Posts Tagged ‘skin’


Anti-Aging Flap

Monday, November 1st, 2010

Americans celebrated the spooky-kooky Halloween holiday, yesterday. Thoughts of ghosts and goblins prompted Mark Frauenfelder, founder of the popular group blog Boing Boing to ask the blogosphere), "What the heck is this weird skin flap on Boo Berry?"

See the odd flap of skin (that's what it looks like, anyway) on the side of Boo Berry's mouth, in the illustration from a box of Boo Berry cereal (General Mills), below.

I've got the answer!

Boo Berry, who began haunting us way back in 1973, is getting a bit long (and yellow) in the tooth, these days. Also, as reported on April 1st, 2008, Boo Berry is soon going to be the subject of a biopic starring Christopher Walken. Which means he'll be making a lot of talk-show appearances. Like every other aging celebrity, he wants to recapture his youthful good looks.

So Boo Berry has, it seems obvious to me, begun using Maybelline's new product, the [Age] Eraser ("It's a new age in anti-aging!"). Which, as the advertisement below indicates, apparently works by pulling loose facial skin off to the side, where it's gathered in a drooping, pendulous flap.


I guess the flap then dangles from your face? I'm surprised it isn't surgically removed, but some folks would rather walk around with a pensile flap on their cheek than go under the scalpel. Or perhaps the image of Boo Berry above was taken in between his Eraser treatment and surgery? Either way, it's spooky stuff. Shades [get it?] of Katherine Helmond's endless plastic surgery in Terry Gilliam's Brazil.

Brrrr. Happy Halloween!

NOTE: Cross-posted from

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Posted in Americas, Brand Worlds, Clients & Brands, Contributions from, Disciplines, Header Navigation, Making Sense | 2 Comments »

Skin Beyond the Sign

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

RoC’s new ‘Sublime Energy’ face cream introduces an electrical current into the skin, heightening inter-cellular communication, which is said to have a rejuvenating effect. With ‘communication’ the core symbolic value here, the line clearly draws juice from social networking codes. It makes communication a value in and of itself, with what’s being communicated (the message), secondary to the fact that communication is happening at all.

In its pack design, Sublime Energy represents itself as a communications ‘device’: like the devices that enable social networking, its creams sit on a base that looks very much like a charger. And its language constantly draws on social networking themes. For instance, the product is said to harness the power of the cellular ‘network’, enabling cells to ‘signal’ to each other.

In a sense, this is a new take on an already-powerful symbolic code: skin as a medium of communication. Whether through blushing, paling, breaking out in spots, or wrinkling, skin is a ‘text’ that can be read by any dermatologically-inclined semiotician. ‘Pro-age’ discourse, for instance, often talks about how wrinkles ‘tell stories’ and how you can ‘read’ someone’s life experience in their face.

But the book of skin is, strictly speaking, about expression rather than communication. In other words, it expresses what’s inside the person: emotions, thoughts, experiences and so on. For Sublime Energy, there’s no ‘inside’ or ‘content’ — just a single plane of communicational flow.

In this post-humanist model of skin as communication, Sublime Energy also moves beyond the previous difficulties and disjunctions involved in the idea of ‘skin as sign’. Along with gesture, skin is the prime example of a hysterical mechanism: displacing and betraying what can’t be said in language. Blushing and paling are perhaps the best-known examples — but skin break-outs of all kinds can be seen as hysterical forms of expression.

As one of the body’s most treacherous and hysterical mediators, skin’s relationship with the communication has previously been about the broken links in the chain, the unsaid, the blocks and repressions — rather than the seamless flow promised by Sublime Energy. It’s arguable that the more repressive a cultural system, the more it values the seeping out of the unsayable, as in the subtle eroticising of female blushing in 19th-century England.

Sublime Energy promises to lift skin out of its hysterical history, freeing up its channels of communication so that there are no more repressions, blockages and ‘unsaids’. In this post-human, post-hysterical manifestation, skin becomes a clear and purified channel of free-flowing communication, valued for its operational perfection rather than for its ability to act as one of the body’s more unpredictable and uncontrollable forms of language.

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Posted in Brand Worlds, Clients & Brands, Contributions from, Disciplines, Europe, Header Navigation, Lateral Navigation, Making Sense, Semiotics | No Comments »