Keep Calm and…Remediate?

By UK Government – Digital scan of original KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON poster owned by Steved1973 (talk) 10:40, 22 October 2011 (UTC), Public Domain,

The example of remediation that is presented with the “Keep Calm and…” posters can only be discussed once the aura of the original is explored. The question I’ve thought about the most was if the original ever had an aura since it was not widely used. The way that I conceptualize the aura is by thinking of the historical context that surrounds the work. A work of art and the time and place in which it was created cannot be separated from each other. So, the question is: does the original Keep Calm and Carry On poster have an aura?

At first, my answer was no. The original poster was not allowed to have its place in the time and place it was created.  It was hidden away; therefore, it doesn’t have an aura to be destroyed. But, while I was driving home from work tonight, I had a thought. What about all the other works of art that weren’t popular when they were first created? We don’t just dismiss their worth because they went unnoticed, and even more importantly, they retain their aura. Why would the Keep Calm and Carry On poster be any different?

Ultimately, I do believe that the original had an aura, and that the reproductions have damaged the aura. In the past, I have found myself wondering where the Keep Calm and…saying got it’s start. It’s is everywhere in many different forms, but signs of the original meaning behind it are nowhere to be found. When people use the Keep Calm and…form, they rarely do so with consideration of its original purpose. I think that through all of the reproductions the aura has been lost. The different variations of the poster are used to serve the purpose of the fandom or organization using it.

keep calm and love sleep
Picture from: this website

For example, this “Keep Calm and Love Sleep” version of the poster. (First of all, you don’t have to tell me twice to love sleep.) Loving sleep has little to do with keeping up morale during World War II. The original is a pretty simple design: a read background with white letters. This remediation does not even keep the crown design at the top of the poster. A lot of other designs do keep that design feature, but this one does not. The background and the font colors are different. This remediation only has the “Keep Calm and” in common with the original work of art.

I find it really interesting to look at all of the different versions of this poster that was created to help people deal with hard times. The poster was created in a time of war to inspire hope and calm for people who did not have a lot of that. The different versions are to celebrate fandoms, inspire consumerism, etc. The meanings could not be more different. (Seriously, if you haven’t checked out the Google image search, you really should  The concept of remediation is complicated, and these examples are just a start to exploring the complexities in remediation.


One thought on “Keep Calm and…Remediate?”

  1. If anything practical can be said about where the aura exists and where the aura is lost, it has to do with the poster’s historical meaning. We can say the many remediated versions of the poster lack the poster’s aura all we want, but what that really means is that we lose the poster’s original historical meaning. What’s left is basically a template for creating whatever other disparate meaning one desires to create. It’s interesting that the people creating these value that template so strongly, as it does strike a certain chord, but engaging with the original poster and its meaning is another activity altogether.


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