Postmodernism in Art: An Introduction<br />Subjectivity and Identity – Self Awareness<br />
Issues of identity are crucial to postmodernism<br />What is the ‘self’?<br />How is it formed, does it emerge?<br />What ...
All identities, whether based on class, gender or ethnicity are social constructions. And there is no doubt that identity-...
Cindy Sherman and the mediation of subjectivity in postmodern culture<br />For many postmodernists we live in the society ...
“…with that pure random play of signifiers which we call postmodernism, which no longer produces monumental works of the m...
Marks of Identity<br />In the 1960s and 1970s a number of different thinkers started to question the validity of the human...
Barbara Kruger"Untitled<br /> (I shop, therefore I am)”<br /> (1987)<br />
Parody and Pastiche<br /><ul><li> Parody aims to mock an original in a critical way
 The postmodern theorist Frederic Jameson states that ‘The art of parody depends on the tension between the known original...
 A parody must transform the original, altering it to give new meaning and in the process create a new work
 Pastiche is merely a stylistic mask
 Pastiche is prominent in popular culture
Fredric Jameson has examined the functions of postmodern pastiche. He describes pastiche as ‘the random cannibalisation of...
Sherman’s photographs explore female identity, representation and transformation yet if we ask the question “Who is Sherma...
In this postmodern culture of television, advertising and media manipulation, Sherman is exploring how “reality itself has...
CINDY SHERMAN<br />(Untitled Film Still #3), <br />(Untitled Film Still #7) <br />(Untitled Film Still #13) <br />
Malleable/constructed and multiple identities<br />Postmodernism doesn't lament the idea of fragmentation or incoherence, ...
Not only have subjects become shallow images that are copies of copies, but we have also become subjects of consumerism, n...
Duane Hanson said: ‘I like the physical burdens this woman carries. She is weighted down by all of her shopping bags and p...
"Advertising becomes information when there is no longer anything to choose from, when the recognition of brand names has ...
Kruger’s work provokes a critique of “the relations between commercial design and the way a culture designs peoples lives”...
Power is embedded in the signs and icons of culture, media, advertisement. Kruger supplies the resistance.<br />Barbara Kr...
Both Kruger and Baudrillard also discuss consumption and commodification in their work. Baudrillard states, "Today consump...
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Week 6 subjectivity and identity self awareness

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  • Subjectivity and Identity – Self AwarenessWhat is identity? How is it created, defined, changed? How is identity articulated and represented?
  • What is the ‘self’?How is it formed, does it emerge?What is ‘identity’?How is it formed?How does the self inform identity?How does identity influence the ‘self’?
  • All identities, whether based on class, gender or ethnicity are social constructions. And there is no doubt that identity-construction is increasingly dependent on images.The construction of a personal identity can be seen to be somewhat problematic and difficultWe are surrounded by influential imagery, especially that of popular media. It is no longer possible for an identity to be constructed merely in a small community and only be influenced by family. Nowadays, arguably everything concerning out lives is seen to be ‘media-saturated’. …individuals actively and creatively sample available cultural symbols, myths, and rituals as they produce their identities. Within this idea, it is important to remember that an identity is not a fixed thing and it is just as difficult maintaining one as it is constructing one in the first place.
  • For many postmodernist we live in the society of the image, primarily concerned with the production and consumption of mere ‘simulacra’The question of the identity of the subject has been a modernist question, with the split between the subject- object and the private- public spheres creating a sense of the subjective individual and sense of self. However in Sherman’s images there are characteristics that subvert these modern notions of the subject creating a postmodern subject or as Baudrillard argues an absence of the subject. Firstly that the subject has become simply an image or simulacrum that lacks any depthSecondly the subject is fragmented Dramatized media events that take place on TV in scenes constructed for political ends by the camera….political and historical events always reach us in a fictionalised form, in a narrative, shaped by a more or less hidden hand of political or economic purpose. Its not difficult to appreciate how well TV works as the main disseminator of such fictionalised information.The concept of a narcotic effect refers to the way that time spent with the media replaces actual participation in organized action.The mass media, in this concept, is understood as convincing people that being informed about a social issue by seeing it covered in the media is the same as doing something about it.The ever intense penetration of the commodity form into every aspect of culture
  • This feeling that the mass media substitute images for reality is conceptualised in Frederic Jameson:“…with that pure random play of signifiers which we call postmodernism, which no longer produces monumental works of the modernist type, but ceaselessly reshuffles the fragmentation of pre-existent texts, the building blocks of older cultural and social production…”
  • The most important postmodernist ethical argument concerns the relationship between discourse and power.This analysis of the relation between discourse and power had a further and important consequence for postmodernists. It led to a distinctive view of the nature of the self which was a challenge to the individualist rationalism, and the emphasis on personal autonomy.The term preferred by postmodernists to apply to individuals is not so much ‘self’ as ‘subject’, because the latter term implicitly draws attention to the ‘subjected’ conditions of persons who are, whether they know it or not, ‘controlled’ by the ideologically motivated discourses of power is dominant in the society that they inhabit.
  • Identity is define by our lifestyle and what we consume rather than what we produce or by our background.It has been argued that people derive their sense of their place in the world and their self-image at least in part through their purchase and use of commodities which seem to give meaning to their lives in the absence of the meaning derived from closer-knit community.Media images and advertising images are central to the construction of cultural ideas about lifestyle, self-image, self-improvement, and glamour
  • The concepts of parody and pastiche, two devices that are frequently used in culture, especially since the rise of postmodernism in the 1970s. Parody and pastiche are key attributes of postmodern cultureFredric Jameson has examined the functions of postmodern pastiche. He describes pastiche as ‘the random cannibalisation of all the styles of the past, the play of stylistic allusionThis is partly the result of over-exposure. In the age of mass media there is a sense that we have seen too many films, watched too much TV, too much advertising. We are over-familiar with the forms of mass culture, which means it’s impossible to be original. We can only recycle the conventions of earlier texts – which Jameson calls the cannibalisation of the past.
  • Jameson describes pastiche as ‘blank parody’. This means that rather than being humorous or satirical, pastiche has become a ‘dead language’ unable to satirize in any effective way. Whereas pastiche used to be a humorous device, it has become ‘devoid of laughter’.An example of this is Las Vegas, Nevada. Las Vegas is like the capital city of Postmodernism because it’s a pastiche of multiple styles. The buildings quote from global landmarks. This isn’t humorous or satirical. Las Vegas consists of fakes that people are willing to accept as substitutes for the real thing. There’s something inherently bland and shallow about this: the buildings are empty images devoid of meaning. In 1969, the postmodern architect Robert Venturi published a book called Learning from Las Vegas. Rather than criticising the city he argued that architects should study it because it is representative of the postmodern age.
  • Capitalism and SchizophreniaContemporary Visual Culture and the Acceleration of Identity schizophrenic experience is an experience of isolated, disconnected, discontinuous material signifiers which fail to link up into a coherent sequence. The schizophrenic thus does not know personal identity in our sense, since our feeling of identity depends on our sense of the persistence of the &quot;I&quot; and the &quot;me&quot; over time Fredric Jameson, entitled, &quot;Postmodernism and Consumer Society&quot; (1983)According to Jameson, the schizophrenic lacks a personal identity, is unable to differentiate between self and world, and is incapable of experiencing continuity through time.In many respects the media culture of the late twentieth century simulates schizoid experience. The rapid fire succession of signifiers in MTV style media erodes the viewers sense of temporal continuity. To use the same words that Jameson uses to describe schizophrenic experiences, the images that flash across the MTV viewers&apos; retina are &quot;isolated, disconnected, discontinuous material signifiers which fail to link up into a coherent sequence.&quot; This postmodern montage can have the effect of disorienting the subject, and may contribute to the egolessness that is characteristic of schizophrenia.Jameson links schizophrenia to postmodernism, and postmodernism to consumer capitalism. He is saying, in effect, that contemporary capitalism has extended the symptoms of schizophrenia to the masses in the form of postmodern culture. His formulation sees both postmodernism and schizophrenia as cultural forces that scramble and confuse. The schizophrenic confusion destroys the possibility of critical perspectives, such as those found in modernist traditions. In a fragmented cultural milieu, capitalist, consumer culture can thrive unopposed.
  • The postmodernist notion of human identity as essentially constructed like a fiction is also to be found in the work of Cindy Sherman, In particular in her series of photographs Untitled Film Stills (1977-80). In these images Sherman impersonates film actresses, disguising herself more or less in different clothing and in different implied situations, which are typical or stereotypical in film.Sherman’s photographs explore female identity, representation and transformation yet if we ask the question “Who is Sherman?” her photographs reveal nothing of her subjectivity. This is because her photographs are about no one in particular but about the constructed nature of identity and images of ‘the real’ and popular culture.We may consider that the recognition of ourselves in a photograph can serve to define us, to create an identifiable and distinct subject.In addition to recognition of ourselves I photographs , they must also be acknowledged as similacra, as nothing more than a representation of a representation. The term simulacra, drawn from the writings of Jean Baudrillard, is often used to signify this idea of representation as reality.Cindy Sherman uses photographs as a mirror to deconstruct stereotypes.Addresses issues of femininity, sexual identity, voyeurism, and artificiality and oppression in cultural representations. Untitled Film Stills (1977) -- using herself as a model in some black-and-white film stills
  • In the process we see Sherman adapting the discourses of film to present herself in a photographic still as all sorts of people, but all (often satirical or parodic) versions of femininity are seen in the discourse of mass media.In this postmodern culture of television, advertising and media manipulation, Sherman is exploring how “reality itself has become a manufactured image” and how the self has thus lost depth, being simply a “shallow artefact of cultural production,” with self- discovery and self emancipation becoming only a delusion.
  • This lack of depth in the postmodern subject is reflected in Cindy Sherman’s Untitled Film Stills in which the Sherman places herself as nothing more than an image or what Baudrillard calls a ‘simulacrum.’ Sherman uses wigs, makeup, props and clothing to ‘play’ and reconstruct feminine stereotypes such as the film- starlight (Untitled Film Still #7) the worn out housewife (Untitled Film Still #3), the librarian (Untitled Film Still #13) and other identities that appear as if stills from a B grade movie. These photographs are simply spectacles, and Sherman’s gaze remains empty suggesting a vacuous interior.Baudrillard’shyperreal concept is visualised through Sherman’s photographs, being pure floating images, behind which there is nothing.Baudrillard sees these simulations as the “generation by models of a real without origin or reality: a hyperreal.”(Baudrillard, 1988,166) Baudrillard outlines the successive phases of the image which leads to this lack of depth that one can see in the subjects of Sherman’s work: An image &quot;1) is the reflection of a basic reality. 2) It masks and perverts a basic reality. 3) masks the absence of a basic reality. 4) It bears no relation to any reality whatever: it is its own pure simulacrum.&quot; (Baudrillard, 1988, 170)
  • Other ways in which in Sherman’s photographs illustrate how the subject is mediated in a postmodern world, can be seen in some of Sherman’s work where the unified conception of identity is eliminated and subjects are fragmentedPostmodernismdoesn&apos;t lament the idea of fragmentation or incoherence, but rather celebrates that. Postmodern historians and philosophers question the representation of history and cultural identitiesSense of fragmentation and de-centered self; multiple, conflicting identitiesHyper-reality, image saturation, simulacra seem more powerful than the &quot;real&quot;; images and texts with no prior &quot;original&quot;. &quot;As seen on TV” is more powerful than unmediated experience
  • Not only have subjects become shallow images that are copies of copies, but we have also become subjects of consumerism, no longer individuals but targets for consumption. Superrealist Duane Hanson uses polyester and fiberglass to create statues of people bearing such likeness to a real person it is uncanny. With the Supermarket Shopper, Hanson portrays a woman who has no regard for appearance as she is overweight, stretching her clothes, smoking and still in her curlers as she shops in public at the supermarket. Her shopping basket shows her disgusting overconsumption which Hanson felt was a deplorable trait. While fully clothed, we still can sense the unattractiveness of this body. As most artists are seeking the ideal attractive body, Hanson seeks the ideal unnatractive body. One female college senior exclaimed, &quot;Wait, I saw her last week in the A&amp;P!&quot; The degree to which superrealists would go to make something look lifelike was unknown to art at the time, and Hanson not only makes you think the statue might be real, he made its context real enough that you take a second look to see if maybe you did see that lady at the supermarket before. The term commodity self is the idea that our selves are constructed in part through our consumption and use of commodities.Advertising encourages consumers to think of commodities as central means through which to convey their personalities.The circulation of brand names, trademarks, and logos are a means through which identities are constructed not only for goods and corporations, but for people who appropriate signifiers of products for a style of themselves or their culture.
  • The American critic Frederic Jameson wrote a highly influential essay in 1984 called ‘Postmodernism, or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism’ and in it he argued that culture’s destiny was inextricably bound to capitalism.Jameson asserted that aesthetic and commodity production had become indistinguishable.Sometimes when advertisements ask us to consume commodity signs, they attach to their products concepts of the nation, family, community, and democracy.
  • Jameson argued that technologies of reproduction, such as television, had replaced technologies of production. Art was increasingly sponsored by commercial companies, leading to a new interdependence of art on advertising.It is through complex compositions of photographs, text, and graphics that ads speak to consumers.Barbara Kruger re-makes signs. Unlike the bulk of signage we see every day, Kruger&apos;s work tries not to deceive us into believing we have a need to fulfill, but to allow us to discover the deception of signs.All advertisements tell consumers that their products will change their lives for the better.They often do this by presenting figures of glamour that consumers can envy and wish to emulate.
  • Barbara Kruger takes photos from magazines, enlarges them, cropped them, spliced them, and combined them with text, in ways that reflected her experience as a magazine designer. The photomontage is then re-photographed as a whole, these are a parody of advertisements designed to provoke a critique of “the relations between commercial design and the way a culture designs peoples lives”. They are intended to help us to understand how images work in society.The concepts of simulation and simulacra are inextricably linked to both postmodernism and Kruger&apos;s work. Jean Baudrillard, in &quot;The Precession of Simulacra,&quot; outlines the following idea: “Simulation is no longer that of a territory, a referential being or a substance. It is the generation by models of a real without origin or reality: a hyperreal.”The postmodern notion is that most of what is presented to us through various forms of media has little to do with reality.
  • Kruger is also concerned with revealing that the social ideals we hold about beauty, self-identity and consciousness are mere simulacra. It is not that we are not capable enough, but that the signs we&apos;re holding up to each other are unattainable. Kruger&apos;s image of a woman looking into a broken mirror with the words &quot;You are not yourself&quot; is a good example of her work&apos;s dialogue with Baudrillard&apos;s ideas. This image is suggestive of the distance between the simulacrum and reality: You are not yourself because what society tells you to be is impossible. The concept of self-identity in our culture has been turned into a simulacrum, and is therefore irrelevant to real life.Power is embedded in the signs and icons of culture, media, advertisement. Kruger supplies the resistance.The “you” that advertising addresses is always implied to be an individual.Ads perform the very contradictory work of convincing many different consumers that a mass-produced product will make them unique and different from others.This concept is known as psuedoindividuality, a false idea of identity.Thus, it can be said that advertising asks us not to consume commodities but to consume signs.
  • Both Kruger and Baudrillard also discuss consumption and commodification in their work. Baudrillard states, &quot;Today consumption...defines precisely the stage where the commodity is immediately produced as a sign, as a sign value, and where signs (culture) are produced as commodities (Love, 73).&quot; Baudrillard takes the sign to another level, saying that it represents the culture as a whole. Kruger brings her trademark with/cutting edge to this discussion in a piece, &quot;When I hear the word culture I take out my checkbook.&quot;
  • French social theorist Jean Baudrillard argues that a simulacrum is not a copy of the real, but becomes truth in its own right: the hyperreal. Much of Peter McCarthy&apos;s works took the glitz and glam of Hollywood and the western consumer society and brought out the darker side of it. The idea for Caribbean Pirates came from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, and the Disney Land attraction. The difference being that the movies and Disney Land attraction are about fun and entertainment. McCarthy takes it to the extreme of gore and obscenity.This particular artwork installation is very interesting to me. The way that it takes something so simple, like the Pirates of The Caribbean movies and the pirate theme in general, and brings it back down to its most basic level. It brings back into view the horror and reality of the events that actually took place during these times. Anymore, the idea of pirates has become so fantasized, dressed up, almost fun, when in reality what pirates were and what they did was none of these things
  • FREDRIC JAMESON, in his magisterial work, Postmodernism, or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (1991), has offered us a particularly influential analysis of our current postmodern condition. Like Jean Baudrillard, whose concept of the simulacrum he adopts, Jameson is highly critical of our current historical situation; indeed, he paints a rather dystopic picture of the present, which he associates, in particular, with a loss of our connection to history. What we are left with is a fascination with the present. According to Jameson, postmodernity has transformed the historical past into a series of emptied-out stylizations (what Jameson terms pastiche) that can then be commodified and consumed.In works such as Sherman’s, according to Jameson, &quot;we are condemned to seek History by way of our own pop images and simulacra of that history, which itself remains forever out of reach”
  • We place so much emphasis on physical attributes in determining identity.However the notion that an individual might gain a sense of authenticity and connection with the self in and through the body is profoundly disturbed by the unstable appropriations and ideological representations of the body throughout the history of Western culture, and within an increasingly mediatized and technologically driven world.
  • Week 6 subjectivity and identity self awareness

    1. 1. Postmodernism in Art: An Introduction<br />Subjectivity and Identity – Self Awareness<br />
    2. 2. Issues of identity are crucial to postmodernism<br />What is the ‘self’?<br />How is it formed, does it emerge?<br />What is ‘identity’?<br />How is it formed?<br />How does the self inform identity?<br />How does identity influence the ‘self’?<br />
    3. 3. All identities, whether based on class, gender or ethnicity are social constructions. And there is no doubt that identity-construction is increasingly dependent on images.<br />
    4. 4. Cindy Sherman and the mediation of subjectivity in postmodern culture<br />For many postmodernists we live in the society of the image, primarily concerned with the production and consumption of mere ‘simulacra’<br />Cindy Sherman<br />Untitled (As Marilyn Monroe), 1982<br />
    5. 5. “…with that pure random play of signifiers which we call postmodernism, which no longer produces monumental works of the modernist type, but ceaselessly reshuffles the fragmentation of pre-existent texts, the building blocks of older cultural and social production…”<br />Jameson, Postmodernism in the Video Text (1987)<br />
    6. 6. Marks of Identity<br />In the 1960s and 1970s a number of different thinkers started to question the validity of the human Subject.<br />Jenny Holzer<br />Abuse of power comes as no surprise (1983) <br />
    7. 7. Barbara Kruger"Untitled<br /> (I shop, therefore I am)”<br /> (1987)<br />
    8. 8. Parody and Pastiche<br /><ul><li> Parody aims to mock an original in a critical way
    9. 9. The postmodern theorist Frederic Jameson states that ‘The art of parody depends on the tension between the known original and its parody twin.’
    10. 10. A parody must transform the original, altering it to give new meaning and in the process create a new work
    11. 11. Pastiche is merely a stylistic mask
    12. 12. Pastiche is prominent in popular culture
    13. 13. Fredric Jameson has examined the functions of postmodern pastiche. He describes pastiche as ‘the random cannibalisation of all the styles of the past, the play of stylistic allusion</li></li></ul><li>In 1969, the postmodern architect Robert Venturi published a book called Learning from Las Vegas. Rather than criticising the city he argued that architects should study it because it is representative of the postmodern age.<br />
    14. 14.
    15. 15. Sherman’s photographs explore female identity, representation and transformation yet if we ask the question “Who is Sherman?” her photographs reveal nothing of her subjectivity. This is because her photographs are about no one in particular but about the constructed nature of identity and images of ‘the real’ and popular culture.<br />Lois Lane in the 1950's television program Superman<br />Cindy Sherman<br />Untitled Film Still #21<br />
    16. 16. In this postmodern culture of television, advertising and media manipulation, Sherman is exploring how “reality itself has become a manufactured image” and how the self has thus lost depth, being simply a “shallow artefact of cultural production,” with self- discovery and self emancipation becoming only a delusion.<br />
    17. 17. CINDY SHERMAN<br />(Untitled Film Still #3), <br />(Untitled Film Still #7) <br />(Untitled Film Still #13) <br />
    18. 18. Malleable/constructed and multiple identities<br />Postmodernism doesn't lament the idea of fragmentation or incoherence, but rather celebrates that. <br />Postmodern historians and philosophers question the representation of history and cultural identities<br />Sense of fragmentation and de-centered self; multiple, conflicting identities<br />Hyper-reality, image saturation, simulacra seem more powerful than the "real"; images and texts with no prior "original". "As seen on TV” is more powerful than unmediated experience<br />
    19. 19. Not only have subjects become shallow images that are copies of copies, but we have also become subjects of consumerism, no longer individuals but targets for consumption. <br />Duane Hanson<br />Supermarket Shopper (1970)<br />
    20. 20. Duane Hanson said: ‘I like the physical burdens this woman carries. She is weighted down by all of her shopping bags and purchases, and she has become almost a bag herself. She carries physical burdens – the burdens of life, of everyday living. But initially, it’s quite a funny sculpture’.<br />Duane Hanson<br />Young Shopper (1973)<br />
    21. 21. "Advertising becomes information when there is no longer anything to choose from, when the recognition of brand names has taken the place of choice." <br />(Adorno, 1991, 73)<br />
    22. 22. Kruger’s work provokes a critique of “the relations between commercial design and the way a culture designs peoples lives”<br />Barbara Kruger <br />Untitled (Your Body is a Battleground) (1989)<br />
    23. 23. Power is embedded in the signs and icons of culture, media, advertisement. Kruger supplies the resistance.<br />Barbara Kruger<br />Untitled (You Are Not Yourself) 1981<br />
    24. 24. Both Kruger and Baudrillard also discuss consumption and commodification in their work. Baudrillard states, "Today consumption...defines precisely the stage where the commodity is immediately produced as a sign, as a sign value, and where signs (culture) are produced as commodities <br />Barbara Kruger<br />"Untitled (When I hear the world culture, I take out my checkbook)"<br />1985<br />
    25. 25. Much of Paul McCarthy's works took the glitz and glam of Hollywood and the western consumer society and brought out the darker side of it. The idea for Caribbean Pirates came from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, and the Disney Land attraction. The difference being that the movies and Disney Land attraction are about fun and entertainment. McCarthy takes it to the extreme of gore and obscenity.<br />Paul McCarthy<br />Caribbean Pirates 2001-2005 <br />
    26. 26. Fredric Jameson’s concept of "pastiche”<br />According to Jameson we approach "the 'past' through stylistic connotation, conveying 'pastness' by the glossy qualities of the image, by the attributes of fashion" <br />Cindy Sherman<br />Untitled Film Still #54, 1980<br />
    27. 27. The notion that an individual might gain a sense of authenticity and connection with the self in and through the body is profoundly disturbed by the unstable appropriations and ideological representations of the body throughout the history of Western culture, and within an increasingly mediatized and technologically driven world. <br />
    28. 28. References<br />Farrell, Frank B. “Subjectivity, Realism, And Postmodernism- The Recovery of the World,” Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1994.<br />Jameson, Fredric. Postmodernism, or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism. Durham: Duke UP, 1991.<br />Venturi, Robert. Learning from Las Vegas, 1969<br />Jameson, Fredric. Postmodernism in the Video Text (1987)<br />

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