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.