29th November – The City part 2

Strategies to creatively explore the city:

Situationism:

“Be Realistic – Demand the impossible!” – Anonymous graffiti, Paris 1968

Formed in 1957, the Situatonist International was characterised by a marxist and surrealist perspective on aesthetics and politics. Art and politics coming together in revolutionary terms. They analysed the world from the POV of everyday life. Core argument was an attack on the capitalist degradation of life and the fake models advertised by mass media. Explored the construction of situations, unitary urbanism, phsycheogeography, union of play, freedom and critical thinking.

Situationist legacy includes: Punk, Reclaim the Streets, Banksy and Adbusters.

Phsycogeography:

Defined in 1955 by Guy Debord as:

“The study of the precise laws and specific effects of the geographic environment, conciously organised or not, on the emotions and behavior of individuals.”

Detournment:

An artistic practice conceived by the Situationists for transforming artworks by creatively disfiguring them.

Some examples include someone camping in the city by having a car shaped tent and ‘parking’ it in a parking space at the side of a road. Or students who found their roof growing grass and used it as an additional area of space to relax in rather than treat it as a roof.

Derive:

From french word meaning to drift. Defined by the situationists as the ‘technique of locomotion without a goal’ in which people drop their usual motives for movement / action and get drawn in by attractions of the terrain and what they find there.

Flaneur:

Derived from french word ‘Flaner’ which means to stroll.

Charles Baudelaire defined it as “a person who walks in the city in order to experience it”.

Susan Sontag says “The photographer is an armed version of the solitary walker” and “the flaneur finds the world picturesque”.

Urban Exploration:

Urban explorers are those who are enthusiastic about history and architecture and share a passion for investigating abandoned buildings and their secrets.

Parkour:

human reclamation. Stepping outside of what is now considered ordinary to replicate movement in the manner of primordial humans. Teaches to touch and interact with the world and to move using natural methods.

29th November – The City part 1

Pro’s of city life:

Accessibility, diversity, entertainment, warmer weather, nightlife, transport, convenience, trade, architecture, facilities, range of jobs, financial centers.

Con’s of city life:

Traffic / gridlock, pollution / smog, overpopulation, crime, natural disaster vulnerability, homelessness, expensive, labour expectation (24/7 shops etc), antisocial behaviour, exploitation, city of surveillance.

 

  • City contains extremes of poverty and wealth, even with wealth overlooking the poverty.
  • Some statistics: 1.3 million move to cities a week, 7 million a year. About 60% of population live in the city.
  • Experience of a crowd can be thrilling but also alienating. The experience of closeness brings different sensations. Even in situations like public transport broken down when people are close together with nothing to do it is a while before conversation might start.
  • Cities can be known as transport hubs, they have multiple variations of transport available that might not be elsewhere e.g. underground or tram. However, in some cities, Los Angeles for example, it is hard to travel around if you don’t own a car, even though public transport is available.
  • Novelists and artists were inspired by scientific ideas of how physical characteristics influenced a persons character. In the 1920’s, they thought of people in terms of class, status and type. This meant there was lots of stereotyping and labeling – considering someone a criminal, for example, because of a certain physical trait they might have.
  • Clothing, as a form of expression was particularly important in the 19th Century.
  • Charles Booth made maps of areas of wealth and poverty in cities. Similarly, in 1854, Dr John Snow mapped deaths close to water pumps which led to the discovery of one which was infected and causing many deaths at the time through disease.
  • London was modernised due to the Great Fire of London when it was realised that wooden buildings were hazardous with the buildings being so close together.
  • Development in cities led to the inclusion of entertainment, parks, theaters etc. They also became places of visual space and used for promotion and publicity, notably in advertising.

22nd November – Semiology

dsc03710Ferdinand De Saussure (a857 – 1913) is known as being the founder of linguistics. According to his version of semiotics, the basic unit of meaning is the sign. He also argued that language is arbitrary, conventional and relational:

Arbitrary-symbolic – non-natural or necessary connection between word meaning / sound / form.

Conventional – something to do in accordance / believed / intended to be in normal / general ways.

Relational – pair of words where opposites only make sense in context of relationship between two meanings e.g. teacher-student.

Signifier = any material thing that signifies, e.g. words, facial expressions etc.

Signified = concept / idea

e.g. Rose, though a plant, signifies concept e.g. love, romance.

Denotation is the literal meaning of something / what it is. Connotation is the associations we have with something.

Roland Barthes once said “Everything is a connotation”

Research Task 8, Part 2: Looking at an advert

The advert I chose to look at was the 2011 John Lewis Christmas advert, The Long Wait. I chose this advert as it is one that has stuck in my mind since I saw it and one I enjoyed watching repeatedly whereas many adverts would become tedious.

The advert can be found here:

 

One of the reasons I think this particular advert was so successful is the inclusion of a narrative that is relatable: everyone has been a child / had a child / known a child excited about Christmas, and the clear anticipation of the child in the advert is felt through the screen, remembered from personal experiences.

The advert uses a reversal of expectations to surprise the audience at the end with the revelation that the child was excited to give rather than get which is not always seen in a child of his age. The immediate connotation taken from the advert is that the child is excited about getting presents at Christmas, this idea is enforced by manipulation of images which show the child bored and waiting as though wanting new things to do, and the subversion of this idea comes as a shock which emotionally engages the viewer who may even feel a sense of pride in the child though they have no relation to him.

The inclusion of Christmas imagery: advent calendar, nativity costume, snow and lights anchor the advert to relating exclusively to the anticipation of Christmas rather than any other event.

Aestheticism is used with the nice-looking house, the typical family of parents and two children as well as the warm colours used.

Central framing is used, the boy appearing in the center of every shot and framed by various things: e.g. door frame, bed covers, window etc.

The humour included in watching the boy’s expressions as he waits keep the viewer watching as the advert is appearing entertaining and intriguing, taking the form of a narrative rather than being commercial and “in your face”.

 

 

15th November – Advertising

The most commonplace form of imagery in our lives is advertising.

The term branding comes from branding cattle, which was done as a mark of ownership and used to distinguish between cows.

The function of advertising is to sell a product, campaign or idea and to promote a brand. Advertising is not always commercial and can take the form of charity advertising, political advertising.

Early advertising came in the form of painted proclamations. Many people were illiterate so signage and symbolism was important.

Chromolithography provided new forms of packaging by the 19th Century. By mid 19th Century, the streets were covered with print and advertising.

In this time of early advertising, adverts were wordy and descriptive, this changed as it became apparent that imagery is more effective in advertising, especially in the modern day world where people are always in a rush and many no longer spend much time stopping and reading. The key features of advertisements are image, logo, slogan and the type used.

During and after WWII designs for advertising became more complex and a variety of methods were used, including surrealism.

Information is said to drive behaviour, something proven by Edward Bernays who led woman to believe that smoking in public was a sign of freedom and strength, using the phrase “torches of freedom”, creating the idea that smoking made woman more free. This is evidence that objects can become symbols of how someone wants to be, and adverts that engage people emotionally with the product rather than commercially are effective. A modern example can be the John Lewis christmas adverts, well known and done in the form of a short narrative which makes them memorable.

Other methods used in advertising include subvertising, often messages added (e.g. graffitied) which challenge the original advert. Also, the halo effect is often included with coded advertising which gives the viewer a sense of accomplishment when they decipher the meaning.

Research Task 6 part 2 – Gogglebox

I personally thought those on Gogglebox seemed exaggerated, reacting in ways which would not be considered the norm when watching television, making the program feel scripted and, for me, hard to connect with for the most part.

I watched: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZvWGo_Uu2t0

Example of viewers responding critically to the viewing:

Examples of families criticising the program they are watching, due to content or mistakes made.

family-1

“999: What’s your emergency” (22:31 – 22:45)

Son left: I’m amazed they’re filming it you know

Dad: Well, they didn’t show her dying, she she –

Son right: – Yeah but even then the death has happened –

Son left: – Yeah but even then they’re witnessing someone realising his wife

Dad: – Yeah –

Son left: – Has died for the first time

Dad: They’re raw emotions aren’t they

X-Factor (34:40 – 34:44)

family-2

Wife: Elequently? Doesn’t he mean EleGANTly

Husband: Yes

Example of viewers discussing understanding of the viewing:

Discussion as a way to further understanding of the program or to show off knowledge to the one they are watching it with.

Richard Hammond Builds a Planet: (10:17 – 10:22)family-3

Man 1: “That’s not real is it ? He’s not actually on that tower, is he?”

Man 2: “I dunno, his hair blew.”

Richard Hammond Builds a Planet: (10:51 – 11:13)family-4

Man 1: Hmm. If you get beyond Earth and start getting into op-into..um, open space…Earth’s gravity has less effect then. They’ve got to get them further away.

Man 2: Well it’s proportional to the reciprical of the square of the distance for the-of you to the center of the Earth.

Example of viewers disagreeing with what they are viewing or each other:

Example of argument caused by misplacement of the remote: a common disagreement with families watching TV together: where the remote is or who gets it.

12:10 – 12:30family-5

Daughter: Who’s got the controller? None of us?

Mum: er

Daughter: Dad where’s the remote?

Mum: Well you’ve gotta have it

Dad: (interrupts) Alex, where’s the remote?

Daughter: Mum, where’s the remote?

Mum: oh for god’s sake Louie where’s the remote?

Daughter: Where’s the remote Louie?

Mum: Where is the remote?

Son: I don’t know

Daughter: (moving cushions on sofa) There’s so many God damn pillows

Son: I don’t know where the remote is

Dad: Oh I’ve got it, I’m sorry.

Mum: Oh Andy, for God’s sake

Dad: Laughs

Do I identify with any of the viewers, if so why?

I personally identify with the Siddiqui family who chatted little meaning they were able to watch the program, using conversation as a way to question and improve their understanding, or to make fun of the program together.

“X-Factor” (30:53 – 31:00)family-6

Son 1: What would you do if  a giant x actually hit the Earth?

Son 2: If you got hit by a giant X you’d die

Dad: You’d be x-terminated

Research Task 6 part 1 – Chomsky’s Propaganda Model

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The Propaganda Model by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky was made to explain how propaganda and systemic biases function in mass media. It was first presented in 1988 in their book “Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media”.

 

Ownership:

The profit seeking nature of dominant media corporations creates a bias as they try to address the interests of the audiences they are targeted at, thereby creating bias in the media.

In 19th Century a radical British press had emerged that addressed the concern of British workers, excessive taxes were put in place to then restrict newspaper ownership to what was considered the respectable wealthy, this changed the face of the press. There was still a degree of diversity that remained. In post war Britain, radical or worker-friendly papers such as Daily Herald, News Chronicle, Sunday Citizen and Daily Mirror regularly published articles which questioned the capitalist system. The authors of these were not restrained by corporations and so were free to criticize.

 

Advertising:

Many newspapers have to include advertising in order to cover production costs or else they have to increase the price. Lack of advertising funding on ‘peoples newspapers’ was a contributing factor to the loss of them in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

The news can be thought of as ‘filler’, the main purpose of the paper being to advertise, so some stories which may conflict the readers ‘buying mood’ may be excluded or only briefly mentioned. Therefore, though people are buying a newspaper, the advertising is the key point of the product, the news having only a marginal role.

 

Sourcing:

Due to limited funds and ability to place reporters all over the place, the majority of news comes from key places where news is guaranteed to be, e.g. The white house, 10 Downing Street, the Pentagon etc. Because of this, the news is dependent on pronouncements of “the prime ministers personal spokesperson” for government news and so are reluctant to make negative news on these places as they are threatened with the denial of access to the news they need.

Officials have and give the facts, reporters get them and journalists are supposed to write them with an uncritical attitude.

 

Flak:

Described as negative responses to a media statement or program. It can take any form. Business organisations often come together to form ‘flak machines’, an example being the US-Based Global Climate Coalition, formed by fossil fuel and automobile companies who attack the credibility of climate scientists and ‘scare stories’ about global warming to reduce the harm to their own businesses.

Flak is characterised by large efforts to manage public information by discrediting organisations or individuals who disagree with or create doubt on prevailing assumptions.

 

Anti-Communism and Fear:

“So I think when we talked about the “fifth filter” we should have brought in all this stuff — the way artificial fears are created with a dual purpose… partly to get rid of people you don’t like but partly to frighten the rest.

Because if people are frightened, they will accept authority” – Noam Chomsky

Fear, often of the enemy or an evil dictator is used in reporting often to control the audience. For example, British tabloid headlines “smash Saddam” or “Clobba Slobba”. These themes extend to mainstream reporting of environmentalists as Eco-terroritsts. There have also been articles accusing non-violent groups of stocking up on CS gas and Stun guns.

Public fear and hatred of groups that pose potential threat is exploited, whether that fear is real, exaggerated or imagined.Communism and socialism were once portrayed as endangering freedom of speech, movement and the press. Since the end of the Cold War, Chomsky argues that anticommunism was replaced by the ‘war on terror’ as the major social control mechanism.