Andy Warhol once envisioned a future in which everyone would be world-famous for 15 minutes. But in our fast-moving, 24/7, high-tech, digital world 15 minutes might just be too long. So instead American Eagle Outfitters is hoping to convince us to settle for 15 seconds instead. Upon opening a massive store with unique merchandise in the mix in Times Square, the company is offering customers a chance to put their faces on a 15,000 square-foot LED screen for a limited amount of time. Once you purchase an item in the store, a crew of friendly customer service reps will possibly shepherd or maybe just herd you to a mini photo studio to pose for your famous portrait. You on a giant Times Square screen – doesn’t get any better than that.
But not everyone is thrilled with all those ads around New York City. Jordan Seiler, who has at times worked as a freelance photographer, shooting advertisements, is on the flip side involved in destroying ads in New York City and replacing them with what he believes is a more artful compromise. He dislikes advertising terminology such as, “domination,” “immersion” and “saturation,” because its intent is to control people rather than contribute to the “psychological health” of the ad viewer. In pursuit of destroying ads and replacing them with art, Seiler and his 80 volunteers have drawn attention from law enforcement.
Not to be a total sourpuss, Seiler says that contrary to what his actions might suggest, he is actually a fan of advertising. “I kind of enjoy it.” So what if he’s doing a little bit of redecorating? And he is also a fan of the great digital portrait, customer experience planned by American Eagle Outfitters. “I’m not all that opposed to this marketing ploy,” he said, noting that this is an opportunity for commoners to put their faces on the visual landscape – if only for a moment and the moment’s gone? For others the big question might be – do they Photoshop the wrinkles out of that giant photo?
Images are from photographer-activist, JR.