TEDx Portland 2018.
"In me the tiger sniffs the rose." - Siegfried Sassoon
Earlier this year Enjoy the Weather, Jacob Hinmon at Four + One, and I reunited to tackle the billboards for TEDx Portland 2018. It was fantastic to be asked back in what would be my second ever billboard production experience. This year's concept, Bridges, is a distillation of what we produced for last year's Spectrum theme.
Again human-centered, black and white, yet this time aiming for a lo-fi feel, with a Avedonesque single diffuse source. The speaker and performers emerge from an undefinable background. The humanity of the photo, being the one thing the viewer can grab on to, is a callback to the distant past when the social bonds were all that kept our hunter gatherer ancestors from primordial oblivion. These portraits are something the viewer not just sees, but encounters. They engage some-thing in the hominid instinct. They also include a dash of '70s Punk Rock.
My take: We're inviting the viewer into a world of contradiction. There is a duality to life; the biological hardwiring often clashes with our social and experiential software. As people we are inherently in conflict, and Bridges highlights that internal contrast we all carry. In these needlessly divisive times, where people are pigeonholed and collectivized, and the false Hegelian dialectic of "left vs. right," "Liberal vs. Conservative," "Democrat vs. Republican," dominates so much of how the average person thinks and conducts herself in the world. Bridges makes the case that none of us is entirely composed of any one identity, perspective, or worldview. The actions of these extraordinary people transcend the dialectic of our media, our politicians, our cliques, and our social groups. It's commercial art arguing against determinism. That's a triumph! For a Gen-Xer like me, It's a call back to an earlier time when the individual came first. When we engaged with people and ideas on the basis of their individual merit, not mere a priori classification. When diversity included ideas, and we allowed people to be complex, iconoclastic, and beautifully human.