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Media, Information and Technoculture 3214F/G Lecture Notes - Body Politic, Mass Society, Sound Film

Media, Information and Technoculture
Course Code
MIT 3214F/G
Sharon Sliwinski

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MIT 1200 Lecture 4 January 26, 2011
Art and the Body Politic
-a disposable, popular graphic medium which uses a combination of images
and text to convey a story
-Initially appeared in newspapers more than 100 years ago, though they
have older predecessors (William Hogarth). Comics came into being with the
rise of mass society.
-The medium evolved from daily newspaper strips to stand alone, comic
-Film reels are created out of individual frames (often photographs) which,
when projected in rapid succession give the spectator the illusion of motion
-Experiments in the late 19th century led to the ride of the motion picture
-Film was initially silent (often distributed with scores to be played at the
theatre) but talking picture -- or “talkies” -- were introduced in the 1920’s.
-Key point: Cinema creates an imagined space where a mass body exists that
can perhaps exist no where else. “No reality could stand the intensity of the
mass shown in cinema” (Valerii Podoroga)
-Cinema lends the masses their identity in at least 2 ways:
-1. The film spectator is imagined as one viewer infinitely reproduced.
-Triumph of the Will (1935) Directed by Leni Riefenstal. How are the
masses/crowd portrayed? They are portrayed as a nation because of
all the political gestures, giant flags. Overwhelming sense of bodies,
so many people.
-2. The use of the movie star: a product for mass consumption with
whom we identify.
-We identify so much with movie stars; when they get hurt we feel bad for
them. This could be a good thing or bad thing (like if the movie star is
-1927: First “talkie” “The Jazz Singer”.
-Berlin: City of Smoke
-WHat’s the relationship between art and the political climate of the time?
-Key Question: What is the relation between representation of the body
politic? How does art provide a means to think about the conflict within the
social fabric of a given culture?
-We take for granted that images are just representations of things/people,
not the actual thing or person.
-Political effect in how people and things are represented in media. But we
expect the representations to be true and real.
-One of the themes of Berlin: Characters are struggling in how to represent
things. How they represent themselves affects the body politic.
-Kurt struggles to think of the right way to represent the political
situation at the time in a way that would be understood by his
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