Matthew Harris is the owner, CEO, creative director, editor-in-chief and teaboy of Bob the Fish Productions. Here are some words from his brain.
Hello. And welcome to a website. Over the past decade or more I have made many severals of video essays on the tiniest details of the dankest corners of our collective pop-culture. I'm talking about BBC1 trailers with teapots and hats in them. Here's why you should still be interested.
As Applemask (don't ask because there's no answer) I post videos on YouTube, generally involving old commercials, public information films and bits of television continuity, all from the UK. I do this because I'm a sad bastard, and also because it's explicitly the opposite of what these things were made for. None of them were supposed be remembered longer than a fortnight at a time, if that - but
they were made anyway.
Art is basically anything we do that's incidental to our basic necessities (survival and reproduction). Commercials, trailer stings, even the iconography of packaging sometimes... they're art. Not exactly high art - in fact, pretty much the lowest form of art - and largely by default. But still, works of art. They could have had a man in a suit sitting behind a desk saying "buy Murray Mints because they taste nice". That wouldn't have been art. But instead they did a series of little animated cartoons. That was art. And while I'm categorising and not passing judgement, I'd argue the Murray Mints advert to be of greater worth than some conceptual piece about which even the artist doesn't know anything and which took very little effort on their part.
By contrast, time and care were poured into those things. Even the GoCompare tenor is the result of mind-numbing effort. Adverts may not be a force for good in the world, but people worked on them in the knowledge that they were little more than cultural water vapour. The photographer Roger Mayne said that "the fascination of photography is as a trace of an event that has actually happened". The fascination of ephemera is similar - a trace of an event so trivial it might as well not have happened, but did anyway. The Japanese call it "mono no aware" - the pathos of things.
If you understand what I mean, you're who my shows are for.