This week's session with Claire covered all things essay related from her top tips through to referencing. It was a very useful session and a useful reminder of how to form a well written essay. I will attach my notes at the bottom, after my blog task paragraph.
Since the beginning of the essay writing process I suppose the first hurdle for me was deciding which question to do as a few of them caught my eye. To resolve this I produced a mind map for each option and also did some source searching to see which would provide the most. After deciding on the semiotics of fashion question I made an essay plan where I planned and ordered my paragraphs. I forwarded this to my tutor for some feedback and there was concern I wouldn't manage to cover everything I wanted to in the given word count so I then had to narrow down and hone in on what was most important and relevant to the question. Throughout this process I hope to get better at picking out key elements of academic material - reading isn't really a strong point of mine so there is definitely room for improvement. This essay will also remind me how to write and structure an essay, as I haven't written an academic essay since my high school GCSE's. I will be reminded how to construct arguments and answer thoroughly with evidence all in time for next years dissertation writing.
This week's lecture looked closely at what makes a critical designer. We discussed the value of research, both practical and theoretical, in the studio and/or during creative practice. We also looked at an extract from Andrew Blauvelt's article Remaking Theory / Rethinking Practice which was very interesting. I will discuss the key points of the extract and also my notes I will link at the bottom of the post.
KEY POINTS OF ARTICLE:
1. 2 arguments - overintellectualising of practice/design - theory can be seen as disruptive towards creative mind, other side is that theory is too vague - 'does not and cannot' respond to real life practice.
2. "impasse between theory and design must be bridged" - design is a form of social practice, theory - engage in the making of design as a means of critical intervention
3. "importance to recognise that design, no matter how it is practiced, fashions it's own theories about making that help give it meaning, significance and legitimacy", designers can actively redefine their practice from within
4. Theory is designed - "by understanding that theory is fashioned, re-fashioned and self-fashioned - not merely fashionable, pre-ordained or predestined - we can begin the process of putting theory to work"
5. "what design lacks in terms of interesting work these days is not necessarily more visual variety, but rather more provocative and polemical answers"
Returning to art history after the Easter break, we looked at post-modernity and visual culture. It's quite a difficult concept to get our heads round really, as it's just the time after the modernism era - one quote which stood out to me was: "We have lost the ability to locate ourselves historically" - Madan Sarup. We discussed the key themes of Post-Modernism and how it differs from Modernism. I will include a brief glossary of some key terms and my I will upload my notes at the bottom of the post.
Post-Modernism: a late 20th century era in the arts, which departs from the previous era of modernism, characterised by the use of earlier conventions, mixing various artistic styles, and a general distrust of theories.
Modernism: a style/movement of the arts which aims to withdraw from previous classical and traditional forms.
Meta-narrative: an account/narrative of a series of events that provide a pattern/structure for people's beliefs/theories and gives meaning to their experiences.
Micro-narrative: a 'standalone item' - literally anything, that helps people understand their relationship with the world (individual/personal narratives).
Rationalism: basing opinions and actions on reason and knowledge - rejecting religious beliefs.
Iconoclastic: the attack of settled beliefs or institutions, opposing religious images.
Post-fordian economics: a change in industrial production - moving towards the use of small flexible manufacturing systems rather than the large-scale mass production methods.
Post-internet: Post-Internet is a 21st century art movement involving works that are derived from the Internet or its effects on aesthetics, culture and society.
Cyber culture: social attitudes and practices, closely linked to the advanced progress of the technological world - rise of computer systems for business, entertainment and communication.
Hyper-real: presentation of images without reality or meaning, exaggerated in comparison to reality. The real is 'produced' the hyper-real is 'reproduced'.
I read an extract from Madan Sarup's introductory to Post-structuralism and Post-modernity. I find his discussion of the topic really interesting, and there is a section on feminism and post-modernism which I found fascinating. The pages above are the sections of the extract I found most interesting.
This week's lecture discussed a few interesting topics, particularly political art, brand corporations and identity, ethical design and more. For the blog task this week, we were asked to look at an artist/designer who takes a strong ethical and/or political stance in their work. I chose to look at Banksy, who's work I have admired for years.
Banksy is an English-based graffiti/street artist and political activist who's identity still remains unconfirmed and the subject of speculation. Active since the 1990s, Banksy uses his platform to approach various political and social themes, few of which include anti-consumerism, anti-war and anti-imperialism. He also critiques elements of the human condition, involving themes such as poverty, greed, hypocrisy and boredom.
I find Banksy's work fascinating and I like the way his works spark conversations and discussions - which is what they were intended for, to promote change. His work is often found on streets or the sides of buildings, underpasses etc. When visiting the Moco Museum in Amsterdam, I was lucky enough to see an installation of his work, where some of the original walls he had painted on had been removed and displayed at the museum.
This weeks lecture discussed the representation of genders within society, the media, and other contexts such as magazine covers or children's books. It was a very interesting lecture where we considered in great detail how men and women have been portrayed in the past and also in the current period. Furthermore it was interesting to get modern takes on everything, as we studied very recent magazine covers which still portray very controversial associations. For this week's task we were asked to read Laura Mulvey's reading on 'Visual Pleasure & Narrative Cinema' (1975). It was a very complex piece of text using a psychoanalytic theory, however completely fascinating.
Firstly Mulvey discusses castration threat through her absence of a penis and therefore she feels she only acts in as a threat and cannot surpass these limits. I'm not sure I would entirely agree with this but as she moves her focus to scopophilia I begin to get a better understanding. There is a significant repression of women through scopophilic instinct (pleasure in seeing another person as an erotic object). Women are portrayed as passive, raw material for the male gaze. They are represented accordingly towards the unconscious patriarchal order. She highlights the differences regarding cinematic codes and their voyeuristic potential. In contrast to strip tease, theatre, shows, etc (where the main element is the 'attractiveness' of the woman), cinema, narrative film goes much further beyond this. Narrative film highlights the desire of a woman by building the way she is looked at and perceived into the spectacle by experimenting with tension - dimensions of time/space. Cinematic codes create a gaze, a world, an object, all based towards that desire.
Mulvey mentions the 3 main view points, the view from the camera as it records, the view from the audience watching the final (edited) product, and the view from the characters at each other within the screen illusion. She also discusses throughout the reading the idea that there are 2 levels in which a woman functions - they act as an erotic object for characters within the screen illusion, and/or act as an erotic object for the audience. Contradictory, women are also often used as a castration threat which endangers the neurotic male ego.
I found the end of this reading particularly interesting, where Mulvey discusses how new film trends contradict with previous traditional conventions. New ideas aim to free the view of the camera from discrepancies in time and space, and the look of the audience into passionate detachment. There is no doubt that this drastically changes, and potentially 'destroys' the satisfaction of the audience, but this highlights how film has depended on voyeuristic mechanisms. I found the last line of the reading particularly interesting. "Women, whose image has continually been stolen and used for this end, cannot view the decline of the traditional film form with anything much more than sentimental regret."
I found this week's lecture really interesting, discussing the attributes of different subcultures. The 2 case studies Nick included were, the Beats (1950s America) and Punk (1970s Britain). I found the whole lecture so engaging, looking at the mainstream/square values vs the contrasting subcultural values. This week's task is to define what a subculture is using at least one academic source, and then to produce a visual moodboard for a subculture of my choice. I will of course link all of my lecture notes at the bottom of the blog (warning there is a lot!). Side note for future reference - I found Allen Ginsberg particularly inspiring (we watched a youtube reading of 'HOWL').
A subculture is a minority group which goes against what is considered mainstream culture - the prominent media, social and corporate interests, the dominant ideology etc. Dick Hebdige discusses how subcultures represent 'noise' and interfere with the order of society. He states that breaking linguistic and ideological 'rules' can cause great disorder to society - almost a blockage in conformity. He then goes on to mention the ways in which subcultures break certain authorised codes in society, and when broken this has considerable power to provoke and disturb. Subcultures are almost seen as 'freaks' and unnatural, in the ways they break dress codes, behavioural codes, break the law, the differences in class etc.
Here I have looked at the Hippie subculture. The movement of the 1960s did not conform with the order of society and believed in absolute freedom. Nakedness was celebrated, shopping at jumble sales and charity shops for pre worn items, old military clothing, wearing clothing of all ethnic styles all came together to create a unique and individual style. Folk music was a heavy attribute, as were all messages which promoted peace and love. The movement created a platform for social change, for all to see.
Today's lecture with Nick revolved around the analysis of comics, and the theoretical elements behind the construction of each page. It was a fascinating lecture, particularly learning about Scott McCloud's 'transition' types which I will discuss below.
Scott McCloud's panel transition types can be used to describe the progression of panels within comics. The types are: (explanation of each can be found in my notes attached)
In this weeks theory lecture we discussed the meanings and messages embedded within advertisements. It was a really interesting lecture and this week's task is to decode an advertisement of our choice. I will upload my notes at the bottom of the post.
products and brands involved are luxury and expensive. The text is also halfway up the page - eye level - linking to the 'eyewear' concept. Regarding the image, the ad involves a fashion model, and it is obviously a non spontaneous set up. There has been a clear influence of an art director, makeup artist etc. making this a structured image, and could be interpreted as a work of art. Pink is the key colour here, which is a bold feminine colour, allowing us to infer that this ad is aimed at girls/women making a bold fashion statement. Attention is definitely drawn to the glasses as these are black and massively stand out within the image, which is good for an eyewear advert. The lips are also a key focal point as they are bright glossy pink, and are in line with the text which is clever as the viewer with then read across the image. The image is a close up, with the model looking seductive, drawing the viewer in - intimacy. You could also decode that as the model is 'dolled up' this links to confidence, which leads to the associations with the desire to be confident. Regarding anchorage, I would say this ad is image-specific as the image sends the main message.
Furthermore, looking at the myths involved, I would infer that it is implied this is a signifier of feminine beauty. The model involved is a white, young, blonde female, which is the dominant normality.
For the second lecture of this module we turned our critical gaze to words and images. We discussed here the different types of achorage, the difference between denotation and connotation, and intertextuality. It was a very interesting lecture, I will recap the main elements below, along with my lecture notes.