The idea of newness inspires hope. Whether it’s a New Year, new job, or new TV they each embody mankind's optimistic ambition. This is a phenomenal attribute where looking forward to a new day get’s people out of bed. Turning a new leaf is a fresh new start to a brand new day. The only thing that is constant is change, and this is a vital and successful marketing strategy.
With the holidays behind us, many of us received and purchased new stuff to replace old stuff. Most of us procure stuff on a daily basis, from fresher fruit to a new iPhone. Whether it is want or need, shopping has become a necessary for survival. Besides obtaining food, shelter and clothing, humans buy a lot of superfluous stuff. Take for example the reinvention of the everyday object from kitchen appliances to fashion. In the kitchen you have microwaves, artichoke steamers, sharper knives, seltzer makers, coffee pots, and so much more where back in the day you only needed a sink, stove, and fridge. Or for instance fashion, pants go from skinny to bell bottoms to boyfriend fits, and underwear is no longer briefs but thongs, G-strings, boy-shorts, and grandma panties. Then there are new religions, new cars, new houses, new babies, new Presidents, new legislation, and new puppies. Based on sheer newness, consumers let go of the past and embrace the future. This is prevalent with technology, take for example flat screen televisions where seemingly overnight all older models were discarded and replaced. It is only after seeing a street littered with old TVs you begin to wonder.
There is also the idea of newness when it comes to a life where at some point in everyone’s life they consider cashing in their chips or do so by embarking on a new adventure. Whether you’re nun in a convent or a stripper in the mid-west, there comes a moment in your life where you wonder what am I doing? What does it all mean? People throw in the towel with their jobs, cars, houses, spouses, and even kids. Affairs are had and Porsches are purchased. This idea of newness is exhilarating but sometimes leads to a let down, where the grass is always greener and you can be haunted by relics of the past. Whether it is a moment of temporary insanity part of living is questioning.
Whether it is trading in your spouse or TV for a newer younger model, newness is a social norm. Whether it is need or want, newness is a necessary part of development.
100 Objects of Popular and Material Culture is an blog exploring the manifestations of human consumption and commodity-ization. The purpose of this experiment is to explore material and popular culture in contemporary society by using objects and concepts to prompt wider questions and reflections. So by emulating The British Museum's and Neil MacGregor's format of A History of the World in 100 Objects I plan to satirically analyze and reinterpreted 100 material culture objects over the course of 2014. Material Culture is the study of our culture's consumption of stuff; namely the manifestation of culture through material productions where people's perceptions of objects is socially and culturally dependent. With this, objects reflect conscious and unconscious beliefs on the the individuals who fabricated, purchased, or used them, and by extension the society where they live. So examining materiality, cultural truths and societal assumptions may be discovered. As anthropologist Arjun Appaduai states "in any society the individual is often caught between the cultural structure of commodity-ization and his own personal attempts to bring a value and order to the universe of things." Objects and commodities make up a much larger symbolic system consisting of want and need, socio-economic status, fashion, etc. Often times form follows function whether the commodity, market, and or consumer forever evolve around one-another. Philosopher Pierre Bourdieu's theories of capital flow full circle; where regardless if you are a minimalist or a hoarder the world is made up of things and everyone will leave their footprint on the earth. So by humorously analyzing marketed objects and concepts, hopefully this blog will provide further incite into ideas of over-consumption, a disposable society, consumerism vs. anti-consumers, planned obsolescence vs. sustainability, as well as the greater good of mankind and future generations.