Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Hand of God

I'm frantically trying to finish the second season of Mad Men before the third starts this weekend, which feels a little bit like visiting an upscale winery and chugging every bottle in sight. Regardless, I still manage to enjoy the vintage, and the sleek offices of Sterling Cooper have prompted me to revisit my collection of Taschen advertisement books.

If you're in the mood for some swanky ads from a bygone era, check out the blog Today's Inspiration. I'm fascinated by this motif found in Union Carbide's campaign from the 50's, in which an enormous, beefy man-hand performs miraculous tasks: molding mountains, "probing the atom", squeezing solid coal into vapor, and even unlocking the cosmos (above).

Aside from reminding me of the unbeatable Master Hand from Super Smash Brothers, I'm intrigued by the context of these images. Leif Peng, author of Today's Inspiration, makes it plain:

With these hands usually extending down from on high, emerging from a swirling ether, often assisting tiny humans in some industrial process or another, it doesn't take a degree in chemical engineering to appreciate the implication: the might of modern American industry rivaled the power of God.
Today, these images feel pretty heavy-handed (sorry, I had to...), but if Don Draper pitched the idea to me, I might have been sold.


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