Artist Heidi Cody and her grocery store mascot mutiny

Artist Heidi Cody makes all kinds of crazy work using corporate mascots and scenes of nature as portrayed on grocery store packaging. With collaborator Pete Beeman, she currently has this large kinetic sculpture (below) showing at the LAB Gallery in New York (47th & Lexington) through July 31.

In Ad Nauseam, I wrote about how her work illustrates the extent to which consumer culture has become our natural environment. We can identify corporate logos by the tiniest fragment, but can barely name a single plant or tree native to our neighborhoods.


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  1. HAHAHA you need to watch the video where she talks about the Cutty Sark, that’s some funny shit, although I have a headache now listening to the Heidi ‘pirate’ voice. Still funny.

  2. The business about how people can recognize corporate logos but not recognize tree or other plant species is really not as useful as it might seem at first glance. It sort of makes the assumption that there was a time when everyday people COULD recognize tree or other plant species. I’m just not sure how widespread plant recognition would have been in bygone decades or centuries. Farmers, yes. Hunters and trappers, yes. Maybe even loggers and poets and pioneers. Wealthy sort of Jane Austin types – yes. But shoemakers? Coopers? Factory workers? Shopkeepers? Peasants? I don’t know. And how far back does one have to go to a time when even a significant percentage of the people would be able to name a good number of a sample of plant species? Sixty years? 100 years? 200 years? More? Should we aspire to societal conditions of 200 years ago?
    I don’t know, but I do know I’m wary of self-flagellation. And, even though I’m occasionally guilty of it like everyone else, I am also wary of nostalgia fetishing.

  3. We can identify corporate logos by the tiniest fragment, but can barely name a single plant or tree native to our neighborhoods.

    I am proud to say this is not true of myself or my immediate family. I know the names of every tree on my land, even the naturalized non-natives.

    On the other claw, I am ashamed to say that although there are five other families in the valley, I can only identify members of two on sight. The other three never leave their properties except by car. Two families I have never seen outside even in their own yards – they use robotic garage door openers and never open their exterior house doors. I feel like I ought to reach out to them, but when I wave at them passing by, I recieve only blank stares in return.

  4. Another thing about the business about naming plants and trees and such – I don’t know about you all, but none of my plants or trees or flowers have names printed on ’em.

    Sure, I can identify the Coca-Cola logo or IBM’s lettering, but those logos kinda contain the name of the product.

    More abstract things like the Nike swoosh are still almost inevitably coupled with the name of the company (“Swoosh. Nike Nike NIKE!”), so again the association is easy.

    If all of my plants had helpful little labels on them or speakers that chimed in when I walked by (“Swoosh! Daisy Daisy DAISY!”) then I’m sure I’d remember their names in nothing flat, too.

  5. We no longer graze the fields and forests, we graze supermarkets and restaurants, so in many ways logo and package identification have appropriately replaced flora and fauna identification. For most people in heavily urbanized societies, knowledge plants and animals in the field has little direct use (outside of recognizing things like poison ivy). But go into a modern supermarket and become amazed at all of the people who can recognize fruits and vegetables from distant locations, know how to tell if they’re ripe, and how to use them in cooking. Go out to farm country, and see how well versed folks are in weed/crop disambiguation. We learn this things from need all of the time, and by avocation some of the time (the native plants I can see through the skylight behind me are Red Spruce, White Pine, Pignut Hickory, Sugar Maple, and Red Oak). If I were strictly a city person (like most of us), my knowing that would be an indicator of how much leisure time I have (or my working as a groundskeeper or arborist).

    SPEONJOHN, a century ago, even the factory workers and shoemakers would need to be able to identify common landmarks. Which means trees and crops rather than Starbucks and Shell stations.

  6. Just one important point about Mutiny Aboard the Cutty Sark: It’s a *collaboration* between me (Heidi Cody) and a fantastic artist named Pete Beeman. He is the mechanical genius who made the ship move, and an indispensable part of this piece and its current installation. This show is up and visible from the sidewalk at 47th & Lexington in Manhattan, 8 a.m. to midnight through July 31.

    My site is linked at the top of this page, but here are 2 other relevant links:
    http://www.petebeeman.com
    http://www.thelabgallery.com

    Thanks!

  7. We can identify corporate logos by the tiniest fragment

    The only ones I got were Crayola Crayons, Scotch Tape, and Avery Labels. I think one of the others might be Chevron, but I wouldn’t swear to it.

    I’d probably do a lot better identifying the trees and plants in my neighborhood.

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