Monday, 30 March 2015

"My Favourite Colour Was Yellow"

“It was when I had enough pink clothes that I could do a whole pink wash [in the laundry], that it made me think there’s something really powerful happening here and I want to trace where it had come from.” 
Kirsty Mackay

"My family is exactly the same as all these families in the book. We're all navigating our way through this sea of pink."
Kirsty Mackay

"The title places an emphasis on a lack of choice, and that's really what's at the core of the book."
Kirsty Mackay

Kirsty Mackay is a British photographer who started the project "My Favourite Colour Was Yellow" after the first pink laundry load. She did not buy pink items for her daughter and nevertheless found "her life inundated by pink" after giving birth to her in 2006. First, she took pictures of her daughter, then of her daughter's friends and of people she met on the street. The title "My Favourite Colour Was Yellow" is a quote from one of the girls she had photographed. The girl told her that once she had been asked by a friend what her favourite colour was and that she lied because of the pressure to conform. So she said pink instead of yellow. In Mackay's photographs, pink is more than a colour, a symbol of what society expects of young females and what finally becomes "a fact of life". (via)

"Over the past 9 months I have been working on a series of photographs exploring the current prevalence of the colour pink. Girl's clothing, toys and accessories are produced predominantly in pink, to the extent that it can be difficult to find an alternative. As a parent of a young daughter I became aware of the vast amounts of pink products being marketed directly to girls. This was not the case when I was growing up. The 1970's were a much more gender neutral time. In comparison to the 2010's they now seem more progressive. This back step has urged me to to document the current situation."

Kirsty Mackay

Some excerpts from an interview:

What is your latest project My Favourite Colour Was Yellow about, and what inspired you to make such project?

My latest project (...) is about how the colour pink has become so dominant in young girls’ lives. The title refers to the lack of choice out there.
I started the work after my daughter was born. I was aware of all the pink stuff, didn’t particularly like it and so didn’t buy into it. It was when, despite this we were still inundated with pink things, that I realised how powerful this had become. I needed to trace where it had come from. My own experience of growing up in the 70’s was vastly different. There was no pink. I was dressed in dungarees and boiler suits, played with Mecanno and Lego. I was definitely allowed to make my own choices. (via)

Why do you think it is a bad thing that pink is so strongly associated with femininity?

I think many people will overlook this issue and see it as harmless. But what worries me is that girls are being dictated to, they are not free to make their own decisions. It has now become difficult to find alternatives to pink in the UK, as the market is so saturated with it. I am constantly reading how not enough girls are choosing science, there are not enough woman Members of Parliament and female CEOs – well it starts here, when girls are young. Pink places an emphasis on how girls look – this is out of date and not what many parents want. Ultimately the people that benefit from this are the retailers and manufacturers, who make profits, but don’t question the ethics. (via)

Was any of the girls you met particularly obsessed with the color pink?

All of the girls I photographed were just ordinary girls. I wouldn’t say any were obsessed with pink. Some of the girls loved pink, most of the girls would say it was their favourite colour and a few of them didn’t like it, mostly the older ones. Despite this there was still always enough pink things for me to make a picture. (via)

Please share with us a little bit about your creative process for My Favourite Colour Was Yellow.

One of the biggest challenges for me was to find a way of photographing such a sweet subject matter that was still going to be interesting. (...)
The other aspect I found difficult was how could I go into other people’s houses and photograph their children, when I might be disagreeing with their decisions. I think also being a parent and being faced with the same problems, helped here. When I realised that we were all in the same situation that made it easier for me. I had to be very sensitive to the girls’ own opinions. They were often very proud to show me their bedrooms and have their portrait taken. I had to respect that and tried to give them that space for them to come across in the picture.
I’d say the portraits of the girls are all about them, my opinions stayed out of those shots. Towards the end of the project I really felt like I wouldn’t be doing the book justice if it was just a document of this time, it needed my opinion in there too. And the book as a whole expresses my feelings about all of this. I added some more shots that I made with my daughter and my friends daughter, which reflected more of what I was trying to express. (via)

(Below:) "Some pictures you struggle with and eventually get the shot and then others are like a gift. This was one of those occasions when I was handed a gift. I had met these girls and their mum at my daughter’s school. They are twins, and I asked if I could come and photograph them. When I went to their house I saw the pink tv, pink piano, pink walls, bed, scooters everything. None of this had even been mentioned and this happened over and over in the project, when I was greeted by pink X-mas trees, play houses, carpets and walls – everything." (via)

photographs by Kirsty Mackay via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Eksperimentas Vertimas

The "translation experiment" is a so-called video experiment to promote the new Lithuanian website, an online "handbook" with advices how to react to e.g. racist and homophobic hate speech in social and mass media. The short clip shows reactions of people who have been asked to translate racist facebook postings addressed to the person sitting in front of them.

"We predict that due to potential chronic traits and/or their adaptation to a Facebook culture of shallow processing and agreement, frequent Facebook users are highly susceptible to persuasive messages compared to less frequent users."

According to a study carried out by Rauch and Schanz in 2013, there is a positive correlation between the frequency of Facebook usage and agreement with racist messages online. The authors presented participants (n=623, all "white") three messages (one egalitarian, two racist). In general, participants were more likely to agree with the egalitarian message. In particular, there was a difference between high and low frequency users, i.e., high frequency users showed a higher tendency to agree with the two racist messages (a "superiority message" about whites being superior and a "victim message" about whites being the most oppressed ethnicity in the US). However, frequency is only one aspect that seems to be associated with this tendency; information seeking behaviour is another one. Those strongly motivated to seek information had a more positive attitude to the egalitarian message and a more negative attitude to the racist messages compared to low information seekers. The authors conclude that high frequency users and low information seekers show similar responses to both racist and anti-racist messages, "almost as if they were agreeing blindly" with messages. This is all correlational, causality is not clear. Social network sites such as Facebook are there to connect and the very combination of shallow processing and need to connect possibly "provides a warm, moist breeding ground for the spread of opinions, publicly and not-so-publicly. Racist ones among them." (via and via).

Monday, 23 March 2015

"A Woman's Worth"

"A Woman's Worth" is a campaign developed by Miami Ad School Europe and the non-profit women's right organisation Terre de Femmes.
"It started with that we got an assignment in one of our classes to do a print campaign for a charity organization last year. We instantly decided we wanted to do something for female rights. As women we've been harassed several times, in different ways, based on the way we look. From men, but also from women. We're too harsh on each other and call each other names. And I don't know how many times I've read about rape victims that were wearing a mini skirt. Who cares what she was wearing? She should be able to go naked and it shouldn't matter." Theresa Wlokka (via)

Advertising School: Miami Ad School Europe, Hamburg, Germany
Tutors: Salvatore Russomanno, Niklas Frings-Rupp
Art Director: Theresa Wlokka
Copywriter: Frida Regeheim
Photographer: Theresa Wlokka
Published: June 2014

"[I wanted to] take the idea of impersonal, supposedly objective, measurement of things and put it on something that we do measure, but we don't talk about. (...) We measure women the same way we measure water in cylinders, but no one says it because it's mean." Rosea Lake (via)
In 2013, then 18-year-old student Rosea Lake posted her "Judgments" photograph (see) on Tumblr which was re-blogged 100.000 times witihn 24 hours. The photograph shows the back of her friend's legs with horizontal lines for different skirt lengths, each labelled with associated prejudices (via). In 2010, labelled lines were printed on a pair of tights (see). No matter how similar the projects may seem (via) and who was the first to have the idea, they make one reflect:
"Working on this project really made me examine my own opinions, preconceptions and prejudices about "slutty" women and women who choose to cover all of their skin alike. I used to assume that all women who wore Hijabs were being oppressed ... and looked down on and judge any woman who didn't express her sexuality in a way that I found appropriate. I'd like to think I'm more open now." Rosea Lake (via)

images via

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Quoting Damon Albarn

"There is this tendency to frame Africa as this place that is constantly in need of our assistance. (...) It seems that we only have one view of it."

Damon Albarn on the "problems with our idea of charity" (via) and on not performing in Band Aid about ten years ago because of the danger of patronising Africa (via).

Blur uploaded "There Are Too Many of Us" on YouTube yesterday ... according to Rolling Stone a "Majestic New Doom-and-Gloom Song" (via)WATCH/LISTEN

::: More/Little Blur Weekend Link Pack:

- The Universal (1995): WATCH/LISTEN
- Coffee and TV (1999): WATCH/LISTEN

image via

Friday, 20 March 2015

The neglected 95%

"The vast majority of [American] psychologists and their students have extremely limited knowledge concerning the work of their international counterparts. In contrast to other disciplines, psychology is a rather provincial discipline dominated by the United States.”
Denmark (1998)

Psychology, the study of human behaviour, cognition, development, and relationships, produces research findings that usually - at least implicitly - apply to the entire human population. Hence, results are often regarded as representative and are generalised. According to Arnett's analysis of articles published in six premier APA (American Psychological Assocation) journals, however, US-American psychology is not based on "diverse sectors of the human population" but on a small sector, i.e. primarily people living in the US. On a global scale, concentrating on US-Americans means focusing on about 5% of the world's population and neglecting the other 95% (Arnett, 2008).

Henrich et al. come to similar conclusions and say that research findings about human behaviour are often based on WEIRD (Western, Educated, Industrialised, Rich, Democratic) samples – usually US-American undergraduates "who form the bulk of the database" in behavioural sciences. According to an analysis of top journals (2003-2007), 96% of the subjects are from Western industrialised countries, 68% come from the US, 99% of first authors are at Western universities, 73% at US-American universities. In other words, 96% of psychological samples come from countries with 12% of the world’s population. Interpretations, however, are not confined to these populations. WEIRD people are regarded as "standard subjects", as prototypes that are representative of other populations allowing generalisations.

Henrich et al. argue that it is WEIRD people in particular, who are rather unusual compared with others and call them part of "the least representative populations one could find for generalizing about humans" and a "thin, and rather unusual, slice of humanity". The domains the authors reviewed include self-concepts, fairness, cooperation, reasoning styles (analytic vs. holistic), moral reasoning, categorisation, inferential induction, spatial reasoning, the heritability of IQ, and visual perception. Visual perception, for instance, was compared on the basis of the Müller-Lyer illusion. Different populations showed different results, US-American undergraduates anchored an extreme end of the distribution while others were unaffected by the illusion (which in fact was no illusion to them).

Malick Sidibé is a Malian photographer, probably the country's most celebrated one and recipient of the Hasselblad Award, the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale and the ICP award for lifetime achievement (via). In 1960, Mali gained independence, two years later he launched "Studio Malick". His photographs were taken at a "key moment in West African history". Sidibé photographed his people with their new watches, handbags or socks from French prestigious labels; he captured the transformation into post-colonial Bamako. His photographs also captured Bamako's nightlife. This step towards documentary work was a big one since West African photography had until then been the domain of Europeans (via).
"If Malick Sidibé's images emanate so much power, it is because beyond the convivial and careless atmosphere he also illustrates the difficulty of having to adapt to life in the city. The confrontation with unemployment and alcohol, the irresistible desire to be like young whites. The pictures reflect the artist: convivial, intimate and yet not voyeuristic, they tell of a great complicity between the artist and his subjects. Like that other photographer Keita, Sidibé too has had to wait until the nineties to get recognition outside his own country." (via)

The second part of this posting (on WEIRD) was originally posted on Science on Google+ on 13 December 2014

- Arnett, J. J. (2008) The Neglected 95%. Why American Psychology Needs to Become Less American. American Psychologist, 63(7), 602-614
- Henrich, J., Heine, S. J. & Norenzayan, A. (2010). The weirdest people in the world? Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 33, 61-135
- photographs by Malick Sidibé via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Leonard Nimoy

Leonard Nimoy was the son of Ukrainian Jewish immigrants living in Boston. His parents and grandparents had moved to Boston's West End where the three generations lived together in "a kosher home". With his grandparents he only spoke Yiddish. The West End was a place with about 60% Italians and 30% Jewish, a place which Nimoy described as "a very interesting neighbourhood", a "village within the city" where "Italians spoke Yiddish and the Jewish spoke Italian". Nimoy experienced what a "crossover relationship" was, his friends were a mix of Jews and Italians living in the same building: "Second floor was Italian, third floor was Jewish". With a smile he said in an interview that you could tell who lived where by the the smell of the food (via).

The neighbourhood was "a very interesting and a healthy way to grow up because you learned about other people, other cultures. I feel very grateful that I had this kind of life as a child."
Leonard Nimoy

The Vulcan salute: "In his autobiography I Am Not Spock, Nimoy wrote that he based it on the Priestly Blessing performed by Jewish Kohanim with both hands, thumb to thumb in this same position, representing the Hebrew letter Shin (ש), which has three upward strokes similar to the position of the thumb and fingers in the salute. The letter Shin here stands for El Shaddai, meaning "Almighty (God)", as well as for Shekinah and Shalom. Nimoy wrote that when he was a child, his grandfather took him to an Orthodox synagogue, where he saw the blessing performed and was impressed by it" (literally via).

When asked about aspects of the Spock character that were Jewish he said:
"Spock is an alien wherever he is because he is not Vulcan and he is not human, he is half and half. He is a half-breed, what we called a half-breed, a mix breed. Vulcan father, human mother. So he is not totally at home in the Vulcan culture, not totally accepted in the Vulcan culture because he is not totally Vulcan, certainly not totally accepted in the human culture because he is part Vulcan. And that alienation was something I had learned in Boston. I knew what it meant to be a member of a minority and in some cases an outcast minority. So I understood that. I understood that aspect of the character and it was helpful when playing it."

::: Leonard Nimoy sings:
The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins: WATCH/LISTEN

photographs via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via
information via an interview in Yiddish and English, October 2013