NAV HAQ I’m particularly interested in this link between identity and identification. Logos and branding are part of a wider desire to create an identity for all things in life, at least at the level of surface. Do you have any thoughts on the future of these kinds of symbols?
METAHAVEN The logo is part of an identification matrix, an approach that’s about recognition, repetition, and predictability. The logo will probably survive, but we should not overrate it; the absence of a logo can itself become a logo, such as with deliberately unbranded brands. Its critique can become a logo too, as it happened with Naomi Klein’s canonical book, No Logo. Logos are merely one small part of the identification industry. They were perhaps first associated with graphic design’s early 20th century conquest of the spectrum of public information, and later on became associated with capitalism, consumerism, and branding. We have studied, rehearsed, and critiqued the idea of branding nation-states in our 2010 book, Uncorporate Identity. We think that the future will have little to do with the logo andmore with standards and platforms.
NH Brands are special types of symbols or languages in late capitalism that have a way of tapping into our emotions. Do you imagine that this emotion can be diverted or negotiated towards a different kind of engagement or movement?
MH Emoji have a way of doing that. They take us back to the hieroglyph and the ideogram, to forms of writing that precede the alphabet but are inherent to written language. Lately we’ve been looking a lot at Islamic State. For example, there’s one particular ISIS fighter, a former soldier in the Dutch army, who is crazy about M&Ms. He is filmed, and tweets pictures, with bags of M&Ms lying around AK47s. These M&Ms are a kind of physical emoji. We’ve been talking about this with Maryam Monalisa Gharavi in the context of our new film series, The Sprawl, currently in production. It seems that the almost post-human violence of ISIS becomes aligned, articulated, experienced even stronger with this hint of humanity, of mainstream consumerism—the M&M.