Friday, 18 December 2009

The Document - lecture notes (week 5)

  • Joseph Nicephore Niepce took the first ever photograph or so it is said. It is called 'View From a Window at La Gras'. (1826)
  • James Natchwey- notably a war documentary photographer - "I have been a witness and these virtues are my testimony. The events I have recorded must not be forgotten and must not be repeated."
  • Rwanda, 1994.
  • Palestine, 2000.
  • Photographers capture reality and record history and events with a purpose. There is a myth of neutral photography - but the photographer always has purpose / reasoning to take the picture.
  • The Decisive moment.
  • Cartier - Bresson - "Photography achieves its highest distinction - reflecting the universality of the human condition in a never-to-be retrieved fraction of a second".
  • Jacob Reiis - constructs scenes depicting people living in slums but they are aware he is there. It still documents life in the slums - but does it really if the stage has been set? It questions the validity of documentation.
  • 1888 - 'Bandits Roost'
  • F.S.A. Photographers (Farm Security Administration).
  • During the American depression - 11 million people unemployed.
  • Roy Styker founded the program.
  • Mass migration of farmers - 'Oakies' - travelled from Oklahoma and 'Arkies' from Arkansas.
  • Photographs were used as photojournalism and an emotive 'weapon' / tool.
  • The photographs were given instructions of what they were to record - the "reality" was pre-determined.
  • Dorothea Lange - Migrant Mother (1936) - shows a migrant mother looking into the distant - thinking? The composition could be said that it resembles the 'Madonna & Child' (Raphael).
  • The FSA wanted images of depression and helplessness.
  • Several photographs that all the photographers took were rejected as they didn't capture what the F.S.A wanted.
  • Photography was developed as supposed empirical evidence such as in 1868 where John Lamprey photographed different races of people in order to prove that some races of people were less well defined than others.
  • War / Conflict Photography.
  • Magnum Group - founded 1947 - Carteir-Bresson & Capa. Ethos - document the world and its social problems
  • Robert Haeberle (1969) captured Vietnamese people who were literally about to get massacred and gunned down by American soldiers. He probably did this to capture the feeling of powerlessness the people felt.
  • Critical Realism
  • "A photograph of a Krupp factory or the AEG says practically nothing about these institutions. Really itself has shifted into the realm of the functional. The reification of human relationships, such as the factory, no longer betrays anything about these realtionships. And so what we actually need is to 'construct something', something "artificial", "posed". Bertolt Brecht (1931).

  • Gillian Wearing - 'Signs that say what you want them to say' 1992-3.

  • "Postmodern link between art & documentary. Photographers agenda is largely removed. Audience allowed to portray their own agenda."

  • Key features of documentary photography:
  • Offers a humanitarian perspective.
  • Tends to portray social and political situations.
  • Has the purpose to be objective to portray the facts of a certain situation.
  • People tend to form the subject matter.
  • Images are straightforward, to the point and not manipulated.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Art and the mass media - lecture notes - (week 4)

  • Age of print began around 1450 with the Gutenburg press - which meant mass print.
  • 1st time in history the printed word can be printed for lots of people affordably - circulation and production of knowledge on a large scale.
  • Concept of literature had changed - we are now computer literate - we can "self publish". Changed how we engage with the world.
  • Hypermedia - much media - pictures, sounds etc - enhance our experience of absorbing knowledge.
  • Problems: "surfing" media can fragment how we absorb knowledge - hyperlinks distract and move us around the websites quickly - missing information.
  • Mass media - modern systems of communication and distribution supplied by relatively small groups of cultural producers, but directed towards large numbers of consumers - newspapers, cinema, advertising.
  • Criticisms of mass media:
  • Superficial, trivial, uncritical.
  • Viewing figures measure success
  • Audience is dispersed.
  • Audience is disempowered.
  • Encourages apathy - staticness - feeling we can't do anything to change the world.
  • Power held by the few motivated by profit or social control (propaganda).
  • Bland, escapist and standardised.
  • Encourages escapism - opium of the masses.
  • Positives:
  • Not all mass media is low quality.
  • Social problems/injustices are discussed by media.
  • Creativity can be a feature.
  • Transmission of high art materials reaches a broader audience (opera, classical, etc).
Artists use media in their work:

Picasso (1913)

Richard Hamilton (1956) Pop art

Lichtenstein 'Whaam' (1963)

Warhol (1962) Green Coke Bottles

Big Electric Chair (1967)

Ambulance Disaster (1963) - disseminates us - art critical of art and the mass media.

Art's meaning shifted by mass media.

Marcus Harvey - Myra - 1995 - using children's hand prints. Kept Myra in the press - was it so people didn't forget?

  • New media - changing the way we consume and read text and image.
  • Theorists of mass media have different viewpoints - seeing is as either: negative and a threat, or positive - pleasurable and democratic.
  • Much 20th century art has used mass media.

Task 2 - summary of text

During the early twentieth century and a new emerging modern culture across Europe, there was an effort to mix elements from previous art movements in order to create new art. Paris was at the forefront of this change and the growth of Cubism kept them there.
Modernisation across Europe meant there were huge advances in technological ‘equipment’ and machines, which gathered a fast pace. It was due to the development of the car and speed of machinery that “granted a compelling vision of the modern” [Harrison, G. 1997 p.127] that lead to the development of Futurism.
However modernization is not only due to technological advances, but also social facts. A lot of changes before the rise of Futurism and the First World War had meant started to become alienated from each other, but the change of modernity saw new social associations, most importantly between different classes of people.
Cubism really marked a turning point “between the modern art of the nineteenth century and what was to become the condition of modern art in the twentieth”, [Harrison, G. 1997 p.129] particularly as they used mediums representing the world around them – such as newspaper articles, showing a new mass media audience.

Art In Theory: 1900-1990 by Harrison, G. And Wood, P. Published in 1997 by Oxford, Blackwell Page 125-129

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Advertising, Publicity & the Media - Lecture notes (week 3)

  • Advertising is inescapable - always in our face, we are always effected by it - be it consciously or not.
  • Times Square, New York sums up how high profiled modern advertisng is.
  • Karl Marx (1818 - 1883)
  • wrote 'Communist Manifesto' in 1848.
  • Wrote 'Das Kapital (volume 1)' in 1867.
  • He was (and still is) a well known philosopher, social critic and theorist of how the world works and people behave.
  • His most famous quote is "religion is the opium of the people", he suggested that people get a false sense of security from believing in religion.
  • Critique of consumer/commodity culture.
  • Marxists do not like this as they are against the idea of capitalism and personal wealth and gain above others.
  • Our lives are consumed by what we buy and what is advertised. Stewart Green calls this "the commodity self".
  • Judith Williamson - "Instead of being identified by what they produce, people are made to identify themselves because of what they consume."
  • E.g. CK One aftershave - is just scented water - advertising creates an atmosphere in which to the public is is perceived to be socially empowering. We will never become like the figures in the advert but we are led to believe by the advert that we will.
  • Products are sold to use on the basis that the product can enhance or positively effect your life.
  • How does commodity culture perpetuate false needs?
  • Aesthetic innovation.
  • Planned obsolescence - products are designed to last a few years - we are tricked into spending by having to buy more of the same product. E.g. cars are designed to fall apart than they could do id designed differently.
  • Novelty (Ipods)
  • Advertising makes us believe that we need things that are not necessary to live in the world and commodity culture tricks us into thinking that we want stuff.
  • Commodity Fetishism
  • Advertising conceals the background 'history' of a product. E.g. A certain type of ladies Nike trainers that were marketed in the early 90s were imaged as being synonymous with the notion of an empowering woman when in fact it was hidden that they were produced by women themselves in sweat shops for pitiful pay. This is the Adbusters advert that counter attacked:

  • Reification
  • This is where products are given human associations.
  • Products themselves are perceived as sexy, romantic, cool, sophisticated, fun etc.
  • This makes us develop false human-like attachments to consumer products.
  • Commodity culture manipulates us and makes us think one dimensionally - it stifles us and prevents us living full, meaningful and creative lives.
  • It encourages addictive, obsessive and acquisitive behaviour.
  • Conclusions:
  • Advertising works in an ideological way to trick people into consumption.
  • It tricks us by telling us to spend in order to fund the economy.
  • Advertising perpetuates stereotypes.
  • It seeks to make people unhappy with existing material possessions.
  • It even has the potential to distort language and spelling eg. 'iTunes'
  • It encourages children to want things that they can't afford causing feelings of inadequacy and envy. It psychologically effects them.
  • Advertising uses images that encourage us to buy products and brands that have the potential to be unhealthy.
  • It encourages unnecessary production and consumption therefore depleting the worlds resources and spoiling the environment.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Graphic Design Lecture Notes (week 2)

Bison and horses c. 15.000 - 10.000 B.C.

1305 - Giotto di Bondone - Arena Chapel
communicating story through visual language - symbols / icons - general public can't read - have to learn through image.

1886 - Pears soup - John Everett Millais - advert "bubbles"
Type with image.
Term Graphic Design - 1922 - William Addison Dwiggins (successful designer)

Richard Hollis - making / choosing marks and arranging them to convey and idea.

Paul Rand - persuade / inform and consider spectators reactions and own aesthetic needs.

Have to consider advertising in graphic design.
Edouart Manet - 1832 A Bar at the Folies Bergeres 1882.
1893 - Henri de Toulouse- Lautrec- Aristide Bruant 1893

War pushed graphic design for posters .
Alfred Leete - "Britons (Kitchener) wants you!" 1914
James Montgomery Flagg, "I want you for the U.S. army", 1917.
El Lissitzky 1919 poster "Beat the whites with the Red wedge". About getting message across when people cannot read.
Underground map - Harry Beck - 1933 - change from old to modern map - Simon Patterson 1967 - "The great bear" based on underground map (has it now been turned into fine art?)Oskar Schlemmer - German - Bauhaus logo - 1922 - one of the first schools to teach graphic design.
Herbert Matter - Swiss tourist board - 1932 - Swiss identity - influential style "Swiss design".
In 1927 - design / designers being celebrated / recognised.
1930's German posters - many designers leave for America / Britons because Nazi's are anti-modernist.
Degenerate art 1936 poster ironic because it got picked because Hitler hated this kind of design and he judged it.
Lots of better graphic design comes from the first World War - Russian posters 1930 - simple colour - bold designs (Lissitzky).
Paul Rand - advert 1946 for Jacquelire Cochran - moving into Pop art era - more experimental type layout.Saul Bass 1950's posters - simple approximations of form - abstract in own way.
Paul Rand logos 1962 "abc" - moving more into a corporate world.
Try to give graphic design intellectual and philosophical pursuit.
First things first manifesto (Ken Gorland) 1964 - graphic designer try to separate themselves from advertising.
Punk was a reaction to problems in society - Jamie Reid - Never mind the Bollocks (Sex Pistols) 1977.
New order, Blue Monday 1983 - record sleeve - loosing money on record sleeve cost.

David Carson - Ray gun (grunge era) - not very legible but visually interesting.
"Don't mistake legibility for communication".

(reference - Naomi Klein, Truth in Advertising, 2000 (in Looking Closer 4, page 64)
Culture now is turning towards subvertising (Adbusters) - culture jamming, raise awareness of the bad behind some companies / adverts etc.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Modernity and Modernism - Lecture notes (week 1)

Key words:
Modern, positive, improve, progress, urbanisation, quick, fast, shift from slow to fast, great affluence.

Key points:
1760 - 1960 "The modernist Project".
Project of the new, better (better buildings).
William Holman Hunt (1851) The Hireling Shepherd - modern but not modernist (traditional still exists in modern era).
Paris 1900'2 was "first" modern city - most advanced city in terms of modernity.
!889 - Paris invited the world to show off how modern their city was becoming. Eiffel Tower was built not to be aesthetically pleasing but to show off their improving industrial ways.
It was about urbanisation - shift from the country to the city, factory work replaced rural work.
Changes in communication - people had more opportunity to meet new people in the cities, telephone invented.
1912 - world time was standardised - due to public transport timetables and factory clocking in and out.
People were reaching a state of "enlightenment" - scientific / philosophical thinking made leaps and bounds and people started to reject God. Religion thrown out for science. "SECULARISATION".
The city starts to become a product of new culture.
Caillebotte (impressionist) "Paris on a rainy day" 1877.
One of the first art movements to start using the city as a focal point of the painting - more about experience of the everyday rather than focusing on the people.

"Haussmanisation" - redesigns Paris (Haussman) - created large boulevards rather than narrow streets - a form of social control - easier to police.
There now becomes a "society of distinction" / alienation, - class division and the "new sport" is to parade the streets - displaying wealth. Fashion becomes a signifier of status.
Chirat - new painting techniques - colour complementing dots - new science of optics.
Spare time is becoming "controlled" - revolves around work.
Degas - L'Absinthe (1876)

looks like a photograph - photography is invented.
Subjective experience - of individual in modern world. Start to come close to understanding modern art and experience of modernity.
Alfred Stieglitz - Flat iron building 1903 - built after modern for the modern - built around grids - rational, logical. Skyscrapers - man made replacing the natural - new views - news ways of experiencing the world.
Paul Citroen - Metropolis (1923) - one point perspective was beginning to be abandoned and explored.
Bombarded by information - media becomes an important figure in society.

Modernism in design.
Anti - historicism - attempts not to look back on the past, not repeating styles
True to materils - let them speak for themselves - want it to look industrial.
Form follows function. Aesthetic comes out of how successfully the product works.
Internationalism - mutual language - everyone understands the skyscraper
Bauhaus - most progressive art school. Concrete on building - speaks for iteself, big windows, easier to make now due to new technology.
Bauhaus logo - Futura - sans serif - modern typography.
New Materials.
Plastics ,glass, concrete, aluminium, new technology for steel.
Mass Production
Products made quickly.
Cheaper - more widely accessible products.

Skyscraper - epitimy of modernism - geometric - rational not decorative.
Le Corbusier "Plan Voisin" 1927
everyone being equal - having their own space. (Not built)

Underground map - Harry Beck 1933

good example of internationalism and modernist design.
Herbert Bayer - pioneer of sans serif typeface - argued not to get rid of capitals.

Modern - not a neutral term 0 suggests novelty and improvement.
"Modernity" (1750 - 1960) - social and cultural experience.
"Moderism" Range of ideas and styles that sprang from modernity.

Importance of modernism
-Vocabulary of styles.
-Art and deisng education.
-Idea of form follows function.

Friday, 6 November 2009


Compare and contrast the two images in relation to the following:

1. The choice and organisation of font and style of illustration
2. The purpose and meaning of the image
3. The target / potential audience of the image
4. The social and historical contexts relevant to the production of the image
These are the two images:

'The Uncle Sam Range' (1876) advertising image by Shumacher & Ettlinger, New york

Poster by Saville Lumley (1915)

At first you may take a glance at these two images and say they are completely different, they also infact share similarities.

I feel both are trying to evoke emotion - although not in the same way. Whilst the Uncle Sam's cooker advert wants to give off a sense of pride and power, the Saville Lumley poster is transmitting a feeling of guilt.
Uncle Sam's advert is predominantly selling a cooker, a dream and in a way "American Greatness". The designer has drawn heavily upon symbolism and patriotism in order to express this, such as the use of the read white and blue colour, the stars and stripes, the bald eagle and even writing some of the states on the children's clothes. I feel they have used Uncle Sam to attach celebrity status much like what is used in today's adverts.
However the bottom image also draws upon the same technique - using symbolism and patriotism - perhaps in this case though it is more about making the viewer feel more of a "duty" to fight rather than show willingness to buy like the top image tries to make you feel. The symbolism featured in the war poster is very British - the Fleur DE Li, and the rose and the red soldiers like Beefeater's to protect the Queen, which again evokes a sense of duty a man would feel towards his country.
Both I think are selling towards males from similar classes but for different reasons. Whilst the top one I think is aimed at lower middle class trying to persuade them to buy this cooker in order to "achieve" "better social status", the bottom is aimed at the same class but to sort of suggest that all men are equal in this war - the majority of lower working class men had already joined the war because they didn't really have anything to lose and it was an exciting chance to see a bit of the world. Whereas a middle class man would have a nice house, children nicely dressed etc and may not wish to give up their life so readily. What the poster draws upon is expressing a sense of the guilt you would feel (expressed through the expression on the man's face - he is looking at you and it's as if you would share a mutual shame) if you didn't fight and using the children as an emotive - the fact a man would feel embarrassed if he couldn't tell his children he did nothing for their country when so many of their friend's fathers would have done. This is clearly shown through the boy playing his toy soldiers - his "heroes" and the girl pointing at the book - signifying that is potentially a history book about the war and you will come back a hero.
Another similarity between the two is they both glamorise what they are selling. The top image as I've said uses a "celebrity" to try and sell the product - making it seem like it gives status and it is an amazing, reliable cooker.
The bottom is glamorising in a slightly different way, making the war seem like it will be known as the Great War (as this isn't what it was known as at the time) and that if you fight you will help win the war, you can be part of this great achievement.
Although the fonts are entirely different, they are both suited for what they are wanting to achieve. Whilst the top one uses this chunky, bold font, it is a typically American font much like ones that were used when the Europeans were revolutionising America, getting rid of the savage Red Indians - an achievement - again making this cooker look great and powerful - if you buy this you will achieve something great.
The other is used as more of a threat, "you" is clearly in capitals to make every man who reads this feel it is speaking to them, giving a more persuasive message.