Although I can’t paint at the moment as I’m getting ready to move house I’ve been thinking about the way images can affect us when we look at them. Even simple things like fonts and trademarks have an effect. I’m someone who is not affected by a lot of advertising. Most of it just passes me by and some of it actively puts me off buying from certain companies. However, occasionally I get really caught by something. A few years ago I was mildly unwell – running a moderately high temperature and feeling a bit sorry for myself. I got really captured by the trademark of the surround sound speaker system we had at the time. The trademark is so simple – just the name in white capital letters across the bottom of the speaker but it was really effective.
The speaker looked a bit like this on the outside:
But when watching a big movie or listening to a video of a music concert we would remove the black grills and then the speakers looked more like this (except that the wood was a cherry colour.)
Anyway, I ended up writing about the experience of being kind of captured by this piece of advertising. Here’s what I wrote:
Mordaunt – Short
I am sitting staring at the blackness of the TV screen when my eye is caught by a small, precise label near the bottom of the centre speaker, sitting on top of the set.
I look at the speaker. The front panel is black protecting three dark orifices of sound and language. The case is wooden, chosen to match the colour of the furniture in the room, although it doesn’t, quite. The name fills my mind and body, it echos inside me, resonating, touching me right down to my toes. I am captured, transported for a moment into the ecstasy of quality. My heart is filled with that bedrock-deep love of machines, perfectly and exactly made, and I feel connected to another life, a life of order, of peace, of place and stillness.
I am stunned at how this small piece of advertising can suddenly reach me. Perhaps it’s simply because I’m unwell and febrile. Perhaps it’s because I’ve just been watching the History Channel which would have been great except that there were more adverts than program – ten thousand little bits of trash that some smiling actor is pretending to encourage me to buy. So maybe seeing all that had put me into a cynical, unreachable place where Generation X is born and so made the shock of being touched by a trade mark so much stronger . Or perhaps there is power in the shape and form of words, “Mordaunt Short”, an echo of the Logos itself. Like a prayer, like an incantation it reaches inside me and plays the music of my heart.