Nada Mucho

Classic Nada: Diet Coke

Posted by June 26th, 2007 No Comments »

nadabutton_thumb As July nears, it’s only fitting to post something from our 3rd issue, published in the month of July during the one thousand nine hundred and ninety-seventh year of our lord. It’s fascinating to note that at least two things hold true a decade later.

1. We have a perverse love of applying our highbrow literary acumen to proletariat’s fodder.
2. We fucking LOVE Diet Coke.

–Ed.

Diet Coke = Art = Death
By Abby Kuhl Baker
Originally posted July 1997

Most people think they need to go to the Louvre to experience art. Such art snobbery denies us the chance to benefit from the art contained within everyday objects. For example, you probably have often picked up a Diet Coke can, opened it, drank it down, and disposed of it in its proper recycling receptacle, never once taking a moment to hold that can at a distance and appreciate it as “art”. Those artsy types, and you know who you are, will find nothing I have to say enlightening. That’s fine. You can stay in your ivory tower and endlessly debate the relative merits of Chagall and Cezanne. I prefer to bring beauty, peace, and harmony into the lives of the uncultured masses.

Let us begin by thinking of the can’s form and composition. The cylindrical shape lends itself to the composition, by creating the overall dimensions. Everything on the can is placed perfectly, creating balance. The size of the can, or art space, is critical to the composition, as the space sets the tone for viewing.

For example, think of the Sistine Chapel. Michelangelo knew that one would have to gaze upwards toward heaven to view his work. He also knew that the space between the art and the viewer would be substantial, so he chose his colors, brushstrokes, and composition with the viewing environment in mind. In contrast, the Diet Coke can is a piece of art that will be viewed in a infinite number of situations: varying distances, light, scenery, etc. This dynamic explains the choice of color. While the sharp red and bright white is distinctive, it also has a neutral character. These unique color properties allow the can to simultaneously blend into and stand out from its environment, at the same time. Art is amazing, isnt it?

Next, consider the fact that each Diet Coke can is molded and shaped to the same perfect dimension, every time. Each can is identical. Those that fail to meet this exacting standard are quickly discarded, long before they reach us, the consumer. This consistency gives us a fantastic sense of security. Imagine buying a can of Diet Coke without knowing whether or not it would fit in your cars cup holder. This could be devastating. Fortunately, you can trust the can.

This trust establishes a relationship between the viewer, (you), and the work of art, (the can). There is a real intimacy between you and the can. This intimacy is a crucial foundation that allows you to extract the endless beauty contained in the can. The intimacy grows as you raise the can to your lips, foregoing putting the liquid in a glass. Drink straight from the can eliminates boundaries, strengthening the bond between you and the can. You know the weight of the can, the physics of how much to bend the elbow, flex the wrist, and tilt the hand. You know the can; you trust the can. You have faith that in the fatal moment when can touches lips, you will be refreshed. This process is the true fulfillment of art. You as the viewer are now literally participating in the art. You are visually experiencing the external beauty while letting the soul, (in this case, the fluid), of the object become our physical being.

Finally, the cans shiny surface and metallic texture reflect a sense of modernism. A Diet Coke can is a product of the 20th Century. As a work of art, it reflects the same concerns of much modern art: dehumanization, industrialization, nuclear war, death. Notice how the cylindrical shape echoes that of a nuclear missle. Thus progress is both celebrated and feared. By guiding us through this thought process, the artistic genius behind the Diet Coke can is following the path of the great Medieval artists. The images that were popular at that time depicted the judgment of man. Each work forced the viewer to confront his or her impending death, and by the inevitable judgment of God. This Diet Coke can, cradling the sweet juice of life within a gleaming metallic reminder of impending doom, similarly causes us to reflect on our own mortality.


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