Number 12: Toys | Autumn 2011 ISSN 1746-8086
Toys Contents Architecture 032 Tecton Words by Gordon O’Connor-Read Images by Jonathan Winstone With thanks to London Zoo 042 Playing House Interview with Wayne Hemingway by Esther Barney
Literature 060 Stick it to the Ram-Man Words by Hannah Morrison 066 Toys Revisited! Words by Eleni Kontesidou
Music 026 Anne Pigalle Interview by Jack Boulton
Art 050 Mariel Clayton Words by João Paulo Nunes 084 The Adventures of Nigel Doll Rose Cooper-Thorne talks to Nigel Grimmer
070 LE CRAYON DU SINGE Words by Phil Sawdon 074 Torrence & Friends Words by Steve Gronert Ellerhoff
078 The Role of Toys Within a Consumer Economy and Society Words by Veronica Manlow
016 A New Season Matthew Holroyd talks to RA RA Photography by Jenny & Lee
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Editor in Chief Jack Boulton email@example.com Editors - Literature Phil Sawdon and Marsha Meskimmon firstname.lastname@example.org Editor - Fashion Christos Kyriakides email@example.com Contributing Fashion Editor Matthew Holroyd Editor - Architecture Rose Cooper-Thorne firstname.lastname@example.org For advertising opportunities, please contact the editor-inchief at the address above. We welcome unsolicited material from our readers. If you would like to make a contribution to future issues then please email the editorial team at the addresses above. Stimulus Respond is published by Jack Boulton. All material is copyright (c) 2011 the respective contributors. All rights reserved. No reproduction without prior consent. The views expressed in the magazine are those of the contributors and are not neccessarily shared by the magazine. The magazine accepts no liability for loss or damage of manuscripts, artwork, photographic prints and transparencies.
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Contributors This Issue Cover image by Lutz Matthew Holroyd Jenny & Lee Karin Peterson Kari Landén Jack Boulton Anne Pigalle Gordon O’Connor-Read Jonathan Winstone London Zoo Wayne Hemingway Esther Barney Rose Cooper-Thorne João Paulo Nunes Mariel Clayton Hannah Morrison Charlotte Brown Eleni Kontesidou Phil Sawdon Steve Gronert Ellerhoff Veronica Manlow Nigel Grimmer
photo sabine volz
toy路s Pronunciation: /toi/ Function: noun, adjective Origin: late 16th century (as an adjective): from Latin ritualis, from ritus noun 1. Obsolete a. amorous behavior; flirtation b. pastime; sport 2. a thing of little value or importance; trifle 3. a little ornament; bauble; trinket 4. any article to play with, esp. a plaything for children 5. any small thing, person, or animal; specif., a dog of a small breed, esp. one of the toy breeds adjective 1. like a toy, or plaything, in size, use, etc. 2. designating a breed of dog of a small kind kept as a pet or companion: a toy poodle 3. of or being a model, figure, etc., esp. a miniature one, designed to be played with as a toy: a toy soldier, toy fire engine, toy stove 4. of, containing, or having to do with toys: toy box, toy store intransitive verb 1. to play or trifle (with a thing, an idea, etc.) 2. to engage in flirtation; dally
A New Season?
Matthew Holroyd talks to RA RA, a new non-seasonal womenâ€™s wear label. Photography by Jenny & Lee.
Earlier this year I edited an interview with father and son design duo Casely-Hayford; Charlie talked in length about his time studying at Central St Martins and how the currency of fashion with so much information readily available is changing dramatically. At the time, I thought this was an interesting observation; the luxury market does seem to be losing value, outmoded before it even hits stores, but perhaps this could be seen as constructive? Fashion should be for all and sundry not just for the new moneyed footballers’ wives or Sloane Rangers. Looking at my own personal buying habits, a young man who isn’t earning anything even similar to the rich Russians of Kensington, I am pretty much sold to the pricey world of luxury fashion. I like the quality, the cuts, the fabrics and I would rather invest in a designer jumper that lasts two years than a jumper that lasts one wash, but then am I really in fashion? Isn’t my investment purchase that I plan to maximise for two years perhaps a bit past its sell by date? Later in the year I was formerly introduced to RA RA, a label produced by two Swedes Karin Peterson and Kari Landén who had created a minimalist collection for women - simple dress coats and fitted pants fashioned in moss greens, black silk jersey dresses hanging loosely from the frame, a hand dyed knitted jumper punctuated in bright shades and contrasted in grey, a layered top decorated with cut-out circles, revealing a hand drawn scribble print which is also seen on an array of silk slip dresses, trousers, vests, cut in simple geometric shapes. I enjoyed how wearable it looked and found it rather visually satisfying. I later found out that the label is a non-seasonal collection, the collection would always be available to purchase, but built on and expanded. When the lookbook arrived the label had picked the face of Burberry Edie Campbell as their model, a symbolic choice for a label concerned with non-seasonal fashion. Edie’s mother Sophie Hicks was a former fashion editor at Vogue, Vogue as we know it is an institution for seasonal fashion. RA RA shop and website were launched later in the summer. The navigator is treated to a beautiful selection of necessities that one can order online and also see some of the projects that the brand have been working on. Warsaw Under Construction festival saw RA RA designing uniforms for the builders on the project, which is interesting when the RA RA press release talks so much about transcending trends, I guess the uniform does this - anti individualism? The Arnold Circus Sharing Picnic, where RA RA offered a free alterations and mending service for the day collectivism? In a recent interview with Gilbert and George who, when asked about their political views, proudly pointed out that they were indeed Conservatives because contemporary art is for the Elite and that the Conservative Party supported individualism. When I put this to RA RA designer Karin Peterson and asked her how a luxury label with egalitarian beliefs can survive, her answer is blunt and frank - ‘If the Conservative party think they support individualism, I would like to ask David Cameron what type of individualism you create by depriving the majority of people within a society from a decent standard of living?’ Recession is plaguing our current climate, the recent riots across the country reflected how a number of Britons were hugely angry about the low standard of living, the poor quality of social housing, education and healthcare. How can a luxury label really rationalise itself in such a financially problematic year without having damning
bourgeois clichés? But should we justify buying into the highstreet , notorious for exploiting cheap labour, isn’t it all a big contradiction? ‘The average American will buy something new on the high street every 10th day. If £10 is spent each time, that equals about £370 a year. RA RA would rather spend that money on something well made that is really needed and lasts.’ Says designer Karin Peterson. Statistics from fashion industry trade publications are also pointing to RA RA’s beliefs , consumers are looking for investments pieces and staple items. Another highly publicised story and specific to seasonal fashion, are the press reports on designers John Galliano’s meltdown, Balmain’s Christophe Decarnin’s admission to a mental hospital, and Alexander McQueen’s tragic suicide, industry insiders blaming the pressure of seasonal fashion. ‘Seasonal Fashion is about 99% negative stress, and people love it, just like neurotic school girls at horse riding lessons.’ States Peterson. More and more luxury brands are reproaching the idea of non-seasonal fashion. Wunderkind, the Austrian label designed by Carol Christian Poell, only shows one collection a year, Greek designer Kostas Murkudis ’96 dresses’ a collection of minimalist frocks designed for all seasons and of course Azzedin Aliai who produces his collections on his own schedule ‘We don’t need to think in seasons anymore; we need to think about beautiful clothes. We really have to do something about this situation in fashion.’ stated the designer earlier this year to trade publication The Business of Fashion. Non-Seasonal fashion could be considered as radical, the ideas of egalitarian opinion makers ruffling the neat bob of Frau Wintour, but with global warming and the volatility of climates perhaps non-seasonal fashion will one day be the establishment? www.aboutrara.com
What are your musical roots? My father played double bass in a Jazz band (in Paris of course), a Hot Club / Django Reinhardt type thing, he used to play circus music at home on the cheap stereo... I started to listen to David Bowie and the Velvet Underground when I was 10 (along with some cheesy French music that was available) and in my early teens I got into punk music, it was theatrical and wild and it suited me fine... This was followed in later life by a very eclectic liking of music; Genre is not what appeals to me, but if it’s good and authentic music, the sound reaches the right parts inside of me. I love blues and flamenco for this reason. You mentioned that you were entering a new phase, how does it differ from the Anne Pigalle that we know? Well, it depends which Anne Pigalle you know... Some might remember me from the old days standing proud in front of a red velvet curtain on a poster advertising my first single He! Stranger... that graced all the streets of London! It became my trademark way before Twin Peaks or Beyonce. Or some might have followed the development of my work as a visual artist, when I managed to get some success in a medium I had never touched before with my amerotic self portrait Polaroids which were to be so influential or, according to a concert promoter, some people only know me as a poet. Having been without fixed abode for twenty years, my life has been a little crazy so I decided to redress the situation; I looked around me and realised what was going on, I felt it was necessary for me to make some sort of a comeback
- Anne Pigalle will always be Anne Pigalle, in which ever context, the brand is hard to copy. After the big producer and big production, which was very interesting, I wanted to create something I had complete control over, so the art would be pure, at its basic output, that was even more interesting and more satisfying and rewarding, and now I have reached the stage where I can make a composite of the two. Why were you homeless for twenty years? It was partly financial and partly because I felt I needed to embark on a long journey of self discovery and knowledge of the human psyche. It was a geographical and an internal journey - it was dangerous, amazing, I don’t regret any of it, and I am now ready to tell the tale. Do you see yourself as eschewing punk these days? If so, do you see something inherently childish in the punk movement? Nothing chewy; Punk happened in my teenage years, so of course it was and will remain very important to me, it gave me a sense of integrity. Trevor Horn used to call me the Punk Edith Piaf or the French Bob Dylan. Childishness and maturity is a long long topic. Would you say then that your new work is in some ways a ‘coming to terms’ with - or a reinvention of - the past? No not at all. It is the continuation, the next chapter. The coalition. There is something raw, rough, unfinished about the new work, as opposed to your previous work which is much more orchestral, almost symphony like. Was that a stylistic choice and if so, why make it? As I said, it was great to produce something unrefined in its
format, but very sophisticated in its thought, it was essential for my growth. There is a lot of philosophy in your new material, are there any particular writers who inspire you? Too many too mention! The ancient Greek philosophers, Voltaire and Boris Vian. I like the duality in things, that’s why Donald Cammell and myself got along. But you know i really prefer the philosophy of life and experience these days. Everything works together for me, a bit like Cage and his outlook on mushrooms. Do you see common elements in your music and your images? Music helps me to create images and vice versa - A duel mood. We were talking in one of earlier chats about ‘big’ stars like Cheryl Cole, Madonna, Whitney Houston, Lady Gaga… How – if at all – do you see yourself fitting into that? I’m not very big on pop music, each person and style has its purpose; you are talking about people who are American and I am French, so it’s fundamentally a very different culture for starters, and orientated towards a huge commercial market, ie , money. I’m not ot saying money is not important but definitely not my primary motivation; I feel I do a different job and do not reach the same parts, I am a Poet, a maverick and like Orson Welles, I feel like ”your friendly neighbourhood store in this age of supermarkets” - Before we spoke, I had never listened to a track by Cheryl
Cole. As far as Whitney Houston is concerned, she has a great voice. In Japan, when she was very big there, she had to cancel a TV appearance and they asked me to step in, I was flattered. This is the ‘Toys’ issue… Did you have a favourite toy as a child? Well, I guess a couple. A teddy like most I think. I still have him. Another that looked like a cross between a cat and a tiger, and dolls... Yes. I feel more of a child these days, and have many more toys, some of them I used on L’Ame Erotique :) www.annepigalle.com
Tecton Words by Gordon Oâ€™Connor-Read Images by Jonathan Winstone With thanks to London Zoo
Playfulness is not usually associated with bricks & mortar. It has only been the advent of new materials and technologies during the previous century that have allowed architects to achieve a sense of glee in their work. The grand European exhibitions that followed the First World War were often the setting for such experimentation. From this era span a new wave of architects and designers; who grasped a real understanding of how to illustrate the spatial and aesthetic qualities of composite materials. In short, they began to play with the possibilities. The newly formed Tecton Group designed an unconventional pavilion for its time, the Penguin Pool at London Regents Park Zoo in 1934. Conceived as a series of walkways, its double helix structure was both elegant in appearance and accommodating at the time for the zoo’s penguin contingent. Its theatrical setup was meant to appeal to the visiting public, who’d flock to witness the penguins’ artistry in diving and swimming agility, only to be matched by Tecton’s pool. Initially brought onboard to design the Gorilla House at London Zoo, the widely acknowledged success of the Penguin Pool led to subsequent commissions of Elephant House, Whipsnade Zoo and Zoological Gardens, Dudley Zoo. This collective of enclosures may not have been the apex of Tecton’s work, but it secured an ounce of vindication for the ubiquity of continental modernism in Britain. It had arrived, and not just for the few and privileged, and would be the beginning
of an egalitarian era in British architecture. All of which stemmed from a playful anecdote of a penguin’s waddle. Before their disbandment in 1948, the Tecton Group was regarded as the most significant practitioners of the International Style in pre-war Britain. It was an ensemble of London-based architects founded in 1932 and principally led by Russian-émigré Berthold Lubetkin, together with Anthony Chitty, Lindsay Drake, Michael Dugdale, Valentine Harding, Godfrey Samuel, Frances Skinner, and Denys Lasdun who joined two years prior to their closure. They’d later become renowned for their commitment to socially driven schemes, but made early inroads with their zoo projects. Recollecting on the Russian Constructivist sculptures of Naum Gabo and his brother Antoine Pevsner, the group brought a level of dynamism that had eluded British architecture up until that point. Further advances in technology from the continent such as reinforced concrete, suited the ethos of modernism and opened up new opportunities
“The beginning of an egalitarian era in British architecture... Stemmed from a playful anecdote of a penguin’s waddle”
for Lubetkin and his burgeoning group of young architects. The penguin venture at London Zoo ushered in a poignant collaboration between Lubetkin and the soon-to-be prominent engineer Ove Arup. Having previously completed the Gorilla House, the pair was aiming to captivate audiences with an elaborate design. This may have contributed to its listed status, entrusting it for posterity. However, it has now been replaced by a more expansive scheme at the zoo with a similar fate at both Whipsnade and Dudley. Each project was imbued with Lubetkin’s attitude towards architecture as an outlet for social progress, and cleverly concealed as childlike pavilions for the public’s amusement that were just as entertaining as the creatures they housed. Implementing a smooth reinforced concrete finish to the Penguin Pool brought with it a chance for the British masses to experience a continental delight. Often over-subscribed with redbrick, the ability to mould any shape the design team could structurally manifest
enthralled the public. The cantilevered walkways were calibrated to such a degree that their wafer-thin appearance still suggests they’re orchestrating themselves independently of the whole enclosure. The observational viewpoints, formed as cut-outs along the pool’s perimeter wall, provided a perfect backdrop for audiences to appreciate the penguins in a unique setting. Time has now moved on and the once jovial centrepiece of London Zoo has become an object of modern-day antiquity. The penguins have been relocated and the pool itself has been filled with sand, as this early blueprint for British modernity marks its conclusion. The impact of such a small project is easy to see with its glaring white surface, distinctively bold style, and a complete lack of affinity for ostentatious decoration. This form of architectural discourse found its way into our homes, schools and workplaces, though with varying degrees of success. All of which was achieved through the emergence of a playfully eccentric and thoughtprovoking building for its time.
A decade ago this month Building For Life (BFL) set out its store to change the way housing is created in the UK. Wayne Hemingway, the multidimensional designer who graduated in Geography and Town Planning from UCL but is better known for co-helming fashion house Red or Dead, has been its chairman almost since its inception. Interview by Esther Barney.
Originally having criticised the likes of George Wimpey for its homogenous, cookie-cutter housing approach in 2000, Wayne Hemingway and wife Gerardine were invited to collaborate with the company and prove they could do better with the award-winning Staiths South Bank project in Gateshead. Stimulus Respond caught up with Hemingway to find out how to make homes people actually want to live in and what he thinks the future holds for British housing design and developments. SR: Should good design be paid for and how do you create affordable housing that works aesthetically? WH: As it’s difficult to fund large deposits and mortgages, housing is already out of the reach of so many. People want to be able set up a home and we can’t get in the way of that. So it’s about design that actually makes things more affordable or adds great value without adding any cost. We built the Staiths with Wimpey at a cost of £38 per square foot, which was the same price as they were building their standard houses. And this is what designers have to realise: design can’t be allowed to create an additional cost at the moment because people can’t afford it. One option is self-build or community-build, where you join together and share bills. If I were starting out in the housing market right now, I’d do exactly what we did when I was young. I’d buy as cheap as possible in an area that’s not sought after and make an amazing house. That’s difficult in London now, as all the areas that were cheap back in the 80s have been gentrified. There are some great properties in the North of England right now in Liverpool, Blackburn and Burnley, but that’s not necessarily where the work is, which is the problem. There’s no easy answer at the moment. How does a housing project increase the sense of community and reduce crime? One way is it attracts like-minded people and, if you market it correctly, you end up with a group of people who have likeminded values and a shared vision for living; everyone helps to protect the place and they get together in the community. That worked very well in the Staiths project; there were some pioneering people who all liked the vision and wanted to live there. The land was very cheap, in a less sought-after area, we had a very willing partner in Wimpey, who were in a risk-taking mood, it was in a buoyant housing economy, and it was working with a team who really wanted to make a difference. For the consultants it was less about earning big fees and more about making a real statement. So we all – including our team, architects Ian Darby Partnership and Glen Kemp landscape architects – worked like crazy every hour God sent to deliver something amazing. If you costed the amount of work that we put into it, you couldn’t have done the project because there were so many man hours and off-site hours put into it. In the end it is human beings who deliver. If you could afford to spend the time that we did on that development on every development, they would be a lot better. Is it easy to replicate the project or do you have to adapt it to each place? You have to make it specific to a certain extent. It’s not just the design; it’s everything around it. We had an amazing marketing team working on it who made sure that we attracted the kind of community that we knew would help to make it grow. We targeted the creative community, like architects and designers,
the kind of people who cared about it and who would take the vision forward. What did you learn from the project, as the first one? Absolutely everything. It’s very rare to be able to start from scratch a housing development on a brownfield site, on a scale of nearly 800 homes, and to be involved in every detail of design and to see it through right to the end. By doing that you learn everything you’d probably need to know, I think. Certainly, there were some very challenging areas. It was an amazing grounding for us. When we do our next new build project, I think we will go for more of a community build or self build and we would make sure any shops and schools on the development open earlier. In [The Bridge Dartford project] we opened up the school almost from the beginning of the project and that was a great improvement. Would you approach a project differently in the South compared to Gateshead? The hardest thing is finding the land at the right price. We were lucky on The Staiths project to find land near the city centre where you could have a go at building a community like that where the prices are reasonable. In the South it is very different because it’s rare to find a location where the land is cheap. If you can find cheap land, you can invest heavily in the design and the landscape. In the South you are already heavily loaded on the outlay of the land. As chair for Building for Life, how do you feel the first decade has gone for the project? The whole point of the project is to encourage better places to live in by encouraging a national standard for well-designed homes and neighbourhoods. At first, it was very difficult to find good examples and to award anything. Then, in the last two or three years, with the downturn in house building, the quality has gone up. So our nagging must have been having an effect. [But] the funding mainly came from CABE [the government’s advisor on architecture, urban design and public space] but the cuts mean we are having to rethink our model and who to work with in the future. The costs of the environmentally friendly housing being put into New Orleans’ redevelopment have been quite heavily criticised by the locals. What’s your reaction to this? Building environmentally friendly housing to a decent level comes at such a cost and we aren’t in a position where today’s economy allows us to do affordably. On the one hand, we should absolutely be building sustainably and thinking about the environment but on the other, you have to build houses that people can afford to live in. We aren’t at that stage yet. Maybe there needs to be a path provided for housing to gradually become more sustainable [as you] show people how much better these houses are to live in. But if from day one it’s costing too much, then it’s an issue. It seems to me that, at the moment, it can only be sustainable if you have lots of money. Have the principles of town planning changed since you studied it in the 70s? Town planning is about people’s happiness and that doesn’t change much by the decade or even by the century. Human beings want comfortable places to live
with schools, healthcare and shopping, they need privacy and to be able to belong to a community. A lot of warmth comes from the landscaping and I think developments need to invest heavily very early on in the landscape. If you look at the Garden City movement, the values that they had over a hundred years ago still hold true today, and places like Welwyn Garden City are still happy places to live in today. Where is London going as a city? London is a bubble on its own and thereâ€™s no easy answer. Buildings can get higher to allow people to live here but the population will get denser and you need the infrastructure to deal with that. If itâ€™s hell to live in and you canâ€™t address that problem then there are going to be some casualties, financially.
Words by Jo達o Paulo Nunes www.worldmanabouttown.com
Previous Spread: Ready, Big Boy? Above: Tennis
Most biographies of Mariel Clayton describe how this self-taught photographer started her creative career and strong interest in dolls after a visit to a Tokyo toy shop. This encounter between Clayton and the world of Japanese miniatures is usually narrated as the moment in time when the artist initiated an appreciation for surreal scenarios that was to influence her work from then on. However, despite the importance of this format and of Japanese culture in her photographs, the deconstruction of the significance of toys as embodiment of innocence ends up being what strikes viewers the most. Clayton’s prolific body of work spreads across numerous collections of complex images where dolls are depicted as aggressors or victims against a number of gruesome settings. Even though her work has been labelled as sexist, empowering for women, or plain portrayals of gratuitous violence, it is difficult to encounter people who have not had a reaction to Clayton’s elaborate tableaus where Barbie or Ken are almost invariably depicted surrounded by blood. When I asked Clayton about the controversy based on gender roles, she was surprised that her work was interpreted as such: “I try not to focus on gender in my work; that aspect ends up being more consequential than anything else. I think my work is considered sexist because it’s mainly Ken bearing the brunt of Barbie’s wrath, which I think comes across as sexist because it’s not a genre generally used in art. However, my motives behind the theme have nothing to do with any sort of commentary on gender roles or sexual stereotyping. Whether Barbie kills males or females is not about the victim’s gender; it’s about the absurdness of the scene itself. And if I do touch on something to do with abuse or violence I’d like to think that I do it in a meaningful way and usually to make a serious point. If there is any underlying theme to be possibly found in my work, it’s mainly a disinterest in gender stereotyping and the continuing belief that each gender has something to prove to the other.” The accusation that Clayton tends to focus on engendering reactions for reaction’s sake is understandable. The underlying premise behind her work seems to be that private feelings and behaviours experienced within concealed personal realms (including suicide attempts, domestic abuse, drug taking, cross dressing, bulimia, and bodily harm) are presented to the viewer as artistic constructs with an intrinsic shock value because they are perceived as gruesome and
Above: She Loves Dinner Parties. The Leftovers Last for Days
secretive acts revealed from a voyeuristic point of view. Nevertheless, the blurred boundaries between the private and the public stimulate the artist’s creative process, as she suggests: “Sometimes I find inspiration for my work in current events, sometimes in song lyrics. Sometimes, even the miniatures themselves can inspire an idea.” However, and very importantly, the highly sadistic and fetishist acts that take place within confined domestic settings contrast with the idea of the doll as emblematic of childhood and innocence. Furthermore, if one is to consider the doll as an educational construct whereby children can mimic, perform and understand public socialising, the fact that Clayton’s toys narrate dystopian realities and disturbed behaviours becomes even more objectionable for adults. It is at this junction of innocent connotations and socially constructed meanings that Clayton’s work, despite seemingly simple, defies expectations to its viewers. In addition, what makes the photographs engrossing on so many levels is the fact that their subjects are dolls that, in spite of being pictured with immovable smiles, have tremendous doses of emotional and physical pain inflicted on them. Suggesting that, unlike the manufactured realm of plastic contentment, Clayton’s world is not one of artificial happiness. By using plastic dolls like Barbie and Ken in constant blissful facial expressions while experiencing or inflicting torture, Clayton’s toy world reveals to adults that reality, at any age of one’s life is ultimately stripped bare of innocence.
Above: Toilet Seat Next Spread: Find the Soap
Stick it to the Ram-Man
Words by Hannah Morrison
“Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art” Andy Warhol, 1975 Ram-Man is a stocky, mean-looking figure created by Mattel as part of its Masters of the Universe (MOTU) series of toys in the early ‘80s. A lesserfeatured character in the TV series He-Man and the Masters of the Universe and even lesser-loved as a toy, to the point that he is today described as “the crappy one no one wants anyway” (Justin, 2011) Ram-Man has been all but forgotten, save for that moment when a collection needs completing. However, a new project called You Will Be Rare has recognised Ram-Man as a desirable, valuable collectable and the man behind it Jamie Moakes, is on a quest to get others to agree. Moakes is on a one-man-mission to affect the economy by cornering the market in Ram-Man figures, specifically those from 1982. He has based the reasoning of his endeavour around three principles he’s devised: 1) The Cash for Gold market’s success is fundamentally built on the mass agreement that gold is worth money. 2) Active purchasing of Ram-Man figures will create a demand in the market and scarcity which will boost selling rates and costs. 3) Ram-Man is “the crappy one no one wants anyway” and is therefore cheap and readily available in charity shops, at car boot sales and bric-a-brac stalls, and on internet auction sites. And so, Moakes has spent the last two years
buying as many Ram-Man figures from 1982 as he can. The desired outcome will be that he has created a market for the figures, inflated their price and identified a new collectable that ‘the people’ can own. There is an economic dissection to be had here and a recent blogpost on Feaknomics.com (Levitt & Dubner, 2011) has performed one such, albeit brief, analysis. However, it’s worth mentioning that Moakes approached his project with a lack of economic theory or grounding, instead building his idea on the foundations of his thoughts and perceptions. A gutsy move, but perhaps Moakes can get away with it because he’s an artist. Now before I get into this, I’m not suggesting artists have or should have carte blanche to package up whatever they want as art, and that Moakes can blag a project on economics because he’s an artist which is kind of the opposite to an economist. Rather than blagging, and in spite of his lack of economic experience, Moakes has an admirable courage in his convictions and a steely perseverance to have gone this far; at this stage of over 140 figures, Moakes has his detractors “this sounds like a huge scam and seems quite reprehensible regardless” (Spessmahreen, 2011) and he is already some way along from having only 5, 10, or 20. Perhaps Moakes isn’t as green as he first seems, or maybe he is just that sure of himself. Of course in artistic terms Moakes’ journey can easily be contextualised in the ‘Pop Art’ tradition especially where the likes of Duchamp, Warhol, and Koons are concerned. Marcel Duchamp pioneered the use of the ‘ready-made’: functional
items from everyday living appropriated and renamed in a display context to transform them into art. As with Ram-Man, Duchamp’s objects typically were mass produced; he used a urinal, a bicycle wheel, a bottle rack and a stool, each of which represented some of the most fundamental aspects of living in the society of the day. In the case of the famous urinal or Fountain as it was named, it was Duchamp’s signature which transformed this item into art. Andy Warhol was the poster boy for American Pop in the 1960s and his use of the household brands such as Campbells Soup, Brillo, and CocaCola celebrated the ‘everyday’ aspects of living and along with his works featuring portraits of Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley and even ‘America’s Most Wanted’, provided a poignant commentary on American consumerism and its culture of living. Warhol famously instigated his own method of mass-production within his artwork by favouring the silkscreen printing method of ‘painting.’ He employed assistants to support the execution of his work. Warhol’s outlook “suggested the possibility that art could be made by anybody or as a collaborative venture along the lines of commercial mass production.” (Livingstone, 1990: 78) Jeff Koons became a true art celebrity in the late 1980s with his Banality and Made in Heaven series. Much like Warhol, Koons infiltrated popular media through a billboard for Made in Heaven and advertisements for Banality in Art in America. In one of these adverts, Koons is posing as a teacher; inscribed on the chalk board behind him is the message “exploit the masses.”
Banality paved the way for Koons’ use of toys and toy imagery in his work; it included porcelain sculptures of Popples and other soft toys; his later Popeye series features aluminium recreations of vinyl inflatables. At its most basic, You Will Be Rare is another project to invest in toys as its identity, and it makes use of a ‘ready-made’ in Ram-Man figures. It explores ideas of mass-production (and exploitation of the masses) and consumerism through Ram-Man initially being produced on a mass scale, but now being collected as a mass, and the concept of their value being communicated to a mass audience with the desire of mass-agreement. However as Ram-Man is now all but forgotten, is Moakes nearly 30 years too late with his comment on popular culture? It seems that You Will Be Rare actually finds its strength in the idea that Ram-Man is our Pop of yester-year; it’s appropriating something that people remember as part of our consumerist culture. Here ‘our’ is meant in the broadest sense and encompasses everyone who lived during the ‘80s no matter how old they were or their lifestyle. This is because of the general sense of nostalgia that the iconography and tone of He-Man (the messages, plots, music, clothing design, colours and morals) evokes. You Will Be Rare has an obvious connection to adults aged 25 to 35 who remember watching the He-Man cartoon as a child, and additionally to this group’s parents, who remember their children watching the cartoon(s) and buying the toys. With the tone set, most will gather that we are dealing with a blist character from a trashy kid’s show which was
genuinely conceived as an extended toy advert. Today we tut-tut at the mass-merchandising of children’s films and TV shows; it was never like this when we were young. But (when we were young), MOTU toys actually existed before HeMan and the Masters of the Universe cartoon series. To explain, MOTU toy sales were very successful when the range was launched in 1982, so much so that Filmation the animators of some of the early adverts were commissioned by Mattel to create a 65-episode cartoon series featuring characters created from the toys. The cartoon aired in 1983. Looking beyond Ram-Man as an art object for a moment, Warhol’s feeling that art can be made as a collaborative venture along the lines of mass production, provides an interesting context for the art of acquiring each Ram-Man figure and the treatment and dissemination of You Will Be Rare. This is a project pitched for today’s consumers and makes use of the online outlets we have today for shopping and spending our leisure time. Many of Moakes’ Ram-Mans are purchased online and he uploads films onto his You Tube channel (Youtube.com/hesaidtalent) of each new acquisition. As part of the ritual, every RamMan has a number and its condition described and price stated. Curiously, after each RamMan has its moment on film, it gets added to the general pile, never to be identified by its number or provenance again; Moakes’ own childhood Ram-Man exists somewhere in the collection. Perhaps this is a subversion of the art object and a comment on its value and indeed the age old ‘What is art?’, but the more the project unfolds, the more apparent it is that this just isn’t Moakes’ bag. Whilst You Will Be Rare is an art work, Moakes’ approach and presentation of the piece, hold a more comfortable seat in the realms of collectables and what it is to be a geek. A collectable is something to covet; it’s an item of value usually monetary, but sometimes it inspires for sentimental or nostalgic reasons. I find one of the most interesting things about collectables is the cult surrounding them. There is a great deal of investment from collectors in securing the quality and authenticity of an item and knowing about the context that surrounds it’s production, distribution and in many cases, survival. There are all kinds of reasons as to why a piece might become collectable, including the materials it’s manufactured from, the reputation of the manufacturer or designer, and it’s scarcity. In the case of Ram-Man, Moakes
hasn’t ascertained exactly how many were manufactured in 1982, but it’s safe to say we are talking millions. The figure is made from a simple mould of hard plastic; it features armour, an axe, and best of all, spring action legs for ramming. Described as the human battering ram, it did just this, and many have the paint-bare heads to prove it. Ram-Man was part of the heroic team that battled the evil Skelator and despite being a goody and having awesome springy legs, RamMan is clumsier than his MOTU companions; he lacks the movement of many of the other figures in the series, he is much taller and in truth, seems out of place. Looking at the context for RamMan’s creation, distribution and survival, well Ram-Man came from a good stock; I’ve already noted how popular the MOTU series was even without the cartoon. Perhaps his main downfall was that in addition to his slightly out of place aesthetic (which the cartoon went some way to normalising by making him not as tall and physically different) he wasn’t part of the most featured characters in the series by any stretch. So in terms of his distribution and survival, one can see that Ram-Man’s place as a piece in a collection had really been his best shot, until Jamie Moakes stepped in. Now, Moakes claims no allegiance to RamMan prior to his mission to affect the economy, and it seems to baffle many as to why he chose to pursue this figure “I particularly dislike [the] RamMan figure and would gladly give mine away....” (Okydoky, 2010) His reasons conform with logic as to why a person might chose something to make rare: a) because he has a pre-existing knowledge of and interest in He-Man and MOTU and b) whilst it’s harder to make something nobody really wants, rare, it’s cheaper that trying to achieve it with something people do want. His basis is also economically sound: “One of the fundamental principles of economics is that scarcity creates value. The rarer something is, the more valuable it becomes.” (Levitt & Dubner, 2011) With well over 100 figures, Moakes is slowly on his way to achieving this and as he continues, he will no doubt get there. To deal with the fact that Ram-Man was a figure that nobody wanted, Moakes has worked hard from the beginning to communicate a fabulous enthusiasm for what he hopes to achieve. In many ways, there is an incredible paradox to You Will Be Rare in that it’s hinged entirely around Ram-Man figures, yet in so many ways it just isn’t about that at all. There is a real charm in the tension between You Will Be Rare being a joke, and a serious endeavour at the
You Will Be Rare, Image by Charlotte Brown
same time. You Will Be Rare is funny; the thought of collecting more than one of anything that is exactly the same as each other feels mildly eccentric. Moakes keeps his Ram-Mans lined up in two glass cabinets at the end of his bed in his flat and as he enthusiastically welcomes each new figure, you realise he actually lives with them. Returning to the cult of the collectable, there are endless films uploaded onto You Tube of collections, MOTU collections alone gives hours of viewing. These home-made clips meticulously take the viewer through each element of the collection including the components which make it up, and the all-important display methods employed. Moakes has used You Tube to mirror such films by documenting his Ram-Man only collection as it grows. There’s a real warmth in Moakes’ delivery and where there could have been a danger of alienating collectors, particularly MOTU fans, by parachuting in as an artist who is using others’ passions to his own end, it is diffused by his genuineness firstly towards Ram-Man and secondly to his underlying mission. You Will Be Rare is really about taking matters into your own hands. It’s David and Goliath. It’s sticking it to the man. And if you’re going to stick it to the man why not make it as fun as possible? You Will Be Rare was developed into a performative lecture which will premiere at Edinburgh Festival Fringe (August. 5 – 29, 2011) at ZOO. The project is online at www.jamiemoakes.com; twitter: @youwillberare and facebook.com/ YouWillBeRare You Will Be Rare is supported by Escalator East to Edinburgh and Arts Council England. References Justin. (2011). Comments: You Will be Rare — One man’s quest to corner the market on an action figure. [Online] June 21st 2011. Available from: http://coolandcollected.com/you-will-berare-one-mans-quest-to-corner-the-market-on-anaction-figure/#comments. [Accessed: July 7th 2011]. Levitt, S & Dubner, S. (2011). Cornering the Market...for He-Man? [Online]. June 27th 2011. Available from: http://www.freakonomics. com/2011/06/27/cornering-the-market-for-he-
man/. [Accessed: July 7th 2011]. Livingstone, M. (1990). Pop Art A Continuing History. New York: Harry N Abrams, p. 78. Okydoky. (2010). Hide Your Ram-Man Figures. [Online]. October 19th 2010. He-Man.org Message Board. Available from: http://www. he-man.org/forums/boards/showthread. php?t=198742. [Accessed: July 7th 2011]. Spessmahreen. (2011). Comments: You Will be Rare – Sponsume for our Edinburgh fringe 2011. [Online]. c. June 23rd 2011. Available: http://www. youtube.com/watch?v=OiqTWVgOXi0. [Accessed: July 7 2011].
Right: Members of “Made In China” during the sound check for their performance at InSpace, Edinburgh
Toys Revisited! Words by Eleni Kontesidou
The Unwanted Orchestra is part of the Digital Media Studio Project module at the School of Arts Culture and Environment, University of Edinburgh. The course is conceived and organised by Dr Martin Parker and assigns the students to small groups working on different project briefs. The outcome is, as the course description states, “experimental work for public exhibition/display” which usually, although not exclusively, takes the form of various installations and performances. The Unwanted Orchestra project was originally conceived by PhD candidate, Sean Williams, who wanted the group to explore the sonic abilities of second-hand, found objects along with the idea of repurposing.
Eleni Kontesidou has been involved with the Unwanted Orchestra project for two years; first as a student and then a supervisor. The aim of the Unwanted Orchestra group was to develop a strong, innovative performance through the craft of circuit-bending/hardware hacking. For this purpose, children’s toys were purchased from charity shops and car boot sales, and were relentlessly (and brutally) cracked open, banged on, experimented with, and in some cases, unintentionally destroyed. In other cases, however, beautiful and strange sounds were discovered and through their sonic exploration emerged the basis for the group’s artistic expression. The project broached not only
the subject of repurposing discarded, out-dated childrenâ€™s toys, but also their metamorphosis into artistic tools beyond the hands of a child, in the hands of adults and into the public domain (as opposed to their usual setting in private playrooms). The article explores the journey of the Unwanted Orchestra project through this transformation and analyses the symbolisms and links that emerge from using toys in an experimental, artistic context. Reed Ghazala coined the term â€œcircuitbendingâ€? in 1992 (Ghazala, 2004: 99-100) to describe the creative short- circuiting of batterypowered electronic devices, usually toys. The results of such experimentation are completely
random, characteristically unique and not likely to be repeated in exactly the same way. The new palette of sounds produced using such aleatoric processes is by default ideal for improvisational music, however it is not confined to that. Apart from musical groups that create their music using exclusively circuit- bent instruments, such devices have been utilised by a surprising number of popular musicians. For instance, musically-diverse bands like Tortoise, Beck, Nine Inch Nails, Shpongle, Tom Waits and Bloc Party (circuitbenders.co.uk forum, 2008), have experimented with circuit- bent instruments of all kinds and incorporated them both in their live shows as well as in albums.
For the ones devoted to the use of circuit- bent devices, there seems to be a common ground in terms of their ethos. The recycling and repurposing of cheap, discarded electronic devices is their way of defying the ever-expanding, massproducing industry of instruments and general music-making gadgets and computer software, leading to the construction of bespoke, unique and one-off music machines. These broken toys also share some of the features of more traditionally-constructed musical instruments, in particular, a temperamental sensitivity to context, a dislike of being moved around too much and the fact that, once “tuned”, their players develop an obsession with maintaining the tuning. Along with repurposing seemingly defunct toys, the concept of sharing the acquired knowledge and skills - every new, exciting “find”- with a wider grassroots community of like-minded individuals does likewise. Borrowing from that ethos, the Unwanted Orchestra project aspired to create sonically and visually challenging performances with an army of “made in china” bent children’s toys and no significant prior experience of electronics whatsoever. At the end of each academic year of a two year period, the project evolved and showcased a performance. Each of these two performances was based on the same general principles of lo-fi recycling and chance electronics, whilst being aesthetically unique. The first band was aptly named “Made In China” and bore a more “primitive”, unrefined style; the second, “The Bends Collective”, decided to retain certain norms of the laptop music performance. Most importantly, “Made In China” came to the decision that the use of all effects and processing should be avoided in order to adhere strictly to the lo- fi aesthetics employed by the group while at the stage of creating their instruments. The band felt that it was important to maintain a holistic approach to designing the project from start to finish, so that there is unity between theory and practice. However, the unpredictable nature of the instruments combined with the lack of processing made it hard to compose in a specific, structured way and therefore the end result was always rather improvisational and spontaneous. On the contrary, “The Bends Collective” opted for a little bit of tweaking and processing and the use of laptops along with toys, which, although they strayed away from the strict DIY ethos of circuitbending, provided the means for a more refined composition.
“In circuit- bending, “destroying” the toys is also a way of discovering what else they have to offer”
While preparing their orchestras of toys, both groups had the chance to revisit their childhood and bring back with them memories of play, interaction and the unruly desire to discover. As Baudelaire states in his essay “A Philosophy of Toys” (1995: 203) most children have “the overriding desire […] to get at and see the soul of their toys”; he then explains how, in order to do that, they sometimes destroy them completely. In circuit- bending, “destroying” the toys is also a way of discovering what else they have to offer; therefore destruction is part of the creative process. Roy Kozlovsky (2006: 4-5), discussing Baudelaire’s essay, states: “For Baudelaire, destructive play is epistemophilic, a creative, poetic act of producing knowledge through experimentation”. In communicating to the audience, the presence of toys on stage presented a clear advantage. The light, colourful atmosphere in both performances facilitated the relationship between band and audience. The audience quickly established a common code of communication with the performers on stage; instead of a music stage they saw a public playroom. The sometimes overly serious nature of academic laptop music performances was challenged and as an antithesis the nonserious, the whimsical and “childish” came into the foreground. The audience may have been reminded of their own interactions with similar electronic toys, but the sounds themselves led listeners to question whether such benign and innocent–looking toys could (or should) even make sounds as dark and playfully unintelligible as those that squawked and roared before them.
From a creative point of view, the contrast of the “dry”, built-in toy sounds with the heavily distorted, glitchy modifications, which came through during the bending process, provided the basis for a very interesting conversation. Toys and childhood, when taken out of their usual private environment (the child’s room), can seem grotesque and twisted. Childhood is not all sugar and spice; there is something sinister there too, as Professor David Hopkins of the University of Glasgow terms it “the ‘dark poetics’ of childhood” (Childish Things, 2010). Conceptually, this dialogue between the inner child and the grownup versions of the band members revealed and mirrored the transformation that the toys themselves had to undergo, to become artistic tools. Again, Baudelaire (1995: 201) proposed that “[t]he toy is the child’s earliest initiation into art”, but later, as, in his words, “maturity intervenes” toys stop giving the same satisfaction; they’re not complex enough to arouse and appease the adult’s intellect. Circuit- bending partially challenges that view. It rather quietly suggests that the artist- tinkerer go back with no preconceptions and salvage the eerie, the unnoticed subtleties from those initial attempts at artistic expression. The performers: “Made In China”- Bradley Burns, Lewis Diamond, Roberta Gatti, Alex Hahn, Christopher Heston and Eleni Kontesidou “The Bends Collective”- Jordan Craig, Clive Mitchell and Zhaocheng Xu For more information on the DMSP course please visit: http://sd.caad.ed.ac.uk/dmsp/10-11/. More about the Audio Arts Research Unit at the University of Edinburgh can be found here: http://sites.ace.ed.ac.uk/sdresearch/. References Baudelaire, C., 1853. ‘A Philosophy of Toys’. In: C. Baudelaire, The painter of modern life and other essays, 2nd ed.. Translated by J. Mayne ed., 1995. London: Phaidon, pp. 198-204. Circuitbenders.co.uk (2009) Circuit bent devices used by popular musicians/bands [Online]. Available from: http://www.circuitbenders.co.uk/
forum/index.php/topic,1305.0.html [Accessed: 23 December 2010]. Childish Things. (2010). Exhibition guide [exhibition curated by David Hopkins] Edinburgh: The Fuitmarket Gallery. Ghazala Q.R., (2004). ‘The Folk Music of Chance Electronics: Circuit-Bending the Modern Coconut’, Leonardo Music Journal, 14, pp. 96-104 [Online] Available through: JSTOR [Accessed: 22/12/2010] Kozlovsky, R., (2006). ‘The Junk Playground: creative destruction as antidote to delinquency’. In: TCSCI (Teachers College Students for a Cultural Studies Initiative), Threat-n-Youth: Cultural Studies Takes On Violence and Education, New York: Teachers College, Columbia University.
LE CRAYON DU SINGE This truly is the monkey’s toy. Phil Sawdon Monsieur Lièvre (a monkey) est sur la branche, he draws with an impotent (impuissant) pencil. His pencil is an amorous plaything in the development of drawing. AMBLE Through collaboration with The Agiad Collection and The Fictional Museum of Drawing, René Hector has developed a collection of contemporary journals and erratic rocks found in the libraries of his immense geological landscape. Sedimentary periodicals are a rich source of marks, which trace the development of Hectorian visual culture and the evolving role of the drawing practitioner and miniature audience within it. Regarded as one of the most important magazines of the period, ONE SUR FOUR includes research hearsay, exhibition reviews, allegorical nonsenses, notices, and discussion of architecture, powder and landscape gardening. Contributors have included Ada Algren, Monsieur Âne, Madame Pipe <│> Monsieur Lièvre, Jacques Taché, a donkey (Gabriel Chêne) and 6 <an> [pantomime] sheep <6Z> ONE SUR FOUR is in effect a serial thesis on the pursuit of Hectorian ‘self-culture’ and the realisation of a Department of Drawing in The Fictional Museum, with found words and readymade propositions as the irrelevant instruments. Taken from Vol. 8, No. 7, Mar, 2011 the interdisciplinary cultural study LE CRAYON DU SINGE extends the legend of The Devil’s Crayon also known as the monkey’s [impotent] pencil or amorous plaything. A ‘toy’ rediscovered in The Devils Arse, Castleton and implicated in the drawings at Winnats Pass and Rue Morgue, LE CRAYON is a romantic replica which combines equanimity, order, and proportions with play, plenitude, intuition, and impotent words. SAUCE AND SUBSTANCE Previous research has revealed that René Hector appropriated the fat (now cooled) from Monsieur Âne and messily combined it with the black allotropic material (pure graphite) and some of the hollow sticks from one of the uprooted trees (an ash) and he called it a pencil of smit. On March 18th, 1795, Madame Conté-Pipe (without a tail) received a patent for crayons artificiels – pencils produced from concoctions. The patent contains details of the components and manufacture for a set of stick materials, crayons impuissant. The first impuissant crayon, designed to emulate the graphite, was manufactured from a mixture of pulverised graphite and impotent words. All heated, rendered, pickled, dried and formed into thin sticks and pressed, prior to being entombed in wood. In 1817 Ada Algren-Conté, adopted by Madame Conté-Pipe, and then the owner of Impuissant, applied for an extension and augmentation of the 1795 patent. The augmentation of the improved paraphernalia for the manufacture of impuissant included two variations in composition: the addition of sugar to the graphite and impotent wordage in order to improve the ambiguity and the coating of impuissant with honey, liver and almonds so that the crayon would be certain to soil the reputation of whoever used it.
The 1895 Catalogue Général Impuissant lists the following product, crayon impuissant; an artificial and impotent crayon. Also available: syntax, phonology, morphology, and semantics as long rectangles, long rounds, and in pencil format, encased in wood. A loosely compacted round stick format called sauce ordinaire, velour à sauce, or crayon sauce and as a dust sold in long glass tubes called sauce extra. Four of Monsieur Lièvre’s artificial drawings in The Agiad Collection – An Allegorical Nonsense, 93keys, Line Breaks: iconography ˂br˃ and Label – were examined using X-ray Fluorescence Spectrometry and the analytical results suggest a mixture of carbon black (obtained by subjecting organic material to extreme heat) and impotent words. Analysis of these erratic drawings as well as scrutiny of a lidded rectangular box of impuissant using Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy has yet to disclose any syntax binder. Analysis of these same archival impuissant crayons using Gas Chromotography Mass Spectrometry did not recover any fat wax but identified small traces of letter forms. It has always been assumed that impuissant crayon contains a wax binder. This fallacious assumption had been made less on documentary evidence than on the appearance of impuissant as alliterative and onomatopoeic. The handling properties also suggest a binder: “clumping” in contact with paper, resistance to erasure and stumping, and a certain lack of friability. Research would therefore suggest that the impotent words in impuissant must be responsible for the characteristics attributed to the binder. Monsieur Lièvre’s drawings have been made with the round and square stick impuissant also known as le[s] crayon du singe. Lièvre’s lines vary in thickness, starting thin and becoming wider in mid-stroke. As Lièvre began to utilise an overall application of impuissant, using the flattened end of the stick would have been the most likely technique. Under magnification, we can see where Lièvre added layer upon layer of impotent words to produce areas of rich black … no paper is visible, the width of the strokes is considerable, too extensive for a wood-encased impuissant. Lièvre also enjoyed stumping, although whether he used this to apply impuissant or to move words already on the sheet is not yet palpable. Various impotent words are ‘initially’ non recognised words from Hectorian theories. ‘Initially’, as once they are type and added to a Windows dictionary (Add to Dictionary) they are recognised but not defined. Impotent (powerless) words impotently stating [asserting] something and nothing … stuff and nonsense … nothing is something of no importance … monkey business ( foolish, mischievous and advantage taking). Belief in the efficacy of le crayon du singe persists: for some this truly is The Devil’s Crayon. Research has further demonstrated that this artificial and impotent pencil is right handed and that there is also evidence that one was ripped from the pocket of a monkey while the carcass was still hanging from the gibbet during an eclipse of the moon. Subsequently the pencil was wrapped in Michallet paper, squeezed of graphite and pickled in an earthenware jar with honey, fiction and phrases. Then it was either dried in an oven with sage or laid out to dry in the sun during The Dog Days of August. When the pencil was ready, punctuation and hair were added before it was dipped in wax so that it could be lit. Sight of the burning pencil renders any onlooker speechless and powerless. Records show that artists attempt to light the pencil before commencing. If it will not light then any art may not be charmed however once the hand is alight nothing but milk will extinguish it. RETRIEVAL The original pencil was, for millions of years, lost. Local wisdom claims that it was retrieved by a rope making troglodyte searching a clearly marked Lost and Found box in the main entrance to Peak Cavern, Castleton Derbyshire underneath a sign that reads:
the Devil’f Arfe, near Cafleton, in Derbyfhire monly call’d, the Devil’f Arfe, near Cafleton, in Derbyfhire, the many of the poor Inhabitants live, is within the Arch, and reaches the firft Water which runs crofs it, as you may obferve by the fhadowed Figure ftretching in that Line. The box was conveyed from Paris in 1895. Further finds included amongst countless others: a piece of Moss from Bonaparte’s Grave, a finger of one of the brave and the bones of two gestures. All later offered to and accepted by the Literary and Philosophical Society of The Fictional Museum of Drawing. IMPLICATION AND ANECDOTE Winnats Pass is a limestone gorge to the west of Castleton. The Pass is troubled by the trace of two gestures butchered on their way. An entry in The Lost Chronicle reads as follows: Monkey business afoot with The Devil’s Crayon Two gestures came out of Seathwaite on an expedition. They were fleeced and slaughtered at a place called the Winnats, near Castleton. Their bones were found by a donkey (Gabriel Chêne) [burning a box that Jacques Taché had given him]. Monsieur Lièvre meeting them in the Winnats pulled them off their horses and dragged them into a barn and took from one of them a pencil, a crayon impuissant. Then, seizing on one, the other entreated them in a most moving manner not to draw. But he marked his throat from ear to ear. He then seized the other, and though entreating him to spare life, Monsieur Lièvre acted the pencil about a head upon which the other dropped down erased at his feet and on the second night he buried them. On the morrow Jacques Taché departed for Paris accompanied by Monsieur Lièvre who he had obtained while aground in Borneo. On their passage Monsieur Lièvre made away taking with him a crayon impuissant. Jacques Taché took upon the chase. Monsieur Lièvre in flight ascended a wall, scaled the lightning rod and entered a fourth floor apartment in the Rue Morgue through the window. He startled the occupant, Madame Hermine, who could not take up her pose whilst Monsieur Lièvre attempted to draw her, imitating Taché’s morning gestures. The sight of his open drawings impelled Monsieur Lièvre to adopt a daughter until she turned to powder. Jacques Taché dipped his pen. Monsieur Lièvre in trepidation attempted to force his drawings into the chimney. Jacques Taché shaved allowing Monsieur Lièvre to flee. On questioning, others provide contradictory accounts, claiming they overheard différance in a language that was undistinguishable. This truly is The Devil’s Crayon. MEANWHILE René Hector reads the accounts with curiosity. Authority has been credited though no substantiation exists, René is intrigued. He finds a shaving at the scene. “This is no human hair, it is a crayon impuissant!” René posts an announcement in The Lost Chronicle. Has anyone misplaced an impotent pencil? Jacques Taché takes note, offers reward and calls upon René Hector. Rene requests all the information and a drawing unfolds.
LOST In the quiet of one evening René hums: there is the smell of water weeds and fish, the hawthorn is in blossom and several white petals fall on dark water. He hears the approach of ‘BB’ and several [pantomime] sheep. In his haste he drops the pencil. There it rests silent and passive whilst the [pantomime] sheep search in the long grass under the gibbet, picking over a bone here and a feather there and examining the skull of a stoat. The others doubted this macabre behaviour until one of the sheep took up the pencil and silently began to draw … unable to encourage even a few words from the unlit pencil it was quietly regurgitated and disgorged into the Lost and Found. ANON
Torrence & Friends Words by Steve Gronert Ellerhoff
Asher clasped his five-year-old hands like a primary share holder en route to a board meeting, riding in his three-wheel stroller towards the back of the store. Arriving at the train table in time to immerse himself without the distraction of idiots each morning was an exercise in herding his mother. If he could only count the number of times he had to spur the woman, both verbally and with shinwhaps, to finish folding the laundry, to clean up breakfast, to drive, drive, drive, to hurry up with his car seat and get the stroller out of the trunk… It had happened before, them arriving seconds after the store opened to find some toddling nobody having his or her ignorant way with the little wooden trains, trains with distinct names and personalities which apparently bore no credence to anyone but Asher. Even his fool of a mom couldn’t tell them apart. For years he tried to educate her in distinguishing all eighty-six from one another but none stuck, save boy blue Torrence. His patience had waned. It was too late for her. Today the table stood unoccupied, ignored even by the redheaded clerk hung over at the adjacent wind-ups counter. “You have to go potty first?” Asher ignored her and vaulted from his stroller, making for the table’s low edge like a natural born engineer. The circuitous wooden tracks, bridges, stations, and three-stall roundhouse, encapsulated in two and a half by four feet the steam-powered Isle of Sooter, beloved by children whose parents were convinced public broadcasting rendered less damage than network TV, or, God forbid, cable. Every element existed grossly out of scale without a single human on all the island, its painted mountains attempting to mask its perfect flatness. Despite the lack of citizenry, and subsequently any need for a railway system, the trains abounded, anthropomorphized with plenty of coal to haul for hauling’s sake. Asher lowered his dimpled chin and narrowed his eyes. First thing was to place each tossed engine and derailed car back on its wheels, undoing the carelessness wrought by the last titan to hold sway over Sooter. Setting the playboard anew, as if for a game of chess, he found Mr. Harris Jefferson, patriarch of the Petticoat Pandas of Palatial Plantations, lying under the red-arched suspension bridge. Whether playing toll troll or down-n-out hobo,
he had no place on the island. Asher threw the flocked figurine hard over his shoulder. “No throwing,” Mom said into her mass market paperback. The sun had risen over the Isle of Sooter, bringing another morning like untold mornings before, and Torrence was up with it, hauling his tender with that cemented smile on his face. Elton, George, and Graham were still asleep in the roundhouse, older and stupider than him. They were rule followers, slowpoke engines low on steam in never ending need of maintenance. Yes, Torrence was the only one with any idea of how to get coal where it needed to get in a timely fashion. And so it was, up early as usual, going about his business. But there was a plot against him. The newfangled diesel engines, led by boxy Hardwicke, wanted to retire the steam engines to a school on the mainland where humans would use them to learn railway work. Torrence, who was too smart for school, was so good at his job that their every plot so far had failed. But that didn’t stop them trying. And so Hardwicke, carting a tender of dynamite that looked like coal but really was dynamite—it was dynamite with coal on top to hide it—chug-a-lugged under a bridge Torrence was about to cross and detached his load and kept going and then when Torrence sped overhead, crossing the bridge, Hardwicke exploded it! Asher wrenched the bridge section free, snapping it from its glued bond to the table. Torrence soared through the air, back flipping, the bridge crashing down under him, his tender blown clear back to China, which was on the other side of the world. And Hardwicke giggled. And Torrence, wasting no time, sounded his whistle in the special distress call. “TOOT TOOT TOOOOOOOOOT!” Luckily, Rob and Daniel, twin engines who hauled rock at Silurian Quarry, heard his cry and choo-chooed over fast as they could. They got under him and shot up their steam together to make a cloud to— Another child, spooky, in overalls with dull rings around his eyes, approached the table.
And the steam made a sort of cushion that Torrence— The spooky little kid rummaged through the train yard and picked up Finnegan, the caboose, examining his undercarriage. That Torrence— He dropped Finnegan, reached over, and took Daniel. Asher snatched Daniel out of his fool hand and the intruder, irritatingly unbothered, sidestepped closer and took Rob. “Oop!” its creepy dad sounded from above. “Looks like someone busted that bridge.” Mommy sat wearily in the one folding chair provided for weary parents and stirred the contents of her purse, plastic clacking, keys jangling. The revolting dad stooped over the table and slotted the bridge aright. Not to be upstaged by a twerp or a twerp’s dad, Asher clamped Torrence and Daniel between his fingers in one hand and grabbed Rob away, staring the little one down. “Asher. Sharing.” He transferred Rob to his full hand and cradled the three engines to his chest before making an offer. “You can be Hardwicke,” he said, nudging at the villainous, gray diesel engine. His adversary denied the fruit-bearing olive branch with an empty blink and fiddled about again with the red caboose. “How old’s your boy?” “How old are you, Asher?” The dad who needn’t exist at all was grinning at him with a mouth where each tooth was its own color, like an ear of peaches-ncream sweetcorn. The corners stretched way back, revealing bluegray metal bits of dental work. His son crabwalked along the table, shoving right in front of Asher, pausing a step before scooting on. “My boy’s three, aren’t ya, Egan?” The intruder’s attention didn’t break from the island, impervious to distraction. Oblivious to the function and habits of trains, he went to banging Finnegan upside down against the tracks. “Asher’s five.” “Oh hey! He in kindygarten?” “This fall.” “Duh, makes sense. If he were in school, he’d be in school!” Brow crossed, Asher set down Rob, then Daniel, then Torrence,
“The little one suddenly had quite the grip, no amount of tugging proving strong enough” and made for Finnegan. The little one suddenly had quite the grip, no amount of tugging proving strong enough, so he forced the caboose and the hand attached to it to the rails. Aligning the wheels with the grooves was like shoving like-poled magnets together. He pressed cruelly against the toddler’s resistance. He jerked the caboose back and forth. “It goes like this,” he threatened. He held down the spooky little baby’s hand until it slackened. Asher eased off. The tot went on rolling Finnegan back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. Set thus on cruise control, he went back to work, dismantling the bridge again and laying it on its side. “Come here often? Heh…” “He has the table and everything at home but won’t touch it,” she complained. “We have to come here.” He made himself take a breath. Torrence was still falling, falling through the air, plummeting to the fast-approaching ground. Rob and Daniel’s little steam spouts had gone up and vanished, not strong enough to catch the skythrown engine. They wheezed, watching helplessly. But Torrence— “Guess you won’t be here so much once he’s in school though.” Torrence wasn’t scared. He saw the impact coming, felt the pressure building in his tank. If he could— “Course Egan doesn’t have to go to school for another couple years.” An upside-down steam geyser blown at the exact, precise moment might soften— “Whaddaya think, Egan? Wanna take over Asher’s daily duty at the train table?” Asher dropped Torrence. Warm wetness flooded his Torrence & Friends undies, coursed down his pants legs, filling his Velcro sneakers. The usurper went back to banging Finnegan senseless, the dad to grinning his piebald corny smile, while Mom sat there, her eyes closed with migraine. His face burned, his lower lip unbuckled, and he stutter-ventilated his lungs full to capacity, his whistle set to cry. When Asher blew, clear and shrieking, the hungover clerk at the counter lifted his head, turned it the other way, and rested it down again.
The Role of Toys Within a Consumer Economy and Society Words by Veronica Manlow
Modern man, if he dared to be articulate about his concept of heaven, would describe a vision which would look like the biggest department store in the world, showing new things and gadgets, and himself having plenty of money with which to buy them. He would wander around openmouthed in this heaven of gadgets and commodities, provided only that there were ever more and newer things to buy, and perhaps that his neighbors were just a little less privileged than he. (Fromm, 1990/1955: 135)
Toys are objects which empower us to imagine, master, and redefine our world. The origin of toys is prehistoric. The first toys were made from readily available materials: rocks and sticks. Whether improvised, mass produced or customised they address a fundamental need in all humans for play. Play is important to both brain development and the attainment of physical dexterity. An important aspect in early development, toys are the instruments of play which afford the chance to explore the world and the roles that exist within it, to interact with others, to develop competencies and confidence, and to experience oneself in new ways (Ginsburg, 2007). The world toy market is estimated by NPD (2010) to be an 83 billion dollar industry. Within a capitalist market system toys are objects that create desire and shape identities. They play an important role in sustaining a system that promises happiness through consumption. For children, toys provide an initiation into, and a grounding in, the fantasy world of brands and consumption, allowing the child to begin to experience his or her self as a individual within the framework of a consumer society. For adults, toys fulfill a wish to return to a guiltless childhood in a era of excess and confusion, but this simple wish meets an unbounded consumer ethic characterised by illusion and permanent desire. In this framework toys become spectacular, expensive objects subject to the logic of fashion. Toys are at once material and immaterial. They inhabit an objective or empirical historical,
economic, social, cultural, and individual domain. Toys are material objects which exist within a world constituted by human activity and shaped by economic systems. Yet they can be said to exist within an imaginary, idealist landscape, enjoyed by liberated spirits and minds, like that of Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s (1979/1762) mythic youth, Émile. Toys reflect changing social structures and discourses of self. They are repositories of meaning and reflect institutional and individual goals. Their material, interactional and personal meanings, as objects that reinforce norms and create identities, secures their presence in global consumer society which glorifies notions of individual happiness. Anything can become a toy and a toy can become anything when fixed boundaries are removed. A doll for the Amish is a simple object: a faceless human representation meant to provide amusement within the strict boundaries of communal life. A toy solider provides the same function to a boy in the larger society. These simple forms can take on new shapes, identities and purposes aided by technology and consumer desire. A DeBeers Barbie with 160 diamonds and mini jewels, sells for $85,000. The Canturi Barbie designed by jewelry maker Stephan Canturi in celebration of the Barbie Basic Collection in Australia, sells for more than half a million dollars. Steiff, a German company, makes the most expensive Teddy bears, with a 125 year commemorative bear with fur of gold thread selling for $84,000.
Phases of Consumer Capitalism Coupled with a wide availability of goods for all budgets and preferences, marketing gradually became empowered to reach into every facet of life making the notion of the “consumer” as accepted as that of the “individual”. Gabriel Lafitte (2000) makes the point that with the triumph of capitalism it is accepted as natural, normal and inevitable to be a consumer. The glorification of individual happiness - leisure being one of its most important aspects - and its triumph over tradition and established systems of social control, open up the floodgates to selffulfillment through consumerism. Toys are the antithesis of the object possessing a clear and objective use-value, as branded objects may even be worshiped for the prestige they confer and the amusement they offer. How is it that toys gained such prominence? To answer this question we might consider the phases of marketing and consumer capitalism. The end of the 19th century is the advent of consumer capitalism. Before this time the economy was focused on manufacturing necessary products. Most consumers could only hope to satisfy their basic needs. With consumer capitalism the focus is no longer on survival, but improvement of the material conditions of life. This tendency fosters a culture of newness and change, makes the democratisation of desire possible, and privileges consumption as a means to reach happiness. The “free market” ushers in a new period of democratic freedom for the
“sovereign” individual. Paradoxically, this freedom through consumption not only brings about a break with traditional institutional structures, it offers the possibility to retreat from the public sphere, and to focus on personal gratification through new products, leisure and entertainment. Phase I of consumer capitalism can be said to begin in the1880s, extending to the Second World War (Lipovetsky, 2011). Richard S. Tedlow (1990) speaks before this time of a fragmented market which lacks an extensive system of manufacturing goods, transportation, and communication. Anonymous products, sold in bulk, and the existence of only a few nationally recognised or distributed brands can be contrasted with what Tedlow (1990) refers to, before the Great Depression of the 1930s as the “Golden Age” of brands. Eventually goods become massproduced, standardised and available at low cost to a wider audience, moving larger from the middle classes in this phase to encompass the working classes in Phase II. Packaging and branding and marketing emerge as important facets of the market that will be further refined and advanced. In about 1950, a new Phase II in the consumer economy emerged and was to last until the end of the 1970s according to Gilles Lipovetsky (2011): mass production of standardised goods with profit margins based on volume continues. A wide availability of goods coupled with a rise in wages and overall prosperity in the postwar economy creates “democratisation” in the market place. The foundations of an increased
individualism are put in place beginning in the 1950s with social movements that by the 1970s would touch the mainstream: civil rights, feminism, the sexual revolution, the environment. A new era in film, art, music and literature develops during this decade privileging individual expression and goal attainment over conformity and institutional constraints. While families in the 1950s and 1960s reused and recycled regularly within the household we see a movement toward greater levels of consumption, for example with new technologically advanced stoves that could fry, bake, broil and even self-clean, freeing up more time for leisure. Products are continually improved so that it becomes desirable to trade up to the next model or newest brand. Stephen Burwood explaining that the pace of live quickened in the 1950s, points out that “goods were increasingly sold for style, convenience and fashion rather than mere utility.” (2001: 31) Consumer choice and preference become important and advertising had to appeal to the desires of consumers. Children and teenagers have their own specific interests and increasing levels of autonomy. These developments gave rise to the third phase of segmentation where firms manufacture products that can be marketed to particular demographics. At the end of the 1970s and the beginning of the 1980s, as Lipovetsky (2011) describes it, the third phase of consumer economy was set in motion, that which he terms the “hyperconsumption society”, and sees as an intensification of modernity rather than a postmodern or entirely new beginning. The dynamic in this current society is a more intensive, hyper-individualism leading to hedonism. Lipovetsky (2006, 2011) sees a decline in the consumer’s desire for prestige and a rise in his or her search for wellbeing. Households have several televisions and telephones, women are liberated a great deal from time consuming, and children have command over their own allowances and savings. The new global economy is no longer tempered by a social ethic of hard work and deferred gratification; rather it focuses more and more on the unrestrained pursuit of happiness through acquisition of varied products and experiences. Tedlow (1993) posits “micromarketing,” as a possible fourth stage in his three phases of marketing scheme. In this phase we have an intensification of the segmentation-- targeting
“The new economy is less about stuff and more about desire”
specific consumers--aided by new technologies. Lafitte (2000) states that capitalism has transcended material objects, existing now in the important digital information realm with software, programming, and in the connections between websites and devices. “The new economy is less about stuff and more about desire” he says, explaining that even transcendent experiences have become commodities: self-development seminars and yoga vacations, for instance. Burwood (2001) highlights the importance of the revolutionary Charlie fragrance advertisement by Revlon which began to appear on television and print in 1973. Model Shelly Hack wearing male-inspired clothing designed by Ralph Lauren, appeared as an independent yet also carefree and pretty woman. The television advertisement ends with her pinching the backside of her besotted, deferential male companion. By the later 1970s, critiques of consumerism centred on its manipulation and its undermining of individuality and creativity become part and parcel of the new advertising, linking consumption to freedom, individual expression and happiness. The “hyperconsumer” in search of emotional experiences seeks authenticity, and not something “pre-packaged.” This creates a new demand on brands. Kevin Roberts (2005), CEO of Saatchi and Saatchi proposes that companies move from brands to lovemarks. He says while there was a lot of reluctance in the past to his way of thinking, serious business people today are “eager to bring more emotion, more spirit, more inspiration and, yes, more love into the way
they do business.” Juliet B. Schor (2004) points out that children as young as two begin bonding with brands. In a video on his lovemarkscampus website, Roberts speaks of lovemarks as one would of a love affair: built on mystery, sensuality, intimacy, trust. Taking the analogy of the lover to the extreme he says that a lovemark “gives itself up to the consumer” and is “owned by consumers,” and not by managers or companies. Roberts cautions businesses: lovemarks are themselves mobile and they are not irreplaceable, so in order to remain relevant they need to become “irresistible.” The once sacred brand, revered by an adoring consumer has been displaced from its altar, and the marketplace is subject to its own logic: appraised, judged and perhaps finally condemned by consumers. The feedback loop created by the new consumer and by marketing is an infinite regress. The “hyperconsumer” searches for happiness and fulfilment, creating demand for new products in every sector from the profane to the sacred. New products and experiences are provided, containing within them the promise of happiness, which in turn fuels more consumption. This materialist search for happiness does not seem to yield what the consumer seeks. People have more anxieties than in the past, or perhaps one could say that basic human anxieties have intensified and grown more complex. The remedy is sought in the marketplace, and not vis-a-vis traditional forms of solidarity. Witness the explosion of the therapeutic and self-help industries dealing with problems ranging from “bikini” hair removal to executive coaching. Yet dissatisfaction with one’s self, one’s body, and one’s spiritual, personal and professional life seems to only intensify. Children, of course, are a part of the vast consumer culture; the current generation are the recipients of more direct marketing than any of their predecessors (Linn 2004). Schor (2004) and Linn (2004) are amongst several researchers who speak of the commercialisation and subsequent corporate exploitation of children and childhood itself. Through a variety of research methods they point to an infiltration of the consciousness of children by a proliferation of advertisements online and in traditional media, and in places formerly off limits such as schools and public spaces, and through guerilla marketing techniques. Jyotsna Kapur (2005) studies the particular case of movies as a means of constructing the new consumer generation.
The Relationship of Toys to Phases of Consumer Capitalism Richard O’Brien (1990) tracing the history of American toys, shows us how they are shaped by social, political, and technological changes encountered in each era. He considers toys as personal, communal and commercial objects. It was in the early 1700s that American children began to enjoy commercially-produced toys thanks to their parents’ financial security. By the early 1800s, tin soldiers, horses and other animals were manufactured as were dolls with heads made of rubber. By the late 19th century, toys reflecting America’s industrial progress, such as miniature airplanes and locomotives, were popular (O’Brien, 1990). Clockwork and steam powered toys were manufactured for children of the wealthy. Cast iron banks often featuring caricatures of African Americans, Irish or Chinese were popular. While boys played with military, industrial and shooting toys, girls played with dolls, doll clothing, doll houses, and miniature kitchen objects, mirroring women’s exclusion from the civil and industrial sphere. While many American children played with homemade toys (wagons made of spare lumber or cloth dolls) by 1875, department stores had entire sections devoted to toys, beginning with Macy’s. With the emergence of electricity, the Novel Electric Company of Philadelphia introduced electric toys in 1883 (Shrock, 2004). The 1920s ushered in an era where many Americans enjoyed affluence and people of modest means had goods at their disposal which before were out of reach. Toy cars, motorcycles, and trains, particularly electric trains, were most popular as were toy airplanes. In the 1930s and 1940s, toy soldiers became widely available at all price-points, explains O’Brien (1990). While the higher priced toy marked suffered during the depression, the lower priced market remained stable. Gary Cross (2001) points out that children born before the 1960s had few toys and they were received on special occasions such as a birthday or Christmas. It was rare for a child to select his or her own toy and when this happened it was with money long saved from a job or allowance. Toy stores today have become warehouses frequented by experienced consumers. The shopping cart replaces the knowledgeable shopkeeper who patiently counseled customers on making the wisest choice. A comment posted
by a woman cleaning out her basement of “10 bags of broken crap toys” is discussed on blog in terms of the impact that this excess garbage has on the environment (Gates 2010). Cross (2007) thinks something more than faulty parts is wrong with Mattel’s 2007 recalled toy list. Why are there 56 Polly Pockets sets, including a “lipgloss studio” set? He says that toys “serve little positive purpose other than to teach children to be good consumers.” Cross cautions that children are learning about fashion and consumerism through toys; they are not developing critical judgment. One can see this push for more, better and different toys, resulting from the malaise brought about by the idea that products can create happiness. Cross’ analogy of toys being the vehicle for a consumer in training, is powerful. Toys are a microcosm of the personal consumer landscapes that one day each child, ideally, will create on a larger scale through the purchase of cars, boats, homes, clothing, vacations and all varieties of personalised services. How did we get to this point of prepping children for consumer life by offering them a vast and constantly expanding repertoire of toys, drawn upon often by adults themselves? Cross (2004) illustrates how in the early 20th century two competing notions of childhood innocence were resolved; the older idea of “protected innocence” lost to the newer idea of “wondrous innocence.” The notion of the “cute” child who should be adored, given lavish birthday parties, have holidays geared toward him or her, engage in amusing experiences year round, and be showered with gifts, he says, provided an escape to adults from their otherwise rational world. At present, we find a situation in which, he argues, children outwit and even mock their adult guardians, aided by the ever-ready commercial forces which provide them with sexualised, violent and decidedly anti-cute toys, games, movies, music, comic books and experiences. It might be argued that the moment has passed for protecting children from the nefarious goals of advertisers. One might speak rather of changing the collective conscience of the society. Toys play an important role in American history, in the rise of the consumer market, and in today’s climate of excess characterised by a desire for unchecked consumption. The boundaries between commercial, public and private spaces have eroded and consumption infiltrates all sectors of life, occurring everywhere
and at all hours of the day and night: at airports, rail stations, street vendors in front of stores, popup stores, and online. Toys are important objects within this new frenzied pattern of consumption because they address the satisfaction of the libidinal impulses that underlie the explosive growth of the global marketplace. This drive for happiness through total self-indulgence gives rise to the turbo-charged consumer marketplace, and makes toys coveted objects within such a framework; no longer confined to childhood, but amongst people of all ages, toys memorialise the urge for fun, escapism and creativity, and allow for a currency by which a personal identity and social status can be displayed. The world has been reshaped and reconfigured to such an extent that the interconnected devices that link us to the consumer world are an extension of the self: these networks represent the world we inhabit and interact with, and to a degree, reflect the place of our own choosing within this complex system. Toys are a manifestation of the consumer reality created by and sustained by individuals who are at once enchanted and disenchanted by its offerings.
References Burwood, S. (2001). Advertising and consumerism. In: Khan, V. B. ed. Beacham’s Encyclopedia of Social Change: America in the Twentieth Century. Osprey, FL: Beacham Publishing, pp. 1-46. Cross, G. (2001). Kids’ stuff. Toys and the changing world of American childhood. Cambridge, London: Harvard University Press. Cross, G. (2004). The cute and the cool: Wondrous innocence and modern American children’s culture. Oxford University Press. Cross, G. (2007). ‘Toys for saps’. Op-Ed. The New York Times, [online] (last updated on 16 Sep. 2007) Available at: < http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/16/opinion/16cross. html> [Accessed on 5 July 2011]. Fromm, E. (1990/1955). The sane society. New York: Henry Holt and Company. Gates, A. (2010). ‘Where do your kid’s toys go to die? Children, consumerism, toys and trash’. CrunchyDomesticGoddess [blog] 10 January, Available at: http://www.crunchydomesticgoddess.com [Accessed 6 July 2011]. Ginsburg, K. R. and the Committee on Communication and the Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Heath, (2007). ‘The importance of play in promoting healthy child development and maintaining strong parentchild bonds’. American Academy of Pediatrics, 119(1) pp. 182-191. Kapur, J. (2005). Coining for capital: Movies, marketing, and the transformation of childhood. Piscataway, NJ: Rutgers University Press. Lafitte, G. (2000). ‘Could we live perfectly well without money?’ Public Forum Melbourne Town Hall. [online] 15 September, Available at http://www.ethicalpolitics.org/ seminars/lafitte.htm [Accessed 02 July 2011]. Linn, Susan E. (2004). Consuming kids: The hostile takeover over childhood. New York: New Press. Lipovetsky .G. (2006). Le boneur paradoxal: Essai sur la société d’hyperconsommation. Paris: Gallimard. Lipovetsky, G. (2011). ‘The hyperconsumption society’. In: Ekstom, K. M. and Glans, K., eds., Beyond the consumption bubble. New York, London: Routledge, pp. 25-36. The NPD Group, Inc. (2010). World toy sales in 2010 were $83.3 Billion, an increase of nearly 5 percent Over 2009. [online] Available at http://www.npd.com/press/releases/ press_110620.html [Accessed 01 July 2011]. O’Brien, R. (1990). The Story of American Toys. Abbeville Press: New York. Ogata, A. F. (2004). ‘Creative playthings: Educational toys and postwar American culture’. Winterthur Portfolio, Vol. 39, No. 2/3 (Summer/Autumn), pp. 129-156.
Roberts, K., (no date). What is a lovemark? Video. O.58 minutes. [online] Available at http://www. lovemarkscampus.com/teaching-module-1-download/ Roberts, K. (2005). ‘The law of love’. CriticalEYE. [online] 01 March, Available at http://www.lovemarkscampus.com/ teaching-module-1-download/ Rousseau, J.-J. (1979/1762). Émile. Trans. Allan Bloom. New York: Basic Books. Schor, J.B. (2004). Born to buy: The commercialized child and the new consumer culture. New York: Scribner. Shrock, J. (2004). The gilded age. Westport, CT, London: Greenwood Press. Tedlow, R. S. (1990). New and improved: The story of mass marketing in America. New York: Basic Books. Tedlow, R. S. (1993). ‘The fourth phase of marketing: The history of marketing and the business world today’. In: Tedlow, Richard S. and Jones, G., eds., The rise of fall of mass marketing. London: Routledge Press. Thorstein V. (1902). The theory of the leisure class: An economic study of institutions. New York: Macmillan.
The Adventures of Nigel Doll Words by Rose Cooper-Thorne
Nigel Grimmer’s autobiographical art project Nigel Doll was dreamt up whilst travelling alone through America last year , with no one to take photos of him in front of various landmarks. ‘While in California I had a toy company sculpt several models of my head which I could put onto the bodies of existing male dolls.’ Nigel Doll then got held up in front of various sites on the trip, and a small album of his adventures was produced. Grimmer often uses toys in his art projects as a way to ‘lure the viewer into my images with the use of objects from popular culture.’ Nigel Doll has since developed and begun to help Nigel the man to fill in the holes in his reality. ‘I’ve used the doll to recreate images that were missing from my family album, he recently appeared in a graduation photo that I gave to my parents...I felt guilty that I never attended my own ceremony.’ And for the next part of the project? He will begin to fulfil fantasies- ‘Nigel Doll is going to meet Andy Warhol in his factory...then he’s going to play guitar in Culture Club, supporting Boy George.’ The use of basic photographic techniques and the utilisation of easily found props have inspired a number of copy-cat projects from other artists. The easy replication of the images is however part of the appeal for Grimmer, who has even incorporated these homage’s into the project ‘if people choose to extend or join my albums I add their images to a page on my website called “I could have done that”.’ The act of pulling off a doll’s head and replacing it with a version of his own recalls the Agent Smith character in The Matrix - ‘you never know where he’s going to pop up; he could become anyone. The old family album rules don’t apply to him anymore; he a free agent...’ ‘After that, I understood the rules, I knew what I was supposed to do, but I didn’t. I couldn’t. I was compelled to stay, compelled to disobey. And now, here I stand because of you...Because of you, I’m no longer an Agent of this system. Because of you, I’ve changed. I’m unplugged. A new man, so to speak. Like you, apparently, free.’ Agent Smith - The Matrix
Nigel Grimmer lives and works in London. He is a lecturer in Photography and Video Art at the University of Bedfordshire. Nigel Doll will next appear in the exhibition Time’s Relentless Melt at Charlie Dutton Gallery, 1a Princeton Street, London, WC1R 4AX from 27 Oct- 12 Nov 2011. www.nigelgrimmer.com
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The Toys issue of Stimulus Respond, Autumn 2011. Cover by Lutz.