Tagged Alan Dunn

We interrupt this broadcast

It was perhaps the strangest 60 minutes that this oversized, traffic-choked television has ever seen.

Overlooking the tumbling river of vehicles that flows between Liverpool’s Lime Street Station and the exquisite St George’s Hall, the 31-metre long Media Wall usually plays host to a constant cycle of ads. However, for one hour only on January 20th 2016, its consumerist mantra was interrupted by the Four Words art project – a stream of slogans, thoughts, non-sequiturs and questions on the theme of money, value and exchange.

Conceived by the artist Alan Dunn, and forming part of the Liverpool Provocations series, the anti-ads were provided by an eclectic list of artists, writers, economists, journalists, musicians and community activists – not to mention the odd creative copywriter. Each contributor was required to submit four words together with instructions for a ten-second text animation; on the day, the 70-ish syntactical snippets were aired three times each, and once the hour was up, normal commercial service was resumed.

At the very least, Four Words threw a linguistic spanner into capitalism’s works for an afternoon during the January sales, provoking plenty of puzzlement and, perhaps, a little inspiration for the city’s passing workforce.

As revealed on this very blog back in December, I was one of the contributors invited to take part in this intriguing intervention. When I originally trailed my involvement, I kept my four-word slogan under wraps, but now my story can be told. Here goes:Four Words, Liverpool - Damon Fairclough 1

Four Words, Liverpool - Damon Fairclough 2

Four Words, Liverpool - Damon Fairclough 3

Four Words, Liverpool - Damon Fairclough 4

So there you have it: PUT. THAT. COFFEE. DOWN!

This isn’t the time or place to go into the what-and-why of that caffeinated call to action – I’ll save that for an article on my writing archive at noiseheatpower.com sometime soon. For now, let’s accept it at face value – just one four-word utterance among the many that caused Liverpool to raise an eyebrow one chilly January afternoon.

I’d like to express huge thanks to Alan Dunn for issuing the call, to Jack Ehlen for executing the animation, to my fellow four-worders, and to Metal Liverpool who put so much work into helping the whole thing happen. The event was well documented in both photographs and video, so those who have the time and/or inclination can gorge themselves on these literary snacks while reliving the whole provocative experience. Without having to endure the biting wind.

And if any of the organisers are reading this, I’m ready to do it all over again whenever you want.

In fact, let’s go crazy. Next time, let’s make it five.

 

Watch interviews and clips from the day…

 

…or watch the full 20-minute Four Words cycle

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Four word march

Not every ad line needs to be compact, concise and considerably shorter than War and Peace, but brevity is often what’s required. As a copywriter I’ve written my share of snappy straplines in my time and they’ve appeared around the world in all kinds of very public manifestations. I’m not sure, however, that any have claimed ten seconds of fame on quite the scale of my most recent slogan.

Its precise wording must remain under wraps for now, but what I can reveal is that on January 20th 2016, four of my words will have Liverpool’s gargantuan media wall to themselves… for one whole sixth of a minute. It’s an exciting prospect, as the screen sits in a prominent position opposite Lime Street station, and claims to be “the largest full motion out-of-home digital advertising screen in Europe”. (At almost 31 metres long, if there’s an “in-home” screen that’s bigger, I’d be very interested to see the residence in question.)

Liverpool media wall

On this occasion, the slogan won’t be a component of an ad or marketing campaign, but will instead form part of a project curated by the artist Alan Dunn. The initiative, called Four Words, aims to take over Liverpool’s most visible city-centre advertising site in the middle of the sales season and offer shoppers 100 different four-word thoughts based on ideas of value, money and exchange. In the words of the brief: “We want to offer the Liverpool public FOUR WORDS that will act as a counterpoint to the sales season and the invisible pressures of this time of year.”

It may be the height of hypocrisy for a commercial copywriter of many years’ standing to get involved in an art project that is essentially a critique of the free market and its post-Christmas shopping frenzy, but a brief is a brief. When invited to take part, I certainly couldn’t resist the opportunity to see four of my carefully weighted words appear giant-sized in the centre of the city, but equally, it will be a real thrill to appear alongside some very noteworthy co-contributors including Douglas Coupland, Gerhard Richter, Paul Morley, Jamie Reid and David Shrigley.

Plus, I’m sure it will be exhilarating for them to be on the same list as the famous Liverpool-based copywriter and content creator, Damon Fairclough. (Incidentally, there’s another D. Fairclough on the list too – the sensational Liverpool FC super-sub of the 1970s and early ’80s…)

With each four-word sequence currently being animated by the designer Jack Ehlen, the Lime Street stage is set for 100 curious comments that will command Liverpool’s attention in just a few weeks’ time.

As I said, I can’t tell you my slogan just yet.

But I’m looking four word to it.

 

Four Words appears on the Lime Street media wall in Liverpool on Wednesday, January 20th 2016 between 3pm-4pm.

It is part of the Liverpool Provocations series developed by Metal Liverpool.

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