The camera changed art.
For thousands of years, up until the invention of the camera, it had always been obvious what the point of art was.
It was to imitate (replicate if possible) reality.
To get absolutely as close to reality as we could.
Gradually, over the centuries, art was inching closer to it.
Then the camera came along and that was the end of it.
No one could get closer to reality than the camera.
You pointed it at the subject, clicked the shutter, and there it was.
A perfect copy of reality.
Which left artists stuck.
What did they do now?
They tried to do things the camera couldn’t do.
The Cubists, under Cezanne used multiple perspectives, unlike the cameras fixed viewpoint.
The futurists, under Duchamp, tried to use movement in their pictures.
Unlike the static, frozen point in time of the camera.
But these were pretty much short term gimmicks.
And came and went quite quickly.
It wasn’t until Picasso saw an exhibition of African art that western art was reborn.
Because modern art was born.
Suddenly Picasso saw, via African art, that the purpose of art wasn’t to use reality as an end point.
It was to use reality as a start point.
The camera used reality as an end point and so was limited by whatever was in front of it.
Artists should use reality as a start point, a springboard from which to create.
To take the part they wanted and make more of it.
Reduce or ignore the parts they didn’t want.
Create something new, not just an imitation.
Reduce the subject to a simple and exciting truth.
Then exaggerate that truth to dominate the artwork.
And dominate the viewer’s sensibilities.
That’s how modern art started.
And, decades later, that’s how modern advertising started.
To reduce the product or brand to one simple, powerful thought.
Then exaggerate that simple thought.
Amplify it until it dominates its environment.
To distil the complicated marketing problem down to the one thing that it’s necessary for advertising to communicate.
The essence of the brand expressed in a word.
The essential thought you need to lodge in a consumer’s mind.
It might be reliability, or strength, or safety, or value, or luxury.
Whatever the simple powerful thought is.
The brief then becomes to illustrate that thought in the most impactful, memorable way you can in every ad.
Because it’s simple, it has a lot more chance of getting in the consumer’s mind in the first place.
Because it’s consistent, it has a lot more chance of staying there.
So that becomes your image in their mind.
And, guess what, you’ve got yourself a brand.
Because ‘planning’ should simplify a complicated problem down to a single, powerful thought.
And ‘creative’ should exaggerate that simple thought into an impactful message that dominated its environment.
The camera changed art.