7 Days, One Minute: Retouching and Nostalgia

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bowie grab

screengrab from David Bowie performing The Stars (Are Out Tonight). (c) 2013 ISO Records

Blending the present and the past, the real and the ideal, David Bowie and Audrey Hepburn, this week’s 7 Days is about the retouching, colour and propping of Nostalgia.

It was 9 years ago in 2004 that the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty kicked off. Shot by British photographer Rankin it celebrated a different female body shape to those in conventional fashion and beauty product advertising. Despite the emergence of the plus-size model and the celebration of actresses like Christina Hendricks in Mad Men, Dove have settled on an idea and issue that’s unlikely to go away anytime soon.

Dove’s provocations around fashion and advertising conventions continued this week with a software program aimed at those “responsible for manipulating our perceptions.” They created a “Beautify” photoshop action and posted it on various websites. Supposedly adding a skin glow effect, it actually returned the photo to its original state.

Meanwhile at the other end of retouching, Mars in the UK have have pushed the image manipulation button to the max with a retro CGI fantasy for their Galaxy bar, where 1950s icon Audrey Hepburn solves her public transport problem by being stylish, elegant and cool, hitching a ride from a hunk driving a convertible.

On the ‘time-travel’ tip, David Bowie’s new promo features a younger version of himself, luxuriating in a suburban sensibility. Time magazine gets in on the wave of Bowie nostalgia because of his forthcoming album and the huge exhibition at the end of March at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum.

Another comeback is an ad for Patak’s Curry. Originally released in 2011 it is still ticking sepia-toned boxes around imagery that is connecting with audiences – a spoonful of nostalgia, a pinch of washed-out colour and a sprinkling of family and tradition. A funky hammond organ and a sitar help in this recreation of the 1960s/1970s.

And finally in a week when advertising imagery is blending the ‘real’ and the manipulated, the present and the past, Sainsbury’s Supermarket in the UK  surfs the nostalgia wave this misty-eyed reminiscence of how kids used to play. Dimly-lit images are the keynote signifier for nostalgia. Did everyone play in such poor lighting? Is that why I have spectacles? Thankfully my kids now live in a world of HD and the past, in the future, will look a lot sharper.

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