SKYE NICOLAS, OMG (cool dots) Silver Edition, 2011
Metallic c-print signed and numbered limited edition of 8
11.5 x 15 in (29.21 x 38.1 cm)
A Curious Investigation Into The Power of Branding
The OMG series indubitably reveals artist Skye Nicolas’ genius in articulating the complexity of discussing multiple capacious topics almost effortlessly through the brevity of his approach towards presentation. The series boldly investigates the curious parallels between religious iconography and modern day corporate branding; both subjects subsume striking similarities in practice and seem to share the same basic principles of marketing to promote a given single entity. The effectiveness of these methodical practices manifests the phenomena of devotion, worship, and even to an extent extreme fanaticism; systematically observed as the result of a formidable and successful campaign.
The American Marketing Association (AMA) defines a brand as a “name, term, sign, symbol or design, or a combination of these elements intended to identify the goods and services of a seller or group of sellers, and to differentiate them from other sellers. Furthermore, the AMA concurs that it is crucial to understand that branding is not about a target market choosing a specific brand over its competitor, but it is simply about getting prospect buyers to see the proposed product as the only one that provides a solution to their problem.
Nicolas’ appropriation of Adolf Hyla’s the Divine Mercy (1944), demonstrates the act of appropriation as an integral part of each piece in the series, signifying it’s undeniable popularity as a result of the countless reproduction of this most recognizable image of Christ in contemporary society. Through the appropriation process, not only does Nicolas bring forth the fascinating concept of Christ as a valid example of perhaps the most powerful and successful brand in all of history, one that has survived and thrived through centuries of social change, but he also clearly illustrates the commodification of an otherwise sacred image. This informative demonstration of transformation shows us how a modern free market economy can reduce even the most holy of figures into an easily available product. Even so, the power of the brand continues to communicate its message with all its identity intact, proving the sheer force encapsulated in what could be the quintessentially perfect brand model.
The letters OMG an acronym for “Oh my God!”, or its variation “oh my gosh”, was originally popularized with the use of shorthand text communication between teenagers and young adults; it is now considered to be one of the most used colloquial expressions not limited to online conversation and mobile phone texting, but has also been adopted as an acceptable figure of speech in the English language. Often used an intensifier to express various emotional responses could also be said of how branding works on a deep emotional level. The elegantly stylized typography juxtaposed with Christ’s image almost immediately captures our attention just as would a carefully designed ad campaign for luxury goods.
This ironic use of word play is descriptive of Nicolas’ series Sinatra Howls From The Underground (2009), which explores the fundamental yet potent tactics of 21st century advertising. The beautifully rendered series gives us a clear portrait of a transmedia consciousness that engorges itself on mass produced imagery, and a culture that has accepted corporate branding and mass consumption as an acceptable and inevitable way of life.