The Influence of Constructivism

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Determining the Influences of Soviet Propaganda on Contemporary Advertising and Promotion

The purpose of this study is to look at the representation of political ideology on Soviet posters and the ways in which this style continues to influence today’s advertising and popular culture. Though there are many forms of propaganda the forms of propaganda I intend to discuss in this essay are visual. The areas I aim to further my understanding of are the representation of political ideologies on today’s contemporary popular culture. I intend to investigate the idea that the Constructivists created the blueprint for modern consumerism and methods of advertising. I will investigate semiotics and Marxism in context with my study. In today’s society of consumerist culture I think the topic of propaganda is interesting as I feel propaganda goes hand in hand with advertising. In today’s society we are relentlessly saturated with loaded words and images, for this reason I wanted to investigate the origins of consumerism and today’s advertising. The purpose of Soviet propaganda was to create a new type of world; Lenin wanted to remodel the world under Socialist Realism and visual propaganda played an important part in this. Using propaganda to influence people’s thoughts and actions by making them act on feelings rather than rational thought. I am going to investigate the idea that soviet Marxist ideology continues to influence

To illustrate my idea I am going to discuss the semiotics of a Soviet poster designed by Alexander Rodchenko for Gosizdat (fig.1) in 1924 the poster is a typical example of the stark, distinct and timeless design of the era. The poster features Lilia brick, a muse of Vladimir Mayakovsky and later Alexander Rodchenko. The poster was designed as mass spread agitprop intended to spread the ideals of Socialist Realism with its vision of a widespread literate society. The simplified bold graphic is typical of the work produced during the Constructivist movement; the lack of decoration or of representational depiction of objects ties in with the movement’s aims to keep the production purely informative and functional. “Art that fails to become part of life will be catalogued in the museum of archaeological antiquities” (Rodchenko The poster features a woman, Lilia Brick, wearing a kerchief; clothes of the proletarian workers. This design and its message was calculated so that the proletarian of Russia would relate and engage with the message the image conveys. The woman is shouting “Books” inside a trapezoid shape, as most of the population were illiterate it was necessary for the image to be understood visually. “Pictures indeed could be more potent than writing because they ‘impose meaning at one stroke’ but semiotic communication could extend beyond both the verbal and the visual” (Visual Culture, Richard Howels, 2003, page 100) Personally, I think this is a timeless image but I don’t think it is very understandable without the text. It is an example of the constructivist’s novel experiments with juxtaposition and photography. Contemporary posters and graphics are testament to the strength of design this age produced.

To further illustrate my idea I am going to discuss the semiotics of three advertising images and compare them with the Gosizdat (fig.1) 1924 Lilia Brick poster from the Soviet era, which they are derivative of. The images I will discuss come from a broad spectrum in popular culture. I will look at an image from a political campaign, a mobile phone advert and a popular indie band. In order to sell and appeal, it is my opinion that these products and ideologies have borrowed the connotations of power and directness that these Soviet posters command. A humorous take on poster from the Barak Obama campaign featuring a dog in the place of Lilia Brick became a hit on the Internet. This suggests the poster has widespread appeal on masse. The poster was not affiliated with the campaign.

An example...
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