Delirious Shanghai

Thoughts on China 2010-2013

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    Bootleg Aesthetics

    Evan Chakroff
    Apr 10, '13 2:50 AM EST

    Life goes on in Shanghai, and I remain so far unaffected by unprecedented PM2.5 pollution levels, the 16,000 dead pigs in the river, or the escalating H7N9 pandemic

    To distract myself from these various apocalyptic scenarios, I've been maintaining a tumblr blog of scanned DVD covers from the local shops. While I started this as a bit of a joke, I've been at it for about six months now, and I'm starting to see trends in the visual language of the bootleg DVD. Oversize fonts, obnoxious colors, anachronistic "action" imagery inserted into period films... overuse of photoshop filters, supplemental imagery from unrelated movies... Paparazzi shots are clipped and overlaid on officially-released posters. These covers become mash-up collages of any and all available imagery. As I continue to populate the blog I begin to recognize the aesthetics of specific bootleg production houses. Many are branded with red eagle, some with an Apple logo. A large proportion feature credits text from "Leaves of Grass" and DVD extras from "Tomb Raider." The double-translations are often hilarious, but I'm more interested in the culture behind this visual language - who makes the call to add helicopters to "Django Unchained?" Or add the Watchmen to "Columbiana" - these are obviously *designed* - what is that process? How long does it take? So many mysteries....

    This, obviously, is an ongoing investigation. Many many more, at

    • 1 Comment

    • Jadzia

      Love the covers. ^
      I think I remember a Star Wars cover with Schwarzenegger in the front....

      Apr 10, 13 5:34 am  · 

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