John Hurrell – 13 October, 2011
Perhaps we the onlookers are similar, hungrily thinking about meaning from JahJahSphinx's selection - something that we crave and which constantly eludes us? Does the image's sense become more palpable if the animal is ‘performing' to create the image, with no Photoshopping involved? If not, what does that imply for the dog and fingerwagging trainer?
27 August - 6 November 2011
In this Te Tuhi billboard project the image appropriating Melbourne-based blog collective, JahJahSphinx, presents one photograph (‘found’ online) repeated three times. It’s a large productless advertisement - promoting only the artists themselves, indirectly via the enquiry-answering gallery.
The hoarding apparently attracts a lot of attention from drivers on Reeves Road, the cute poodle luring admiring glances like a magnet. But actually this image has a lot going for it apart from funny fluffy canine charm. For what you see is not what you are getting.
It appears to be a very obedient dog stuffed into a polo neck and jacket dutifully watching its (mainly) hidden owner who is waving an extended forefinger under its nose. I think in reality - assuming no collaging or Photoshopping processes are involved - that the dog’s body is hidden so that its neck is resting on a headless, formally dressed mannequin (the animal itself is not dressed up), positioned in front of the out-of-focus maroon background. It looks like a dog-person, not a humanoid-dog. In other words, most of it is ‘human’. Like a standing puppet or propped up ventriloquist’s dummy.
The poodle’s gaze intrigues, the intensity of its concentration. It is probably hungry and thinking about a biscuit that we cannot see - and so fervently listening to the woman’s voice.
Perhaps we the onlookers are similar, hungrily thinking about meaning from JahJahSphinx’s selection - something that we crave and which constantly eludes us? Does the image’s ‘sense’ become more palpable if the animal is ‘performing’ to create the image, with no Photoshopping involved? If that technology is being used, what does that imply for the dog, finger and implied speaking owner? Is the image faking the apparent owner/pet interaction, or have I got it totally wrong so that if not behind the dummy then the crinkly beast really is crammed inside the white jersey?
Most obviously and outside such issues, as a hoarding this fascinatingly enigmatic picture features the power of command and an insistent imperative tone - achieved not only by the instructive finger and obedient pupil but also by the repetition. A mood queues of motorists who work in Auckland might relate to.
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