 .Where are you at this point? . Essay . Prepare big event: If you are building the interactive sculpture, get materials. .What is your budget? . Update site
week 4/Jan 22 . Take real care of online profiles . Update site
week 5/Feb 29 .Prepare big event (Materials, space...) . Update site
week 6/Feb 6 until the end . Details
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VIRTUAL = REAL
THE NEW 52!
SUPER POWERS ADAPTED TO THE 21ST CENTURY
SECOND SENSE OF PERCEPTION
“IT SHOUD HAPPEN TO YOU”
MOTIVATION /NON-EXISTING PRODUCT
BRANDING THE UNREAL
GREETINGS FROM THE FUTURE RESEARCH AND KNOWLEDGE FIELDS MAP
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HOW HAVE WE COME TO ACCEPT MEDIA AS OUR REALITY
BRAND THE UNREAL HOW HAVE WE COME TO ACCEPT MEDIA AS OUR REALITY
CHANGE PEOPLE’S PERCEPTION ABOUT THEIR LIFES
MAKE THEM BELIEVE IN THEMSELVES
BE MEGA INTO IT
BELIEVE IN SYMBOLS
DISSATISFACTION ARISING FROM A LACK OF EXCITEMENT
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SOCIAL NETWORKS FACEBOOK, TWITTER, VIMEO
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Figure 1. Megaintoite’s symbol
Figure 2. Megaintoite’s first animation and first poster
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Figure 3. GFTF’s symbols
Figure 4. Storyboard: It’s happening