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