Tanner America

4 Sep

Rhizome had a feature on Tanner America, a Tumblr that satirizes the photos a middle-class family might share with their friends and relatives. A drawing from one of the kids, a new lawnmower, jam made by the wife’s sister: all the photos from Tanner America are Photoshopped in a blatantly obvious way.

Rhizome notes that the often very funny blog celebrates what the Tanners might call “elitism,” a sense of superiority in relation to the uses of technology in American suburbia. The Tanners, if they existed, would be unconscious of the aesthetic they create, not to mention uninterested. The exaggeration of the Tanner America Photoshopping marks the typically unmarked conventions of this kind of photography. But Jacob Gaboury, the author of the Rhizome post, ends with the suggestion, “Perhaps it is best to read Tanner America not as a critique of that vernacular use, but of the assumption that we all use these technologies in the same way.” People may feel uncomfortable around technology even as they depend on it, which may lead them to ways to use it that manufacturers didn’t intend. The Photoshop work on the Tanner America images could also be called an unexpected, yet “non-expert” use of technology. As with other examples of new media art, the process of making Tanner America becomes part of its commentary.

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2 Responses to “Tanner America”

  1. hahello September 7, 2010 at 10:41 pm #

    These are fantastic images. I like the comical / surreal quality to them, and also role that the captions play in directing or contextualizing the reading of the images for us. Do you think the images would be quite as effective without the captions? –Hong-An

  2. karaphelps September 8, 2010 at 1:53 am #

    I really think the captions need to be there. Without them, it would be much less clear what the images are responding to…The captions give us little ancedotes in the style this family might actually use, which emphasizes the Photoshopping.

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