“One Taste and You’ll Understand
. That was Dunkin’ Donuts slogan in 2001. A year earlier: Loosen Up a Little
. Then a bit later: Just the Thing
. 2002–2004. Bring Yourself Back
. 2004–2006. Now it’s America Runs on Dunkin’
, but you get the point. They knew what they were doing for years. It wasn’t a lie, just... an understanding. They knew that you
knew that there was a difference... between looking
at something, and knowing
it. You really think that if you stare at something long enough, it’ll reveal its secrets? Its history, its motivations, its fundamental interiority? You really think something’s gonna give up its reality just because you got a staring problem? Think about it.”
Featured in the Latitudes-curated exhibition Things Things Say
at Fabra i Coats: Contemporary Art Centre of Barcelona
until 17 January 2021, James N. Kienitz Wilkins
’ This Action Lies
(2018) is a remarkable 32 min film
composed of three static shots and a fast-paced voiceover centring on an apparently unremarkable industrial product—a white foam coffee cup from Dunkin’ Donuts.
Multiplying matter-of-fact observations about the history of the coffee chain and the circumstances of the film’s production with reflections on veracity and trust, the intense focus on the representation of the cup overflows with diversions and doubts.
Unlike the post-hippie capitalism and European lifestyle pretensions of coffee companies like Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts built its brand
on the identity of the hot drink as a utilitarian fuel for proud American workers. The beverage container in This Action Lies
is not only evidence of a patriotic, cheap, and appealing way to power productivity; it also stimulates humorous and introspective rumination on the fundamental nature of faith, hope, life, self-image, and the value of making analog films.