pick up from where we left off last week finish off the 1st chapter
head to current chapter, #2 “viewers make meaning”
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I am extremely superficial Andy warhol Andy warhol
generation of meaning via imagery
but meaning does not exist in the image per se but rather through the process which they are produced
note: in the process of meaning, values change, meaning shifts, reiteration changes the value of an object
1) the codes and conventions that structure the image and this cannot be separated from the content of the image
2) viewers and how they interpret or experience the image
3) the contexts in which an image is exhibited and viewed
primary meanings exist but they are interpreted and used by viewers in ways that do not necessarily conform to these meanings
audience: collection of lookers, collective
viewer: is an individual who looks (social category)
viewing is a relational practice, that does not simply occur between people but also objects, concepts, technologies, institutions, power etc (49)
when looking at these concepts, viewers and audiences we understand aspects of the practices of looking
advertising - interpellating viewers-consumers - or hailing them
Marx Karl Heinrich Marx was born on May 5, 1818 in the city of Trier, Germany. Marx was a revolutionary who advocated "merciless criticism of everything existing" and was the co-originator of the theories of "Communism." In the autumn of 1843, Marx went to Paris in order to publish a radical journal. It was in Paris in September, 1844 where he first met life-long friend and associate Frederick Engels . Marx and Engels were both active in various revolutionary groups and together worked out the theory and tactics of "Revolutionary Proletarian Socialism" or "Communism." Marx was banished from Paris in 1845 as a dangerous revolutionary. He went to Brussels, Belgium. In the spring of 1847 Marx, along with Engels, joined a secret society called the "Communist League." At the league's request they authored the " Communist Manifesto," which outlines the theory of the class struggle, and of the revolutionary role of the proletariat. Due to his revolutionary activities, Marx was banished from Belgium in February 1848, finally ending up in London in 1849 where he lived until his death. In 1864 the "International Working Men's Association" was founded in London. Marx was a central figure in the new organization, and author of its first statement, and a host of resolutions, declarations and manifestos. His health was undermined by his strenuous work for "International." The first volume of "Das Kapital," Marx's most important work, appeared in 1867. Ultimately ill-health prevented him from completing two other volumes. On March 14 1883 he is buried at Highgate Cemetery in London.
ideology comes from marxist tradition, see: The German Ideology, marx and engels in the mid 1840s
“ theory that is out of touch with the material processes of history” - ideology
By ideological domination or ‘dominant ideology’, it is meant that Marx was attempting to describe what happens when one ideology is deemed paramount over another through inherent social power relations. In attempting to solidly describe dominant ideology
coined by destutt de tracy, 1790s to distinguish metaphysics from ideology, the study of ideas
“ the ruling ideas of any epoch are nothing more than the ideal expressions of the dominant material relationships”, ideas...they are perceived in reverse...like a camera obscura - or upside down
we see ideology, as a sense of false consciousness
this is how opressed workers who were reluctant to revolt was understood
ideology, was the fundamental understanding of human consciousness in post marxist work
this starts to change, consciousness - becomes a form of ideological communication, appearing in objects through semiological formation
new articulations of ideology appear with ALTHUSSER AND BAHKTIN
althusser was a french structuralist marxist philosopher, 1918-1990 born in algeria
education was on hold and went into military in 1940, POW in Germany for 5 years. Studied at Ecole Normale, theis on Hegel returned to a faculty position. Joined French Communist Party. key work: For Marx and Reading Capital (launch careers of others)
re-read marxist theory, stressing scientific aspects of marxism, how societal structures determined lives experience
post traumatic stress, depression, institutionalization wife’s death in 1980. quiet until his death in 1990
texts in which ideology is re-thought, ideology and ideological state apparatuses
where ideology serves to construct people as subjects within ideological processes
see interpellation, hey you - the turn around, the hailing which is non-specific is a model for how the individual is called into a subject position
we are born with a gender, class, family, status - accepted without conscious choice by us as subjects, here we are placed into subject positions within formation that have little to no agency
individuality, authority, the author: values of the enlightenment are called into question
criticized as being a closed box through which one cannot escape, or have agency
he responds by distinguishing ideology from ideology as a framework in general
so we have 1) ideology: traditions, values, customs - of members of a social group and 2) ideology in general - the space in between where there is so space for an individual to have agency
this is where we can theorize resistance and agency:with skepticism
ISAs & RSAs
ideology offers a skeptical approach
the relationship between ISA’s and RSA’s
ISAs - family, education, legal, media, church
RSAs: police, military, justice system
there is a blurry line between the levels of state control - the effectiveness of each depends on the other. for example ISAs have strength because of there backup with RSA.
RSA’s cant function without ISA’s a police man needs to believe s/he is working in societies best interest to do their job
the levels of interrelation are integral to understanding how social formations maintain its dominance, how it recreates itself, evolve etc
Louis Althussers Marxist or critical approach to cultural analysis examined the connections between social structure, power and culture (Smith 52), and how this influences subjectivity.
Althusser endeavored to develop a scientific or systematic theory as to how society functions in order to maintain conditions favorable to capitalism. His primary focus was on the relationship between ideology and the roles and identities society creates for people that help to perpetuate these conditions.
This structural model of society consists of two different levels and of three spheres and is significant in part because it attaches specificity to Marxist ideas which often tend to posit somewhat free floating dominant ideologies (Smith 54).
The first of these spheres, the economic base , refers to sites of production (including the cultural industries).
Two spheres then make up what is known as the superstructure : the politico-legal which consists of the political and legal systems, and the ideological structure which refers to institutions such as churches and schools that perpetuate dominant beliefs and values.
Although culture (the economic base) and politics (the superstructure) are independent of each other in Althussers model, they still share the ideological interconnections which serve to perpetuate the capitalist system (Fiske 287). One could say that Althussers theories suggest that rather than working to live, we are living to work.
Althusser proposed that individuals are transformed into subjects through the ideological mechanism of interpellation
. He explained that interpellation works primarily through language and occurs when we are hailed by a message. To illustrate hailing in the most straight forward way, Althusser offered the following example: when a policeman calls out, Hey, you there!, most people within hearing distance will immediately assume that they are the ones being summoned, even if they have done nothing wrong.
This reaction positions the individual as a subject in relation to the general ideological codes of law and criminality (Brooker 122). Althusser believed that the dominant beliefs, values and practices that constitute ideology serve a political function.
As we progress through the education system and enter the workforce, ideology works through state institutions to interpellate or construct us into particular subject positions in which our work and lifestyle benefits those who control the processes of production (Smith 208).
The subject positions which are most prevalent configure us in terms of commercial culture - as consumers, taxpayers, employees, automobile drivers, homeowners, or parents. For instance, come election time, politicians continuously address their audience in their speeches as voters or taxpayers, thereby referring to the subject positions which most benefit them in their capacity as political leaders.
Karl Marx’s concept of ideological domination refers to the way in which certain means of production, such as the media, are able to control and manipulate particular discourses to enforce an opinion or identity on society and make them appear natural. This idea of ideological domination was developed and advanced in the work of Antonio Gramsci who believed that the struggle of social groups to “win the consent of other groups and achieve a kind of ascendancy in both thought and practice over them” was a more specific example of Marx’s theory and termed it as hegemony. He goes on to consider that the only way for a particular group to gain victory in the hegemonic struggle for social supremacy is to be able to successfully contest the negotiation between varying social, political and economic forces that define our society through shifts in power. In combining these terms and applying them to a particular framework we can begin to see how various elements of representation can be born out of ideological domination “Representation is a key site in such struggle, since the power of definition is a major source of hegemony.”
The best example of the presence of ideological domination within society is through the media and the ways in which they are able to enforce a particular ideology onto the masses of society and make it seem “real.”
The increasing importance and use of media such as the internet, television, newspapers means we are constantly being fed an opinion which is changing the way we think about society.
If one particular company or person, such as Rupert Murdoch, has increasing ownership over these outlets globally then we can begin to see a particular ideology being forced upon consumers around the world “Through their ownership of publishing houses, newspapers and latterly electronic media, the dominant classes subject the masses to ideologies which make the social relations of domination and oppression appear natural and so mystify the ‘real’ conditions of existence.” The media can be seen as a hegemonic power which through negotiating various ideologies of economics, culture and politics within a certain discourse can manipulate the way society thinks and make it appear natural. This idea of a passive consumption and manipulation via a means of ideological domination through the media has also been touched upon by Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer, two members of the Frankfurt School who wrote a polemic chapter titled The Culture Industry in their critical essay Enlightenment and Mass Deception on the way in which mass produced culture was motivated by an ideology intent on making their consumers docile and content with a substandard level of art.
Barbara Kruger Your Body is a Battleground , 1989
Barbara Kruger Your Body is a Battleground , billboard project for Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, OH, 1990
Barbara Kruger Untitled (Your Manias Become Science) , 1981
Agency: the ability of an individual or group to effect or intervene in human affairs. Liberal humanists regard the individual as having almost unrestricted agency. Marxists see economic and social circumstances as playing a role in the ability of individuals or groups to shape their social destiny.
Interpellation or Hailing: term referring to the process by which individuals are transformed into subjects who work towards maintaining the ruling ideology. Althusser uses the example of conversion in which God interpellates an individual as a subject of the Christian religion
Structuralism: a mode of criticism which generally applies the linguistic concepts defined by Ferdinand de Saussure (1857-1913) such as his concept of the sign to a wide range of social and cultural practices (Abrams 300). In particular, structuralism is focused on how meaning is constructed and how we as readers contribute to the creation of meaning by simultaneously participating in, and decoding culture and its products.
Painting represents a visually discursive event New regime of knowledge: Charcots discovery of hysteria and the use of hypnosis in practice Tells us about representation – performing with the body the symptoms she is suffering The painting re-represents them So it is not the painting that produces our knowledge but rather what discourse says so the patient in the clinic The medicalization of hysteria/bodies/mental illness Classificatory systems and the discourses surrounding/produced by them Hysteria: Production of Knowlegde
"Foucault reads the painting in terms of representation and the subject"
(the painting tells us something about how representation and the subject work.
The meaning of the picture is produced through this complex inter-play between presence (what you see, the visible) and absence (what you can't see, what has displaced it within the frame). Two centers -- the Infant and the Royal Couple. Far from being finally resolved into some absolute truth which is the meaning of the picture, the discourse of the painting quite deliberately keeps us in this state of suspended attention. Our look -- our identification with one subject position For the painting to work, the spectator. . . must subject him/herself to the painting's discourse and, in this way, become the painting's ideal viewer. Three subject positions.
The practices involved in “power/knowledge” stem from the French philosopher Michel Foucault’s theories on discourse and the ways in which our identities are constructed through varying forms of discursive strategies. Foucault was interested in the relationship between knowledge and power and how they in turn acted as an “apparatus” to create particular paradigms within society. Foucault saw the two as intrinsically linked and that through their application in discourse we would be able to have a clearer constructionist framing of cultural representation “There is no power relation without the correlative constitution of a field of knowledge, nor any knowledge that does not presuppose and constitute at the same time, power relations.” The theory of “power/knowledge” therefore concerns itself with the wider framework of discourse which Foucault discusses and are key to the systematic development of representation, so we can therefore see the two combining in operational shifts to implicate power within society.
sontag: on the suffering of others
1997 collection os essay in the NY Rev of Books from 1973-77
discusses the role of photography in capitalist societies
to photograph is to appropriate the object/subject of the image
one is put in relation not only to the object itself but in relation to it - this relationship causes alienation. people find themselves inhabiting the world of printed images.
argument: photography has perpetuated a attitude of anti-interventionism, i.e. war photography
as we cannot process the images we see or their recording so we lose the context
here photography is understood as having a particular relationship with politics
need people to sign up for short presentations, individual or group
do you know what you need to do?
will we head to the tropenmuseum on march the 9th? and the stedelijk on the 27th of april?
read chapter 3 “spectatorship, power, knowledge” pp. 72-102
next week we will watch an assortment of clips and read them as objects in line with the theories we have covered