Thirst; Vinyl, Mixed Media, Electronics, 15' x 15' x 5', 2010
Nothing lasts forever. The greatest and most abundant resources: Water, oil, air, sunshine; will all dwindle away. One by one we’ll slowly exhaust them, unnoticed until it’s too late. Ubiquitous Icons share this fate. The prowess of every icon will crest as it is saturated within our collective unconscious. As time moves forward, context is lost and the icon is forgotten.
Today, collective humanity is aware and indeed occupied by the reality of scarce global oil supplies. Foreshadowing this situation, Pegasus, the former Mobil Gasoline logo has been retired from its role as color guard to the worlds’ most profitable corporation. Once everywhere, resource and icon alike are now vanishing, and we are forced to move on.
The mythical Pegasus was a poignant archetype for the Mobil Petroleum logo. Born of pure good and selflessness, Pegasus sprang from a patch of earth where the wicked blood of Medusa had spilled and mixed with the soil. Pegasus became the faithful servant of the hero Perseus and later served the god Zeus, hauling thunderbolts for the duration of the horse’s life. When he died, Zeus rewarded the creature’s selfless service by immortalizing Pegasus in the heavens as a constellation.
For centuries, oil has served as society’s pack mule, much like Pegasus in his service to the gods. Whether it is purely good is questionable. But, oil has led to advances in technology, transportation, medicine, and civilization as a whole unparalleled by any other natural resource.
Today, many of us see oil as a threat to the sustainability of our lives and the very planet we inhabit. As awareness of the consequence of our fossil fuel dependence spreads, the connection to Pegasus has already been lost. Abandoned as logo, it’s image slips steadily away (much like our diminishing oil reserves).
Laying here dying, the horse uses each gasping breath to beg for our attention. Having taken the form of a common advertising inflatable, its life-blood oozes, pooling a black slick into which it shall return. His constellation now obscured by air-pollution, and the memory of the mythic beast tarnished beyond repair; ExxonMobil’s reward is not to gift the icon an immortal legacy, but rather to usher it into a quiet oblivion.