Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The People's Media: Case Study on the Art of Emory Douglas

The People's Media: Case Study on the Art of Emory Douglas
article by Jocelyn M. Goode

Media moves people. Its forms include t.v. and cable networks, the internet, radio stations, magazines, newspapers, blogs, social network websites, and commercial advertising. Everyday speech and conversations are hodge-podges of mass-media produced soundbytes and slogans. It is clear that marketing and promotional hype is responsible for way most Americans think and the subsequent choices they make.

Decoding media requires breaking it down to its elements. These are symbols, graphics, color and type that drive the ideas communicating specific messages and attitudes. Taking the examination further raises questions of ownership, intent and interest. Who controls media? Who stands to gain the most from the messages in mass media? Who stands to lose the most from the same messages? What ideas and attitudes does mass media promote? To what effect?

For some initial answers, simply turn on the television, browse the internet, or step outside. The most accessible media pushes consumption, sex, fear and violence. And effectively so, look at the state of this country's government and citizens. Many are programmed autobots parroting mediated perspectives without understanding their implications and fulfiling mandates to buy and be blissfully ignorant.

What would happen if the same mechanisms that endow the invisible hand of mass media with limitless power, were utilized to energize the population with political and social agency? FAIM Internet Magazine takes a trip back in time to answer this question.

Back in the days of the mid-1960's, when racist and economic oppression were undeniably blatant and brutal, the Black Panther Party emerged. Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale founded the party in 1966 in Oakland, California to empower the most attacked people to defend themselves and to demand the end of global capitalism and imperialistic oppression. Emory Douglas, formerly of the Black Arts Movement of the time was appointed as the Minister of Culture for the Black Panther Party.  His responsibility today would be the equivalent of brand manager and art director. Emory Douglas produced the visuals to represent the Party's platform and designed the layout and graphics for their weekly newspaper.

Communicating the urgency of self-defense was crucial. The American government and its police forces readily attacked Black communities, murdering and torturing innocent people without penalty. The Black Panther Party recognized the power of the media, printing over 400,000 copies of the "Black Panther" newspaper each week at its peak. The publication frequently displayed images of revolutionary art, which at the time had been a powerful tool internationally in garnering grassroot momentum of social and political issues.

One of Douglas' most famous depictions is of the "Pig". The term refers in particular to the police and is defined as "a low natured beast that has no regard for law, justice, or the rights of people; a creature that bites the hand that feeds it; a foul, depraved traducer, usually found masquerading as the victim of an unprovoked attack."1 Painting a picture in the minds of people, especially of their enemy in its exposed ugliness, proved powerful and permanent. Pig is still in today' vernacular to describe police and snitches.

Women, mothers and children were also symbols in Emory' art. By repetitiously showing women, men and families together in the struggle, he was able to foster an acceptance of equality for women that was revolutionary at the time. Additionally, the image of strong women and armed mothers produced a visceral reaction in many viewers who formed emotional associations with the representations.

Emory Douglas' art showing everyday people armed, defending and steadfast was a major charge in moving them to physical resistance. These visuals coupled with phrases projected the ideas into the minds of the people, whose actions manifested the meaning of the messages. Media moves people. And what was the result? The Black Panther Party established 45 chapters across the country within 6 years. People of oppressed communities organized and ran Free Breakfast Programs, Free Shoe Programs, Sickle-Cell Anemia Testing Programs and Freedom Schools. Key members of the Black Panther Party even ran national campaigns for seats in American government. The Black Panther newspaper and Emory's art were instrumental in mobilizing people from being victims to agents of their own survival.

The power of media is not limited to the present-day controllers of mass communication. Behind it all are thinkers, artists, designers, writers and directors, people like the readers of FAIM Internet Magazine. As is shown in the example of the Black Panther Party newspaper and in the revolutionary art of Emory Douglas, consistent, intentional messages coupled with powerful imagery have a signficant impact, even on the most localized and independent scale. Let more embrace the power to use the skills of media-mastery in the interest of the greater, common good. The future of our survival depends on it everyone's participation in the solution.

1. Black Panther The Revolutionary Art of Emory Douglas. p 28. Rizzoli, New York, 2007. 

All art done by Emory Douglas

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Belle Experience-Revealing the Beauty of Kansas City

Commentary and photos by Jocelyn M. Goode

I stepped off the plane into Kansas City on early Friday June 5, 2009 with nothing on my mind because I promised not to bring any preconceptions with me. All I knew was that I'd be painting live at a studio-salon and 29 Pennies, the D.J. of the event had all the details worked out.

Morning quickly transitioned into afternoon where I found myself in downtown Kansas City, Missouri in absolute awe of the beautiful architecture and the graphic murals that spread across city buildings. Three quarters of a bison burger and a chocolate malt later, it was game time. Equipped with new painting supplies and materials, courtesy of my host 29 Pennies, I arrived at Belle Epoque to set-up.

Still unsure of what to expect or even the name of the evening's event, I stepped through the doors of the studio-salon. Instantly I realized I was in a place of great style and design. Original paintings decked the varnished walls. Tracks of bright lights lined the ceiling of the salon, which provides edgy haircuts, hair color customization and stylized cosmetology. 

J. Goode was a featured artist of the evening, there to complete a painting alla prima on a platform in the main window. I was just one instrument of the symphony of talent that night. Outside of Belle Epoque were two musicians jamming on the electric keyboard and guitar. 29 Pennies kept the vibe pulsating inside spinning the most exclusive hits in Deep House music. Stylists created hair masterpieces in the main window of the salon, drawing in passer-bys into the event like moths to a flame. The creative energy generated at the event lit up the whole artsy block.

The culminating segment of the night was a fashion show where bikini-clad models sported a new line of eco-friendly reusable bags. Guests filtered in and out of the space during the three hours it took for me to complete my painting. I chose to give props to Kansas City by including two famous landmarks in my composition. Many inspired guests had the will to approach me while I was working to share interesting facts about the city.

The array of diversity and creativity was amazing. Never would I have imagined that an under-the-radar place such as Kansas City would epitomize all the FAIM Internet Magazine represents-Fashion, Art, Interactivity and Movement. Belle Epoque's event was a success and I am honored to have played a part in making it a hit. To learn more about the studio-salon which hosts other types of interactive, creative showcases, visit www.belleepoque-kc.com. To learn more about the art and architecture of Kansas City, get on a plane and go see it for yourself, it's definitely worth the journey!

J.Goode laying down the beginnings of her painting

My host, 29 Pennies spinning Deep House
Robert Anthony and Merisa Okic of Pique Magazine covered the event

My painting completed in three hours

Monday, June 1, 2009

Cabcorner.com-Save Money, Save the Air

by Jocelyn M. Goode, Founder FAIM Magazine

June 1, 2009

Who would guess that a catching a cab is the next new trend in saving money? The founder of Cabcorner.com, Jonathan McKinney  did. He took his concept of coordinated cab-sharing and turned it into an urban commodity. 

Cabcorner.com is a website where people needing a cab can set-up rides at select "hot spots", which are usually in front of stores, restaurants and coffee shops in the greater NYC area.The website also allows patrons to join in on rides scheduled by other users traveling in similar directions, from similar areas at similar times. 

Another benefit to Cabcorner.com is that it reduces what John calls "carbon footprints", the toxins released in the air when 12,500 NYC yellow cabs transport single riders in 70% of their rides. The service provides benefits to the air, the drivers and the riders, easily making it  the next best thing.

Cabcorner.com's evolvement from idea to reality is just as inspiring as the concept. John McKinney conceived of the internet service while waiting for a cab yet wishing that he didn't have to use all the money in his pocket to afford the ride. He thought of a way where people going in the same direction at the same time, could link up to split a cab. 

Once he had the idea down, he shared it with friends for feedback and sought the affirmation from people he respected. Friends supported the idea of Cabcorner.com and shared their contacts with John creating what he calls "collective intelligence". The premise of the concept is the more people that participate, the cheaper the service will cost and the better the quality will be.

Following a recommendation from a friend, John linked with a college graduate who had specialized skills relevant to building a website like Cabcorner.com. Together they realized the idea into fruition.

Cabcorner.com has been present on facebook.com and other social networking sites since May 16, 2009. It has yet to be released to the general public, however it will launch a marketing campaign in the months to come to increase awareness of the cab-sharing benefits. 

Those interested in learning more may visit the website and schedule rides to test drive the service. For more information about Cabcorner.com visit www.cabcorner.com or email Jonathan McKinney at cabcorner@gmail.com

Jonathan McKinney, Cabcorner.com Founder breaks down being an entrepreneur.