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Modernity - January 21 and 23.13.doc

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Visual Arts

VISA 1Q98 – Introduction to Visual Culture Week 3 January 21 and 23 2013 Modernity – Spectatorship, Power, and Knowledge Rene Descartes  Widely know for his contributions to a rationalist philosophy that places man at the centre of the universe  Interested in using the sciences and mathematics to establish rational certainty about the world and nature; emphasized the importance of techniques and instruments of objectivity designed to shore up perception in the production of knowledge about the world  World becomes known when we accurately represent in thought, not when we experience it through the senses and not when we imagine it in our minds eye  The philosophy of modernity was based on the idea of the liberal human subject as a self-knowing, unified, and autonomous entity with individual human rights and freedoms Modernity • Term that scholars use to refer to the historical, cultural, political, and economic condition related to the Enlightenment and the idea of controlling nature through technology, science, and rationalism • Belief that industrialization, human technology, mass democracy, and the introduction of market economy are the hallmarks of social progress • Emergence of modernism- refers to a group of styles and movements in art, architecture, literature, and culture around the world dating from approximately the 1880-1900s Jurgen Habermas  Concept of the modern has been used over and over again by society  Present culture sees itself as the product of a transition from old to new, modeling itself on a past era that is regarded as embodying timeless and classical principles  Enlightenment thinkers and practitioners emphasized rationality and the idea of achieving moral and social betterment through scientific progress  Modernity hit its high in the in the 19 century with the increased movement of populations from rural communities into cities and the rise of industrial capitalism; Upheaval and change with optimism and belief in a better, more advanced future Vladimir Tatlin, Monument of the third international, 1919-20 • Intended to be a 1,312- foot high structure consisting of a metal spiral frame tilted at an angle, enclosing three glass structures housing conference spaces • Wanted to capture the vitality and dynamism of the latest engineering and architectural forms and technologies that the Soviet Union Flaneur • Kind of urban dandy who strolls through a modern city, a space that is newly organized in modernity to encourage a mobile and specular relationship to urban space and the new consumer goods of mass manufacture displayed there • Observes urban life through the glass windows and reflective surfaces of a new city, and newly available goods for consumption Karl Marx  Criticized industrial capitalism for the systems economic and physical exploitation and social alienation of workers; however, this is against the labor system instituted under capitalism Charles Baudelaire (Poet)  The urban experience of being lost in a crowd; Generates significant cultural anxiety  Loss of the feeling of security and social connectedness that came with old tradition Charlie Chaplin  In the 1936 film Modern Times  Critique of the impact of modernity and industrialization has on the body of the everyday man  Chaplin is swallowed up by the world of machines that surround him in modern industrial society; attempts to retain his integrity as a human subject while working on a brutally fast assembly line Bruno Latour  Argues that we have never been truly modern, the rational, self knowing human subject understood to stand at the center of the world view associated with science and the enlightenment never existed Sigmund Freud  The founder of psychoanalysis  Wrote that the subject is an entity governed by the unconscious, the forces of which are held in check by consciousness; we are not aware of our urges and desires that motivate us  Believed that we repress emotions, desires, taboo feelings, and anxieties unconsciously in order to keep them in check With this Foucault argues that…..  Instead repression does not result in leaving things unsaid, but is productive of activities, speech, meanings, and sexualities Jacque Lacan  Argued that liberal human subject never really existed as such but was an ideal against which emerges a subject who is radically split at the very time it comes into being  The human subject becomes aware of itself and thus emerges as such not at birth but during the period of self awareness and apparent autonomy that begins around the age 6-18 months “The mirror phase” where the infant gains motor skills to venture away from the maternal body  Emphasizes that the gaze is a property of the object and not the subject who looks; the object functions to make the subject look, making the subject appear to himself or herself as lacking  Not only can objects make us look, but they can also make us understand ourselves as subjects who want to look and who cannot help but look, even if we do not see ourselves as the one who the object hails – the one by whom the object is meant to be seen  Identification an important area of scholarship on spectatorship has been devoted to understanding how we respond to images through identification with them, or with the figures/objects Christian Metz  Film Theorist wrote “ What fundamentally determines me is the look which is outside” this means: “I” exist to myself only insofar as I can imagine myself in a field in which I appear in light of others who make me apparent to myself  The viewer suspends disbelief in the fictional world of the film and identifies not only with the characters but with the films overall ideology; this identification puts into play fantasy structures that derive from the viewer’s unconscious  The concept of the unconscious is crucial to film spectatorship because the fundamental elements of the psychoanalysis gaze lies with the unconscious mental process  Beneath our unconscious, daily social interaction there exists a dynamic, active realm of forces of desire that is inaccessible to our rational and logical selves that has been repressed  Film is like externalized places for the activation of the kinds of memories and fantasies that typically work their way to the surface in dreams Diego Velazquez, Las Meninas, 1656 • Composed in a manner that positions the spectator ambiguously; the painting is a depiction of a room within the kings palace in which several figures interact • At the centre of the painting is the daughter and behind her, at the deepest space within the room the composition is split; On one side there is a doorway where the artist appears himself • The artist looks through the doorway at us and at the backs of the figures facing us in the foreground of the painting. • Foucault discusses that the spectator in the relationship not only to the royal couple but also to the looks of the painter and child; this painting challenges verisimilitude of paintings during this period by introducing instability in a previously stable system of Discourse representation • Used to describe passages of writing or speech, the act of talking about something • Foucault was interested in the rules and practices that produce meaningful statements and regulate what can be spoken in different historical periods; a group of statements that provide a means for talking about a particular topic at a particular historical moment Panopticism • A prison structure designed by the English philosopher Jeremy Bentham to emphasize the inspecting gaze • Building composed of rings of cells, at the centre of which stood a guard tower and when positioned in the tower, the guard could see and hear activity in the prison cells, but the guard could not be seen by the inmates • Observation ports were covered in blinds and designed to block visual evidence from the presence or absence of the observer, making it possible for prisoners to imagine the presence of a guard when it is in fact unmanned • Prisoners would come to i
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