Tag Archives | kitsch

From kitsch to Park Avenue: the cultural history of the plastic pink flamingo

Ryan Hyde (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Don Featherstone, the creator of the iconic lawn ornament, died in June. Ryan Hyde (CC BY-SA 2.0)

In 1957, a 21-year-old art school graduate named Don Featherstone created his second major design for the Massachusetts-based lawn and garden decoration manufacturer Union Products: a three-dimensional plastic pink flamingo propped up by two thin, metal legs that could be plunged into soft dirt.

Featherstone’s duck and flamingo ornaments sold in pairs for US$2.76, and were advertised as “Plastics for the Lawn.” They became simultaneously popular and derided in the late 1950s and remain a recognizable species of American material culture.

Featherstone died this past June, but over five decades after he submitted his design, the plastic pink flamingo continues to grace American lawns and homes. While many are quick to label the plastic ornament as the epitome of kitsch, the flamingo has actually taken a rather tumultuous flight through an ever-changing landscape of taste and class.… Read the rest

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Why Google’s Deep Dream Is Future Kitsch

A Google Deep Dream rendering of the September 11, 2001, attack on the Twin Towers. (Photo: Matěj Schneider/Twitter)

A Google Deep Dream rendering of the September 11, 2001, attack on the Twin Towers. (Photo: Matěj Schneider/Twitter)

Are you tired of hearing about Google’s Deep Dream algorithm yet?

Over at Pacific Standard, Kyle Chayka explores how Google’s Deep Dream is ultimately kitsch.

Kitsch “offers instantaneous emotional gratification without intellectual effort, without the requirement of distance, without sublimation,” according to the philosopher Walter Benjamin, a pioneer of the idea. The description fits perfectly for this new genre of algorithmically generated imagery. It requires no criticality or particular intellectual effort to digest, nor does it provide much reward in return. Deep Dream is our own visual culture, chopped up in a blender and spoon-fed back to us.

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Eat Your Fate: Tarot Card Dinner Plates

Via Neatoshop:

“Eat what thou wilt is the whole of the law; Food is the law, food under your recommended caloric intake.”

Expect dinner to esoterrific with these Tarot card dinner plates.

Designs available include The Sun, The Moon, The Emperor, The Empress, The World, The Lovers.

Sadly, no Death, Devil or Hanged Man.

These plates would not have been out of place in the early seventies, and could have been nicely accompanied with my parents’ plastic astrological sign cups.

It’s a sign of the times, perhaps.

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