Slogans are more popular than ever. Ideas and beliefs are no longer set out in long, dry-as-dust documents but are expressed in single lines via clothing, Twitter, billboards and presidents. Slogans are the memes that sum up our identities; they’re the philosophy of the street.
Slogans combine text and image and can be read and understood at a glance, making them the ideal form for rapid-fire communicators. Slogans are simplified thought. A good line is practically indestructible and resists every attempt at assault – or forgetting.
Over the past century, advertising has come to have a determining influence on visual culture. Today anything can be advertising. Nothing is simply itself; it always transmits a message, whether or not we realise it. While it isn’t true that everything has become a logo, many artistic, political and media messages are promulgated according to the basic principles of marketing. Recognisability is the most successful product of our time. Around the commercial image, there has been an artistic proliferation of clearance-sale aesthetics, self-absorption, comment culture, wallpaper, and the image economy, in which slogans are the paint and clay of the 21st century and also its language.
Slogan World is a public investigation of the slogan’s impact on society. For this project, we will collect noteworthy lines from T-shirts, public space, the media, unusual places and unexpected objects. Besides studying slogans, the Image Society will also create them. We will write and design one or more slogans relating to visual culture, then develop products and offer them for sale. Slogan World will be a design project encompassing T-shirts, memes, political campaigns, leaders’ slogans, corporate logos, banners and projections.
This section of the site will showcase our findings. More information will be added in the course of 2018. We invite anyone who coins or comes across a noteworthy slogan to send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A leader with a great line is usually remembered longer. Famous examples include John F Kennedy, with “Ich bin ein Berliner,” and Martin Luther King, with “I have a dream.” From ancient times, politics was the domain of the word. Everything hinged on the verbal power of persuasion. Political agreements were formalised in accords, treaties and amendments. Since the rise of television, however, politics has come to be chiefly about image creation. You need the right personality, clothing and body language, plus carefully staged PR moments and sophisticated media campaigns. Obama was good at this, and highly mediagenic. His eyes swept from left to right as his penetrating voice rang out from our screens like a musical refrain. His persuasive, vulnerable words made us feel as if our differences were precisely what made society strong.
Despite the power of the image, however, politicians can still be attacked by their opponents for any word, any argument. Today, politicians – and certain presidents in particular – like to communicate via Twitter. Opinions and critical remarks, phrased as slogans, fly back and forth. This informal language that walks the line between text and image has an increasingly significant influence on political decisionmaking.
The question is this: in the highly verbal, text-driven political sphere, how fundamental is the image today? Where is it a deciding factor? And how can we learn to see through visual manipulation in politics?
This Sloganism research project is initiated by Geert Lovink and Mieke Gerritzen.