Monday, 26 March 2012

Final Essay

Task 5 - The Gaze

‘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, 45, 47)

Discuss this quote with reference to one work of art and one work from the contemporary media.
The Painting Below by Hans Memling 'Vanity' (1485) communicates to it's audience on a series of levels. The painting has been created for a mans examination, During the period of time It was created the men of the world were rich and wealthy, for that reason most of the art at the time was produced by men. The models eyes are directed away from the viewer, removing the feeling of intrusion when looking at the painting. She is gazing into the mirror admiring her own reflection, lost in her own gaze, this gives the viewer the permission the appreciate her without being watched whilst you watch her. The woman seems to be pleased by her reflection, she poses in the mirror presenting herself how she wants to be seen, openly confident and expressing she wants to be seen by others.

In this situation the man is given the position of power, admiring and objectifying the female form. Nude female paintings were very popular at this time in comparison to male, treasured and hung on walls as ornaments. 'Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at’ It is apparent throughout history that men depict the perfect female form through controlling the perceptions of women in art/design and visual media.

Hans Memling 'Vanity' (1485)

The lynx Effect is something every man longs because of the connotations that come with apparently using Lynx products. The fact of the matter is, the female body is used all across the media and forms of advertising to sell us products. The advert suggests to men that just by using Lynx and being clean it will attract women to you, where as from a womans point of view they are presented with a mans idea of the perfect woman, clear skin, smooth legs etc seems a lot more work on the female behalf. The model is smiling in the direction of the viewer as If shes comfortable with people looking at her, luring in the audience in aid to sell Lynx. Alike to Hans Memling's Vanity the woman's posture is almost flaunting, as if she wants to reveal her body to you.

Task 4 - Hyperreality

Write a short analysis (300 words approx) of an aspect of our culture that is in some way Hyperreal. Hyperreality is an awkward and slippery concept. Wikipedia defines it as follows-

Hyperreality is used in semiotics and postmodern philosophy to describe a hypothetical inability of consciousness to distinguish reality from a simulation of reality, especially in technologically advanced post-modern societies. Hyperreality is a way of characterizing what our consciousness defines as "real" in a world where a multitude of media can radically shape and filter an original event or experience.

Wikipedia cites the following examples to get you thinking (but please come up with your own!)

  • A well manicured garden (nature as hyperreal).
  • Any massively promoted versions of historical or present "facts" (e.g. "General Ignorance" from QI, where the questions have seemingly obvious answers, which are actually wrong).
  • Professional sports athletes as super, invincible versions of the human beings.
  • Many world cities and places which did not evolve as functional places with some basis in reality, as if they were creatio ex nihilo (literally 'creation out of nothing'): Disney World; Dubai; Celebration, Florida; and Las Vegas.
  • TV and film in general (especially "reality" TV), due to its creation of a world of fantasy and its dependence that the viewer will engage with these fantasy worlds. The current trend is to glamorize the mundane using histrionics.
  • A retail store that looks completely stocked and perfect due to facing, creating a world of endless identical products.
  • A life which cannot be (e.g. the perfect facsimile of a celebrity's invented persona).
  • A high end sex doll used as a simulacrum of an unattainable partner.
  • A newly made building or item designed to look old, or to recreate or reproduce an older artifact, by simulating the feel of age or aging.
  • Second Life The distinction becomes blurred when it becomes the platform for RL (Real Life) courses and conferences, Alcoholics Anonymous meetings or leads to real world interactions behind the scenes.
  • Weak virtual reality which is greater than any possible simulation of physical reality.

Task 2 : Benjamin & Mechanical Reproduction

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.

The essay can be found online here;

Task 1 : 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.

In this day and age you can't walk to your local shop without being recorded on CCTV, I'm recorded too and from college on my journey, and recorded on the college camera's throughout the duration of my day. Surveillance camera's are a modern Panoptic method,  CCTV has one purpose no matter the context, that being to monitor behavior. When you see a camera in the street you automatically change your body language and behavior because you suddenly become more self conscious of your actions. 'Surveillance is based on a system of permanent registration' (Michel Foucault, Discipline and punish.) CCTV is an anonymous measure of control, and an omniscient power that keeps people from acting out in everyday life. Constant recognition of camera's and the thought of being watched alters and changes the way you act and behave, over a longer duration of time you become disciplined to the rules of the surveillance camera. 'The utopia of the perfectly governed city' is a society who obey the power of the CCTV camera on an individual level.

Alike to the Panopticon CCTV plays with the perception of visibility. We are lead to believe we are being watched when often just the illusion of being watched can force us to control the way we act. Signage and imitation CCTV units put out the message we are being watched giving us a false sense that we are under surveillance.  "[he] is seen, but [he] does not see; [he] is the object of information, never a subject in communication" I think the fear of being caught for your actions and the consequences you could face, knowing fully that they are recorded puts you in a state of apprehension. CCTV is a mechanism that "automizes and disindividualizes" us.

CCTV cameras act as a constant visible reminder to us that we are under surveillance, a relationship of power between the subject and the viewer. Alike to the Prisoner and the Guard in the Panopticon people are "caught up in a power situation of which they are themselves the bearers." We become a custom to the fact we are being watched.

There is a big controversy in the act of videoing somebody who is videoing you. If you're stopped by a policeman with a hands free camera where do you're rights stand in filming him for you're own safety. When riots break out and the tables are turned when police brutality is captured on camera phones we are reminded that the camera captures everything. The camera becomes a threat and invasion of our personal privacy, linking back to CCTV this threat of being under surveillance is a way of training society to conform to a certain way of living.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Essay Feedback

Got some really good feedback off Richard about my essay. There's a few key things I really need to focus on when re-writing my essay listed below;

-Consider triangulation
-Pick out one main text and focus your analysis around that source.
-Talk about digital reproduction.
-Stick to talking in one tone of voice.
-Define critical methodology earlier.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Essay First Draft

The first draft of my Essay, I feel I had a lot more to put into it but for the deadline wrote as much as I could.