Zayn El Hajji
First Year Writing
The Replication of Everything
Replication, reproduction, repetition, it is all the same in the end. Postmodernism was defined by its use of replication and reproduction to show the dehumanization of the mass production capitalistic world. David Foster Wallace writes in the book A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll never do again “The apotheosis of the pop in postwar art marked a whole new marriage between high and low culture. For the artistic viability of post modernism was a direct consequence, again, not of any new facts about art, but of facts about the new importance of mass commercial culture. Americans seemed no longer united so much by common beliefs as by common images.” What this is saying is that the idea of a common belief such as religion or politics has disappeared, and be replaced by whatever the mass commercialistic society has shoved down the throats of the people. Society during this time period was becoming what it is today, a society not of beliefs, but of brands, Coca Cola or Pepsi Cola, paper or plastic, The Mustang or The Camaro. “The things that you own end up owning you”2 said by Tyler Durden in Fight Club.
The use of Replication is shown all over in postmodernism art, literature, even architecture. The works of Andy Warhol really demonstrate this concept. Warhol’s painting, Campbell’s Soup Cans, dated 1962 is a great example of replication, we have something as simple as canned soup but at the same time it is more, it is a name, it is a brand, it is Campbell’s Soup. The individual cans are not important from the pea soup to the tomato to the iconic chicken noodle, what is important is that it is Campbell’s Soup, it becomes more significant about what it is with the replication of it, 32 times in this painting, 100 in another one, and 200 in another one. The singularity of each individual dies with the replication and the whole, the name, the brand, the shape, the colors of that they share, becomes the symbol that it is.
This idea of replication of brand making, of symbolism goes into society of today completely but during the time period, the time when marketing went was pushing at one of its strongest moments, the people become a people of brands, which is what Andy Warhol is trying to show through this work. There is no individuality just the name on it.
Warhol did this concept in countless forms. The biggest form that symbolized this idea the greatest was Warhol’s piece, Marilyn Monroe Diptych. This went beyond the idea of replication; it went into the dehumanization of replication. Here an idol of a generation, of an era in time, dehumanized through odd coloring, skin becoming hot pink in one set of images and fading out into white in by the last. The dehumanization of the idol known as Marilyn Monroe through the odd coloring and replication of her face only represented the dehumanization of the person Marilyn Monroe as she became the idol in society’s eyes. Marilyn Monroe no longer became a person, she become an idea and that is what is being represented her through the constant replication of her image. Even though this image is hot pink, or completely void of any color, we still know this to be Marilyn Monroe, and even though the image is copied to the point that the image loses meaning, the idea that this is still Marilyn Monroe keeps the meaning alive beyond the individual image could possible give.
Artists like Andy Warhol using replication were trying to represent the idea that idols like Marilyn Monroe of the fifties, sixties and seventies, and Pamela Anderson of the nineties, and Kim Kardashain of current day society, are really nothing but the idea of them. These people are not really people; they are identities of a generation in time. “…it’s unlikely Monroe could have had any long-term career. Film revisionists have taken to insisting she was an underrated actress (mostly because of Some Like it...
Cited: Calvino, Italo. Invisible Cities. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1974. Print.
Fight Club. Perf. Brad Pit and Edward Norton. 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, 2000.
Klosterman, Chuck. Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto. New York: Scribner, 2003. Print.
Pynchon, Thomas. The Crying of Lot 49. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1966. Print.
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