Monday, February 28, 2011

OBEY


Another humongous player in the street art scene, Shepard Fairey AKA "OBEY" has been posting up the iconic image of Andre the Giant since the early nineties, simultaneously commenting on consumer culture and the psychology of imagery.  From the OBEY website:



The OBEY sticker campaign can be explained as an experiment in Phenomenology. Heidegger describes Phenomenology as “the process of letting things manifest themselves.” Phenomenology attempts to enable people to see clearly something that is right before their eyes but obscured; things that are so taken for granted that they are muted by abstract observation.
The FIRST AIM OF PHENOMENOLOGY is to reawaken a sense of wonder about one’s environment. The OBEY sticker attempts to stimulate curiosity and bring people to question both the sticker and their relationship with their surroundings. Because people are not used to seeing advertisements or propaganda for which the product or motive is not obvious, frequent and novel encounters with the sticker provoke thought and possible frustration, nevertheless revitalizing the viewer’s perception and attention to detail. The sticker has no meaning but exists only to cause people to react, to contemplate and search for meaning in the sticker. Because OBEY has no actual meaning, the various reactions and interpretations of those who view it reflect their personality and the nature of their sensibilities.

Many people who are familiar with the sticker find the image itself amusing, recognizing it as nonsensical, and are able to derive straightforward visual pleasure without burdening themselves with an explanation. The PARANOID OR CONSERVATIVE VIEWER however may be confused by the sticker’s persistent presence and condemn it as an underground cult with subversive intentions. Many stickers have been peeled down by people who were annoyed by them, considering them an eye sore and an act of petty vandalism, which is ironic considering the number of commercial graphic images everyone in American society is assaulted with daily.

Another phenomenon the sticker has brought to light is the trendy and CONSPICUOUSLY CONSUMPTIVE nature of many members of society. For those who have been surrounded by the sticker, its familiarity and cultural resonance is comforting and owning a sticker provides a souvenir or keepsake, a memento. People have often demanded the sticker merely because they have seen it everywhere and possessing a sticker provides a sense of belonging. The Giant sticker seems mostly to be embraced by those who are (or at least want to seem to be) rebellious. Even though these people may not know the meaning of the sticker, they enjoy its slightly disruptive underground quality and wish to contribute to the furthering of its humorous and absurd presence which seems to somehow be antiestablishment/societal convention. Giant stickers are both embraced and rejected, the reason behind which, upon examination reflects the psyche of the viewer. Whether the reaction be positive or negative, the stickers existence is worthy as long as it causes people to consider the details and meanings of their surroundings. In the name of fun and observation.
Shepard Fairey, 1990

OBEY also designed the famous "HOPE" campaign poster for Barack Obama, which he since alluded to regretting.

19 comments:

  1. I thought the dude who made the OBAMA HOPE poster was found out to have stolen the image from some picture taken from some photographer? is that true?

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  2. I was wondering where all those Andre the giant symbols were coming from. But I think the artist is absolutely correct about our blinded hyper consumer society...

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  3. I remember when I was a kid I thought it was Obie Trice's logo. Having not been a fan of Obie, I didn't know how he spelt his name so I thought it was some sort of ghetto gimmick to pronounce obey incorrectly.

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  4. it's amazing really how images can have so much meaning.

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  5. Fascinating. I was aware of the OBEY sticker and that it was of Andre the Giant, but that was it. Very informative. Thank you!

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  6. love obey, i have a bunch of their t-shirts

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  7. wow, i never knew it was obey who designed obama's campaign poster

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  8. Didn't know about him. I still prefer Bansky ;)

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  9. nice post, i have an obey poster at my place!!!

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  10. I love obey, so sick. great post.

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  11. Excellent post. WHat came first OBEY or Andre the Giant has a posse stickers?anyway I always loved them because they reminded me of two things. Andre the Giant my favorite wrestler ever. And the OBEY thing made me think of my favorite movie with a wrestler in it THEY LIVE. Anyway great post. Thanks.

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  12. excellent stuff, enjoyed the read.

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  13. fantastic post! please more street art! :D

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