Thursday, 16 December 2010

Task 3 - Essay Proposal

"Video Gaming and it's effects on young children - is it having an effect on the reshaping of modern day society?"

  • Start with an introduction as to the meaning of gaming and it's social effects of the media on children. 
  • Argue that games such as Call of Duty and such like are desensitising children and also bringing about the possibility of increasing violent behaviours in society. 
  • Begin to look at suture and narcissistic identity
    References -  Practices of Looking: an Introduction to Visual
    Culture. Oxford, Oxford University Press.
    Visualizing Theory: Selected Essays from V.A.R. 1990-1994. New
    York, Routledge, pp.363-384.
  • Then argue that cyberculture is reshaping cultural form and behaviour.
    References - Baudrillard, J. (1976) Simulacra and Simulations: the Body in Theory. Ann Arbor, University of Michigan
    The Cybercultures Reader, London, Routledge. (306.24)
    Gibson, W (1984)
    Understanding Media: the Extensions of Man. London, Routledge. (302.23)
    Scott, R. (1982)
  • Conclusion

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Lecture 5 - Hyperreality - Jean Baudrillard

Coke - cognitive illusion - "we taste the branding". We care more about the logo than the product.

Baudrillard (1929 - 2007).
French philosopher, critic, social and cultural theorist, (Pioneering theorist) Post structuralism.

Other included - Bathes, Focault, Cixous, Deleuze, Dirrida.

Structuralism theroists:
Levi Strauss, Bathes, Lacan, Kristera, Leroi-Gourhan, Althusser.

Debord - Marxist theorist. Revised Marx's main concepts to analyse commodity relations in the age of consumer culture. Commodity society had become immense accumulation of spectacles - looking at images and making sense.

Marx - pioneering philosopher and political economic theorist
Developed the critique of political economy.
Capitalist society in the industrial age functions on the basis of the 'labor theory of value' and exchange of commodities.
Capitalism constitutes one kind of mode of production and that it would eventually be replaced by another society - socialist / communist etc.

"All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profound".
Money is an abstraction of value.

Saussure - Linguist and pioneer of semiotics - language functions also on the basis of a theory of value - "linguist value" rather than labour value and basis of exchange (signs) exchange words, signs, images, gives the value of an object. 

Mauss - anthropologist - renowned for the analysis of the economy of the gift.
Explored the idea that gifts are only given as part of an exchange and that the gift always has to be reciprocated in come form.

Bataille - philosopher, novelist. Renowned for his writings on transgression, death and general economy (gift economies, economies based on expenditure without return. E.g. the Potlash.

McLuhan - media theorist who developed the distinction between "hot" and "cool" medias and who argued.

Baudrillard - key works:
Simulacra and Simulation (1981) elaborated hos theory of simulacra - copies of the thing they are intending to represent or stand in for - or - copies of copies. Controversial concept.
Explicitly name checked in the Matrix - ironic postmodern play on themes.

Reflection of the Profound reality - masks and denatures a profound reality.
If there is good there is evil.

3rd masks the absence of a profound reality.
Has no relation to any reality whatsoever - it is it's own pure simulacrum.

Disney character - trying to find the reality - but there is none. Real in the fact it exists.

Santa - hyperreal - real in the fact it exists.
Neither Coke nor Santa are real in the sense of profound reality - pure simulacra - copies of copies.

Why (reality) T.V. is not real - Video editing to make a situation - it is Hyperreal.

Symbolic exchange and death (Baudrillard)
3 orders of simulacra:
The counterfeit - scheme of classical period.
Production - Dominant scheme in industrial era.
Simulation - Dominant scheme in current code - governed phase.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Seminar 3 - The Gaze (notes)

Every glance is a judgement - looking is not a neutral activity and not passive.
Continuous surveying - women by men - men are watching women while women watch themselves being watched. (Direct link to Focault).
Behaviour change - self regulation - acting up to the gaze.

Patriacle gaze - women self regulating - men holding the power.

Hans Memling "Vanity' 1485
Narcosits - Vain obsessed with images - mocking element for being vain - reason - reinforces the idea of men having power over women - image of dominance and subordination. Controlling the idea of female beauty.
Made by a man for the consumption of a man.

Alexandre Cabanel "Birth of Venus"
Idea of idolised body - available - averting eyes - doesn't meet the gaze.
Look is encouraging the viewer to keep looking.
Pure ideology - dominated.

Manet - "Olympia" 1863
More of a reality.
Power relation - different - idea of a women available - never controlled.
Challenging the gaze - closer reality to human relations.

Ingre - "Le Grand Odalisque" 1814
2 gazes - man gazing at women - power control.
West to East - Orientalism - silk sheets - primitive - racist stereotype.
Almost a fantasy.
Cultural gaze.
Face - young and innocent - taken away by the womanly body.
Dominance over children.
Doe eyed look - classical art and seen in Hollywood starlets.

Manet - Bar at the Folies Bergeres 1882.
Literally forced into the position of the man. Seeing it through the eyes of the man.
Not a neutral gaze relationship.
Insists it is the man looking at the woman.

Jeff Wall - "Picture for women" 1979.
Mirror - women looking at him watching her.
He's looking at her.
Audience - we are the camera.
Woman - dismissive / standoffish?
Still a man looking at a woman.
Photography - neutral objective gaze. Seems to be natural and real.
Reminds us - behind the device - person controlling the camera.

Key points - look controlled by men.
Men control society (base).
The camera is an extension of male gaze.
Repeated ideas of women representations.

Lecture 4 - Communication Theory

Core - Lasswell's Maxim.
What we do as designers.
Who says what  to whom.

Traditions of communication theory - 7 different.
Information theory - cybernetic (mathematics / statistics) companies use distribution networks.
Shannon and weaver - Bell Laboratories 1949
Noise source - ability of people to receive.

2nd World War developed (in Bell Lab) - complex systems to predict whether or not information would get to the front lines or not.
Destination - get feedback to the info source. E.g. seminar - understood or not.

3 levels of communication problems.
  • Technical - how accurate?
  • Coding and decoding e.g. English to Chinese translation - how good is it?
  • System compatibility - Apple / PC.
Semantic - precision - how precise in language.
How much of the message cane be lost without the meaning being totally lost?
What language to use?

Effectiveness - does the message affect behaviour?
E.g. fire - people don't move?
What can be done if the required effect fails to happen.

Client ----> Designer ---> Media outlet ----> Audience.

Systems theory
Important - switch around the maths - see it biologically, psychologically ans sociologically.
Interdisciplinary - powerful.

Think about audience - advertisers who will fund need to know who it is they're targeting - so they see if the product is viable and audience is correct.

Semiotics - three basic concepts.
Semantics - address what a sign stands for - Dictionaries (are semantic ref. books) - tell us what a sign means.

Syntactics - relationship between signs - signs rarely stand alone - almost always part of a larger system referred to as codes. Codes are organised rules that designate what different signs stand for.


Signs everywhere - is everything a sign?
e.g. clothing - people trying to decode dress sense when you may have just thrown anything on that day.

Damien Hirst - labels - Liver, Bacon, Onions - taking a product we assume would be for medicine and changing the meaning of the label.
Playing on semiotics.

Move into various areas:
Lacan - semiotics to understand the unconscious.
Psychologically thinking - changes the way we think about the unconscious  - the individual from the idea of the collective.

The rise of the trainer - signing about culture - what is 'cool' - giving status.
Clear indication - object - signal message of status in society.

Advertising uses semiotics a lot. Buy a 'sign' to achieve social status.
Mediated social response can change the meaning of signs. E.g. A few people might not like trainers - people go off them - become not 'cool' anymore.
Code within a code to understand communication.

Codes - only understandable when someone says that is what it is.
E.g. Highway code

Problem - we presume the meaning is clear.

The Phenomenological tradition - very fashionable to look at.
Knowing through experience.
Real phenomenon - makes actual lived experience the basic data of reality.
Problem in today's society - lack of authentic human relationships.
The embodied mind.
Decar - "I think therefore I am"
Justice - 1st ideas to do with in balance (bodily idea).
Bilaterally symmetrical.
Page layout - look at in similar way to how we look at faces:
Biggest area - mouth (look at first)
Look at a page and apply the same techniques.

Issue of interpretation - what does it mean.
Separate from reality (unlike semiotic tradition).
Interested in what is real for the person.
Works on the fact that our mental psyhcology - predicts all the time.

old system
Persuasion - convince people you have something important to say and for them to act on it.
How do I use my body to look powerful?
Language used?
Hyperbole - push ideas to the limit.
Personification - suggests take on an idea - talk about it in such a way it becomes like a real person.
Useful for creating effect.
Problematic - fascists very powerful.
Get it right - affect powerfully.
Pictures without context are meaningless - need to be anchored.
Used at times of great war and conflict.
Metaphor - transfer language that directly compares seemingly unrelated subjects or activities. Simplifies ideas so we remember.
Memory not just about persuasion.

Sociopsychological tradition
3 Key areas:

Individual - how accessible to get information.
External - type and efficiency of information coming to the individual.
Change the pattern / shape/ space. Change the meaning
As animals we have "laid a grid" over the world - to survive.

Sociocultural tradition.
Defining yourself in terms of your identity.
Part of a group and this group - frames your cultural identity.

Difficult to decode - due to context.
Context is seen as being crucial to form meanings of communication.
Sociolinguistics - study of language and culture.
Power structures - how they effect us. Effects how we communciate.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Seminar task 2 - On Popular Music

Quickly read Adorno's (1941) article 'On Popular Music' (links below). In no more than a few paragraphs, summarise his ideas on pop music, concentrating on key points such as 'standardisation', 'psuedo-individualisation' etc.

Adorno's key ideas on pop music are that there is  ‘A clear judgement concerning the relation of serious music to popular music can be arrived at only by strict attention to the fundamental characteristics of popular music: standardization,’ (Adorno, 1941, p.73) He suggests that there are two 'spheres' of music - popular and 'serious' and that popular is the inferior of the two, calling it predictable, structured and standardised. Popular music is for the working class and is mass produced (In today's society pop stars are manufactured and mass produced to give the public the same pre-digested rhythm).
If an aspect of a musical piece can be defined Adorno believes this to be 'stylised' and have repetitive structure. 
In society, humans strive to be deemed individual, not follow the crowd and if we as individuals believe ourselves to be a 'sheep' we tend to detach ourselves from objects to achieve higher social 'status'. We believe we are being individual by engaging with various strains in popular music (Pseudo-individualisation) ‘making them forget that what they listen to is already listened to for them, or ‘pre-digested’.’ (p.79).
In the third part of Adorno's writing it is apparent that he believes that the audience of popular culture have such pressurised, stressful lifestyles that popular music offers an escapism from reality. 'Listeners are distracted from the demands of reality by entertainment which does not demand attention either" and he deems this audience to not be able to understand and appreciate 'serious' music. 

Post a link to a YouTube pop video that, in your opinion, epitomises Adorno's sentiments. Explain why, trying to emphasise the links to the wider 'culture industry' in general.

I consider Rhianna to be the epitamy of standardisation at the moment, she is literally everywhere and we are subjected to the same predictable rhythms. All her songs (along with many other pop songs) follow the same structured pattern of intro, verse, chorus, verse etc... and it is very repetitive. However, songs of this tempo and style are very consistent with others for providing great escapes - especially on a night out  as we can just escape, have a bit of a dance which in itself is standardised as everyone really dances in the same rhythmical manner. 

Lecture 3 - "The Gaze"

Call of Duty allows you to choose 1st person or 3rd person perspective. Why?
1st - more life like, more intense - makes you feel you're actually in the game.
3rd - more cinematic, interactive movie. Harder to control other people in 3rd.

Why do we hunt?
What motivates us to watch hurt?

We control how much we engage with death and violence - we can make them less detailed - more abstract.

Psychoanalysis - analysis of the options and controls we choose in life.
Be the hunter or the hunted.

Key authors / theorists - Sigmund Freud, Jacques Lacan, Laura Murphy, Kaja Silverman.

Common misconceptions
  • It's a mish mash of psychology (behaviour) and psychitary (mental illness).
  • Although it is linked to the two - it's also a way of thinking that can be applied to all aspects of society, including art and design.
  • It's all about sex.
  • About how we treat and examine objects.
Laura Mulvey - Hollywood film is sexist in that it represents 'the gaze' as powerful and driven by males. 
Heroes typically are male and drive the plot.
Women in film exist as 'sexual' objects to be looked at.

Freud Theories of Pyschoanalysis 1
SCOPOPHILIA - the pleasure of looking at others bodies as objects. Emerges in childhood.

Freud Theories of Pyschoanalysis 2
NARCISSISTIC Identification - spectators identify with the male hero in narrative films.

Theories of Pyschoanalysis 3
Jacques Lacan - the mirror stage.
Projected notion of 'ideal ego' in image reflected.
Child's body less perfect than reflection.
Film - similarity with the mirror - produces fascination in the image that can itself, include a loss of ego. In our increasing indentification with a projected 'ego', our own sense of ego becomes lost.

Comic Book Guy (Simpsons) - narcissistic identification with comic book heroes highlights his loss of self ego. Film and art prey on our ability to identify with a projected 'ego'.

Contradiction in the two pleasurable structures of looking -
1. SCOPOPHILIA - sexual stimulation by sight - objectifying the actors.
2. NARCISSISTIC identification with the image seen.
Fantasy world - product of patriarchal realities.

Mulvey's theory

•Spectators look through eyes of the actors in the film
•We are able to follow ‘their’ gaze without feeling guilty
•Suture can be broken e.g., when an actor speaks out to us
•When broken, the audience are aware of their own gaze –
•Possibility then, to make the spectator feel guilty

SUTURE - point of View Gaze
•This form of ‘gaze’ invites us to be a part of the scene. We view through the eyes of a character.
•When ‘suture’ is broken, the viewer is aware of the power of their own gaze.

1.the spectator’s gaze – gaze of a viewer at an image
Most common form of gaze.
You looking at me.
Can also see you looking at others… 

2. intra-diegetic gaze – a gaze of one depicted person at another within the image
When I look around me now I don’t just see you looking at me. I also see you looking at others.
Degas: Le Viol (The Rape) 
This gaze is ‘intra-diegetic’. Character in the image that gazes at the subject (the young girl).
 May feel disgusted and upset about the image - don’t really feel any guilt; we are not the perpetrators of the assault/rape.
3. extra-diegetic gaze – this is the direct address to the viewer – the gaze of a person in an image looking out at us e.g. newsreaders.
Intra-diegetic gazes defer our guilt – someone else is hurting that person - enhances our guilt - we are complict.
Conclusions to take away:
•Different forms of ‘gaze’ evoke different structures of power;
•We can objectify (scopophilia) AND identify (narcissistic identification);
•Cinema, advertising, computer games thrive upon ‘contradiction’ [but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing!];
•Visual culture employs different forms of the gaze to evoke structures of patriarchy;
•Psychoanalysis seeks to evaluate and identify the architecture and symptoms of the gaze.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Lecture 2 - Critical Positions on the media and popular culture.

What is Culture?
From Raymond William (British philosopher) - one of the most complicated words in the English language. 3 ways starting to think about it:
  1. General process of intellectual / spiritual / aesthetic development in society at a particular time - "shared development".
  2. Way of life - e.g. the sports we engage in, the T.V. we watch etc.
  3. The works of intellectual and artistic significance - music, art etc. To signify practices to represent your world. 
Marx's concept of base and superstructure:
Society (all) are based around:
A base (core):
forces of production - materials, technology, tools, knolwedge etc.
Relations - employer / employee, master / slave, upper / lower class.

This brings about a superstructure.
Social institution - legal, political etc
Forms of consciousness - ideology.
E.g. art - formed out of interests of the ruling class - legitimises status in the world.

Society fudenmentally antagonistic - struggle between - oppressor and oppressed, rich and poor etc.

Base ----> determines content and form -----> superstructure ------> reflects form and legitimises ------>back round to base.

Culture emerges from base - culture justifies the base.

Myth of culture - ideas determined by the individual. When actually people's thinking about culture is determined by the society it is born into.

If we change the base we change the way people think about the world.
Easy to determine a shift in base - less easy in superstructure.
Marx - labels all culture as ideology.

Ideology - 1. ideas / belief system e.g. political party. Produced by strata (dominant class of society).
2, Mashing distortion or selection of ideas to reinforce power relations - through creation of false consciousness.

"Pyramid of Capitalist system"
At the bottom  - base - workers - oppressed - supporting the top.
Top - superstructure - emerges from base.
Top keeps the oppressed oppressed.

Williams - Popular - 4 Definitions.
  1. Well liked by many people.
  2. Inferior kinds of work.
  3. Work deliberately setting out to win favour with the people. 
  4. Culture actually made by the people themselves.
Inferior or residual culture.
Oppositions between:
Popular press vs. Quality press.
Popular cinema vs. Art cinema.
Popular entertainment vs. Arty entertainment (documentaries etc).

Graffiti - made by the people for the people.
By Banksy - does this now become high culture when put into a gallery - into 'high society'?

Labels of popular culture involve some kind of value / political judgement - revolves around class and identity.

Evolution of cultural studies:
Popular culture - can trace development back to early modernity.
Birth of industrilasation - clear line / divisions of classes.
Become separated - inetellectually / spiritually. Culture becomes a status symbol. Popular culture emerges to represent to new class.

People start o become anxious about what the new culture will have upon the high elitist culture.

Arnold (1867) 'Culture and Anarchy'.
'Diseased spirit' (working class) - possibility of a social revolution. (Worried people).

The uncultured should strive to become cultures and not set their own instead.

Leavisim - F.R. Leavis & Q.D. Leavis. - extension of Arnoldism.
"20th century - decline in quality in culture - becomes standardised, shattered - the working class have a voice because of shear growth of their 'population'.

Leavism - attack on the effects of popular culture as opposed to elite culture.

Popular culture offers addictive forms of distraction and compensation.
Threat to dominence of elite class.
Frankfurt school - critical theory - group of thinkers.
Combines Marx ideas and pshycoanalysis.
They explore culture as a product of the base and how it pshycologically effects people.

Main people:
  • Adorno, Horkheimer, Marcuse, Lowenthal.
Adorno - reinterprets Marx for 20th century - "late capitalism". 
"All mass culture is identical - comes from production line."

Argues that people who engage with popular culture conform to the interests of the elite. Meaningless of popular culture reinforces the elite.

Starts to stop people thinking (theoretically) - e.g. a film - we know the plot before it pans out - imprinted.

Marcuse - Popular culture - affirmative culture - not independent - locks you into the Status Quo.
Maintains social order.

All mass culture teaches intellectual / emotional responses to the world - becomes a way of life - illusion that this is better and we don't change.

Products of contemporary culture - affirmative culture - Big Brother, X Factor, etc.

Qualities of authentic culture:
  • Real
  • European
  • Multi - dimensional
  • Acute consumption
  • Individual Creation
  • Imagination
  • Negation
  • Autonomous
Independent of system born into.
Important to strive to this (instead of the mass produced popular culture).

Adorne on Popular music:
  • Standardisation
  • Social cement
  • Produces passivity through a rhythmic and emotional adjustment - 2 effects on audience - self regulate - obidient to a rhythm. Rhythm to explotation - ordered and structured dancing. 
We use music as a sentimental escape from the horrors of the world instead of trying to go out there and change it.

Walter Benjamin 1936 - The work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction - idea of mass produced and the effects of what was thought of as high culture.

Idea of mass produced and new technology - new development - changing the direction of culture.

Possibilities of challenging high culture - concept - aura - in modern, mass produced age, mass capitalism - aura removed and becomes less important.

E.g. Mona Lisa - constantly told it is of high, social importance.
Now it's printed everywhere - challenges the authority and becomes less important, thus aura starts to become removed.

Democractic - attack on the old regime.
Aura - broken down or removed.

Working class can shape culture - make their own meanings.

Allows people to pick and select their way through life - create own path, choose own identity.

Conclusion -
Attitudes of civilised culture emerges from working class - worries elitists - working class threaten cultural standards.
Frankfurt school - see threat but have a different view - they see it as maintaining social order, depoliticises the working class.
Normative value judgements on popular culture - disguises social interests.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Blog task one - Panopticism

Choose an example of one aspect of contemporary culture that is, in your opinion, panoptic. Write an explanation of this, in approximately 200-300 words, employing key Foucauldian language, such as 'Docile Bodies' or 'self-regulation, and using not less than 5 quotes from the text 'Panopticism' in Thomas, J. (2000) 'Reading Images', NY, Palgrave McMillan.

There can't be a much bigger and modern example of Panopticism than Facebook.  "A state of conscious and permanent visibility" makes us continuously self regulate. Users regularly get caught on camera with unflattering poses / intoxicated or pictures we just don't like so people will quickly de-tag to make themselves appear more socially normal and acceptable. We are aware we can be monitored at anytime but unaware of who it is at any given time: “He is seen, but he does not see; he is the object of information” 
"Regulation into even the smallest of details" is something a user always considers - whether or not they are sharing too much information with the public and regulating what they wish to be common knowledge.
We have become a nation of 'docile bodies' and it seems to be becoming an instilled human concept now (especially here in British society) that we are continously watched and never want to be caught in compromising situations although we enjoy seeing it of others "inscribing the power of regulation in which they simultaneously plays both roles". People 'spying' or viewing profiles hold the power of both the observer and the observed and we are seeing that society is becoming self-regulated. We don't want to be seen to be bad mouthing anyone as it has a way of getting back to the source so we always have to consider how we behave online as someone somewhere is always watching  'subjected to a field of visibility, and who know it, assume responsibility for the constraints of power', people talk and I think the saying 'walls have ears' should be updated to 'walls have eyes' as you never know who's keeping an eye on you. It is rather worrying - why are people watching me? What information are they obtaining from me? What do they do with the data / information they 'collect' from people and why? 

'Panopticism' in Thomas, J. (2000) 'Reading Images', NY, Palgrave McMillan.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Lecture 1 "surveillance and society".

Key words - Panopticism, Power, Docile bodies, Foucault, Self regimented, Disciplinary society.

Panopticon - metaphor for society surveillance.

Foucault (1926 - 1984) "Madness and civilisation" - idea of madness an how it has emerged throughout history.
Madness accepted in society - late 1600's - "The great confinement" happens - becomes a social requirement to work. People deemed socially unproductive or abnormal - need to be useful to society - locked away - the mad, criminals, tramps, pregnant single women, lazy - put into confinement to improve the 'moral fibre' of society. Put into correctional facilities - make them work and correct idleness.
"Deviants" begin to corrupt each other - the mad corrupt the sane etc - begins a degeneration.

The birth of the Asylum - different technique to the house of correction in order to control the mad - treated like children - rewarded for the good, 'punished' for the bad. There's a shift now from psychical control (putting to work) to mental control.
The emergence of new forms of knowledge and authority - can judge what is 'normal' and legitimise practices of hospitals, doctors, psychiatrists to deem what is normal.
Gives these specialists 'superhuman' powers to control society.
Society starts to internalise responsibility - conform to what is expected as 'normal'.

Early methods of control in society - 'Pillary' - deviants paraded in front of town - visible humiliation - the deviant is judged by society.

Disciplinary society and Disciplinary Power (Foucault)
A 'technology' to keep us under surveillance - to control us and improve society - make people productive and responsible.

Panopticon Design - 1971 - round building - windows from outside.

Panopticon examples.

Middle - central watch tower - can see all prisoners.
Interesting effects - opposite of dungeon or house of correction - constantly can be seen - 'not forgotten' like before.
"Internalises" in the individual the conscious state that he is always being watched. It scared the inmates - didn't step out of line - self regulate their behaviour - perfect system if control. Seen now as psychological torture.

 Example of the effects...

Advantages of the Panopticon - perfect model for scrutinising people - almost like a lab to monitor human performance. Constant visibility - efficient and economical.
"Experiment on prisoners" - reforms the prisoners, help treat patients, instruct school children / students, helps confine, study the insane, puts idlers / beggars to work.

We change behaviour to what we expect 'the invisible, watching body' wants us to behave like.
Open plan offices, modern bars, studios etc all examples of panopticism - always watched.
The idea of being recorded in our modern society, causes us to change - due to the anxiety of being recorded  
My thought: I think this is totally instilled in us now - particularly the younger generations as we are unconsciously always aware that we are being videoed on CCTV and it is almost like human instinct to us now and it's just 'normal' although slightly scary and intimidating.

'Relationship between power, knowledge and the body"
Power relations have an immediate hold upon the body - invest it, train it, torture it, force it to carry out tasks, to emit signs, perform ceremonies. (Focualt).
The physical effect of a mental process.

Disciplinary society = 'docile bodies' - self monitoring, easily controllable, does what "YOU" the surveyor wants it to do.
e.g. Women dress how men want them to dress - to impress.
Disciplinary techniques - e,g, the gym - making ourselves fit / healthy for society - deemed fit to work - we are inundated with messages about smoking, drinking etc - messages so we hopefully don't become ill, therefore can't work and are deemed useless to society.
This essentially was what the Nazi 'project' was intending to do - produce a fit/healthy society.
T.V. - a classic way of producing docility - we are instructed, controlled, become passive.

Foucault on power:
Not a 'top down' model like Marxism. Power is not a thing, it is a relation between different individuals / groups. Power relies on there being the capacity for power to be resisted.
"Where there is power, there is resistance."

Facebook - the new (modern day) surveillance. Spying on friends, performing for the public - we delete inappropriate photos, tags etc if we see that our behaviour / appearance is not acceptable / normal.

Bruce Nauman
'Video Corridor Pieces' 1960's - Attitude shifts to that of self consciousness when you reach the screen at the bottom showing the back of your head and you realise you're being watched and you feel you need to adapt to a behaviour 'acceptable' in the art gallery.

Chris Burden "Samson" 1985.
Two pillars and a crack - pushes harder on the walls when people enter the room - like it is watching people enter and exit.
"The 100-ton jack pushes two large timbers against the bearing walls of the museum. Each visitor to the museum must pass through the turnstile in order to see the exhibition. Each input on the turnstile ever so slightly expands the jack, and ultimately if enough people visit the exhibition, SAMSON could theoretically destroy the building.”
 Key things to take from the lecture
  • Foucault's ideas.
  • Panopticism - form of modern discipline. 
  • Techniques of the body. 
  • Docile body.
Notes on today:
Found this to be an interesting lecture - never realised there was so much depth into surveillance - the ideas behind it and the reasons for doing it.The thoughts presented by Foucault and that of the correctional facilities. It's a really interesting human behaviour in itself - why was there ever that need pushed onto society for people to work, for people to be normal, for people to be watched? And, who decides on who are the watchers? It's quite a scary thought to think that if I am caught on CCTV hundreds of times a day, then why are people watching me? What information are they obtaining from me? What do they do with the data / information they 'collect' from people and why?
I can see the good in watching people, on the basis that the government are keeping us 'safe' and able to track individuals such as terrorists, but I kind of want a balance between what we have and a communistic society - what I mean by that is, yeah fair enough keep me safe in my own country and what have you, but I would like to have a say on who it is - it's a bit panicking thinking a random 'odd' person might be watching and hatching a crazy plan...
Maybe that went a bit far, but I wanted to share my thoughts on what I heard today. 

Level 5

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Semiotics task - comparing two images

Through a semiotic analysis of brands and advertising campaigns, we can see how images are manipulated to convey complex meaning, which requires cognitive thinking to be able to read the meaning.
Fig i - Apple logos.

Take the Apple logo for instance; the company name was already Apple, so it made sense to use an apple as the symbol for the main form of branding. It started as a complex logo, many people regard this to be Sir Isaac Newton sat under a tree where he supposedly began his discovery of gravity, another explanation is that is actually pays homage to Alan Turning who committed suicide by eating an apple laced with cyanide. This explanation makes more sense as Turning is considered as one of the fathers of the computer.
The apple idea continued and Regis McKenna simply used an apple symbol in rainbow co1ours with a "bite mark', the mark was used to signify the concept of seduction of customers, derived from the Adam and Eve story, denoting how Eve was tempted by a snake to eat the forbidden fruit - an apple. The meaning behind this was rumoured to signify Turning being homosexual and reflecting the “Gay Pride" rainbow flag. These days the bite mark is also recognised as a "byte mark” referring to computers.
There was a monochrome theme that then replaced the rainbow colour scheme.
The silvery chrome finish in the new Apple logo is consistent with the design scheme of the computers and is a clear signifier that the company wishes to be seen as a modern, sleek brand.
Fig ii - I Love New York logo - Milton Glaser 1977.

Compare this to the “I Love NY” logo, designed by Milton Glaser in 1977. It's a relatively simple logo but has such impact around the world and many people buy into this brand as they want to be associated with the city – it connotes a fresh, young, fashionable place that appeals greatly to the younger generations today and has become a large part of American pop culture creating more than a brand and becoming an icon for the city. Although it is a brand used to promote New York City, it is shown as a symbolic logo rather than an indexical one. The red heart denotes love and over time it has become a signifier of representing the word love rather than heart, and the red predominantly signifies the passion felt for the city and also blood running through the heart of the people who love the city.
Every American state has their own state code and obviously New York's is NY, the state has been shortened to its state code to carry on the theme of shortening words - like love. It also means that there are four elements to work with which can be contained in an invisible square which is considered to symbolise the state line and how people love that state, that area. It also works purely on the fact that the red heart is located in the top right corner, which reflects the location of New York City itself.

Both examples have applied a semiotic approach well and when looked at more closely, it is clear the intentions behind each of the designs.

Semiotics seminar

  • The social 'science' of understanding meaning. (Meaning constructed through a shared knowledge / language / cultural codes.
  • 'Codes' - found in all forms of cultural practice and RELY on shared knowledge - i.e. red can signify love a rose - romance / love etc.
  • Ferdinand de Saussure's theory - 1916 - 'Structuralism'.
    Bond between the signifier and the signified is arbitrary (random) - people naturally assign meaning.
  • Charles Sanders Peirce's theory:

  • 3 catergories of signs that Peirce identifies:
    - ICON - directly references objects (photos - iconic signs)
    - INDEX - (an inferred) direct link between sign and object . (INDEXICALLY) use a sign but no direct link.
    - SYMBOL - no logical link between sign and object (pure learned meaning).
  • Roland Barthes's theory:

Monday, 25 January 2010

Lecture 6 - Postmodernism

Modernity - main associations:
  • Experimentation; innovation, individualism; progress; purity; originality; seriousness.
Postmodern is concerned with:
  • Exhaustion; pluralism; pessimism; disillusionment with the idea of absolute knowledge.
Some characteristics overlap:

Modernism: Expression of: Modern life /Technology / New Materials / Communication [Modernity]

Postmodernism: Reaction to: Modern life /Technology / New Materials / Communication [Postmodernity]

Postmodernism origins:

•1917 - German writer Rudolph Pannwitz, spoke of ‘nihilistic, amoral, postmodern men’

•1964 - Leslie Fielder described a ‘post’ culture, which rejected the elitist values of Modern Culture

These people had broken away from modern European civilization values.

· 1960s beginnings

· 1970s established as term (Jencks)

· 1980s recognisable style

· 1980s & 90s dominant theoretical discourse

· Today: Tired & simmering

Uses of the term postmodern.

· after modernism

· the historical era following the modern

· contra modernism

· equivalent to ‘late capitalism’(Jameson)

· artistic and stylistic eclecticism

· ‘global village’ phenomena: globalization of cultures, races, images, capital, products

The demolition of the Pruitt - Igoe development, St Louis -

15 July 1972, 3:32pm - Modernism dies, according to Charles Jencks. The death of modernist architecture.

Frank Gehry, Guggenheim museum, Bilbao, 1997 Looks like melting in the heat - possible response to global warming? - making us as viewers become disillusioned with this idea / knowledge.

Roy Lichtenstein 'This must be the place' 1965.Robert Venturi 'Las Vegas - postmodern city?' 1972
High art / low art divide.

David Shrigley ‘Art Lovers’ 2000

I think this is a good example of showing the divide - showing what is clearly mimicking atroicious art, but is deemed excellent by those with money.

Andy Warhol.
Things begin to change - a postmodern 'cult' of celebrity obsession and focus starts to set in (like in today's culture - being on T.V. has now become more important than what's actually on it.) as does a commodity culture - depicted here in:
Roy Lictenstein 'Red painting (brushstroke)' 1965
Richard Hamilton, 'Just what is it that makes today's homes so different, so appealing?' 1956

Key quotes from the lecture:

Quote 1. Robert Venturi

‘I like elements which are hybrid rather than ‘pure’, compromising rather than ‘clean’, distorted rather than ‘straight-forward’, ambiguous rather than ‘articulated’, perverse as well as impersonal….’

Quote 2. ‘Generally post-modern artists like to mix the highbrow and the populist, the alienating and the accessible, and to ‘sample’ elements from different styles and eras…

now you can reinvent yourself endlessly, gaily pick ‘n’ mixing your way through the gaudy fragments of a shattered culture’.

" Crisis in confidence - But:

also = freedom, new possibilities

Questioning old limitations

Space for marginalised discourse:

Women, sexual diversity & multiculturalism"

CONCLUSION: postmodernism is...

  • A vague disputed term

  • Po-Mo attitude of questioning conventions (esp. Modernism)

  • Po-Mo aesthetic = multiplicity of styles & approaches

  • Shift in thought & theory investigating ‘crisis in confidence’ Eg. Lyotard

  • Space for ‘new voices’

  • Rejection of technological determinism?