Video animation on advertising LED screens in public spaces: Fred Froehlich, “JA II”

Chief editor - Vladimir Krylov
Deputy chief editor - Michael Nikoulichev

In July 2005 the video animation “JA II” will be simultaneously displayed on 24 advertising LED screens in public spaces in Moscow and in 13 other cities in Russia. The piece consists of 25 Russian words with exclusively positive connotations as well as numerical values calculated using a formula.

Time: 01-31 July 2005, every 5 minutes
Cities: Moscow, Ekaterinburg, Krasnodar, Irkutsk, Volgograd, Perm, Voronezh, Rostov, Ufa, Sochi, Ryazan, Samara, Yaroslavl, Kaliningrad.

Video animation “JA II” on advertising LED screen Video animation “JA II” on advertising LED screen

The phrases appear in bright red Cyrillic script on a black background and the numerical values in a black font on a red background. The 15 second clip is fed into the network of the company "CityVision", the largest Russian provider of publicly-displayed video advertising space. Every 5 minutes it is simultaneously displayed throughout Russia on all of the company’s advertising outdoor LED screens.

It approximates the speed of contemporary commercials and films. The cutting speed is so fast in fact that the words can hardly be read individually. Although the words in the clip aim at extolling products, their meaning becomes a mere after-image effect. The intention has less to do with individual phrases and much more to do with the entirety of their positive meaning and their salvation-like promise. This is the essence of any marketing message.

In 1994 in Leipzig (a city located in the former GDR), the project “JA” was realized, which would serve as a basis for “JA II”. As is the case in the former GDR, Russia’s post-communism identity is marked by metaphysical emptiness and confusion. Companies from around the world have been seeking to fill the void left by the former communist propaganda by injecting the promises of capitalist marketing. The promise of happiness for every single individual has supplanted the doctrine of happiness for all. In this new consumer society, happiness is always stamped by a price expressed in numbers.

The reduction of colors in “JA II” counteracts the bright multi-colored aesthetic of advertising. The combination of words/products and the number/price repeat the basic scheme of capitalist value degeneration. At the same time, the radical formalist reduction and choice of a stark red-black contrast bring to mind the tradition of Russian Constructivism. It combines this heroic break-through period of modern art with the whirl of free-flowing meaning generation that characterizes contemporary advertisement.

Please find more information about the project: www.fredfroehlich.net/ja2.html