An Introduction To Phenomenology

by | Oct 3, 2004

Once more, I have world traveler, photographer, DJ, and collector, Evil Vince, a.k.a. No Evil Mon to thank for turning me on to interesting undercurrents in art. Today, during a less than inspired performance from our Bears, he handed me a small book showcasing the poster art of Shepard Fairey, the creator of Obey Giant. The project’s tag line is Manufacturing Quality Dissent Since 1989. Here’s a sample:


Describing his work and punk rock approach to placing it wherever he deems fit in the greater urbanscape, often under cover of night, Fairey writes, “The Obey campaign can be explained as an experiment in Phenomenology*. The first aim of Phenomenology is to reawaken a sense of wonder about one’s environment. Because people are not used to seeing advertising or propaganda for which the motive is not obvious, frequent and novel encounters with Obey propaganda provoke thought and possible frustration, nevertheless revitalizing the viewer’s perception and attention to detail.”

*Phenomenology studies conscious experience as experienced from the subjective or first person point of view. This field of philosophy is then to be distinguished from, and related to, the other main fields of philosophy: ontology (the study of being or what is), epistemology (the study of knowledge), logic (the study of valid reasoning), ethics (the study of right and wrong action), etc. Famous phenomenologists from the first half of the 20th century include Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Jean-Paul Sartre, et al. from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy