Today’s session• Introduction to Postmodernism• Review: gallery visit• Group work: Time Travel research Barbara Kruger, Money Can Buy You Love
POSTMODERNITY (ca 1960s - now?) Post-modern – literally meaning ‘after the modern’ Postmodernity is a condition or a state of being associated with changes to institutions and conditions (Giddens, 1990) and with social and political results and innovations, globally but especially in the West since the 1960sAndy Warhol, 100 cans, 1962
MODERNITY Key readings:Karl Marx + Frederick Engels Marshall Berman David Harvey The Communist Manifesto All that is solid melts into air The Condition of Postmodernity
Modernity as grand narrative‘grand narrative’ (or meta-narrative):a grand narrative is a narrative formwhich seeks to provide a definite accountof reality Francis Galton, Composite portraits by superimposition of photos seeking a(Edgar / Sedgwick 2004 163) generic portrait of a criminal, 1883the grand narrative of modernity: thestory of progress through universalhuman reason (Enlightenment ideals).Modernity was "a progressive forcepromising to liberate humankind fromignorance and irrationality"(Rosenau 1992, 5)
“ (...) to the degree that it alsolauded humancreativity, scientific discoveryand the pursuit of individualexcellencein the name of humanprogress, Enlightenmentthinkers welcomed themaelstrom of change and sawthe transitoriness, thefleeting, and the fragmentary asa necessary condition throughwhich the modernizing projectcould be achieved.”David Harvey (1990) The postmodern condition.
Capitalism vs. MarxismMarxism as grand narrative:the analysis of history as a sequence of developments; Capitalism isthe last stage in a long history of class struggles, culminating in aliberating workers’ revolution
Colonialism/European Imperialism legitimized by the grandnarrative of progress “We are modernizing, and thus liberating you”
Human shock in the face of the unimaginable (pollution,Holocaust, the two World Wars, the atomic bomb) results in a lossof fixed points of reference. Neither the world nor the self anylonger possesses a fixed sense of unity, coherence, meaning.They are radically decentred‘...
Modernism vs. Postmodernism• Master narrative of progress • Skepticism of progress, anti- through science and technology. technology reactions, neo- Luddism; new age religions• Sense of unified, centered self; • Sense of fragmentation and "individualism," unified identity. decentered self; multiple, conflicting identities.• Idea of "the family" as central unit • Alternative family units, of social order: model of the alternatives to middle-class middle-class, nuclear family. marriage model, multiple identities for couplings and childraising.
Modernism vs. Postmodernism• Hierarchy, order, centralized • Subverted order, loss of centralized control. control, fragmentation. • Trust and investment in micro-• Faith and personal investment politics, identity politics, local in big politics (Nation-State, politics, institutional power party). struggles. • Hyper-reality, image saturation,• Faith in the "real" beyond media simulacra seem more powerful and representations; than the "real"; images and texts authenticity of "originals" with no prior "original". "As seen on TV" and "as seen on MTV" are more powerful than unmediated experience.
How does Postmodernism appear? • Pastiche (tongue-in-cheek homage, imitation or tribute used in art, music, TV, cinema, etc) • Kitsch • Parody, irony and visual humour • Bricolage • Appropriation & visual/textual references to the works of others • Hyperreality (as a symptom of postmodern culture hyperreality is a state in which one loses the ability to distinguish reality from fantasy • Dystopia • Conceptual art • The multiple over the singular • Death of the Author
+ = Postmodernism!Mies van der Rohe (1954)Seagram Building, NYC Thomas Chippendale (18th century) bookcase Philip Johnson (1984) AT+T Headquarters, NYC
Blade Runner (Ridley Scott; 1982)Ridley Scott’s 1982 film Blade Runner, set in animagined, dystopian Los Angeles of 2019, can beseen as a good example of a postmodern film. Thissetting is a blend of Asian and Western styles,evoking the street markets of Hong Kong, theneon of Tokyo or Las Vegas, and the Art Decoskyscrapers of Manhattan and Chicago. Thefashion styling is alternately 1940s and futuristic.Set designer SydMead summed it up: ‘One of theprinciples behind designing this film is that itshould be both forty years in the future and fortyyears in the past.’ The storyline features HarrisonFord as a detective who hunts down wayward‘replicants,’ androids with superhuman abilities.Some of these artificial humans do not know thatthey are synthetic – and are horrified to discoverthat their memories and personalities areimplanted. The film uses this as a metaphor forthe postmodern condition in general. Thesuggestion is that we are all ‘manufactured’ by theadvertisements we see, the space of the cities welive in, the television shows we watch. Our veryidentities have become artificial...
For next week:• Bring in a book relating to the Wish You Were Here assignment• Write a brief description, in your own words, of Postmodernism and upload to your blog• Take a look at each other’s blogs and leave comments on at least 5 other blogs (these will need to be ‘approved’ by the administrator of the blog before they appear). Make sure you respond to feedback from others!• Update your own blog and add content – research, notes, images, links, etc.