January 27th, 2010 § § permalink
The Psychoanalytic Framework of Looking
In order to understand the act of looking as socially structured, we must first embrace some concepts of psychoanalysis that relate to the constitution of human sexuality in childhood. The first concept, Fetishism, is known to all of us and our understanding of it is not far from Freud’s theory. A second notion is Lacan’s mirror stage as a formative function of the I. At this point, it is too early to jump to an explanation of these concepts, but I will resume with their theoretical considerations further on in this essay. We will see how Freud’s idea of Fetishism, influences scopophilic desire and voyeuristic tendencies in adulthood, and how Fetishism and the Fetish can be expanded into the realm of photography and film to understand the psychological and sociological processes of looking which occur in the spectacular apparatus, but also how these two types of media have been used to reflect upon it’s own condition. Furthermore, we will see how Lacan’s “mirror stage” can be used to understand subconscious processes of spectatorship in the cinematographic spectacle through ideas of desire, sexuality and identity. After this has been laid out, I will conduct an analysis of Canadian artist Michael Snow’s work Powers of Two, and present considerations on how the gaze and the notion of spectatorship work in classical Hollywood film, taking Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window as an example.
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January 17th, 2010 § § permalink
Subverting Emic and Etic Perspectives in a Commodified and Central Cultural Apparatus.
On Cultural Exchange and Global Markets.
Division and bipolarity are not new to humanity. In the twentieth century only, we have experienced various forms, such as axis and allies, democracy and communism, east and west and Pictorialism and formalism. Today, these divisions seem to have vanished, as if the line that separated these diverse but recurrent opposites has been blurred by globalization and cultural migration. But to what extent have these divisions been obscured? This essay attempts to analyze the current situation of the cultural apparatus in the global context. To start with, we need to understand the world in terms of Centre and Periphery.
Cultural centers such as London, New York, Copenhagen and Berlin are usually referred to as cosmopolitan and multicultural. Between these two terms there is a very small difference yet very important. Two differences can be distinguished here: the first one relates merely to people from different territories, the second, to alien cultures and ethnic groups integrated within a society. I would like to leave ethnicity aside, and take the term culture and society for the purpose of this essay.
Let’s take London as a case study. In this city we find various cultures.
But can we say London is multicultural, merely cosmopolitan or both? If we were to make a culture-geographical map of London, following the line of the psycho-geographical maps that the Situationists constructed, we could clearly map different territories for different cultures in the city. The most evident differences could be drawn in the periphery. In the center, we would find a multicultural pastiche or hybridization, closer to what is considered as English culture. The main cultural institutions are found in the center, and cultural flow occurs from center –where the dominating cultural institutions are found- to the periphery. We can see cultural influence from the center in the periphery, and an adaption of the central ideas of culture. The center in turn, allows cultural difference of the periphery, but expects the periphery to adopt the center’s socio-cultural ways. This is a condition to exist within society and also have access to the center. The peripheral cultures are manifested in the center as well, but this manifestation occurs only in an academic level and through political interests.
In an analogy to the global village, this example comes as close as no other; the difference being, that the periphery remains territorially independent – although never culturally independent. Still, cultural flow happens from center to periphery and in order for the periphery to be taken as a form of culture, there must be an adoption of central ideals of culture. Otherwise, the periphery runs the risk of being considered as a lower form of culture, or even as an enemy of hegemonic culture.
This problem of cultural flow manifests in the periphery. In a way, it does the opposite in the center: it helps it’s citizens in accepting their hegemony in the world, allowing an easier understanding of the peripheral world, and reinforcing the idea that “they are not so different after all”.
In the case of Latin America, this unidirectional cultural flow has interrupted the process of cultural identity formation that has been going on for only two hundred years. » Read the rest of this entry «
May 5th, 2009 § § permalink
This essay will try to define and comprehend the concept of the spectacle as understood by Guy Debord and Jean Baudrillard. It will look at how this concept, together with Baudrillard’s concept of Simulation, and the Situationists International have influenced contemporary art, particularly in the category of performance, happenings and arts criticism of the mass media. It is relevant to mention, that as the Situationist International » Read the rest of this entry «
February 2nd, 2009 § § permalink
Images are very rarely presented without an accompanying text. A title, caption, and sometimes even an essay accompany images in most cases. Moreover, we can say that photographs always come in the hand of language. There is no need for the language to be written by the photographer (or editor, or writer), the viewer will always put words to an image. Whether in a descriptive manner, or in the form of semiological critic, language always appears in the context of imagery. » Read the rest of this entry «
February 2nd, 2009 § § permalink
Realism in the arts is the intent to achieve a truthful representation of reality in its historical context. In the mid fifteenth century, with the development of perspective, the gap between reality and the truthful representation of it narrowed. From then on, perspective became a convention that assured a closer representation of reality in the art of western civilization. Yet today, with photography at hand, when we look at a painting from the 15th Century we cannot find any, or few in the least, similarities to reality. The conventions of what a realist depiction of reality is, have changed with time, and this change is closely linked to technological evolution. » Read the rest of this entry «