Simulated Truths

  • The Grocery Shoppers
  • Power Purge
  • Logical
  • Wedding Plans
  • Coffee Boy
  • Fundamentals of Anatomy
  • Vow of Silence
  • The Break-In
  • Field Trip - The Future
  • Field Trip - Rockefeller Diptych
  • Levi's Remorse - No. 1
  • Ball Go Far - No. 1
  • The Dawn of Non-Conformity
  • Re-Conform
  • The Swimmer - No. 1

This collection is celebration and indictment of the TV commercial: the omnipresent merchant of dissatisfaction and indispensable lubricant of capitalism.  The warped reflection of our unfulfilled longings. The artist worked in the production of TV commercials for more than three decades, first as an assistant cameraman, then for over twenty years as a Director of Photography, mastering the creation of imagery, cunningly designed to seduce and manipulate.  Propaganda for free enterprise. Advertising, the victory of style over substance, repurposed here to emphasize substance; reimagined to place style in the service of substance.

The Grocery Shoppers

The Grocery Shoppers

A grocery store parking lot becomes the unlikely scene of some ominous, possibly momentous, even supernatural event. It was captured during a shoot for a 'Mike’s Hard Lemonade' commercial in Vancouver, British Columbia that would feature a sudden invasion by 'ape-like' men.

Power Purge

Power Purge

Here, a device used to clean automotive engines, is glorified and presented as a totem. The photograph demonstrates how advertising sanctifies ordinary objects, evoking analogues to pagan idolatry.

Logical

Logical

This photograph presents a common advertising trope: the everyman. Here he is placed squarely in the everyman’s natural habitat. The word 'logical' on his t-shirt invites consideration of other possibilities for an everyman’s intellectual and emotional processes. In fact, 'logical' may be an aspirational, less likely, aspect.

Wedding Plans

Wedding Plans

Advertising frequently co-opts authentic emotional interactions and human connections. Actors are carefully chosen, as Rockwellian archtypes — quintessential representations of 'mothers, 'daughters,' and the like — and placed within meticulously art directed simulations of familiar settings. Here a 'caring mother' advises her 'daughter' as they plan for the daughter’s wedding. This poignant moment might then be manipulatively conflated with a brand of baked goods, coffee, or even feminine hygiene.

Coffee Boy

Coffee Boy

The scenario here is carefully constructed to provoke sympathy for the subservient 'coffee boy,' confronted by his unappreciative, egotistical, overbearing — probably incompetent — supervisor. The characters are deliberately heightened for comedic effect to make light of an all too familiar, unpleasant human experience.

Fundamentals of Anatomy

Fundamentals of Anatomy

This familiar scene — a family gathered around the kitchen table — is used to lend authenticity to a whimsical trope: the precocious child. The boy will answer the question his parents cannot answer for themselves, which inevitably leads to the advertised product.

Vow of Silence

Vow of Silence

Here used for comedic effect, the scenario is one where integrity is of the highest possible order. Yet the deliciousness of a particular, crunchy candy bar will prove more than what either monk can resist.

The Break-In

The Break-In

The scene here evokes a 'whodunit' by creating the appearance of a burglary, though with the anachronistic orange fingerprint. The commercial eventually reveals the 'burglar' as the apparent victim’s own roommate, who has stolen his Cheese Nips: a snack so irresistible that the roommate has resorted to common thievery.

Field Trip – The Future

Field Trip – The Future

The 'Field Trip' series comes from a commercial simulation — conceived and created by the artist — that was made for submission to a Tesla-sponsored contest. The commercial, a competition finalist, conceives of a future in which gas stations no longer exist, because internal combustion engines no longer exist, thanks to Tesla. The fieldtrip, and classroom, exists within a highly adanced virtual reaility. Here the teacher has initiated the VR.

Field Trip – Rockefeller Diptych

Field Trip – Rockefeller Diptych

The 'Field Trip' series comes from a commercial simulation — conceived and created by the artist — that was made for submission to a Tesla-sponsored contest. The commercial, a competition finalist, conceives of a future in which gas stations no longer exist, because internal combustion engines no longer exist, thanks to Tesla. The fieldtrip, and classroom, exists within a highly adanced virtual reality. Here the teacher has manifested an AI-generated hologram of John D. Rockefeller, to help explain his role in humanity’s destructive exploitation of fossil fuels.

Levi’s Remorse – No. 1

Levi’s Remorse – No. 1

The Levi’s 'Remorse' series comes from a simulated commercial, conceived and created by the artist, that tracks a young woman’s grief over the near-destruction of her most coveted pair of blue jeans. The scenario is contrived and fanciful. It strains credulity that anyone would demonstrate the level of remorse expressed by the young woman here. In fact, any person with this level of attachment to an article of clothing would be viewed as insane. The suspension of disbelief demanded by commercials is often much greater than ordinary narrative. It also demonstrates the idealization of material objects that commercials promote.

Ball Go Far – No. 1

Ball Go Far – No. 1

The 'Ball Go Far' series comes from a concept for Nike Golf that was re-conceived by the artist. Here the notion of how far the golfer can drive the golf ball, something highly valued by golfers, is taken to a, wildly unrealistic, extreme.

The Dawn of Non-Conformity

The Dawn of Non-Conformity

This image graphically establishes the commercial’s premise.

Re-Conform

Re-Conform

This image indicates that consumption of any mass-produced item is inevitably an act of conformity.

The Swimmer – No. 1

The Swimmer – No. 1

This image is from a commercial simulation for Kaiser Permanente that was conceived and created by the artist. The trope is a variation of the universally relatable 'everywoman.' In this variation the everywoman does something extraordinary: she swims the frigid waters of San Francisco Bay for her overall well-being, and as ongoing therapy for her arthritis and knee-replacement surgery. 'I can do it, if she can do it,' we are meant to believe.

Julian Whatley