PecaKu // CTS

This is my CTS PechaKucha referring to my essay question choice. I have chosen “Me, Myself and I: Am I who I really am in Photographs of Myself?”

This Particular question grabbed my attention as I think that it is relevant in the self approving society that we live in. I believe that I can reveal truths about peoples insecurities and how they hope other perceive them.

Click Below to see the Presentation.

PecaKu CTS

See also: Photography and Fiction – Pose! That’s Not Me! // CTS

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Film Club // CTS

In CTS film club we watched part one of “The Century of the Self” series. In this episode, they covered Freuds theory of human nature and how humans have internal desires and forces. In the theory, Freud stated that if these inner feelings and desires were not controlled, it could lead to complete chaos. Within this part of the series, it is explained how this theory grew and how it was used to manipulate the masses.

Psychoanalysis; (noun) “a system of psychological theory and therapy which aims to treat mental disorders by investigating the interaction of ion ions and unconscious elements in have mind and bringing repressed fears and conflicts into the conscious mind by techniques such as dream interpretation and free association”

Sigmund Freud was an Australian neurologist and he as one created a huge study known as ‘psychoanalysis’. Soon after his study emerged, it was realised by Edward Bernays, Freuds nephew, that this analysis could be used by those in power to gain complete control. Bernays took his uncles theory and used it to manipulate the masses.

It wasn’t long until Bernays introduced this theory to large American cooperations to show how to make people want things that they didn’t actually need. This was the beginning of a long journey as to where masses of people would be controlled without their knowledge. The theory was even used in politics as it appeared that each party was able to offer what us as humans desired. This mindset would soon lead us to become an all-consuming culture.

Some people were exposed to the idea and saw the analysis of their inner feelings as an intrusive threat as it meant that they were not in complete control. A huge part of this was due to the fact that showing emotion was frowned upon during that era, as described in the clip, it was seen as “destruction of self empire”.

Freud found that humankind actually had internal emotions and desires which evoked our primitive forces, this was evident in things such as war and sexual desire. Big cooperations and even the government found this whole theory very interesting and it soon because clear how they could use it to their advantage. Bernays was on employed to inform of the USA’s aims in war through the press and public interactions. All of this was very heavily influenced by the strive for democracy.

“If you could use propaganda for war, then you can certainly use it for peace” – Edward Bernays

This method was all about manipulation. The whole concept was that by giving the public information, this would drive idea meaning that this would play with or evoke their internal irrational emotion. One of Bernays most famous experiments regarding this method was convincing women to smoke. At this time, females smoking was looked down upon and discouraged, it was considered a male dominated social activity. A tobacco company approached Bernays and explained how this stigma was potentially deterring half of their profits.

Bernays approach to this experiment was linked heavily to the concept of penis envy. The cigarette was described to be symbolic of the penis and make dominance. Naturally women would want to fight back to this act so Bernays encouraged them. It was planned that. Several women would light a cigarette at a busy public event all at the same time. The cigarettes new symbolic meaning would be referred to as “torches of freedom”. Bernays then told the press that there was rumors of this rebellion which, of course, ensured that the press would capture and publish the events meaning that it would be publicised even further. Soon after this women began to smoke and sales began to rise. This is a prime example of how products could be linked to emotion and desire which made people act irrationally.

This emotional connection to products and services within the industry made people consume through desire instead of necessity. This was to help over come a concern of mass production. Cooperations were worried that the mass production in and all-consuming culture would cause them over produce. They were scared that if someone already had something that worked, they would not replace it until they actually needed it. Bernays managed to convince People to buy through desire instead meaning that they were able to mass produce newer models and earn more profit.

Bernays was also extremely clever within his relations with the public. He was the main influence and creator of things such as product placement, gender specifying products, encouraging independence through manipulation and he even had the idea of using strong figures such as celebrities to help promote the products and services. All of this was known as consumptionism.

In 1924, the president called Bernays in Apple to help him gain good press coverage and therefore more votes from the public. Bernays had the idea to invite celebrities to the white house just so that it would get good coverage. This is a great example of how media was used to help politics.

Bernays and his glory soon began to come to an end. Throughout his power, many people listened to his advice and bought shares. His promise for good investment later became empty as the New York stockbroker began to collapse in 1929 and the economy went down bringing America into recession. This meant that people now only brought what they needed, not just what they wanted.

All of this evoked people’s irrational behaviour and the lack of control caused chaos in the form of angry masses. Angry mobs arose and decided to fight back against the authorities. At the time President Roosevelt wanted a new way to control the masses. He decided to ease the uproar with new industrial projects for the good if the nation and it’s people. America began allowing and trusting people, to know what they wanted and they could act upon it through means of polls and more public votes that would be shown in newspapers and in the media. Big businesses fought back against the government as Bernays’ work gained them custom. Prior to this Bernays portrayed public opinion as irrational so it was dismissed.

Meanwhile across Europe Bernays’ ideas were being used within European politics which went against democracy and settled purely for control and power in Nazi Germany. Hitler and his associates used Bernays and his studies to control a whole nation. This was to be the beginning of extortionate power and order which would result in mass genocide and a world war.

Overall I really enjoyed this episode of “The Century of the Self” as I was unaware of the story behind mass control. This method is still heavily used in advertising today which shows how much of an impact it has had on our society. I find the study of psychoanalysis extremely interesting  and find it fascinating how people of certain power can have such a big influence on our lives and how we spend our money. Relations with the public is an extremely important part of communication, it contributes heavily to consumerism which is key for a stable and growing economy. I also find it amazing how Bernays’ theory changed society for the better in terms of creating a healthy economy, but throughout Europe, it had the potential to contribute toward mass genocide and world war.

Within the actual episode, I feel that the history was explained extremely well and the theory was demonstrated with real footage and interviews with important. Knowledgeable figures of the time. I feel that this gave viewers better understanding of the topic and allowed them to fully engage with the story. The jump cuts and dramatic sound kept the viewer interested and made us want to watch until the very end.

Space and Place // CTS

In this lecture, we discussed points surrounding the ides behind the concept of real and fictional space. We spoke about the importance of historical background and also discussed how certain spaces and places contribute to our life experiences and identities. We also discussed the idea of home and domestic space.

To begin the lecture we focused on the idea of home. For everybody, home is often a place where we feel safe and comfortable. This is because we adopt it as a familiar surrounding which we turn to in times of distress. Many of us will spend our lives at home, a place to relax that is private and not open to everybody. The word ‘Home’ can be defined as “the place where one lives per neatly, especially as a member of a family or household.” This further supports the idea of safety in the home environment. Often home is a very nostalgic place. We could feel safe here due to the fact that it is a place that we are surrounded by our family and the things that we own. Home is something that we build upon to become who we are in the future.

This brought us onto the next point in the fact that the home is essentially our roots. It is connected to nature as the concept of home keeps us grounded. It’s where we come from; what we grow from. This can be seen clearly in the film ‘Avatar’. In this feature, kelutral trees are home to the na’vi clans. The destruction of these trees in the film bring complete chaos and upheaval to the natives, showing us the importance of home.

In reference to the main idea of space and place, Jeremy Bentham’s panopticon prison is a great example of this. It was explained that as a form of spatial organisation this was very successful. The idea was that each individual had their own space but within this series of individual spaces, each person had a place. This was seen as a functional hierarchy.

During this time of modern reconstruction, the idea of attempting tom create community became appealing to architects and higher powers. It was here that the ‘Pruitt-Igoe public housing complex’ was developed in St. Louis. As it was compiled of many high-rise buildings with lots of corridors and stairwells, crime level began to rise and management began to fall. This resulted in the housing being extremely run down and not at all looked after.residents began to leave and demolition became an option after authorities realise what state the buildings were in. From 1972 to 1976, after much preparation, the buildings were demolished using explosive means.  Ultimately, this was a failure in reconfiguring modern housing.

Another aspect of modernity regarding housing was the creation of ‘Berber House’. This sprang from a very male orientated society. Segregation of the genders was a huge part of this design. The woman’s place in a Berber household was centred around weaving. This division in genders was evident in the architecture of the building. It also showed a form of status and hierarchy. Visitors of the household were positioned in a different room/ part of the house expressing a lower status.

The Berber house was very gender specific and the roles in domestic activity demonstrated this. Gender stereotypes and gender specific activity is still a huge part of society. An old children’s cartoon called ‘The Jetsons’, showed this in their opening credits. The mum in the show was dropped to the mall, the small boy was dropped to school, the father went to work etc. this shows how spaces can influence our personality  and identity be being gender specific and stereotyped.

Going back to the idea of community, the concept of home can be both good an ad. A community of people who live in one place generally become familiar with one another, know each others boundaries and are used to one another. This is a good thing as it often creates a place where most people, are able to live in harmony. This then creates an issue for those who are not originally from that space. They are seen as an invasion and are sometimes not welcomed as it is proposed that they may not belong.

This brings us back to the idea that certain places can give us or contribute towards our identities. For example, passports. Passports grove our citizenship and lock us into a specific place.but what does this show about our identitys? Do British people not smile?

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Specific Regulations for the British Passport Photos.

Next we moved into the idea of threshold. A well-known tradition of buying a new house is that the husband would typically carry his wife over the threshold as a mark of new beginnings and a new home. This also links to ideas of leaving home.many people want to move home in hope of starting a new life and somewhat leaving your old  life behind. As this is not easy to do in today financial economy, often we are stuck in a liminal space. This is when you are ultimately ready to move on and create new identity but are unable to do so as you have nothing to replace it with. The word liminal actually comes from the Latin word ‘limens’ meaning threshold. Leading on from this inability to permanently settle due to any number of reasons,  we as a society, are often seen to be more lenient of regular change.

“We no longer have roots, we have aerials” – McKenzie Wark, Virtual Geography (1994)

In the second part of the lecture, simulation was false reality was discussed. To begin with we spoke about a visual created by NASA called LOLA (Lunar Orbit and Landing Approach). NASA created LOLA to allow other to see what it is like in space by entering a virtual space showing a realistic representation. Other artificial simulations can be helpful in everyday life. For example, flight simulations can help pillows train in a safe environment whilst allowing them to experience a range of different situations without actually being in the air. Other simulations are good for experience. In recent months,  a series of. 360 degree videos have circulated the internet which enable us to visualise something like a race car driving from every perspective and angle.

With these sorts of simulations, arguments arise that it is deducting from real life and making people lose their reality. Games such as oculus rift and other virtual reality systems allow a sensation of presence to all of their viewers allowing you to immerse yourself in games, experiences and even films. This sort of hyper reality has been shown in films as a concept for years, films such as The Matrix, Spy Kids 3 and Existenz 1999 all show this in different ways.

We then spoke about how place can have identity. Firstly we discussed Disneyland and the method of emotional regulation and how it is unnatural but used worldwide to represent a range of places.

Disneyland is a place that has been man-made to give off feelings of nostalgia and happiness. This could almost be seen as a false perception and unnatural as we are almost conditioned to have these emotions due to the nature of the location. nevertheless, this is Disneyland’s identity, it’s an individual place with strong, well-known specifics.

This brought us onto the fact that some places lack identity. Places such as airports, supermarkets, car parks and other conditional places can be seen as having no identity as they all look the same. These could be described as non-places.

On the whole, I really enjoyed this lecture as it allowed me to analyse the realistic views of how important or unimportant different spaces and places in my life actually are. I feel that it opened my eyes to the gender specific roles within society as well as connecting stereotypes and emotion to specific places such as our own homes.

The Net // CTS

In this particular lecture we discussed areas around the evolution of technology used for communication. We looked at how it has changed language in order to keep up with modern times. Also, we looked at image and how they are dispersed and used online.

To begin with, we was shown a series of images that appeared to be from google street view. They all had unusual events happening in each of them and all appeared to be unstaged. They were I fact all from Jon Rafmans series called “9 Eyes”- am ongoing collection.

As a passionate photographer I really enjoyed looking at these images as, personally, I thought that it demonstrated perfectly the importance of capturing individual moments.

After this, we were told that the lecture would be split into four different parts; networks, media and communication: Manuel Castells and Marshal McLuhan – Photography and the refugee crisis: Susan Sontag – Image culture and the internet: Hito Steyeri, circulationism and the poor image and finally – Graphic Design and image sharing.

The internet is a huge platform that is easily accessible by millions. Within the internet there is a wide range of information such as text, image, video and sound. This opens up an immense network with many connections. This makes it is much easier to communicate quicker and easier than ever before.

“The potential integration of text, images and sounds in the same system, interacting from multiple points, in chosen time (real or delayed) along a global network, in conditions of open and affordable access, does fundamentally change the character of communication and communication decisively changes culture…” – Manuel Castells, The Rise of the Network Society (2000)

This links hugely to the fact that media is taking over and changing our society. It is often referred to as ‘the extension of man’ which is fitting as in today’s society, nearly everybody is holding a phone, I front of a television, online or even at a computer for most of their day. This has evolved mankind to speak through technology or social media rather than face to face. Many businesses now hold interviews, conferences and meeting through video call. This is a huge difference compared even to just ten years ago. The question arises whether social media is destroying the intimacy of social interaction by allowing us to do everything online. As well as this, with things such as social media and other online interaction platforms, networking has become a huge factor to how we communicate and to whom we communicate with.

“The medium , or process, of our time – electronic technology – is reshaping and restructuring patterns of social interdependence  and every aspect of our personal life. It is forcing us to reconsider and re-evaluate practically every thought, every action and every institution formerly taken for granted” – Marshall McLuhan, The Medium is the Massage (1967)

With the internet fuelling our main source of communication in modern-day, McLuhan also stated that we, as a society reconsider everything we do thinking purely about how we will be perceived or portrayed online. With things such as the media constantly relaying information to the public in order to create a specific view or opinion, we understand how easy it is for information nth at we put out, to be taken the wrong way or portrayed in a false sense. This also sparks the debate of whether who we are online creates a true likeness to who we are in real life; we share opinions, videos of our lives and selfies to the online world all of the time. Are we doing this for pleasure or approval?

Our new environment compels commitment and participation. We have become irrevocably involved with, and responsible for, each other.” – Marshall McLuhan. The Medium is the Massage (1967)

From here we moved onto the next part of the lecture. We looked at Susan Sontag’s book “Regarding the Pain of Others” where she discusses ideas about the impact of photography. The first focuses on the influence on public attention. It is stated that the media plays a huge part in what we think which means even our perception of an image in controlled. It also plays with the idea that photography is some sort of approval or proof. For example if it is stated that there is a war, people may question; but when supported with an image, it suddenly becomes more reliable or true even if we know nothing about the image in particular.

The second theory in the book discussed the fact that there are so many images that we are exposed to, that the ones with true meaning and importance often get lost in the chaos. Also, regarding the media as a platform for sharing image, we are often shown the same images countless times. These images are initially shared to create impact and get reaction , but, after being shown the images numerous times, we often become immune to the image and it has less of an impact than originally intended. So the question arises – is the image that makes an impact, or sharing it?

Sharing image can have two effects, the image can go viral and it often loses it’s impact, or as a modern-day example, images such as memes can go viral and be reused and adapted to suit different situations. Often this is light-hearted humour but if successful with a serious image, it could be offensive and taken the wrong way by the public. This leads us onto the fact that photographs are influenced hugely by their captions. The same photo can have lots of different meanings depending on what is written underneath them. Regarding the media, this could be a huge factor to how we feel about a particular image and could therefore alter our opinion.

When sharing an image, it is often changed many times throughout its existence. This can sometimes create a poor image. It highlights the fact that we transform quality into accessibility. Hito Steyerl states this in her publication “In defense of the Poor Image” (2012). This brings up the fact that at a sacrifice to the image being accessible, this then breaks the promise of digital technology and it’s assurance that we will get the best quality and resolution of everything.

The final part of the images and internet section of the session raised ideas about sharing image and graphic design. In summary we spoke about production and reproduction, the speed of information and the call and response system within graphic design and the fields within it.

It was from here where we discussed language and the net. We began by looking at how language has evolved. For example, cavemen used symbols and pictographic language to communicate.  From here we look at different platforms and physicalities that language is available on. New technologies bring new language with them, for example, 18 th century literature and modern-day text talk have huge differences that have come with the evolution of technology.

In saying this language is something that we all share and understand as a race. It is a universal way of communicating even with the different variations existing all over the world. With technology and the internet being our main source of communication, our language has changed to suit it. Communicating through these means is mainly for speed, accessibility and ease. This has caused for certain words and phrases to be shortened or abbreviated. Even things such as emoticons and emojis allow us to express ourselves with a single image.

In this part of the lecture there was two short activities. One to demonstrate that the way we think and the way we speak are two variations of the same language. We were asked to think of a sentence that had never been thought of or said in the history of human communication. We were then asked to write it down.From here we were told to say it out loud to our neighbour. After this we had to put it in an instant message to somebody who had no idea that it was an activity.

Here are the results.

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The next activity was to interrupt a different language, that being the language of code. We were asked to save an image from the internet and change the extension of the file. We we then changed the code for that image by inserting the sentence from the previous activity. This then changed the code for the image. From here we converted the file back to its original extension and noticed a huge difference in the visual appearance.

Below is the comparison between the two.

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Overall I really enjoyed this lecture as it opened my eyes to many different arguments about technology as well as communication. I find it fascinating that we as a society are able to be so easily influenced just through the means in which an image or story is shared. Also, I find it bizarre that we have been able to alter our whole language and understanding just through using things such as smartphones and computers. All of this was supported well by arguments and points made by McLuhan and Sontag and I believe it would be a subject that I would like to further explore in the future.

British Library Visit – Visual Essay // CTS

“Hidden in Chaos, The Commute” – A Visual Essay

On Tuesday 17th February, I went to the British Library to collect my reader pass. We were asked to visually document this act and turn it into a ‘visual essay’. I chose to base my creation on surveillance. I done this because I plan to use the surveillance lecture to complete my essay.

I focused mainly on the Northern Line for my documentation, also, cameras and CCTV.

My approach to this task was mainly based on surveillance. I decided to document cameras that were seen on my journey and then edit them to be more visually interesting. I done this by inverting the colours and making them appear more like CCTV. I then created a graphic which resembled the Northern line of the underground, duplicated it and rotated it to show the hectic nature of the underground. I used this graphic to hide almost hide the photos that I have taken to demonstrate how easy it is to be hidden in the masses of people commuting this way. I then added the text to convey further, the idea of surveillance. I also used it to put a more textual concept/ description of my journey.

Wellcome Collection: States of Mind Exhibition

The States of Mind exhibition, curated by Emily Sargent, explores the ideas of consciousness and awareness. The exhibition includes works by people who have previously explored consciousness and experimented with the concept of being aware of oneself. Its clear layout was easy to follow and each section was shown with clarity.

One of the first explorations shown in the exhibition is the idea of dualism and mind-body distinction. Based on descartes philosophy of the mind and the body being of completely different natures. It’s a theory which suggests that although they are different, the mind and body work together through use of the human brain. In the exhibition, this thesis is explored in a section named ‘Science & Soul’; Dualism is explained as being ‘two separate realms: that of objective, physical world and a separate internal world of private experience’. It was demonstrated clearly through William Blake’s “The soul hovering above the body reluctantly parting with life”- originally illustrated in the nineteenth century.

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“The soul hovering above the body reluctantly parting with life” – William Blake

The next part of the exhibition explored ‘Sleep & Awake’- Something that interests me significantly. Sleep was explained as a state of ‘altered consciousness’. The exhibition stated how we are not actually aware of ourselves dreaming whilst we are asleep but we often realise once we are awake. Although our brains remain in an active trance, many areas in our brain actually increase in activity when we are asleep. It spoke about sleep disorders and how they effect the balance of the brains activity. In the exhibition there is reference to somnambulism or sleepwalking. This is through works by a London based artist, Goshka Macuga. It is a recreation of a main character from an early horror film, ‘The Cabinet of Dr Caligari’.

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‘Somnambulist’ – Goshka Macuga

In opposition to this, sleep paralysis is also touched upon in the space. It explains how the body is paralysed during sleep so that we do not act out our dreams, in some cases your mind is lifted from this and you are fully conscious and aware of your dreams. This can be a scary experience as has previously been compared to its origins in Japanese language as ‘kanashibari’ which means to tie with an iron rope. This typically conveys ideas of restriction and being trapped. Works such as ‘The Nightmare’ by Henry Fuseli clearly demonstrate this by illustrating the idea of sleep paralysis.

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‘The Nightmare’ by Henry Fuseli

The next part of the exhibition took us to ‘Language and Memory’. Language is described as our realisation of individualism and being. It allows us to describe who we are and communicate with others, a key skill for growth and recognising our consciousness. This is called ‘Conscious Selfhood’. As well as sharing our experiences with others, we also talk to ourselves. This is a key concept in the separation of self consciousness. The theory that language and consciousness work together so intensely is also played with through works by Imogen Stidworthy. In this mixed media piece we are able to hear two voices; one of a young child who is in the early stages of learning language, and an older man who suffers from a post-stroke condition which effects language chambers in the brain.

Each was given a passage to read from a book and we hear the difference between the two participants. The child reads but does not necessarily understand where as the older gentleman reads, understands, but cannot relay the information, therefore he replaces the words with those that he can recall with similar meaning.

Th next thing to be discussed was memory, an interesting concept that was explored was whether the memory could be a reliable source of recalling things that have happened before. This was proved questionable with A.R Hopwood’s ‘False Memory Archive’. It explains how our brains automatically try to fill missing information in our conscious memory with things that happen through experience, making it feel realistic and therefore believable.

The final part of the exhibition raised awareness of ‘Being &Not Being’ where things such as clinically unaware patients, consciousness disorders and anaesthesia are discussed. It includes a film by artist Aya Ben Ron called ‘Shift’. this short film explores the consciousness and life of a clinically unaware patient, shown through many different perspectives. This sparked a form of ethical debate revolved around the care for these patients, as shown in Richard Tennant Cooper’s work, “An unconscious naked man lying on a table being attacked by little demons armed with surgical instruments; symbolising the effect of chloroform on the human body.”

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“An unconscious naked man lying on a table being attacked by little demons armed with surgical instruments; symbolising the effect of chloroform on the human body.” By Richard Tennant Cooper

Overall, I learned so much in this exhibition and thought it was extremely interesting. I like the way that the curator has used historical explorations to support some of the modernised theories about consciousness. I find it fascinating how we can be conscious of ones being and acknowledge others through a ‘State of Mind’. I chose to visit this particular exhibition as i really enjoyed the lecture on Surveillance. I immediately thought of Benthem’s Panopticon prison where social change took place through managing criminal behaviour by making the inmates aware that they were being watched and therefore conscious of their behaviour. I found the exhibition very beneficial and would highly recommend it to anybody.

 

Photography and Fiction – Pose! That’s Not Me! // CTS

Modern day photography has changed immensely from its original form. Throughout history, people typically painted stunning views and visuals to capture the sense of real life. For example, Johannes Vermeer’s, ‘View on Delft’, portrayed everyday life through the artistic medium of paint. the fine detail shows each and every building long with people undertaking their everyday activities. The bold sky contrasts the earthy palette of the buildings below it as well as the reflections of the striking landscape in the the murky waters. It’s paintings like these that are often claimed to give some sort of an aura when viewing the piece. I agree with this statement to the degree that i appreciate the amount of work, time and effort put into creating amazing art such as ‘View on Delft’. On the other hand, photography can be seen to have a true representation of a subject, so the argument stands, the argument between fine paintings and photography as a means of showing something in its real form.

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Johannes Vermeer (1632–1675), View on Delft, c.1660–1661. Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshaus/Wikimedia Commons.

Observing the city in its beauty links well the actions of ‘the flaneur’. As well as artists, famous novelists of the 20th century also noticed the way of the city, especially 19th century France. Marcel Proust, author or ‘in search of lost time’ claimed in the publication, that we can only remember things through involuntary memory. Also in the novel, we are informed of the narrators attempts to purposely remember his childhood. although these attempts failed, when the narrator simply tasted a madeline, he was instantly reminded through the senses, not only of his childhood, but also back to particular times in his life relating to that particular object.

“Somewhere beyond the reach of the intellect, and unmistakably present in some material object” – Walter Benjamin, Modernity

On the theme of voluntary an involuntary memory, each were described through means of art. Involuntary memory was compared to the fine paintings of this time and voluntary memory was compared to photographs. This was because the aura claimed to be transmitted through fine paintings of the 20th century and beyond sparked memories of the actual subject (or relations to the subject) without the viewer consciously realising. This is different to the comparison of voluntary memory where the photographs showed a real and true representation of the subject, but lacked aura. For this reason, people often favoured paintings in and around the 19th century.

Works by Édouard Manet also amplified the actions of the flaneur. One particular piece showed a scene of partial everyday life within the modern city. It was art such as this that linked the artist to impressionism and modernity though his creations. ‘Music in the Tuileries’ was painted from a stroller in the city’s perspective. a huge concept throughout this era.

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Édouard Manet (1832–1883), Music in the Tuileries, 1862. National Gallery, London/Wikimedia Commons.

Charles Baudelaire, a good friend of Manet, came up with the theory of the act of strolling in the modern city. Baudelaire saw photography more as a tool rather than an artform. He thought that the painter’s eye was a key to ‘understanding modernity’ and that the act of photography belonged, and should stay in industry.

As time went on artists stated to realise the importance of photography as its true representation and authenticity was a valuable asset to their skill. photography was seen more and more as an artform when William Henry Fox Talbot managed to produce the positive and negative photographic process to help make several copies of the same thing. Talbot even used original concepts to help aid his photographic work. He realised from painting such as those by Manet and Vermeer, that scenes of everyday life was more appealing to the modern day audience.

It was with this recognition of photography that brought us pictorialism. This played around with the idea that beauty can be seen through other subjects rather than just portraying everyday reality. It was said that certain approaches to photography can emphasise the beauty of a subject matter, colours and even composition through a single shot; more of an artistic statement.

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Eugène Atget (1857–1927). Eclipse, Paris, 1912. Metropolitan Museum of Art/Wikimedia Commons.

An example of this can be seen above in Eugène Atget’s work. Atget captured the public observing an eclipse, this was a revelation shot as it demonstrated the act of capturing key moments in history, especially with cameras being more convenient and accessible. This was something that Atget believed strongly in and believed that it would aid us in our future. This was a statement that could not have been more true. In modern day and age, almost everybody carries a smartphone where they store images that they have taken themselves or have access to those taken by others. This just shows how photography has played a huge part in where we are today as a society.

Photography is used to capture all sorts of things in todays world, it is a convenient was of recording and documenting what we do in everyday life; but it wasn’t always so easy. Due to old technology, the way we capture an image today is very different to the old process used in times such as the late 1830’s.

Due to the camera, the exposure time for something like a portrait or self portrait would be around 15 minutes. This is a very long amount of time to sit still for so photographers would use special clamps to help the subject stay in exactly the same place for the whole exposure.

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Clamping system for Photographers where subjects would be kept still for long periods of time.

Another photographic process that took place in history was the documentation of deceased children. during the victorian times, child mortality was astonishingly high. Families would have their dead chid photographed in order for them to remember them. This links to the earlier argument of voluntary and involuntary memory, although the photo has a true representation of the child’s appearance, it is often questionable whether the photo does actually show a true memory of the child as it has already passed away. Also for this process, someone would have to hold the body still whilst the camera was exposing. To most, this knowledge creates an aura in the photograph itself as it is now seen as unacceptable in todays society.

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Mother holding her deceased child still for the exposure time of the camera.

We was given the task of keeping completely still for exactly one minute to imitate the time that old cameras took to expose in order to capture the image. We paired up and one person counted a minute whilst pointing the camera phone at the other person. The subject had to stay completely still and the photo was taken after exactly one minute. Through this task, it became clear just how difficult it was to stay still for that long. Also, we discovered that it evoked many different emotions of awkwardness and self consciousness.

This idea links to the modern culture of self portraits or ‘selfies’. Selfies are a photo taken by yourself, of yourself. these are often uploaded to social media and shared. there is huge debate about selfies as some say that it is a very narcissistic act. Even within the generations existing in todays society, they all have different views. It is mainly the younger generation that involve themselves within selfie culture, other, maybe older generations, see the selfie as self-infatuation and vanity. Others see it as a way of masking insecurity. When the photo is uploaded to social media, others responses are almost seen as approval by its owner. Taking a selfie can be seen as a huge development which also goes against the idea of the flaneur. For example, we as a society will now take photos of our beautiful city, but with us in the photo too. Although this could be seen as a good thing, bringing people together and publisicing cities around the world, the fact that we are concious that our photo is being captured, It is an ongoing debate which questions whether we are showing our true selves or masking oursleves with an appearance which we want people to percieve us by. In a world which encourages the individual, this exact arguement will continue to grow old, along with the selfie!

Surveillance // CTS

This particular lecture centred around the idea of surveillance within society. Many years ago, the idea of surveillance was present in religious forms. This was evident in works by Hieronymus Bosch which centres the words “take care, take care, God sees you” around scenes of everyday life. Surveillance is also shown in things such as ‘The eye of Providence’ (a similar theory to Bosch’s painting). The eye of Providence is often referred to as “The all-seeing eye”. This holds such religious significance and acts as a reminder that there is existence of a higher being. This also plays a huge part in other mysterious organisations such as the freemasons. The freemasons are an organisation who ultimately believe in a supreme  being and base much of their activity around being moral and kindness.

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Table of the Seven Deadly Sins, Hieronymus Bosch

 

Also, other artistic representations on the idea of surveillance include illustrations by Althansisus Kircher, which show aspects of observing. In this particular image, there is small tunnels between each room where one can listen into other rooms. Originally, this illustration was a theory of music amplification, but when studied, could also show ideas of spying or surveying. Musurgia universalis

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Musurgia Universalis, Althansisus Kircher (1650)

Other examples of surveillance in art history include further pieces by Bosch. In this particular image, it shows an owl in a tree with ears and a field consisting of eyes. This was visual personification to demonstrate the idea of surveillance. This image is extremely powerful as it allows the viewer to actually consider who could be watching them.

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The hearing forest and the seeing field, Hieronymus Bosch

According to Giddens, modernity came in the form of four things which help contribute to modern day. Industrialism, surveillance, capitalism and military power. With industrialism, came the transformation of nature and the development of a specifically created environment. Regarding surveillance, control of information was introduced along with social supervision amongst certain social status groups. After surveillance came the rise of capitalism. It was here when the industry, trade and products of a country was more controlled by private owners for profit. Following capitalism was the rise of military power. This lead to the future industrialisation of war.

Surveillance can also be perceived through form. The crystal palace was a glass and cast iron structure designed by Joseph Paxton. The building was designed to replicate a type of greenhouse. Inside you could see everybody and everyone from the outside could see you. This links to the Haussmanisation of Paris, this was initially the making of a modern city. The came around the time of 1852-1870, it also continued after Haussmann to 1882.

The modernisation of Paris from the view of Haussmann worked in the way of creative destruction. He began to clear all of the slums and also worked to open up the city. Haussmann wanted to expand local businesses to help project costs. This lead to the commercialisation of streets with lots of cafes being built in the city. With this, an emphasis on the theory of the ‘flaneur’, a man who wonders aimlessly yet observantly within society. Also, Haussmann wanted people to explore and make use of the city through social activity. Also within this modernisation, he ensured faster traffic, more parks and public spaces, uniform buildings and eventually an ease of movement for the military.

In all of this, visibility is key as before all of the above happened, the working class had taken over Paris, so Haussmann wanted to control its in habitants and place strict rules and regulations on behavior and the way that people should behave within society.

In relation to this, Jeremy Benthen designed “The Panopticon Prison”. This was a development from the western system of prisons, it dismissed more traditional methods of punishment such as torture and public humiliation and advanced more towards efficient ways of conditioning behaviour by encouraging people to learn how to act correctly within society. The Panopticon Prison was a circular building witch centred around a tower. Each cell of the prison was filled with light and had a glass front. The guard tower had mirrored glass and complete view of all the cells. This design made the prisoners conscious about being watched as they could not actually see who was in the tower, they could only assume that somebody was there. With this came control, whilst the prisoners would be crippled under the power of the prison, they would control their actions under the fear of being observed. This would condition the inmates to behave in the correct way and learn how to act in society.

In modern day terms, we as a nation have been taught to be aware of who we could be being watched by Benthen’s theory. Our society sees organisations having constant visibility; hospitals, schools, prisons and even the streets on which we walk. All of these are monitored by CCTV. This is often based on the concept that if power is not seen, it will often not be resisted. To link back to Panopticism, it used to create order, not necessarily just about visibly and surveillance. It plays roles in social sorting and the social class system. Some social classes are more monitored than others due to race, age, or ethnicity.

much of this can be linked back to things such as ‘The Gaze’, the desire to control and a reach for power over others. Scopophilia can also suggest this act of watching as a desirable method of surveillance. Modern technology such as oyster cards and even Facebook show how we as a society have even become inclined to offer information up about or daily activities.

Surveillance plays a huge part in the order of our society and will continue to do so in the future. For now the act of surveillance grows and allows us to live in a world where we feel safer in our everyday lives.

Annotated Bibliography Example:

Foucault, M. (1975). Discipline & Punish. NY: Vintage Books.

This particular book, written by French philosopher Michel Foucault, speaks about how shifts in the culture of our society has dominated the idea of prisons and power as a means of changing behaviour. It describes the layout of Jeremy Benthem’s Panoptic Prison with the tower and the mirrored glass to show how people become aware of their actions. Throughout the rest of the book, Foucault also mentions ideas behind torture, punishment and discipline. He mentions this regarding things like force, organisation and control within large groups. I have used pp.195-228 of this text to demonstrate the aspect of surveillance.

 

 

 

 

The Debate // CTS

This weeks lecture, ‘The Debate’, discussed ideas behind the grid by expressing arguments both for and against this well known design tool.

As designers, grids help us with things such as; layout, spacing, consistency, structure of components as well as organising information. ‘The Debate’ lecture looked at the universal lasting value of the grid whilst arguing a broader view of the grid, beyond graphic design and more into the ideology of the grid.

Grids can be extremely complex when used in design, not only graphic but also in thing such as architecture. It acts as a standard basis for all designers to decode the layout of their creations to ensure that the final product is both well organised and visually appealing.

‘The designer’s work should have the clearly intelligible, functional and aesthetic quality of mathematical thinking’ – Josef Müller-Brockmann

Josef Müller-Brockmann is a swiss designer who focused greatly on grids and structure in his work. He described the grid as a positive thing and a great pathway to good design. In a text written by Müller-Brockman, ‘Grid and Design Philosophy’, It is said that it shows the designer conceives his work in terms that are constructive and orientated tot he future… Constructive design which is capable of analysis and reproduction can influence and enhance the taste of a society and the way it conceives forms and colours“. This shows the importance of the grid and also demonstrates how popular it has become over time.

Human psychology proves that we, as a species, are attracted to order , structure and other forms of organisation, our brain seeks out relations between different elements, not only on a page but also in everyday visuals. The grid plays a huge part in helping us do this, so does this really help create more visually appealing design?

The grid argument was broken down into six different perceptions:
1. Method
2. Order
3. Tool for creativity
4. Tool for Creating Visual Expression
5. Universality
6. An Enduring Imperative

Upon the invention of the Apple Mac back in 1981, and with digital design on the rise, grids were much more common, in modern design, programmes and software such as indesign and photoshop will provide you with and on screen grid to guide you in your work. this was a huge step in the world of design as before this time, all design work would be broken down into things such as copy text, layout, colour etc; all of these tasks being done by different practitioners. The computer age allowed designers to do all of this themselves. This meant that the computer was used greatly as a tool for creativity and also a tool for visual expression. It allowed them to have greater choice when deciding how to place elements on a page by using a grid or maybe even an anti-grid? Below is Jeffery Keedy’s work for the LA Contemporary event programme (1988), this is a great example of design being used as a form of expression. As you can see the page is very busy and cluttered. This creates interesting design that some may argue does not work as the eye does not analyse the text.

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Jeffery Keedy – (1988)

 

Another example of this is in April Greiman’s work seen in Design Quarterly no.133 (1986), a poster demonstrating forms of self expression and freedom. This has huge links to the postmodernism art movement with bold colour and intriguing layout.

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April Greiman – (1986)

In contrast to this whole idea of ‘breaking the grid’, is earlier examples of design. In the late 1920’s the world of design faced a common nature to ‘declutter’ a page. Historical times would see decorative letterforms at the start of a block of text and also different decorative borders and forms on the page, this was soon to be demolished in the time of the dominating grid and structure. This complied well with the human desire to organise and order information in a systematic manner. A clear example of this is in Jan Tschichold’s work for Leaflet advertising in his publication ‘Die Neue Typographie’. Jan Tschichold influenced Josef Müller-Brockmann hugely with his modernist views which allowed a universal coherency in organising the elements on a page.

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Jan Tschichold – Die Neue Typographie

As well as design feature, Grids were also used in art forms to create harmony on a page. This is evident in Piet Mondrian’s work which displays colour as form.

“I wish to approach truth as closely as is possible, and therefore I abstract everything until I arrive at the fundamental quality of objects.” – Piet Mondrian

An article online stated that “He simplified the subjects of his paintings down to the most basic elements, in order to reveal the essence of the mystical energy in the balance of forces that governed nature and the universe.” This could also link to the modernistic views of Jan Tschichold as well as linking in with Josef Müller-Brockmann’s grid format.

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Piet Mondrian – Composition

The importance of the grid is also demonstrated in architecture by using a modular system of proportions. Architects such as Le Corbusier focus greatly on this organised structure in their design. Le Corbusier is responsible for the creation of many different modernist buildings all around the world. The grid is evident in his design as it is very ‘aligned’ and ‘tidy’. A good example of this is the “Mill Owners’ Association Building, in Ahmedabad”.

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Le Corbusier – Ahmedabad

(More Here)

Another way that this modernistic approach has influenced design as a whole was through the bauhaus movement. The modern, simplified visuals were dominant in the time of the bauhaus movement where posters and buildings were very sharp and edgy instead of being too complex, this was in favour of the grid system. With reference to an earlier quote from the reading given to us before the lecture; Müller-Brockmann once said “Constructive design which is capable of analysis and reproduction can influence and enhance the taste of a society and the way it conceives forms and colours”. The Bauhaus movement was hugely about reproduction and making art available to the whole of society, so in a way, the grid played a huge part in this accessibility.

The grid is brilliant for design concept but content is often forgotten about. When used to its full potential, the grid can help convey information whilst considering its context and content at the same time. A good example of this is “Schiff Nach Europa”, a novel by Markus Kutter.
This translates to “visually organised” which is very self explanatory within the book. It uses a mix of different typographic forms in text to almost create image relating to its content. this can generally keep the reader intrigued also by making the visuals interesting.

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Schiff Nach Europa – Markus Kutter

Another aspect that the grid will often need to consider is its universality. This is a way to make all cultures understand the message that the design is trying to convey. For example, the grid is used to structure. We as a species like to seek out relationships and order. When this is displayed in design, we find it extremely visually appealing. This can be seen in things such as pictograms for the “Munich Olympics”, semiotics allows us to understand the message, and the grid allows us to take not and organise the information that the design is trying to give us. It is great in terms of universality as everyone can understand it and decipher its meaning.

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Munich Olympics – Otl Aicher (1972)

All of this came to great debate in the second half of the lecture where we discussed the social implications and deeper meaning behind the restrictions of structure and format.

One of the main arguments expressed in the session was in that fact that although designers are always working with content, it can sometimes be overlooked and unconsidered in favour of the design elements itself, in this case, formation to a grid. We looked into the deeper meaning of this and spoke about the control and rational ordering of life itself without even considering what goes on within this order and the deeper insights to its effect. For example, land has been structured, sectioned and dispersed in the name of profit for many years now but it was very rare for the people on that land to be considered or even taken into account in the mathematical ordering of such material conflict; the constant question being “Who has control?” or “What purpose is there for this?”. This ideology applies to the design of the grid, Why is the grid so restrictive and structured when surely good creativity come from freedom and expression? This denial of complex design neutralises our surroundings and creates a common order. A good example of this is in modern day housing, many flats and other compounds often replicate the same structured design. Things such as council housing and office cubicles is often a reproduction of one design. This can be seen as lacking in character and individuality as well as supporting the idea that the ideology of a grid is all about restriction and contributes to more social issues such as dominating and subduing others.

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Land Structure Ideology

“Gridded space does more than create a blank canvas for development. It subdues those who must live in the space, but disorientating their ability to see and evaluate relationships. In that sense the planning of neutral space is an act of dominating and subduing others” – Sennet, 1960, p.60

“The grid is extremely difficult to use in the service of invention… when we examine the careers of those artist who have been most committed to the grid… their work ceases to develop and becomes involved instead in repetition” – Krauss, 1994, p.160

The grid was said to lack freedom and expression and a great way of conflicting the grids restrictions was through collage. Artists such as “John Heartfield” and “Hannah Hoch” demonstrate how form and layout can still be considered in collage without using a grid.

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Examples of Collage

Overall, I think that both Grid methods and Anti-Grid methods work well in design, depending on the concept and nature of the work, both could be applicable, with todays ever-changing modernistic approach to design, I believe that the grid is essential and can be interpreted by every individual designer to give them the freedom to expression and creativity whilst using the grid itself.

This CTS lecture dealt with the relationship between text and imagery well by explaining the importance of how well the designs layout is considered. The grid can help organise both text and imagery whilst becoming an image in itself. The grid allows the human mind to process what they are being shown. Also, it allows the information to be broken down a lot of the time into smaller sections. Without a grid, the text/image could be seen as being more expressive. For example, collage is a great form of expression that often does not use the grid. The text and imagery become and image or a piece of art that the viewer can interpret individually. with regards to using the grid as a means to processing information, grids are often used in semiotics. This is so that the symbols and visuals are easily visible/ understandable universally. Grids can ultimately be used to structure and organise text, both grids and anti-grids can be used to create a picture or visual whether it include text or not.