Visions of a cheeseburger memory

Video installation

The image in feature film and advertising managed to modulate and modify human behavior towards self and society in just few decades. Since the early days of cinema the criteria of the “icon of the day” were in continuous evolution and metamorphosis. Man gradually traded his simple ambitions for the continuous search of more sophisticated patterns of life that would approach him to silver screen heroes. In the forties and fifties Man followed his icons to the dance floors. In the sixties he took off his necktie and suit due to socio-political changes and traveled to taste adventure, experimenting along the way with a whole spectrum of ideologies from right to left and vice versa.

In the seventies Man followed newly modified screen icons to copycat “deeds”, from Clockwork Orange to Saturday Night Fever. In the eighties and nineties, Man (more age groups became involved here) jeopardized his/her and others lives through a chain of “excesses”: speed, noise, pollution, alcohol, sex, violence, drugs and other methods.

The look of today’s icons diffused through satellite imaging and other printed or aired media has dramatically changed. Icons and their “accessories” like cars, fancy attire, sunglasses, cigarettes, handguns, cell phones and other gadgets became marketed as paradigm of trendy life. Everyone living in the world today is born during the “kinetic image age”, most of the world’s inhabitants have been exposed one day or the other to a diffused image, and be it TV, cinema, or satellite.

The power of the image is manifested through the behavior of children and adolescents. Some images mature and over-exist to become after a while a déjà vu phenomenon, and that is when the image is most powerful.
Stories created by images assume a more serious responsibility when they become a prototype or a case study, where simple laymen adopt certain behaviors and reactions in I-have-seen-it-somewhere reaction.
“Model answers” or “perfect solutions” are stored as references in the memory of humans. At some point of history such model answers or ideal solutions came right out of the bible or Quran or other holy sources.
Today with decades of cumulative social and political effervescence, and the subsequent change of values, model answers come from film, and from whoever has a louder voice, be it a right wing religious platform, or a nationalist body.

Even the most sacred became marketable: tapes and catalogues of preachers speeches are packaged and sold alongside belly dance VCDs and VHSs and pop singers cassettes, in grand surface commercial outlets as well as in simple cassette kiosks in the corner of downtown Cairo streets.
In visions of cheeseburger memory, a protagonist, his blood saturated by the intake of urban city medicines, flooded by advertising imagery and bombarded by Hollywood action film, impersonates his favorite Hollywood heroes. In his head reality is mixed with fiction, facts are mingled with delusions, and the result is confabulation of all his city experiences, a cosmopolitan city of billboards, noise, pollution and violence, and set of behaviors and attitudes manipulated by Hollywood, violence aesthetics and excess consumption of the senses.

Khaled hafez