There are limitless interpretations in the world. We all read and understand texts differently. It is the way of the mind. A way, and mystery of being a different person to the next. We all see something, the representation, the signifier. We all have a mental concept of the image or entity, the signified, or meaning, but these differ respectively. Due to experience, knowledge and beliefs, ideologies of texts will be determined.
The images of ‘Smoking kids’ by Frieke Janssens are strikingly powerful and subject to many interpretations. Initially we see children, clothing, cigarettes, and smoke. Children smoking. Yet, one might see it as children growing up to fast, almost “miniature adults” (Rosenberg, D) or that there is a youth obsessed culture enveloping us in today’s society. Janssens reveals a complex image/ idea as this is not a social norm within western culture.
The confronting connotation of the images is that, and in agreement to “…children need time to grow and emotionally mature” (Coughlan, S), and effectively a cigarette kills this ideology. Most responders realise the misplacement between a child and a cigarette, and in general, what it means to smoke. “I felt that children smoking would have a surreal impact upon the viewer and compel them to truly see the acts of smoking rather than making assumptions about the person doing the act.” (Janssens, F)
As Janssens encourages individuals to “reflect on social or lifestyle subjects”, particularly that of smoking. The idea is spurred that the simple characteristics of; adulthood, media, advertisements and other visual aspects embedded in living is coherently linked to childhood awareness and observation. It might be subject to opinion that the way these children carry themselves, for example the poise, confident bearing in some, the subtle sadness, or the blasé in another, is a reflection of their surroundings.
Yet no matter their appearance, disposition, cigarette in hand or not, children are the products of ourselves, as adults, and our societies. There is a toxic influence over children, “growing up in an oversexualised culture”(Coughlan, S) leading them to copycat and imitate an older generation and their mannerisms. Further, it sends to question whether we are corrupting our children, or ourselves.
Such an image assimilates the notion of consumerism. Like smoking, we inhale and consume the poison of the propaganda around us. The irony of being a ‘self -made’ adult begins with the need to corrupt our childhood through aging ourselves with a cigarette. Not only does an image represent many different facets, it will be interpreted accordingly, and justified in the mind of an individual.
(Janssens, F) http://frieke.com/#!/projects/smoking-kids/37/
Coughlan, S, 2013, ‘Modern childhood ‘ends at age of 12’’, BBC News, view 2nd April 2016, <http://www.bbc.com/news/education-21670962 >
Rosenberg, D, 2013, ‘Smoking Kids: you’ve come a long way…baby’, Slate, viewed 2nd April 2016, <http://www.slate.com/blogs/behold/2013/01/10/frieke_janssens_smoking_kids_fictionalizes_childhood_smoking_photos.html >