ABSTRACTION continued...

Since abstracted relations have been separated from any genuine personal affectivity, their subjectivity appears to be imparted by the commodity or brand in question. Consciousness, or spirit, emanates not from an individual subject but from the product consumed. Perfume ads locate spirit in named commodities, and suggest that subjectivity can be expressed and celebrated by possessing the commodity. Look at this ad for Joop in which a woman is presented in literally no place. Her very being is conditional on the presence of only one thing -- the name Joop. Whatever condition or meaning the viewer sees in her is there only by virtue of this abstraction process.

Detaching the signified from its relational contexts in daily life and reconstituting it within a context of commodities, the question of personal identity gets severed from its socio-temporal context as the unification of past, present, and future. Divorced from biography, personal identity becomes located in a perpetual future of consumption self-images. In these ads identity is truly timeless, unified in the ahistorical appearances of commodities.

A Guerlain ad so totally abstracts the woman that she is merely a blue silhouette -- a hollowed out model of what we might become. She has no persona -- indeed no identity, only a shape. Similar in its degree of abstraction is this image from a Finlandia vodka ad. Indeed, the woman's body becomes a pure abstraction here. Focus in on the figure of the woman posed as a piece of sculpture. Now when we expand back to see the whole the ad we realize that 1) she is the figure for a piece of abstract art. Not too surprising is it? 2) she is the object of the gaze of the artist/spectator.