Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Parody display: ostentation is in the rip

Parody display is an odd phenomenon. At its heart lies an expensive imitation of less fortunate living.

As a fashion statement, torn jeans are one example of a parody expression which first emerged in the 1990's. Celebrities like Lindsay Lohan and other pop culture influencers of the mass market adopt them precisely because they are in contradiction with their own wealth and success.

It costs more to buy these jeans torn than un-ripped (much to the consternation of parents everywhere placating their children's demands for the latest 'in' thing). It is an indulgence of the affluent.

The idea that something worn - damaged even - is worth more than something new is itself not new.

In Elizabethan England, patina - the worn marks that accumulate on a prized object - had status conferring significance. In becoming minutely dented, chipped, oxidized and worn from use over time, the physical property of patina took on a symbolic property: the accumulation of physical flaws suggested the object had been in the owner's possession for some time, implying longevity to the wealth being displayed and that the family was no newcomer to its present social standing. (McCracken 1990)

We encountered a new medium for parody display recently:

Why not furniture? Duct-tape is a universal measure to fix and patch up almost anything that's ripped, torn or broken. Leveraging this association as a purposeful design element in furniture is classic parody display. No one would so willing put it on display unless it carried different expressive value.

1 comment:

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