SPEAKING OF LOVE

What’s love got to do… the word, the action, the meaning.
Sketching the story of Love.

Each story that’s remembered signifies something noteworthy that has been felt and comprehended, whether it was exceptional or of the everyday. The stories we tell represent actually bigger things, much bigger things than they seem to be… It is the empathy, the bond inbetween, it is sharing and caring, it is the connections between people.

The quality of (this) story is second-rate concern so long as the audience empathize with the person it is about or care for the one telling it. I hope you do care dear reader, because this story is simple, frank and simple. And the telling of it creates a shared experience.

I loved a person once.
I said it out loud only once, but I meant it each time I looked into his clear blue eyes, and I felt it in every thought and in every action…
In every touch, in every glance, in the warm wind, in the sunshine and the raindrops, the reflections in the seawater, and the shadows in the woods…

I met that person randomly, very randomly.
Warm, friendly, open and frank we were from the very beginning. We walked, we talked, we drank some tea. We walked a mile and more, we talked for hours, whole day… and whole night… sometimes both, in a row. We drank tons of tea, we laughed a lot and in many ways… and we cried together, frankly.

I guess that Ann Landers was right when defining love. She said, that love is a friendship that has caught fire. It is quiet understanding, mutual confidence, sharing and forgiving. It is loyalty through good and bad times. It settles for less than perfection and makes allowances for human weaknesses.

 

The beloved person…
It’s the person who makes you feel beautiful. The time spent together is the time when everything makes sense, absolutely everything – the past, the present and the future. It’s the feeling of certainty and unconditionality, it’s the deep breath of fresh air and the freedom.  It is everything.

It’s the feeling when you want to shout and whisper at the same time, it’s the warm dim light and the extreme sunshine inside… Like the song that goes: Sun inside me, its warm inside me, its you who make it right.

It’s the beauty of everything, different types of beauties: clear beauty, strong beauty, sad beauty, bad beauty… It’s the trust and the maximum dose of honesty, the knowing that he’s there no matter what, in good and bad. Priceless, uncomparable, real.

Being with him not only made sense and opened my eyes towards the little things and their meanings in the system, he had the ability to humanize things that weren’t considered to be alive. The sun, the air, the soil, the trees… everything was alive and so close… so powerful. Even Nelson Rockefeller noted once: “Never forget that the most powerful force on earth is love.”

But when it’s over… because of the environment, circumstances and one’s choice. It is still that beautiful feeling that is somewhere there. Dissolved in the air, in the sunny daylight, the raindrops, salt, the soil and the trees. It stays.

That deep and beautifully sad feeling, that makes you crawl around, see all the pointless buzz and dust around, pointless connections, empty words and people…
It makes sense, the world still makes sense.
It’s like living under a cold shower, neverending cold shower that keeps you sharp, keeps your senses fresh, eyes wide open, values crystal clear, enemies close, family and real friends warmly cherished. It balances and washes away the dirt. It’s a constant cold shower that keeps it all clear and simple. Simple enough to understand.
That shower a day keeps all bullshit away.

And it’s the gratitude, respect and gratitude. Fearless gratitude, raw and honest gratitude, naked truth with all the sacrifices, wounds and scars of the battles… Some lost, some won and new to come.
She’s still holding on.

You proved me that actions speak louder than words and I Thank You!

Once I loved… but I never thought that my love could be so cruel in
THE END.

 

Written by Julia Ahtijainen

SPEAKING OF RESPECT

FRANKLY SHORT OPINION ON NOWADAYS CULTURE WEAKPOINT

Four in the morning is both – too early and too late. Anyone awake must be up to no good, so let’s not ask any questions.

But she is still awake and asks questions, she risks and tries…
She reads and thinks, she writes and speaks…
She wraps all that other paper material and throws it away. The books, the writings, magazines and letters, memos and to-do-lists, ideas…
She lives by the point that if you want to create a lot, you have to destroy a lot. So she cleans her work table, her closet, her surroundings, and starts all over again… Based on the lessons learned, experiences gained… trusting no else than her instinct. She goes back to the basics and puts the details into the system.

But the system these days shows no respect. And without respect there’s no rules, no standards. Just chaos. What is respect if talking in a relation to the whole?

Respect is a standard-setter, a rule-maker. Respect makes possible the improvisation within the regulations and builds a skillful player. Respect creates the opportunity to develop, to push the limits.

RESPECT IS A PRACTICE.
Practice makes perfect.
And Italian ‘men of honor’ practice it a lot. Within Italian mafiosos respect grows into trees of honor, with love towards home, lots of red wine, knowledge passed by, music and dancing. Dancing, that’s correct. Tarantella, a dance, is a form of showing respect, setting the rules and passing by the customs. The don is always leading, and never leaving. He’s bound to his territory, he’s decision is law and law has to be always present. It’s a standard, a lifestyle based on respect. As Sergio, the don and master of tarantella says: “This is my land. It’s who I am and it’s what I do.” This is what he does…

So say what you say and write what you write, but…
With all my respect – actions do speak louder than words (tweets, Facebook posts and Instagram pics). And a trully frank person never speaks too much. She steps back to let her actions speak… Even if it takes place at four in the morning.

 

Written by Julia Ahtijainen

Insta_alexander mcqueen londen 2007 c anton corbijn

INSTANT CREATION OF IDENTITY

While we live in the surroundings of non-stop information growth, visual communication plays a crucial role, and the importance of pictorial information expands within our communication patterns. The reason lies in globalization and culture mixes and remixes. There is no need to translate a picture, generally it is more easily understood than textual or verbal message, and the meaning is less determined by locality. Besides that, new media scholars Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin emphasized that visuality is dominating because of the desire for immediacy, saying that the desire for immediacy is apparent in claims and that digital images are more exciting, lively, and realistic than mere text on a computer screen.

 

THE INTERNET GENERATION

Visuality is the main case of the Internet generation and it’s communication habits. It’s the generation that can be also characterized with informed naivety and the absence of critical intelligence. And by that I mean no analytical perspective towards media representations, and seeing the difference between real and the online-created meanings. One can detect also the heavy turn towards myths, consumerism, and individualism. The dominance of personal values and preferences, the new avant-garde, and the lost interest in deconstruction of reality. The objects used and meanings produced are overshadowed by nostalgia.

A person today is more likely to identify himself or herself through images and objects, being first-hand a consumer and representing the self online through the objects consumed and recorded.

Besides that the Internet generation perceives differently time, and different functioning of memory occurs here as well. In his essay “The Millenium, or Suspense of the Year 2000” French cultural theorist Jean Baudrillard states that time no longer counts forward progressively from an origin, it rather starts regressively from the end and that we live in the shadow of some final reckoning.

It is seen in the comeback of different eras, the trend of the 90’s in the clothing styles, music samples and overall imagery. It is the mixture of the old and new, valuing the stories behind vintage objects owned and worn. It is the rise of brands with heritage and their story, the home-grown and home-made, the DIY trend. It’s the whole reconstruction of the history, the meanings and understanding, the perception and the new consumerism.

 

PERCEPTION AND CONSUMPTION

Different perception of time determines different perception of one’s self and others. German sociologist Ulrich Beck has written that huge array of identities with which the modern consumer is currently faced may give rise to a sense of risk and uncertainty.

But these risks can be “managed” by ordering them into coherent “lifestyles” – the subject to various forms of social regulation and also social semiotics.

And today there are more different lifestyles, sub-cultural identities and niche markets than has ever been before.

So if we perceive time differently today and define ourselves through consumption and leisure activities, our identity is diverse and in the constant changing. In the book „Shopping, place and identity“ by Peter Jackson, Michael Rowlands, and Daniel Miller, the shifting nature of personal identities in late modernity has been debated at length. For example authors of this book state that contemporary identities can be theorized through narratives of self-identity that are continually monitored and constantly revised. Identities are seen as plural and dynamic, depending on spaces and places. This conception of identity suits the Internet generation communication patterns described above.

 

THE PROCESS OF (SELF)IDENTIFICATION AND REPRESENTATION

Due to the information overflow and the Internet, the border between decades and styles, values and preferences is blurred. “Everything is allowed” and “Everything is in” sayings are the ones that describe the Internet generation of today. Considering the new self-representations and constructed identities through self-reportage and blogging, there’s an overflow of self-built and controlled online contents, obsessions with autobiography, and statement-based moment shout-outs. Photographic reportage, shifting identities and revision practices, lead me to a strong example – popular online platform Instagram. An app (or computer application) that is designed for users to update their beings and doings, through capturing the moments, filtering them through retro styled photo-layers, and revealing them in online world.

So why? Why to photo-report constantly?

Because seeing is believing. The sound answer that lies in the Arthur Asa Berger’s book “Seeing Is Believing: an introduction to visual communication”. I agree with Berger’s main point, which is about the problem of objectivity. There are too many variables in photography: camera angles, use of light and dark, colours, textures, composition and focus…

One must recognize that a picture is always an interpretation of reality, not reality itself.

Photography, though it is a mechanical process, does not automatically reproduce reality. If talking Instagram, I’d like to take off from Berger’s three points chosen:

1. Evidence and glamorization
There are two extremes between which photography operates. The photos we scroll every day are a stimuli that “activate” our minds by setting off the appropriate responsive chord. These photos exploit what is already in our heads – the cultural lore we have stored up as a result of our education and experiences. Connected with our desires, the photos we see, work as a latent dissatisfaction with ourselves the way we are as our hopes for better self in the future. And so we live our lives, suspended in a sense, between the mug shot of everyday reality and the life of glamour and romance that followed icons and their photo feed promises us.

2. The pose: figure and the ground
Reading photographs correctly requires background information or what might be called in the context of this writing – „consumer cultural literacy“. If you do not recognize, for example, that a trench coat that hangs in the corner of a restaurant has the logo of an expensive British fashion brand, you’ve missed something its owner wanted to convey. In many cases poses are a representation not of a character but rather of a personality. And to be more exact, if a character develops through action, then the term personality comes from a word persona aka the mask. Our personalities are the masks that we present to the world, and the photography of Instagram  one is viewing may be capturing this mask, and not the „real“ self of the stalked one.

What we see, to a great degree, is affected by what we know.

The degree of cultural literacy we have, the extent to which we can understand allusions and references to things, we can evaluate the socio-economic significance of props and objects that our persona represents there.

3. The photograph and narcissism
The photograph is used as a record of our existence and the existence of our loved ones, and the moments we share. But photographs possess an autoerotic element as well. Here I’m talking about the photographs we take of ourselves. There is some measure of consolation in retreating into ourselves, into what might be described as an imagistic form of narcissism. Like Narcissus, the mythological figure who fell in love with his own reflection, our photographs do have a powerful self-referential eroticism about them. We may not go as far as Narcissus, but we do have strong feelings about our image, as presented to us by photographs – the difference between the idealized image of ourselves that we “see” in the mirror vs. the harsh reality of the photograph.

 

If viewing instant photo-production as a discourse, as with any dominant discourse, it has its weaknesses, fissures and challengers.  Sure thing that it’s the opportunity to be different, to paint a lifestyle picture of oneself.  But all in all our digital lives are one of the few areas in which we have the potential to actually curate our selves. We regularly employ observational and ethnographic techniques to unpick the disconnect between what people say, and what they do. Our challenge today, surely, is to understand the foundations needed for new worlds that grow and prosper through the gaps that instant online platforms’ content creates. Enable us to get under the skin of these digital ‘selves’ and understand what people are trying to say and achieve through them.

 

Written by Julia Ahtijainen

PRADA PLAYS

Have you seen Prada latest short film ‘A Therapy‘ directed by Roman Polanski, which was premiered at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival? I’ve been watching it every day since it’s release. And must admit that it plays with the modern viewer on many levels, without loosing it’s style. And not to mention always working and attention grabbing classical movie frame and wonderful cast of three: Ben Kingsley, Helena Bonham Carter and the Prada Coat.

THE THEME

Polanski uses as the main narrative the Sigmund Freud element. By element I mean here taking up the whole knowledge about Mr Freud and assuming that almost everyone knows who Sigmund Freud was and many are familiar with Freudian heritage. So the Freud’s
element, the therapy session, is the main narrative of this short film. By reconstructing the famous room of Sigmund Freud, with a better positioning of furniture, and added technology (laptop on doctor’s table), and the usage of rich (probably Jewish) and lonely female character, Polanski creates recognizable and simply understandable scene to, I assume, all of the Prada brand wearers and lovers. Associating the brand with popular science, spicing it a bit with academia, contradictional and definitely sexy psychoanalysis, the loneliness – so actual in contemporary individualistic society, unknown and tricky subconscious, and mature desires. Presenting it all in retro styled sauce.

THE MESSAGE

The cherry on top. Film starts to culminate when the background music starts to play and doctor recognizes his patient’s coat, this seductive lavender fur coat, while dynamic camera movement dramaticizes the whole scene. And here, Polanski presents smartly the
Prada-item, using all communication levels, simply and smartly:
On the visual level – the item is beautiful and captures doctor’s gaze.
On the kinesthetic level – it is a pure joy for a doctor’s to touch the coat.
On the fragrant level – doctor also enjoys the smell of collar. And by the end:

“Prada Suits Everyone!”

Message constructed following today’s trend of unisex clothing, girlfriend-boyfriend jeans,
androgynous bodies… Prada takes it all to the whole another level, always with the classy
tone. No matter the age and gender, no matter the problems – Prada is such a noble clothing
brand, that it just simply suits everyone.

 

By the way… Sorry, by the PRADA – it will heal all your problems, suit and satisfy your needs.

 

Written by Julia Ahtijainen