Recuperation – A lack of ideas?


First CTS of term 2 was about Détournement and Recuperation and how this two topics relates to advertisement and art in general. Both were conceptualized by the Situationist International, an international organization of social revolutionaries made up of avant-garde artist rebelling towards a society they didn’t agree with. Both are very significant topics to dive in, but I will choose to case study a rather significant aspect about recuperation.

Speaking of recuperation means giving entirely new meaning to something. It could be an advertisement or a painting; it does not matter as long as the newly produced piace of work will have a complete new meaning or a “parodistic” mean to it, almost mocking the original piece of work. The most famous artist that made recuperation a lifetime signature was Marcel Duchamp, with his famous “Fountain”, a recuperation of a porcelain urinal, that became a proper art masterpiece thanks to its controversial nature.

My question now is: can recuperation be seen as fair? Is it fair to use an already existing idea or object and “make it your own” even if the meaning is completely (or partially) changed? As Tim showed us this morning, many brands have been using this Recuperation process as a way of displaying new ideas through already existing concepts. One of the best examples showed was the Honda Cog advert from 2003 that used exactly the same concept of an already existing Fischli and Weiss’ video from 1987. Even if Honda’s final result was great an maybe even better than the original one, personally I think we are almost talking of an act of plagiarism. Like Honda, many other have been using the recuperation process.

Creativity is endless and anyone can pinch from it, recuperation should not be an excuse to lack of ideas or poor imagination.

On the other hand, the recuperation act could also be seen as a way of expanding the meaning of the original work or even reconsider the original meaning of it.

The way of the brand tribe

We all belong to something.

With this sentence, Tim introduced us to a new interesting concept: the brand tribes. We all are part of a tribe, a community, a city, a borough, a family and even a political party. Tribes are groups of people who are linked and share the same values. We could think of brand tribes as tribes 2.0: people are linked through things they consume. If “classic” tribes are made by the people for the people, brand tribes are made by brands for the people.

We live in a society where traditions that bound us together are breaking down, slowly taking us to alienating ourselves from others, Putnam says. Another view on the same subject by M. Maffesoli, a french sociologist claims that consumers respond to these potentially alienating and isolating conditions by forming ‘collective identifications’ or as we call them brand tribes. With the evergrowing competition bewteen brands (competitive branding, see last blog post) brands need to rely more than ever on their customer! Therefore, brands need to create a shared belief that helps people to relate to their brand and smash the competition: brand tribes are basically the product born by those brands succeding in this task of relating their customers to the brand.

But how brands succed? Let’s think about the creation of a shared belief as a journey, made of three different steps (do something, become someone, belong to something) that helps customers to understand the brand and fully embrace the brand belief. A striking example is Harley Davidson, a brand that embrace freedom as their shared belief; When thinking of this brand, people always picture themselves in this perfect american dream, riding their chopper all across US on a sunny day. Even if nowadays this is one of the most massive shared belief on earth, this brand (as every other famous brand) put a lot of effort in the creation of a shared belief and became what it is TODAY.