Sunday, June 30, 2013

If you can say "CONDOM" in English...

Penis Cop (2002) by Art Chantry
I came across this seemingly vintage advertisement for condoms and couldn't stop laughing. I pictured it being distributed to military men, posted in locker rooms, or perhaps in the back of men's magazines. As it turns out, the image appeared in no such places: it's a creation of a modern-day graphic designer named Art Chantry. The artist made it for a 2002 public service campaign about AIDS prevention.

I can't help but to think the number of times therapists and other people use an epistemology of personal revelation. Things are true--are knowledge--because we think they are based on what we feel or think. It provides for a situation where we can be grossly wrong about our understandings of the world around us.

It's not that I'm opposed to an epistemology of personal revelation. It is a powerful way of knowing. By itself, however, it's incomplete. Personal revelation needs to be combined with disciplined observation and hypothesis testing (the scientific method). Both together are more powerful than either alone.

Chantry's poster is a perfect example of the problems with an epistemology of personal revelation. It is easy to see the condom ad as vintage based on color and design. A closer examination of it quickly changes the story. The text transforms the visual impression of a vintage poster into an impression of a more modern day public health message.

The art of David Trullo provides another example of how our revelations are easily manipulated. By manipulating vintage photos with modern technology he turns real scenes into unreal ones--unreal scenes that still look real. He provides another powerful example of how personal revelation by itself can create misunderstandings.

As you might imagine, I have added a new obsession to my collection of all things vintage. Here are a few (real) vintage advertisements for condoms. Watch my Tumblr page for more -- along with a variety of other things that challenge us to see things through the lenses of personal revelation as well as empirical validation.

1 comment:

  1. My disciplined observation hypothesized those vintage objects were mint tins. Esp. the Three Ramses brand looks like papyrus-flavored mints, if anything like that exists.