IN-PRESS

 
 

Webs of Communication

 
"Visible bodies are caught in webs of communication irrespective of individual intentions and these systems can exert a considerable influence on the behaviour of those involved."

T. Burns

 

Media advertising makes use of these webs of communication to reinforce it's system of consumer control. Sometimes advertisers do not openly deploy these lines of communication. In the example below Sheridan sheets has, perhaps subconsciously perhaps deliberately, targeted the gay 'lifestyle' demographic without making it too obvious. In the first photograph a beautiful, smooth, tanned young man lies in bed happily smiling at the camera ...

 

 

Anon. "'Sheer Poetry' by Sheridan. 1998

 

 
 

Anon. "'Sheer Poetry' by Sheridan. 1998

 

 
 

Anon. "'Sheer Poetry' by Sheridan. 1998

 

 
 
Anon. "'Sheer Poetry' by Sheridan. 1998
 

 

Anonymous.
"'Sheer Poetry' by Sheridan."
Sheridan Australia brochure.
1998

 

 

 

On turning the page we find a double page spread of towels in assorted colours. On the next page is another gorgeous smooth, tanned young man reclining in bed smiling at the camera. The sheets on both beds with the male models are identical; one man is photographed from one side of the bed and the other man from the opposite side. They couldn't possibly be in the same bed could they ....

Instead of showing 'the boys' in bed together which would not appeal to the wider heterosexual male or female purchaser, the designer of the brochure has cleverly suggested the possibility of homosexuality through the use of visible bodies in a disguised web of communication. The symbolic representation of such photographs (with their implicit language of sexual contact) can be recognised by gay men without the overt nature of homosexuality being thrust in the face of the general public. It took me some time to realise what the designers had done. I wonder how many gay men have consciously realised this association? I think most would only perceive and understand this message projection, this web of communication on a subconscious level. Still this sub-conscious recognition only serves to reinforce societal values of what is seen as worthy of esteem, what is desirable in a lifestyle, through visible bodies, possessions and in this case, sheets. It is the insidious nature of media advertising that it evens out the bumps of difference, that is, it standardises and shapes levels of diversity, style & taste into what is socially acceptable and desirable.