Visual CultureImages and IdeologyMarx, CommodityFetishism andAppropriation
Connotation,Denotation + MythJust as a word or sentencecan have connotationsbeyond its literal meaning,such as double entendres, sotoo can an image.The Denotative is what is shownThe Connotative is what isimplied
Connotation,Denotation + MythArt historian Erwin Panofsky describes the denotation of arepresentational visual image as what all viewers from anyculture and at any time would recognize the image asdepicting.If the recognition is dependent on culturally speciﬁcknowledge then the sign is connotative. Connotationaccounts for socio-cultural and personal associations withwhat is being signiﬁed.
Connotation,Denotation + MythWhat happens when the connotativeappears to be denotative?Roland Barthes used the term mythto describe the portrayal ofculturally speciﬁc ideals as universal,ie connotative meaning of an imageappears to be denotative, or factualFor Barthes mythes serve theideological function of naturalization“Bourgeois ideology... turns cultureinto nature”
Connotation,Denotation + MythWhere else do we see examples ofmyths and where are theypropagated?
Connotation,Denotation + MythWhere else do we see examples ofmyths and where are theypropagated?News?Advertising?Films?Magazines?
The Camera never lies?•The ‘myth of photographic truth’•Is a photograph an accurate representation of reality?•Photography traditionally viewed as more objective thanpainting or a drawing often seen as a means to objectively viewand record the world.•The very nature of photography is subjective through thepersonal choice of the photographer in terms of compositionand framing•Despite debate around how objective photographs are and thenature of the ‘truths’ they tell, they are still used in court and inthe media as proof of an event.
The Camera never lies? Does this photograph by Alexander Gardner accurately represent the aftermath of the battle of Gettysburg
The Camera never lies? Has digital technology tarnished the credibility of photographs?
Images and IdeologyIdeology- A collection of ideas, beliefsand values which individuals or groupsuse to define their social needs.“a system of ideas and ideals formingthe basis of an economic or politicaltheory. The set of beliefs characteristicof a social group or individual.” OxfordEnglish DictionaryTerm originates from frenchphilosopher Destutt de Tracy who usedit to describe aspects of what he calledthe “science of ideas”Ideologies are promoted by politicalparties, religions, economic policy etcOften effect everyday life and appearnatural
Images and IdeologyPropaganda provides us with anexample of ideologies explicitlypromoted or discredited throughimagesPropaganda aims to inﬂuenceattitude or behavior and changeperceptions.Provides an example of anexplicitly ideological use ofimages
Images and IdeologySometimes ideologies are portrayed through images moresubtly, what ideological assumptions are underlying in the imageabove?
Ideology - MarxMarxism is the philosophy and economic view based on the theories andwriting of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Marxism is critical ofCapitalism arguing that the economic minority (the ruling bourgeoisieclass) exploits the proletariat. Marx saw the progress of history beingfundamentally a struggle between social classes, he saw an internationalsocial revolution where the means of production were placed intocollective ownership as the key to the development of society.In The German Ideology Marx describes Ideology as representing the"production of ideas, of conceptions, of consciousness," all that "mensay, imagine, conceive," and include such things as "politics, laws,morality, religion, metaphysics, etc."
Ideology - MarxMarx saw the means of production, the infrastructure or economic base,as determining the superstructure or ideology of society.The ruling classes who own the means of production are in control of theideas and viewpoints in the media allowing the justiﬁcation of an ideologywhich supports and preserves the economic base.Marx saw ideology as confusing the alienated groups of society through akind of false consciousness where those oppressed by the system wereencouraged to believe in it anyway.The misleading nature of false consciousness can be seen in what Marxisttheory describes as commodity fetishism, the belief that goods orcommodities carry an inherent value rather than a value based on itsusefulness and production.
Ideology - MarxUse value is based on the usefulness of a product to society.Exchange value is the market value of a product.Commodity Fetishism separates the consumer from the producer,emptying the meaning of their production and ﬁlling them with newmeanings based on logos, advertising, lifestyle, status etc. giving themcommodity status.A key aspect to commodity fetishism lies in ensuring the consumer of theproduct sees only his relationship with the object he consumes whilstthe producer sees only his relationship with the object he produces.In erasing the worker from the product, their role loses status and hencevalue.Advertising is key to the creation of new meanings for a product, attachingabstract ideas or emotions to commodities.
IdeologyExplain the role of these images inrelation to commodity fetishism.
IdeologyDoes the following advert propose a certain way ofviewing the world?Does it invite us to deﬁne ourselves through aspeciﬁc ideologyhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNnX6XRQBec
HegemonyThe concept of Cultural Hegemony was introduced by Antonio Gramsci asa means of understanding the power relations between social groups.He argued that the ideas of the ruling class are portrayed as the norm, theyare portrayed as of beneﬁt to everyone whilst only really beneﬁting the rulingclass.Central to Gramsci’s deﬁnition of hegemony are the beliefs that dominantideologies are often presented as common sense and that dominantideologies are always in tension with other forces allowing for counterhegemonic forces.Common Sense allows people to cope with their everyday existence andplace themselves within society whilst also masking from them the greaterhegemonic patterns of socio-economic exploitation.Counter hegemony is a view or action which challenges the status quo orhegemonic ideology
Appropriation +DétournementDétournement is a term originating from the Situationist movement a grouplargely inﬂuenced by Marx and the Avant Garde. Detournement describesthe act of an artist reusing existing media to create a new work with anew message often one opposed to the original.This form of appropriation of images, techniques or slogans can also befound in the form of subvertisments.Subvertising involves the appropriation and alteration of images to create aparody of the originals. Subvertisments generally target corporations,campaigns or political adverts.Another term often used to describe the tactics of appropriation is bricolage.Bricolage refers to the piecing together of culture from whatever is at hand,Dick Hebdige observed that bricolage is a tactic employed by youthsubcultures to deﬁne themselves through the appropriation of commodities.
SummarySo to summarise the main points.....•Images are only representations ie they are signs or symbolsthat stand in place for other ideas•The meaning of images is negotiated•Denotation / Connotation / Myth - Barthes•Misrepresentation - History, the role of digital media•Propaganda- Implicit and explicit ideological function ofimages.•Commodity Fetishism - Use value / exchange value,advertisings role in replacing value based on use / productionwith abstract ideas / emotions.•Ideological function of images in advertising•Hegemony•Reproduction of the image - Appropriation, Detournement,Bricolage, Subvertisments