Within the academic field of aesthetics, there aren’t all that many essays written
on about potato crisp packets. There is, however, at least one.
Karin Wagner, who is professor and associate head of department for research in art history and visual studies at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, specialises in the areas of photography, new media and visual communication, and has a new paper in the Journal of Aesthetics & Culture, volume 10, 2018 – issue 1, entitled : ‘Nostalgic photographs in the contemporary image ecology: the example of Tyrrells crisp packaging’
“The purpose is to explore the ontological transformations of photographs in the contemporary image ecology, blurring the categories ‘analogue’ and ‘digital;. What new meanings and materiality can old photographs acquire when for instance put on packages that are used, thrown away, recycled and sometimes upcycled?”
As a case study, the professor focused specifically on the packaging of crisps from UK-based Tyrells Potato Crisps Ltd., drawing comparison(s) between the real-world thowaway crisp packets and the virtual world, where ‘disposable’ imagery abounds.
“The crisp package is an ephemeral object that is meant to be thrown away. When the bag is opened, the photograph is likely to be destroyed — the bag can be seen as a snapchat photo, that is made to last for a short moment and then disappear. However, there are millions of new pristine samples in the shops, and although most of them are destined to be discarded, some will survive. It is similar to posting pictures on the Internet, once there they are likely to live on.”
BONUS: A 1969 Monty Python sketch, cited in the paper, (Season 1, Episode 3) can be viewed here – starting at around 19:00
Note: As far as can be ascertained, ‘ Tyrells ’ does not feature an apostrophe.