Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Essay Proposal Research/Brainstorming.



Beginning to brainstorm the potential for my essay development (an extension from the seminar briefing from Monday afternoon with tutor Richard), and considering possible direction and influences from theory, contemporary practice and philosophy that my writing could take.

Really inspired by the seminar, I started to consider my options, and what I feel I could write passionately about, and maintain interest enough to potentially lead on to my final level VI dissertation essay (notes of which can be found above). I have signed up for the initial seminar available on Globalisation, Sustainability and Ethics which should help determine whether the essay content is the right choice for me, however, my initial idea/proposal is:

"The food industry and the role design plays in environmental awareness" 

(reduced from my initial concept of "The Innocent Smoothie brand and the role that design plays in environmental sustainability and awareness" which, when briefly talking to Richard about, he felt it might be more suited to a dissertation title, being rather brand specific- but with a lot of varying directions I could follow, and potential).

Essay Seminar//Briefing.


Notes from yesterday's CTS Essay module briefing- looking at the different possibilities for our Year II essay (pre- dissertation essay) and the potential subject matter we could review, idea generation, sources and assessable outcomes, etc- notes included throughout the scanned document (I apologise for the bad quality!)



I felt really inspired by the seminar, and enthusiastic to start considering my ideas and options for the essay. More notes I took are written below.

- Essay carries most weight in module. Other tasks can gain marks, though there is more opportunity for grade to increase in the essay part.
- Consider the posibilities to link with our own Graphic Design practice.
- Consider my own interests within Graphic Design and potential development for the essay- what will maintain my interest/be rich in both primary and secondary research, and, potentially, be able to be developed in my Level VI dissertation?

Within the next couple of days I will go on to brainstorm possible options and paths for the essay development, as well as signing up for the two seminars 'Globalisation, Sustainability, Ethics' as well as 'Branding, Consumerism, Society'- the two I already feel would be appropriate for my current design and contemporary practice interests- brand responsibility, identity, ethically-driven print-based design, etc.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Lecture V//The gaze in the media.


LECTURE NOTES//THE GAZE AND THE MEDIA.

helen.clarke@leeds-art.ac.uk

"according to usage and conventions which are at last being questioned but have by no means been overcome- men act and women appear. Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at"


- Berger, 1972.

 DOES NOT mean women are vain- what Berger discusses is that women carry around in their heads an idea of themselves being looked at- "to be looked at-ness"- the prolific images of women in contemporary society.

Examines the nude in European Fine Art- women carry around an idea of themselves being looked at.

HANS MEMLING- 'Vanity', 1485

In this image we see the device of the mirror- it is present in the painting. The artist paints the woman's body because he enjoys it- and so that others can enjoy it. However, he turns it around to place the mirror in the woman's hand- plays this as a vanity device- a moral judgement is made about the woman in the painting- we are lead to believe that the woman is in fact sinful in her regard for herself. This period in which the painting was painted, witch hunts were still common.

The mirror is commonly used in contemporary advertising as a device- the woman is lost in thought- a gesture which reminds us of Rodin's 'Thinker' sculpture- lost in a moment. This allows us to look at women without the challenge of her looking back at us. We are allowed to look at her without the gaze being returned.

ALEXANDRE CABANEL- 'Birth of venus', 1863.
The female figure is depicted in a reclined position- she raises her hand to partly cover her eyes. This gesture implies that she is either just waking, or just going to sleep. The covering of the eyes allows us to look at her body without her looking back at us.
3/4 of the image is taken up by the naked body- the last quarter is the head, what identifies herself as one particular woman.

Contemporary version of this painting- SOPHIE DAHL for OPIUM (perfume).
The advertisement was initially not accepted through censorship- was deemed to sexualised.

When the advert was not approved, they bought back another version (vertical as opposed to horizontal)- this was passed (the key change, although the material of the add was exactly the same- the focus was changed onto the face, and not just the body).

TITAN'S Venus of Urbino, 1538

A traditional nude image- although the woman looks at us, it is in an inviting manner- she is aware and happy of the presence of the viewer.
She seems relaxed, wealthy and calm. Clearly has servants and knows that we are there- regarding her naked.

Berger contrasts this with Manet's 'Olympia' 1863- painted during the time of Modernism- he represents the modern nude. Berger points out the differences in that Olympia sits elevated on the cushions and looks us directly in the eye- though her pose is slightly more assertive- wears adornments associated with a wealthier woman. Although she is a prostitute, she gives the appearance that she receives gifts and appreciation- modern, assertive woman. The cat at the end of the bed represents femininity. 

INGRES 'Le Grand Odalisque' (1814) 
Used by the Guerilla girls (1985)- formed in repsonse to the museum of modern women- 169 paintings, only 79 were by women.

Created Guerilla Girls poster inspired by this image- less than 5% of the artists in the modern art section are women, but 85% of the nudes are female.

"Do women have to be naked to get into the Met. Museum?"

MANET 'Bar at the Folies Bergeres', 1882

Important painting in terms of the gaze.
Manet himself is pictured in the top right-hand corner (top hat)- stands face to face with the barmaid. What he is here doing, is giving us several different perspectives at once- poses us in front of the barmaid- we are in his place, but we can also see his direction and view- multi-dimensional, distorted mirror reflection.
Her body is arranged in an open gesture which represents this approachableness to her, about to wait on us.
Social depth added by the mirror.
JEFF WALL 'PICTURE FOR WOMEN' (1979)

Reinvented Manet's image- inspired by.
In Manet's painting the barmaid gazes out from the frame, with a complex selection of viewpoints.
Here, Jeff Wall adds spacial depth, an absorbed gaze and poster- Wall is featured on the right of the image.
The image is capturing the image also being made- no hidden recording device- the camera is at the centre of the image- also divided into thirds with the reinforced steel rods- gives very strict placings in relation to the work.

The man's gaze is the role of the male artist and the female model.

COWARD, R. (1984)
"The camera in contemporary media has been put to use as an extension of the male gaze at women on the streets"

- How women's bodies are used within advertising- puts the idea of nudity and nakedness into every day situations- the nude body is a completely normal occurrence. 

EVA HERZIGOVA, 1994

Wonderbra "Hello Boys" famous billboard campaign.
A play between the text and image- we assume it is either Eva saying "Hello Boys"- playful, flirtatious interaction- seems to make it okay for us to look at her- however, she is looking down- in one sense, she is looking down at her own body- also looking down on us (billboards, advertising, etc).

COWARD, R. (1984)

"The profusion of images which characterises contemporary society could be seen as an obsessive distancing of women... a form of voyeurism"

- Peeping Tom, 1960 (man lures women to his apartment- kills women as he films them)

This idea of women as something to be looked at, and not a person to be interacted with, allows this space for the perversion to appear.

Men are also objectified in the media 
(genderads.com- a source for advertising images, also academic)
"The issue of male objectification is often raised in gender..."

Can men be objectified as women are? In what frequency is this present?- Not half as common as women's objectification.

From 2007 D&G male bodies are displayed and "objectified"- partially clothed- display of male strength and dominance (gym setting, empowered, sporty)- reflects the 21st century with obsession with the cult of health and male beauty- male beauty is connected with strength and prowess, etc- every single one of the men return the gaze- look us directly in the eye.

MARILYN: WILLIAM TRAVILLAS DRESS FROM
'The Seven Year Itch' (1955)

Examine 50's and 60's films- cuts up the female body in Hollywood cinema- focusing on the areas which allow us to look at the women's body- pleasurable to look at- feature the body as an object for consumption.

This is read as Freud's psycho-analytic theories- the theories (also by Jacques Lapin? sp?)- Freud has referred to an infantile looking at people's bodies as erotic objects. In the cinema auditorium one may look without being seen by anyone else. Cinema conditions allow voyeurism and objectification- the narcissistic identification with other characters (ego). Pleasure in looking has been split into active male and passive female roles.

The protagonist role is a male (1950's/60's)- the female is an adornment.

ARTEMISIA GENTILESCHI
'Judith Beheading Holofernes', 1620- reverses traditional roles- Judith is the slayer- phsyical and grizzly representation- uncommon in the period of which this was painted.

POLLOCK, G (1981)
(Leeds Uni lecturer)

- Women are "marginalised within the masculine discourses of art history"
- This marginalisation supports the 'hegemony of men in cultural practice, in art'
- Women not only marginalised...

CINDY SHERMAN
"Untitled Film Still # 6", 1977-79

She says she wasn't making work with the theories of the gaze in mind- however, the filmic/photographic traditions are used to reflect the gaze, not an awareness for them. Motifs used in film and photography which reflect the gaze.

Semi-clothed woman lying on a bed- the reclining body is turned around (vertical- almost sitting)- a subversion of the traditions (played upon). The figure is holding a mirror in her right hand- the plain of the mirror is faced away so we see nothing- not a device for vanity- a denile for our ability to look in the mirror.

Photographic timer left in the image- a reminder that we are looking at a reconstructed image. The woman's gaze looks away from us in the image. Cindy Sherman makes us slightly uncomfortable in her representation- looks a little awkward and false- implies an acting- an uncomfortable settling in the mind- not a straight-forward image.

BARBARA KRUGER 
"Your Gaze Hits The Side of My Face"
(1981)

Combination of text and found imagery- presented with ambiguous statements which are quite difficult to read.
Offering the side of the face as opposed to the full gaze- a refusal to return the gaze- not letting it fall onto the body. Reference to violence- the gaze "hitting" the face- association with a slap to the face.

Also well known for "I shop therefore I am" (1983)- used in Selfridges

SARAH LUCAS
"Eating a Banana"  (1990)

Seemingly innocent snapshot of eating a banana- significance of a woman might be self concious about eating a banana in public due to fallic connotations- a picturing of the idea of the woman being looked at- self conciousness in an every day act.
"Self Portrait with Fried Eggs" (1996)

The body is something for consumption- uses this as a reflection that the woman's body is a food- also fried eggs= small breasts. Something derogitory in small breasts?

TRACEY EMIN
"Money Photo" (2001)

A comment on the criticism of YBA's- making money from their art- why shouldn't they? A reflection on this. The body in a semi-pornographic pose- women making money from their body and their art- a value judgement is based on this.

THE GAZE OF THE MEDIA

The real effects of the way that women are portrayed in the media.

AMANDA KNOX CASE
Accused of murdering Meredith Kerschier. 

An article in The Guardian looked at the idea that came from the prosecution that Knox is portrayed as some kind of evil witch.
The association that women are natural liars- witches, evil. A dual nature- beautiful to look at, yet ultimately wicked- a carnal, insatiable lust. 

Knox was found not guilty- but bizarre circumstance, the Mail published the wrong verdict on the online version of the newspaper- completely fabricated headline put together with an image from the trial- was not infact related whatsoever. 

The Daily Mail was not the only newspaper to make the publishing error- The Sun and Sky News, and The Guardian in the live blog. A false translation- The Mail suffered the greatest flak as it prepared the story for either eventuality. They published the wrong one, and invented colour to her reactions- completely made up- comments from prosecutors that were fake. The Mail exposed themselves as guilty of fabrication and misrepresentation. 

SUSAN SONTAG (1979)' On Photography'

- "To photograph is to appropriate the thing photographed".

The role of the paparazzi in the media (eg Princess Diana shot)- this kind of cycle for the production of images is implict- our desire to passively consume these images is what feeds the production and the industry. The cycle continues- if we buy the magazines, that feeds the market for more imagery- more desire to see the exposed mask of celebrity. 

REALITY TELEVISION

- Appears to offer us the position as the all-seeing eye- the power of the gaze.
- Allows us a voyeuristic passice consumption of a type of reality.
- Editing means that there is no reality.
- Contestants are aware of their representation 

EG:

(Pedro Almodóvar, dir. La pied que habito)

The Truman Show (1988), dir. Peter Weir

Big Brother, 2011 

Gave us the oppportunity to look at both the male and female body- voyeurism is becoming an every day activity. 

WAYS OF SEEING, John Berger

THINKING PHOTOGRAPHY, Victor Burgin

THE LOOK, Rosalin Coward

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Lecture IV//Critical positions on the media and popular culture [with Richard Miles].


The Lecture Notes from today's session- which will help form a basis of knowledge, understanding and ideas for further research in preparation for my CTS Popular Culture Seminar in the up and coming weeks.

//

Looking at what defines popular culture- and what is culture?

AIMS//

- Critically define 'popular culture'
- Contrast ideas of 'culture' with 'popular culture' and 'mass culture'
- Introduce cultural studies & critical theory [German//Marxist]
- Discuss culture as ideology
- Interrogate the social function of popular culture
WHAT IS CULTURE?//

- 'One of the two or three most complicated words in the English language'
- General process of intellectual, spiritual & aesthetic development of a particular society, at a particular time
- A particular way of life
- Works of intellectual and especially artistic significance

Culture can be used to describe a cannon of important art works, literature, etc. Works by Shakespeare, Da Vinci, operas by Beethoven- etc. Institutes accept these as cannonic, and this becomes 'culture'- but who decides that works are at this sort of significance?

MARX'S CONCEPT OF BASE//SUPERSTRUCTURE [The way we will be looking at culture]

BASE

Forces of production- Materials, tools, workers, skills, etc
Relations of production- Employer/Employee, class, master/slave, etc

SUPERSTRUCTURE

Social institutions- legal, political, cultural
Forms of conciousness- Ideology

Culture emerges from the base.
Culture could be a sight of political/ideological conflict.

RAYMOND WILLIAMS (1983) 'Keywords' [wrote about culture]

* 4 definitions of 'popular'//DEFINITIONS HIGHLY POLITICAL

- Well liked by many people
- Inferior kinds of work * A lesser form of "high culture" (arts, philosophy, ballet, fine arts, etc- mass produced, kitsch, etc. Works that aspire to be important, but for various reasons fail- you make a subjective culture based on your world view)
- Work deliberately setting out to win favour with the people (anything that aims to be popularist- Jack Vetriano prints, etc- aimed to be understood by everyone/a level of snobbery is detached- easy work for the people- somehow deemed less important, flawed- elitism rejects it)
- Culture actually made by the people themselves (organic, popular culture- eg the working class popular culture of brass bands- mining communities, for mining communities- symbolising themselves and their identities)

EG Doctor Who is "popular culture"
Shakespeare, for example, is well liked by many people, but it would be strange to name it "popular culture", unlike Doctor Who...

INFERIOR OR RESIDUAL CULTURE

- Popular press vs Quality Press
- Popular cinema vs Art Cinema
- Popular Entertainment vs Art Culture

Popular culture is regarded as "peoples culture"

Eg Jeremy Deller & Alan Kane (2005) 'Folk Archive'- Tate Gallery Exhibit, creating popular culture- such as men fashioned as turnips, photographs of gurning competitions- kitsch, playful, etc.

You automatically laugh at this- not just due to humour, but because they look like poor attempts to make something artistic- look a bit crap- but why do we make these judgements of what is good, and what is bad?

We are programmed to have a view of what is both good and bad in aesthetics- where do these institutional devices come from? When/where are they established?

OTHER POPULAR CULTURES, EG//What happens when low culture combines with high culture?- When it is translated over to mainstream Western culture... Is this selling out? Does it change (eg) graffiti (see example below)...

- Graffiti in South Bronx//Banksy piece exhibited in Covent Garden

No longer is low culture graffiti for the community, but for the buying elite.

The dynamics between culture and popular culture are very complex.

WORKING CLASS/PROLETARIAT//BOURGEOISE

Prior to modernity and urbanisation, society had a reasonably common culture. On top of the shared, common culture there was a tiny strata of the elite for aristocrats, the elite, etc. The first time this changes (base effecting the superstructure) is with ubranisation and industrialisation.

E.P Thompson (1963) 'The Making of The English Working Class'

People are condensed, yet also physically separated from the Bourgeoisie (higher classes). Where these working class start to live, with the start of industrialisation, shows the working class moved into "slums" as opposed to the luxury of the Bourgeoisie.
A physical distinction of the ruling and the working classes. This physical separation starts to create a cultural separation also. They start to author their own culture- still need things to do, create, and be inventive with- working classes created own cultural activities- own forms of music and literature are founded.

At this period in the late 19th century, we start to see the emergence of an organic working class voice and culture which is far removed from that of the Bourgeoisie. 

Until this moment, the only persons who distinguished true culture were the upper classes- but now there were two classes defining culture and taste- this was reflected in arts, literature, music, and also in politics.
Massing working classes together makes them consider how their society and cultures should be organised.

Matthew Arnold (1867) 'Culture & Anarchy'- one of the first books written about culture as a discipline itself.
The first thing he wanted to do in the book was to define culture...
Social studies began to emerge.

Culture is:
- 'the best that has been thought & said in the world' [the most important things that society have achieved]
- study of perfection
- attained through disinterested reading, writing thinking [without agenda- any that does is biased culture]
- the pursuit of culture [one gains culture through the pursuit of culture]
- seeks 'to minister the diseased spirit of our times' [anarchy, the emerging working class culture that seeks to have it's own voice heard- "the raw and uncultivated masses"]

"The working class... raw and half developed... long lain half hidden amidst it's poverty and squalor... now issuing from it's hiding place to assert an Englishman's heaven born privilege to do as he likes, and beginning to perplex us by marching where it likes, meeting where it likes, breaking what it likes (1960, p. 105)"
This pattern has continued throughout the 20th century and can still be seen now. Legitimises the rulings of the upper class and mocking the culture of the working class as worse.

LEAVISM- F.R LEAVIS & Q.D LEAVIS- very similar to Arnoldism

READING LIST//

"Mass Civilisation & Minority Culture"
"Fiction & the Reading Public"
"Culture & Environment"


- Still forms a kind of repressed, common sense attitude to popular culture in this country,
- For Leavis- C20th sees a cultural decline
- Standardisation & levelling down
- 'Culture has always been in minority keeping' [there's always been an elite to "preserve culture for humanity"]
- 'The minority, who had hitherto set the standard of taste without any serious challenge have experienced a 'collapse of authority'.


-Collapse of traditional authority comes at the same time as mass democracy (anarchy).
-Nostalgia for an era when the masses exhibited an unquestioning deference to (cultural) authority.
-Popular culture offers addictive forms of ditraction and compensation.
- 'This form of compensation... is that very reverse of recreation, in that it tends, not to strengthen and refresh the addict for living, but to increase his unfitness by habituating him to weak evasions, to the refusal to face reality at all' (Leavis & Thompson 1977: 100).

FRANKFURT SCHOOL//CRITICAL THEORY

Institute of social research, University of Frankfurt, 1923-33
University of Columbia New York 1933-47
University of Frankfurt, 1949-

CLOSED DOWN IN NAZI DICTATORSHIP- moved to New York temporarily before moving back to Frankfurt

- Theodore Adorno
- Max Horkheimer
- Herbert Marcuse
- Leo Lowenthal
- Walter Benjamin

Studied mass//popular culture.
Moving to NY saw the mass popular culture- changed studies and ways to seeing popular culture- the perfect place to be for analysing capitalism.

THEODORE ADORNO & MAX HORKHEIMER

Reinterpreted Marx, for the 20th century- era of "late capitalism"

Defined "The Culture Industry":
2 main products- homogeneity & predictability

"All mass culture is identical"

"As soon as the film begins, it is quite clear how it will end, and who will be rewarded, punished, or forgotten"

"Movies and radio need no longer to pretend to be art. The truth, that they are just business, is made into an ideology in order to justify the rubbish they deliberately produce... The whole world is made to pass through the filter of the culture industry... The culture industry can pride itself on having energetically executed the previously clumsy transportation of art into the sphere of consumption, on making this a principle... film, radio and magazines make up a system which is uniform as a whole in every part... all mass culture is identical."

//A big market of standardised, bleak products.

FORDISM (1920 onwards)- Ford production line- cars made by thousands of people, economic conditions of production.

FRANKFURT SCHOOL, HERBERT MARCUSE//Popular Culture vs Affirmative Culture

From One Dimensional Man, 1968...

"The irresistible output of the entertainment and information industry carry with them prescribed attitudes and habits, certain intellectual and emotional reactions which bind the consumers more or less pleasantly to the producers and, through the latter, to the whole. The products indoctrinate and manipulate they promote a false consciousness which is immune against it's falsehood... it becomes a way of life..."

//Affirms the status quo, doesn't challenge it.

Arnoldists were concerned with mass culture, as this threatened the ruling class- worried that it would over throw the ruling class.

Frankfurt school felt that working class culture was bad because it codes you into a way of thinking about the world that "de-politicises" you. If you absorb yourself with "dumbed down culture industry" it denies the opportunity to fight back, and to think politically.

PRODUCTS OF CONTEMPORARY 'CULTURE INDUSTRY'

- Hollyoaks- de-politicses and sexualises woman- makes women think it's okay to be treated this way, or percieved in this way.
- Che T-shirts- populist, neutralised into a symbol of cool- just becomes a symbol, not even one of revolution any more.
- Big Brother//X Factor- salvation in life is not to form a political party or create social change, but the solution is to go on a TV show and sing a song to be judged by the middle classes- judged by the taste makers- de- politicised, not through education.

We start to identify ourselves by the culture we consume.

Frankfurt School attacked all forms of mass culture- from TV, movies, to radio, popular art, theatre, etc.
Adorno particularly liked writing about music 'On popular music'... His views:

//Standardisation [all works around the same instruments, rhythms, beats- because everything is standardised, it opens you up to liking new bands of a similar style- lead through taste- reduces capacity for independence and free thought/the engagement you have with this is limited/a social cement].
//Social cement.
//Produces passivity through 'rhythmic' and emotional 'adjustment' [We adjust our behaviour in certain ways/eg dance music- modern dance music with it's insistent rhythm is a kin to the rhythm of modern production, factories, following orders- you're a slave to the beat- people "mindlessly dance to the rhythm of their own oppression"- de- politicises you with emotional adjustment].

//CAUSES YOU TO BE COUNTER-REVOLUTIONARY

AUTHENTIC CULTURE VS MASS CULTURE

Qualities of authentic culture

- Real
- European
- Multi-dimensional
- Active consumption
- Individual creation
- Imagination
- Negation
- AUTONOMOUS [independent from the rules]

WALTER BENJAMIN//'The Work Of Age In The Age Of Mechanical Reproduction' [1936]

"One might generalise by saying: the technique of reproduction detaches the reproduced objects from the domain of tradition. By making may reproductions it substitutes a plurality of copies for a unique existence. And in permitting the reproduction to meet the beholder or listener in his own situation, it reactivates the objects produced. These two processes lead to a tremendous shattering of tradition... Their most powerful agent is film. It's social significance, particularly in it's most positive form, is inconceivable without it's destructive, cathartic aspect, that is, the liquidation of the traditional value of the cultural heritage "

What all of this means is that mass production allows us to redefine culture against the way that taste makers have decided it shall be. In a way, we are, democratically, allowed in, and allowed to take high culture and manipulate it into low culture as a "political gesture".

There is now the opportunity to refine your own meaning in culture.
Arnoldist approach was popular until 1960s.

Hebdige, D (1979) 'Subculture: The Meaning of Style'.

The Birmingham School were the first to cake popular culture seriously.
Young people try to create cultures that are challenges to modern status- punks, mods, etc- anti-capitalist gesture, unemployment of black and white- reggae music attempts to create anarchy, to "over- throw" the system. 
For example, graffiti, at one point, was rebellious- now it's incorporated and modified for the upper class elites. 

CONCLUSION

- The culture & civilisation tradition emerges from, and represents, anxieties about social and cultural extension. They attack mass culture because it threatens the cultural standards and social authority.
- The Frankfurt School emerges from a Marxist tradition. They attack mass culture because it threatens cultural standards and depoliticies the working class, thus maintaining social authority.
- Pronouncements on popular culture usually rely on normative or elitist value judgements.
- Ideology masks cultural or class differences and naturalises the interests of the few as the interests of all.
- Popular culture as ideology.
- The analysis of popular culture.


Monday, 7 November 2011

Seminar II//Technology will liberate us//Notes.



I was really pleased with what I learnt in today's seminar with Richard. Admittedly- I, and I think I can speak for the group as a whole, were massively confused with the lecture from two weeks back- and not truly understanding or getting to grips with any of the concepts that were being put across.
However, having the chance to really pull apart some text and analyse the particular related philosophies were amazingly helpful- and I now see the great relevance of the lecture.

The images posted below are a summary of my notes and records from the seminar discussion (out of context they make look a little unusual...)- reading the text of Walter Benjamin, and, in particular, working alongside fellow designer Max to analyse the second chapter of the text.
(Please excuse the rather dodgy scans...)












I really enjoyed today's session, and am so glad that it now makes clear sense to me- and the relevance to our own Graphic Design practice is extremely evident. I will now strongly consider choosing this as a subject for my dissertation- I feel it's something very relevant to my own practice, and contemporary culture- and, most importantly, something I could get really passionate about- looking forward to writing my short essay review in response to today's session (may have spoken to soon, mind...).

TASK II//Benjamin & Mechanical Reproduction//Task Response.

Task II- Benjamin & Mechanical Reproduction//Contemporary Context of Benjamin's theories in Graphic Design Practice.


Read the Walter Benjamin's essay 'The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction'. Write a 300 word analysis of one work of Graphic Design, that you think relates to the themes of the text, and employing quotes, concepts and terminology from the text...

TASK RESPONSE


http://www.threadless.com/product/1373/True_Love_Will_Find_You_In_The_End/tab,guys/style,shirt

For this task, I will look not specifically at one example of work, but at the portfolio of a contemporary Graphic Designer- British Illustrator and typographer, Si Scott. Within the past decade Scott's hand-rendered, intricate work has received great acclaim and success from various design bodies such as D&AD, Creative Review, and having worked for prestigious clients such as Nike, Vogue, and Tiffany & Co.
Although Scott is renowned for his hand-rendered and intricately illustrated works, he is also known for his mass-produced works, relating back to Benjamin's theories, with the age of mechanical reproduction, digital and technological advances, Scott's work reaches vast, wide audiences through prints, t-shirts, etc- "mechanical reproduction of a work of art, however, represents something new" (Walter Benjamin. 2011. Walter Benjamin. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/philosophy/works/ge/benjamin.htm. [Accessed 28 November 2011]).

Along with the mass-produced prints available to buy online, original illustrations are also available for purchase. It is with this combination of work available that a social and quality division is comparable- in which the aura of the original designs are not only emphasised, but are also put at risk, as "even the most perfect reproduction of a work of art is lacking in one element: it's presence in time and space, it's unique existence at the place where it happens to be" (Walter Benjamin. 2011. Walter Benjamin. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/philosophy/works/ge/benjamin.htm. [Accessed 28 November 2011]).

In his essay, "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction", Marxist writer, theorist, and philosopher Walter Benjamin discusses the "aura" of a work of art- the original state in which it is created and the emotive drive, reasoning and uniqueness that example piece of work possesses, and discussed the role that mechanical reproduction plays in liberating the viewer, yet compromises the value of art and design; "that which withers in the age of mechanical reproduction is the aura of the work of art" (Walter Benjamin. 2011. Walter Benjamin. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/philosophy/works/ge/benjamin.htm. [Accessed 28 November 2011]) - although decreasing the value of a work of art, this allows more accessibility to the public, as well as a detached, or lessened sense of the aforementioned "aura"- the uniqueness, creativity, value and even "genius" of a designer returned to a far more realistic and human level- now far more accessible to the "every day man" as opposed to the elite who may have been the only ones to afford the high-end original illustrations and designs in less technologically advanced times.


As with Scott, and many contemporary Graphic Design practitioners, the "aura" of yesteryear is being forged (although this is, by association, automatically inferior) with limited edition prints and the age of DIY and handmade items in attempt to recreated the (now withered) majesty of the "aura", "mechanical reproduction of art changes the reaction of the masses towards art" (Walter Benjamin. 2011. Walter Benjamin. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/philosophy/works/ge/benjamin.htm. [Accessed 28 November 2011])- even in today's modern society this theory is still relevant- in which, with the aid of the expansion of technology we are, indeed, liberated, to form our own views and opinions of work- whether a $10 t-shirt has the same value and is deserving of the same acclaim as a £200 original illustration- removed the traditionalist docile bodies to form our own values and opinions of the institutions of art and design.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

- High Above The Street Website, http://www.highabovethestreet.com/Art/All-Prints/Dragonfly-A2/?MID=17&CID=36

Walter Benjamin. 2011. Walter Benjamin. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/philosophy/works/ge/benjamin.htm. [Accessed 28 November 2011])




- I feel as if I could have divulged a lot more about both this subject, and Si Scott's practice within this short essay task but hand to reign myself in after abusing the work limit- whoops.