Saturday, August 8, 2009

Anatomy of the Re-Brand

The concept of peopleareobjects has been with me for awhile now, through many incarnations of personality and many ebbs in career. I have come to realize that it now, in lieu of any actual product or tangible thing, represents a core concept around which my life has, for better and for worse, like a crystal in solution, formed.

To go along with this, it became necessary to reassess the look and feel of all of this nothingness. Hence we bring you:

peopleareobjects Proudly Presents: Anatomy of The Re-Brand

The images featured here consist of pictures I took several years ago whilst I was the lead fashion stylist in the Juniors department for Macy's Union Square in San Francisco, CA. The pictures are of actual mannequins I styled during my last few months at this location. These pictures were taken with a Holga camera shooting 120 medium format film, using only the store lighting. I have blurred them in post to hide any brand labels or other obvious identifying markers. There is no intent to endorse any brand or label that may be discerned by knowing viewers. The pictures were chosen based solely on aesthetic preferences.

The texts featured atop each image are the actual yearbook inscriptions from three different girls I attended junior high school with. They are uncensored and unedited, excepting phone numbers and last names. None of these girls were "girlfriends", though one was a serious infatuation of mine.
I have recently come across these yearbooks in my mother's home and have spent more hours than could possibly be healthy going through them, studying the grainy photos of burned and/or decayed bridges. That's what they are now, no longer friends, crushes, acquaintances, only missed opportunities, regrets, and long shadows.

They are also mothers and fathers, husbands and wives. In the interest of full disclosure, I am not in contact with any one I attended junior or senior high school with, however, through various social media applications I have seen the tell-tale signs of marriages and children: hyphenates and baby picture-avatars. We are all collectively in our 30's, with the Freshmen now preparing to enter this demographic group, so it really should be no surprise to find these ex-classmates, especially the women, to be in states of wedded and parental bliss. This is the natural order of things, after all, and by this age it is expected that certain milestones will have been reached, certain life markers ticked off the grand to-do lists. Yet, it did hit me with much surprise to see certain few of these cheerleaders and drama students removed now from the analogue monochrome of a yearbook to the digital color of adulthood, holding husband and/or child in hand.
Some history, if you will.

Upon graduating from high school, I found myself lacking any sense of what was supposed to come next. The plan had always been for University to follow, but this seemed somehow now a far off and misplaced idea to me. After two years of false starts in various community colleges near my parental home, I picked up and moved to the big city of San Francisco. Once removed from the flatlands of Southern California, bridges to the past became tenuous, at best. Attempts were made at friendship maintenance, but I was no longer in any shape to participate in such activities with full heart. It was so much easier to just lose things than to work at keeping them. Everything was included in this philosophy; books, clothes, apartments, jobs, photographs, documents, people. Friendship and love required work I was not adept at or qualified for in the least.

(For the record, I do not enjoy looking at this part of my life - and am greatly reducing it down to minimum recap - and truly consider it to be all but dead to me, and only write about these things now because it has become interesting to me at this particular time, when I find myself shoved so ingloriously off the life path by harsh economic climes. I do not much like who I was in the years following High School, nor in my first years in San Francisco. I have often felt that my life did not truly start until yesterday. Life is a perpetual yesterday and a forever tomorrow.)

I do not have children. I have never been married or engaged. I have had very few lovers and those of note were few and far between, and quite short-lived. I have never owned a car or real estate or property of any kind. All my jobs have been entry-level, temporary, freelance, or middle-management, nothing of any real power, prestige, or monetary wealth. I have no wedding band, no birth certificates with the inked footprints of a newborn, no pink slips or deeds, no award certificates with stamped gold foil accents, no honors, no spoils, no notched bedposts. To all casual observers, previous girlfriends, and me own poor widowed mother, my life has been a seemingly endless wreck against the berms and traps of the obstacle course of adulthood. It would seem I have nothing to show for my journey, no trophies with which to fill the glass cases or mount along the wood paneled halls. Now, in my early 30's, peering back over 15 years of life experience, of lost jobs, lost friends and lovers, lost homes and cities, of the things that make up life, I come across the hyphenated married name of a former cheerleader or the picture of a five-year old who calls a former drama student "mom", and I realize that those things I thought I lost were not lost. They were things I never had.
Once upon a time I had an interesting story for how I came up with the moniker peopleareobjects. I have mentioned this before and cast it aside by stating that it no longer was of interest to me, that I could no longer remember it, or that it, upon closer inspection proved to no longer be very interesting at all. The truth is I remember when the words formed in my head, when I wrote them out as one connected word, an idea of human objectification not seen as exploitative but as beautiful truth. Reading over these yearbook inscriptions and looking at these oddly beautiful pictures of eerily realistic mannequins dressed in the low-level junior wear of a major department store brought all of this together.

There is no product. There is only the idea of the product.

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