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[P]
Socialist art in IT marketing

By Boldra in Culture
Fri Aug 17, 2001 at 12:26:51 PM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)
Culture

Marketers of Technology are turning to cold war socialist and communist images to promote their products. Associations are particularly strong in the open source community, but larger, older companies are following the trend.


Compare the glorified, muscular Dutch Worker with the hammer-wielding red-aproned glorified workers of the Activestate website.

It's a renaissance in socialist and communist art in the high-tech sector. In stark contrast to the 3d animated gifs which abounded in the late 90s, today websites are turning to thick lines, flat colours and artistic styles which haven't been popular since the early days of colour printing.

Not only style, but content is tending toward older socialist designs. Is it accident that the hammer, symbol of labour, also appears in the OSDN (open source development network) sourceforge site? The factories in the background of the Mozilla homepage may be homage to the cathedrals of the workers.

Red Hat, perhaps making an intentional link to the red flag, uses red extensively throughout it's packaging and promotion. Again the poster-style of large areas of solid colour is used. The Anti-Microsoft site KMFMS (kein mitleid für MicroSoft) has helped popularise artists like Brute. Brute's style combines elements of poster-printing of the 40s and 50s with comic art and wartime imagery.

The links are obvious even in more traditional companies. Notice the heroic poses of the characters adorning the cisco web site. It's difficult to miss the similarities to this Russian propaganda poster. Throughout the cisco site, the heroic poses of The defenders of Sebastapol are echoed.

Perhaps this interest indicates a new interest in socialist principles; a revolution lead by the technologically elite. On the other hand, this may be an example of one culture absorbing another as the rubble of communism in Europe and Russia is absorbed into western aesthetics.

An illustrated version of this story can be found on my website, boldra.com

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Related Links
o Dutch Worker
o Activestat e
o sourceforg e
o Mozilla homepage
o packaging and promotion
o KMFMS
o Brute
o cisco web site
o this Russian propaganda poster
o The defenders of Sebastapol
o boldra.com
o Also by Boldra


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Socialist art in IT marketing | 42 comments (37 topical, 5 editorial, 0 hidden)
Its Aesthetics Only... (4.00 / 6) (#1)
by tomte on Fri Aug 17, 2001 at 06:59:55 AM EST

...Im afraid.
 
I admire the works of Rodchenko a lot. I assume his view on art, promotion and architecture is the major influence in all the works you cited.
 
I would say that thats it: It is an appealing style; it was art for the masses, it appealed masses, its naturaly that its used to sell things to the masses.
--
Funny. There's a brightness dial on the monitor, but the users don't get any smarter.
CodeWarrior ... (3.16 / 6) (#3)
by anewc2 on Fri Aug 17, 2001 at 07:45:41 AM EST

... (not an open-source company) has been doing this for years.

Someone did once tell me to get a life, but due to a typo, I got a file instead.
An interesting thought: (4.20 / 10) (#6)
by Kugyou on Fri Aug 17, 2001 at 08:00:54 AM EST

A friend of mine were having a discussion about the comeback of "propaganda poster"-style art, especially in the software world, a couple days back. One point that we brought up, that neither of us had thought about before hand, was this: In those old posters, who is being depicted? The "real working man", the man working himself to the core for what he thinks is right. But also, to be more specific, a blue-collar worker. Kinda gives the impression that only the manual labor workers are the real proletariat, the real working class, and the real "common man". Thus enters the rebirth of the style in the white-collar sector. Displaying the men (and women) who write the software for communications between two computers in the same light as the ones who manufactured or laid the cables between them, it almost speaks of a "tech sector solidarity" - the knowledge and admittance that each part cannot have value without the other. At least, that's what I think.


-----------------------------------------
Dust in the wind bores holes in mountains

The new proles? (4.00 / 1) (#36)
by scorchio on Tue Aug 21, 2001 at 11:21:13 AM EST

One point that we brought up, that neither of us had thought about before hand, was this: In those old posters, who is being depicted? The "real working man", the man working himself to the core for what he thinks is right. But also, to be more specific, a blue-collar worker. Kinda gives the impression that only the manual labor workers are the real proletariat, the real working class, and the real "common man".

It's an interesting point. In Dublin (where we're coming down from an IT boom), it was precisely the old artisan dwellings (built for Victorian factory workers) that were colonised by IT workers. Programmers and web designers were living in small red-bricked two-up two-down houses with a flushable toilet tacked on as an afterthought. The average dimensions of a back garden were ten feet by four feet.

I got to thinking that we were the 'new economy' proletariat, living in the same houses as the old ones.

[ Parent ]

We expected this of course. (3.27 / 11) (#7)
by elenchos on Fri Aug 17, 2001 at 08:09:39 AM EST

With the collapse of capitalism as a viable factor in the New Economy, and the the failure of the lame duck Bush presidency, it is no coincidence that the identity and will of the people would first appear in the art of the successors the monied former masters of computer culture, vanguard to an age of freedom from the tyrrany of property. Social Realism isn't just a genre of art; it is the only true Art, unadulterated by the sociopathic motives of greed and ambition for power that pervades the artifacts of the corporate patriarchal empire.

As the means of distribution of creative works slips free from the grasp of the CEOs and spreads to the masses, you can look forward to seeing more of this. But don't be surprised at the retrograde backlash as the last remnants of the old guard claw for one last day of despotic rule. Count on violence, at least from the usual reactionary suspects, but don't doubt the ultimate outcome.

Among the effeminite soft-handed geeks whose short-lived moment of glory is ending before our very eyes, you will see not violence, but the mewling of milk-fed victimologists, whose Big Lie is that they are the real, and only, ones who are oppressed. Like the last hurrah of the hopelessly outclassed Bush Administration, this will be a demise that will be both sickening in its pathos and hilarious in its absurdity.

Save me a seat.

Adequacy.org

Welcome to the 21st Century tovarisch... (2.87 / 8) (#11)
by WombatControl on Fri Aug 17, 2001 at 09:30:20 AM EST

With the collapse of capitalism as a viable factor in the New Economy, and the the failure of the lame duck Bush presidency, it is no coincidence that the identity and will of the people would first appear in the art of the successors the monied former masters of computer culture, vanguard to an age of freedom from the tyrrany of property. Social Realism isn't just a genre of art; it is the only true Art, unadulterated by the sociopathic motives of greed and ambition for power that pervades the artifacts of the corporate patriarchal empire.

First of all, capitalism is alive and well, thank you very much. The Great Internet Die-Off was no surprise to someone who understands how markets adapt. It's simple supply and demand, too many companies offering too many services that no one wants equals a lot of dead companies. No surprise their. Oh, and Bush enjoys an approval rating equal to or greater than Clinton did at a similar point in his presidency, and has pushed through a large part of his legislative agenda. I would hardly call that a failure.

Second of all, Soviet Socialism is the most singularly psychopathic, greedy, and power hungry system that has ever blightened this planet. Any system that is used to justify the mass starvation of millions of Ukrainians and the intellectual and culture extermination of hundreds of cultures and individuals is hardly the socialist utopia that you imply.

Among the effeminite soft-handed geeks whose short-lived moment of glory is ending before our very eyes, you will see not violence, but the mewling of milk-fed victimologists, whose Big Lie is that they are the real, and only, ones who are oppressed. Like the last hurrah of the hopelessly outclassed Bush Administration, this will be a demise that will be both sickening in its pathos and hilarious in its absurdity.

The Berlin Wall fell. Glastnost and perestroika caused Communism in the Soviet Union to fall. Deng Ziaoping endorsed people getting rich. Even Cuba is flirting with free enterprise in certain situations. Communism is quite dead, thank you very much. Those still saying that capitalism will fall are like those Japanese soldiers that were trapped on a deserted island thinking that World War II was still going on. Capitalism won the Cold War... freedom won the Cold War. Wake up to the times.



[ Parent ]
Why... (3.66 / 6) (#12)
by elenchos on Fri Aug 17, 2001 at 09:43:02 AM EST

...do you keep saying "Thank you very much?" What does that phrase mean in this context, anyway? I've wondered about that for a very long time.

I don't know how to reply to the rest of what you posted. What is the relavence of the Soviet Union to this? Who even mentioned the Soviet Union? You do realize that the topic was art, right?

Adequacy.org
[ Parent ]

Hard to translate... (none / 0) (#26)
by dgwatson on Sun Aug 19, 2001 at 05:07:49 PM EST

Since it's an idiom, it's difficult to convey the exact meaning, but it's mainly just used to emphasize the preceding sentence. You might read it as "Communism is dead, in case you didn't know." "Thank you very much" doesn't really mean anything, it's just used for effect.

I guess it's just a regional thing... it's used quite a bit here in Ohio. I don't know about other places.

[ Parent ]
It's sort of like shouting, then. (4.00 / 1) (#31)
by elenchos on Mon Aug 20, 2001 at 06:16:43 AM EST

Or banging your fist on the table, or just saying "So there!" It expresses how certain you are that you're right, but doesn't contain any information beyond that. I've always interpreted it as meaning "I've run out of arguments, but I have to say something, so I'll fill up the space with these words." The result is therefore a weaker position, because it suggests you believe X based on faith. The oppostite would be someone who does not want to believe X at all, but is forced against their will to believe it by the overwhelming weight of the facts. Someone in that situation would not say "thank you very much," I think.

Someone must have traduced Joseph K., for without having done anything wrong, he was arrested one fine morning.
--Franz Kafka
[ Parent ]

Thank you very much! (none / 0) (#33)
by greycat on Mon Aug 20, 2001 at 10:35:31 AM EST

I'm Ohioan too. The phrase "thank you very much" comes in two flavors, depending on the mood of the person using it -- it can either be a flat monotone which is used to mean something like "go away", or it can just drip with sarcasm. In the latter usage, it's usually obvious: "Oh, I really wanted to get a speeding ticket today! Thank you very much!"



[ Parent ]
Re: We expected this of course (4.00 / 1) (#23)
by andrewhy on Sat Aug 18, 2001 at 01:14:20 AM EST

LOL!!! How ridiculously leftist and ostentatious this is! Funny that this would appear after an article regarding the submergence of communist-era propaganda art in high-tech! Seriously though, have you ever thought of writing propaganda?

Oh, i guess I wasn't paying attention. You just did.

If "Noise" means uncomfortable sound, then pop music is noise to me -- Masami Akita, aka "Merzbow"
[ Parent ]

You are so wrong (2.11 / 9) (#8)
by attosecond on Fri Aug 17, 2001 at 08:22:18 AM EST

just one example, communists did not invent the red color and we all know where the term "red hat" comes from









The point of advertising (3.71 / 7) (#10)
by jabber on Fri Aug 17, 2001 at 09:10:27 AM EST

Let's stop a minute and think about this.. What is the point of advertising?

It is not to sell a product, that's merchandising. Advertising is about spreading awareness of an idea, it's about tossing memes into as many heads as possible.

The old Socialist, Fascist, Communist and Imperialist (the US had it's own war-time posters you know) were effective at polarizing large groups of people to think a certain way. A great deal of thought went into pushing just the right buttons for the time.

Can you blame the advertisers for trying to recycle something that has been shown to work? "A good programmer writes code, a great programmer steals code" is the old addage.. It also applies that a 'good advertizer has good ideas, a great advertizer uses existing good ideas' - it's simple efficiency, though it feels a bit dirty, like not writing your own routine, cutting and pasting someone elses instead. ;)

Yes, new novel ideas for advertisements are more entertaining to look at, like the Bud frogs, or Waaaazzaaaap! or the Coke polar bears... But after the novelty wears off, they're forgetable. Some things, which are pretty archetypal, are perfect for advertising, even though they seem old and worn out. That is what ad execs are trying to find, the perfect ad..

And you know what? We are here talking about the ads of these companies, our awarness of the companies and their products is increasing.. The ad campaign is working.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"

The point of advertising is to promote untruths (5.00 / 1) (#18)
by bediger on Fri Aug 17, 2001 at 05:18:02 PM EST

Yeah, that's correct: advertising promotes untruths. Ads don't promote falsehoods, at least not falsehoods easy to put your finger on. We've got truth-in-advertising laws here, we're a civilized society, after all. Ads promote things that are not true. Sort of like how 0, 1, 2, 3... are non-negative, ads are untruthful.


-- I am Spartacus.
[ Parent ]
How so? (3.00 / 1) (#27)
by jabber on Sun Aug 19, 2001 at 07:16:09 PM EST

You make a bold statement, and you get rated highly for it, but it really isn't worth the rating if you do not back up your opinion (and that's all it is) without some substantiation.

Note that I am not disagreeing with you. In a certain perspective, what you say may be true. But, it's a bold claim. On what grounds do you feel comfortable making it?

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

If I Ever Make A Company... (none / 0) (#29)
by snowlion on Mon Aug 20, 2001 at 05:03:33 AM EST

...I will strive to market whatever I make as responsibly and truthfully as possible.

Can't be done? I don't agree; It worked for Philip Greenspun, it can work.

I think you just have to be willing.


--
Map Your Thoughts
[ Parent ]
Inside joke... (3.00 / 7) (#14)
by Signal 11 on Fri Aug 17, 2001 at 11:18:06 AM EST

Remember folks, when you post to a website like Kuro5hin, you're not just supporting the tech community, you're posting for FACISM! =)


--
Society needs therapy. It's having
trouble accepting itself.
When you pirate mp3s... (4.00 / 4) (#16)
by Duke Machesne on Fri Aug 17, 2001 at 11:56:45 AM EST

you're downloading Communism,

but when you pay for mp3s, you're rockin' out with The Man!

__________________________________________________
arts schoolsweight loss
[ Parent ]

Not the first time this has been noticed... (4.00 / 6) (#15)
by Hizonner on Fri Aug 17, 2001 at 11:33:52 AM EST

I should let somebody who has direct and detailed knowledge of this, or at least who remembers it clearly, post this... but they won't, so I will.

Once upon a time, I worked for Cisco, and I was talking to a Marketing person about the then-relatively-new advertising artwork. They said that they'd taken a lot of the literature to some show in eastern Europe, maybe even in the FSU, and people were coming up to them and saying, "No, really, we're not like that any more".

That said, all you're looking at here is an aesthetic trend. Some artist thought this stuff was kewl. The people who draw it may or may not know that it resembles the old "people's art". The people who approve and select it are less likely to. And none of them are making a political statement... they're just picking up a style they like.

For that matter, you can find similar style on artwork for Ayn Rand books... it has ideological overtones, but it's more about Human Heroism or some such thing than it is about socialism, and to some degree it's just period.

It goes in and out of style (4.25 / 4) (#17)
by spacejack on Fri Aug 17, 2001 at 05:10:38 PM EST

Check this out. This is a relief scupture on the Toronto Stock Exchange building, built back in the 20's or 30's.

Plus it's hardly surprising that artists will pick up on it. a) Very appealing imagery, regardless of your political stance, b) You learn about it in art school, and since it's a slightly lesser-known style, people are often inspired to use it as a creative springboard.

It also doesn't occur in all that much advertising unless you're looking for it; i.e., it never seems to fully saturate the media (like e.g. metallic gleaming, spinning logos). So you can bring it back every 10 years or so without making the old folks shudder.

And if you're an underdog (like RH or lots of other Linux companies) you often go for the "revolutionary" style. Note that the higher-up the corporate ladder you go, the more de-fanged the imagery becomes.

BTW the Brute images on KMFMS.com site were first popularized (or at least to me) on the KMFDM album covers from 10 or so years prior (and if it isn't completely obvious, KMFDM supposedly meant "Kill Mother Fucking Depeche Mode", so you can guess what KMFMS would mean).

KMFDM (4.40 / 5) (#22)
by Keepiru on Fri Aug 17, 2001 at 09:00:55 PM EST

To go on a tangent:

Actually, no, it's not a commentary about Depeche Mode. That slogan HAS appeared onstage occasionally, but the official acronym is:

Kein Mitleid Fur Die Mehrheit

(Vaguely, "No pity for the majority".)

$0.02.

--Keepiru
--slashsuckATvegaDOTfurDOTcom


[ Parent ]
KMFDM (none / 0) (#34)
by ecki on Mon Aug 20, 2001 at 08:21:27 PM EST

I though it was meant to be Kylie Minogue Fans Don't Masturbate ;)

[ Parent ]
Technically inaccurate art (3.20 / 5) (#19)
by jms on Fri Aug 17, 2001 at 05:39:15 PM EST

Anyone else notice the problem with this painting?

The workers are building a power transmission tower, but instead of using the insulators to insulate the power lines from the tower, they have assembled them so as to insulate the line segments from each other.

In other words, their power line will not work. Perhaps they are actually heroically depicted counterrevolutionary saboteurs.

No, power-lines are OK (5.00 / 1) (#24)
by phliar on Sat Aug 18, 2001 at 01:18:02 AM EST

Anyone else notice the problem with this painting?

The workers are building a power transmission tower, but instead of using the insulators to insulate the power lines from the tower, they have assembled them so as to insulate the line segments from each other.

No, that painting is fine. The conductor can be suspended from the pylon with an insulator, or two ends of the cable can be anchored to the pylon with insulators (as in the picture), with a short length of cable connecting the two conductors. Since the painting is supposed to represent the building of infrastructure, and men are working on the pylon, it is reasonable to assume that they have not yet attached the short link.

(If the power cable takes a large turn at the pylon, you will notice this style being used - I suspect that if the cable is suspended by an insulator, it will swing too close to the pylon.)


Faster, faster, until the thrill of...
[ Parent ]

Isn't this blown out of proportions? (3.25 / 8) (#20)
by Rainy on Fri Aug 17, 2001 at 07:21:22 PM EST

Let's look at your examples:
1. activestate - yep, looks commie. No complaints here.
2. You point mozilla to mozilla.com which isn't working, but in banner at mozilla.org you can see some factories on red background.. but that's got nothing to do with commie art, it's all about godzilla destroying power plants and such. In godzilla 2000 movie, for instance, godzilla comes out to *specifically* destroy power plants. I don't remember the ridiculous justification the movie gave, but that's what godzilla did.
3. Red hat - red is in the company's name, it's natural that they use it! And I seriously doubt the name was picked for commie connections, because Fedora has *nothing* to do with communism. Except maybe that Fedor is a typical russian first name, but that's it. 4. KMFMS - no comment, but that's very different from other examples, it's not a commercial entity, is it?
5. Cisco's workers - to me they look like typical businessmen installing a network, with ties and white shirts and slackers. Also, heroic poses can be seen anywhere, that famous Americans installing a flag on pacific island photo, greek statues, etc.. Why did you chalk it up to commies? That's just plain ridiculous.
6. And finally - sourceforge. It's a *forge*, so hammer is on-topic. Also, commie imagery never used hammer *alone*, they always crossed it with that instrument, I don't know how it's called in english, but it's "serp" in russian. The combination is called "serp i molot" in russian - "serp and hammer".

How do I know all this? I was raised in Russia and I saw this hideous art everywhere - stamps, building walls, school posters, TV, greeting cards, books, textbooks, and so on. It was very traumatizing.

So, to sum up: a company called activestate used art that recalls classic soviet "construction workers" art. We must immediately notify authorities and post on k5 :P.
--
Rainy "Collect all zero" Day

Good points (1.75 / 4) (#30)
by Boldra on Mon Aug 20, 2001 at 05:26:45 AM EST

2. I think they look like factories, not power stations.
3. There's a LOT of red on the redhat site. Compare with redskins or red cross.
4. KMFMS may not be commercial, but it still does IT marketing. (They look pretty commercial to me anyway)
5. Ok, Maybe I'd better elaborate with the cisco workers: They are off-balance (as though in a struggle), they are squinting into the light, and they are in primary colours. These characteristics come through in a lot of socialist art. Also you might like to look at a cisco box.
6. But why not have a picture of a forge? Or an anvil? Why connect with physical "blue collar" work at all?

English for serp is 'sickle', and I haven't seen one used in IT marketing yet, but I'll let you know if I do! :)




- Boldra
[ Parent ]
Not convinced :P (5.00 / 1) (#35)
by Rainy on Tue Aug 21, 2001 at 02:52:52 AM EST

mozilla - Why? It looks just like one of those power stations that, you know, burn up oil.

redhat- Is there too much red? On the front page, I see one brown stripe at the top, a red stripe down from it and 2 photos (or drawings) or red distro boxes. Any less red would not play with the company's name at all. Redskins are not red, indians are bronze-colored, and red cross probably doesn't want to make too many associations with blood.. Again, the fedora that features prominently on RH site is about as far from socialist art as it could be :P

I looked at the KMFMS site this time and it looks closer to american 50s art than to socialist art. First, there's no red color; no factories; no workers; there is a penguin with a bat..

Cisco - I don't really understand the off-balance, squinting into the light and primary colors bit.. The only connection I see is that they look like people who are doing physical work and exerting effort, and that's only natural 'cause you know, they have to differentiate from microsoft and such.. They make networks and installing them is physical labor..

Forge - either forge or anvil would associate with soc-art just as well. And what else could the draw? An editor? A computer (now that's a novel idea)?

I think there IS an interesting change going over web design, but you totally miss it's causes. Think about it.. a few years back it was all neat little lines and shades and photoshop effects and such, 3d stuff thrown here and there, the ubiqutous Earth picture *cringe*. There were 2 problems: 1. to improve on that, you need a lot of bandwidth. High-quality art of that sort tends to grow bigger and bigger, and resolution has to be fairly high, and the other problem is that it's just too easy to make. If you hire razorfish or someone who makes a site for you for $100k, and it doens't look all that different from some kid's quake clan site, that's just not cool. Solution: 50s-style art - you have to know how to draw, perhaps do some work on paper, then scan it in, do some more work in photoshop, and it'll look professional and different from all those overphotoshopped clan pages, and it will be small at the same time, gifs do a great job at compressing solid-color art. So, the real reason for this connection is simply that people who were drawing posters in 50s in USSR didn't have photoshop. USSR art was all alike because it's easier to draw the same thing in the same style over and over again, and government commissions didn't care about originality - in fact, they probably felt safer if it looked like tried and true design..
--
Rainy "Collect all zero" Day
[ Parent ]

with fangs (4.16 / 6) (#21)
by spacejack on Fri Aug 17, 2001 at 07:35:12 PM EST

Hey, I pulled an old book off the shelf, long out of print, called "Art of the October Revolution". If you want to see some of the real deal, I made a few quick scans that will give you some less sanitized samples to look at.

I think it's safe to say that RH, ActiveState, Cisco & all using it for style alone.

You know what else... (4.83 / 6) (#25)
by elenchos on Sat Aug 18, 2001 at 05:11:01 AM EST

Speakeasy has always used this style too. I don't think it is just a (post-modernist serious/ironic) parody of Social Realism. Though this style has existed since the late 18th century, it became especially widespread following the Russian revolution and coinciding with the worldwide rise of labor circa 1920's and '30s. This period was the heydey of Art Deco as well, and Social Realism constantly overlapped with Deco. I think there are two points of paradoxical tension that make Social Realism & Art Deco attractive to a mod company of today:
  1. Idealism and utopianism were characteristic of virtually all the social movents of this period: labor, women's suffrage, anti-imperialim, communism, socialism, and fascism. The hopes for a perfect future in these and related movements frequently led directly into a hell on Earth as the attempt to force perfection on human lives met with messy reality. On one level, all of these ideals made a lasting contribution to civilization, but they also each disappointed on a cosmicly grand scale, leading to the nihlistic disillusionment that is the hallmark of the 20th century.
  2. The same period was a time of rapidly increasing faith in technology and science to perfect and save mankind. This too had a bittersweet outcome, and it too is closely associated with Deco and Social Realism. Today's Net companies are much like the early 20's and 30's pioneers of radio and TV, among others, and so take on a similar look.
All of these overlapping movements and styles share a rejection of religion and the occult in favor of a kind of hyper-techical/rational humanism. Someone already pointed out that this style shows up on Ayn Rand books, even though you would expect '50's art on the books of a '50s author. But they reached back to the 20's for the same reasons that others have: to express blind faith in humanity as the measure of all things.

Compaines like Speakeasy quote this style in a way that can only be called post-modern. On the one hand, they share their predecessors belief in reason and technology, but on the other they don't want to get caught looking foolish for having faith in anything, given that the 20th century has taught us that idealism always has a horrific flip side. Hence the irony.

I think Bruce Sterling or William Gibson has a short story about a nightmare world that suddenly becomes the embodyment of the Deco fantasy, all fins and Zeppelins and the Chrysler building. And Ayn Rand and Moussolini and the whole ugly thing. As style, it is this tension and paradox that makes Deco and Social Realism compelling today.

Adequacy.org

More examples (3.66 / 3) (#28)
by lucidvein on Sun Aug 19, 2001 at 08:43:23 PM EST

http://www.obeygiant.com/
http://www.obeygiant.com/manifesto/index.html

http://seattleweekly.com/features/9933/features-parrish.shtml
http://seattleweekly.com/features/9917/features-parrish.shtml

http://macgurus.com/

I think it shows a growing trend of social awareness in young technologists. Manual labor has been left out of many arguments concerning globalization. Only to retort with, "We're losing jobs" in response to NAFTA, GATT and other international trade agreements. IT however, has an opportunity to spread worldwide communication that tie in well with socialist issues. Quite possibly the power to organize into a powerful faction... http://www.washtech.org/

Microsoft At Work? (none / 0) (#32)
by WWWWolf on Mon Aug 20, 2001 at 06:49:03 AM EST

Back a while when Microsoft accused the GPL and RMS of being communist, I remembered that Microsoft had done "neo-socialistic"¹ advertising... the picture had a worker with an iron beam, with caption "Microsoft At Work" (this was in Win3.x era, obviously)...

Does anyone have scans of this ad to prove Microsoft's hypocricy? =)

¹ this was what the local computer magazine called this ad.

-- Weyfour WWWWolf, a lupine technomancer from the cold north...


KMFMS (4.33 / 3) (#37)
by Tim Macinta on Tue Aug 21, 2001 at 11:54:58 AM EST

I run KMFMS and I'd like to comment on a few of the things posted here.

Anti-Microsoft site KMFMS (kein mitleid fr MicroSoft) has helped popularise artists like Brute. Brute's style combines elements of poster-printing of the 40s and 50s with comic art and wartime imagery.

As flattering as this assertion is, I think that KMFDM had a lot more to do with popularizing BRUTE!'s artwork than KMFMS. KMFDM has been around a lot longer and has sold orders of magnitude more material with BRUTE! artwork on it.

For those asking whether KMFMS is a commercial entity, yes, but not a very good one. We only sell T-shirts and mousepads which has never made for booming business. That's OK, though, because I'm not doing it for the money.

Regarding the socialist art connection, you can interpret it however you want, but the logo is drawn in the style that it is because I hired BRUTE! to do it. I hired BRUTE! to do it because he had done the artwork for KMFDM before. And I wanted to parody KMFDM because KMF* always struck me as a good way to name a protest website and "MS" fit in exceptionally well and they are exceptionally worth protesting. That was my line of reasoning. Any similarities with socialist artwork on my part are purely coincidental (I cannot speak on behalf of BRUTE!, though).

--------------------------
Just Say No to Microsoft

And the PS2 game... (1.00 / 1) (#38)
by SIGFPE on Tue Aug 21, 2001 at 04:36:13 PM EST

...Red Faction.
SIGFPE
Not socialist, post-romantic (5.00 / 1) (#39)
by Amorsen on Wed Aug 22, 2001 at 02:40:33 PM EST

When the Industrialization happened, it alienated the worker from his work. No longer did each worker create a product from scratch; the workers only saw a small piece each. When the product was finished, no single worker could claim the accomplishment as his. Art reacted to that, and that created Romanticism with its, well, romantic view of farming and nature. The message was "Be free like the farmer, rejoin nature".

Today the worker is alienated even further. While the industry worker could at least say "I helped make that car" or "I helped build that bridge", workers today have very little to show for their efforts. Therefore we yearn for the days when you created actual products, and it is now showing up in art (or at least commercials) now. No longer do you see the glorious farmer depicted, now it is the glorious worker from a time now lost. The art says "Create wonders that last for everyone to see".

Communism and socialism derive their legitimity from the rights of workers. Therefore it is not surprising that a government that pictures itself as communistic/socialistic glorifies the worker. Their message was "Workers, unite against the tyranny of the oppressors".

It is not surprising that todays Western art and yesteryears Soviet art are similar. They arrive at the same place along very different paths, and even though the actual art looks alike, the messages sent are radically different.


I thought it was something much simpler (none / 0) (#40)
by mami on Thu Aug 23, 2001 at 11:45:01 AM EST

When I first saw some advertisement of Red Hat in their Annual Report for example and realized how they use the color of red with the art form and issues used and dear to communists and socialists etc., two things came to my mind. I alwyas believed (and Jabber said here differently) advertisement is a tool to sell a brand name, to sell software, services and ideas. (Have no idea about marketing...)

Therefore I concluded that RedHat for example tries to target and sell to their own geek-guru community and tried to appeal to the many areas where geeks associate themselves with the "working (underdog) class", with the fight against capitalism and the establishment (the suits), with the hammer ("If all you have is a hammer, all problems look like nails."), with the real guru knowing how to program "right into the metal" (see discussion for example on K5 about who is the one who really knows how a computer works etc.).

My other reaction was that I thought it to be the wrong move, because I thought opened source software needs to be sold to "Aunt Minnie" and I kind of thought the red tanks would scare her away.

Basically do the IT companies wanting to sell open/free software at a price, need to target all of YOU or probably people like me ? I sort of thought one does not need to sell to geeks and gurus. They would always use free software anyway and are smart enough todo so and pay nothing for it. Who is buying open source software if not the ones who are not yet arrived in geek heaven ? That's Aunt Minnie, IMHO.

i have a point. (none / 0) (#41)
by daSnoop on Sat Aug 25, 2001 at 07:24:57 AM EST

All GOOOD cold-warriors will chant with me:

"The Commies Are Coming!"
"The Commies Are Coming!"
"The Commies Are Coming!"

Anyone remember to bring wooden stakes?
Everyone welcome the Thought Police to K5.

There is a technical reason... (none / 0) (#42)
by the trinidad kid on Mon Aug 27, 2001 at 07:29:57 AM EST

...for favouring flat colour, cartoon like illustrations on the web - they compress much better than photo- or painting-based illustrations, and consequently download considerably faster. And speed of download is what the punters want.

Given that socialist realism dates from the glory days of spot colour printing before photo-realistic printing (1) became possible it is no real surprise that modern internet art apes it - it apes cartoons for the same unideological reasons.

(1) Until very recently printed photos were all screened images - composed of varying-sized dots of the same print intensity, not true pictures at all.

Socialist art in IT marketing | 42 comments (37 topical, 5 editorial, 0 hidden)
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