Published: STUDENT DIRECT, February 2008
This exhibition, on the second floor of the Urbis building, displays the advertising short listed by D&AD for their 2008 global awards, which range from television adverts and poster campaigns to music videos.
What makes the D&AD exhibition so interesting is that it takes advertising out of its normal context of busy streets, buses and television breaks, and makes people view it as they would a piece of art. With the adverts no longer filling the momentary gaps of your existence, suddenly you find yourself reacting to them differently. Looking at the pieces from the objective stance of ‘art viewer’ makes you focus not so much on the product, but on the composition, style and technique.
As Garth S. Jowett states, advertising has become ‘one of the most ubiquitous manifestations of modern popular culture, and yet has seldom been examined as a form of popular culture in its own right’. If advertising has become one of the largest ways that we experience visual stimulus, and as the concepts behind them becoming more experimental, why should they not join the realm of the art exhibition?
Since the development of realism, adverts have focused not so much on the product, but on the impulses and anxieties of the consumer, and in doing so make very intriguing viewing. The exhibition contains viral films by contemporary filmmakers, collaborations with musicians, artists and the Tate Modern. By reflecting the society of their product’s target user, adverts hold the power to manipulate and shock our desires and emotions. Such pieces as ‘St. Wayne’ (Nike) and ‘Hook’ (N.H.S), along with many others within the exhibition prove the strong emotions adverts can evoke and the large statements they can make.
The exhibitions one downfall is its layout, which divides the space into the competition categories and thus makes the experience feel fragmented. The striking pieces of advertising are not given the wall space they deserve, and often loose their impact as a result. At times I felt, as one often does with adverts, that I was being bombarded with information from all sides, through text, audio and visuals. However despite this, I feel D&AD have achieved their aim: ‘to enable visitors to appreciate and value what makes good design’ and to ‘explore the impact of great design on our consciousness’. For that reason I would recommend giving the exhibition a visit, go and put your perceptions of art, advertising and society to the test.
D&AD Exhibition is on at the Urbis until the 6th April – Free