Landscapes of Global Capital
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Introduction
Feed the children
Corporate paternalism
The cure
High tech classroom
Techno-metaphor
Child prodigy
The obnoxious visionary
Unfettered imagination
We care
Harmonious music
Cynicism of legitimation
You can't buy love
Harmony of technology

Bank of America uses a child as spokesperson. But he is no ordinary child. Dressed in a white the child walks through time, envisions the future, and speaks the language of the adult. This child is a mystic--the Western version of the Tibetan monk. He speaks with the assurance and sophistication of a distant observer who is able to recognize the Gestalt. The rational says it can't be done. The mystic knows better. He stands outside of the iron cage of rationality; he has wisdom and knowledge that transcends history. He serves as our guide. History is abstracted into a series of disparate signifiers: the Golden Gate Bridge, a wind generating electricity tower, the Spirit of St. Louis.

There will always be skeptics.
You know them.
They say, it will never work.
Never happen.
Never fly.
But the next time they tell you all the logical reasons why it can't be done.
Just remember all the times that they have been wrong.

In another ad the white garbed mystic appears in the frames of a track and field competition. As runners and hurdlers run by him, he comments on 'the experts' inability to recognize that records will fall.

Four minute mile.
Pole vault of 20 feet.
A perfect ten.
The experts said these could never happen.
What do they know?

In yet another ad he speaks as if he were the market.

What will I be like a year from now?
How much will I grow?
How strong will I be in five years?
In ten years?
Where does my future start
stocks bonds (text)
mutual funds (text)
long-term investments (text)
You'd be surprised.

In the midst of chaos he puts his finger to his mouth and like a teacher goes 'shhh.' The brokers are now huddled around the little guru waiting for direction and advice. The child visionary peers into the future; investing in Bank of America means investing in possibilities that others fail to see.

The ads in this campaign exude the aesthetics of mysticism. The lighting is often surreal and magical; stop action, super slow motion, and freeze frame photography transposes the child's relation to time; and expressive transitional devices, such as superimpositions and masking, create enchanted flows of images. At times, the bordered frame opens to connote unconsidered possibilities. Bank of America positions itself as a corporate visionary able to recognize future trends and investment opportunities - unbound by the straightjacket of conventional wisdom. Does uncertainty in the form of a volatile market encourage a non-rational approach to investing? Not materially but representationally. We might refer to Adorno's classic essay "The Stars down to Earth." Perhaps we might think of the child as a precocious astrologer providing hope for an uncertain future.


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© Copyright 1998-2003
Robert Goldman, Stephen Papson, Noah Kersey