Art Essay Examples

Art Essay Examples
In the age where media inhabits numerous conduits for the production of culture it is difficult to imagine culture without its mediated form, from television and comic books to fashion and postcards, culture is derived through a range of diverse vehicles. We experience our cultural life through media in various ways.
Modern society is founded on universal law, enlightenment of reason and science is solution to social problems, utopia is possible (except the poor will always be poor); Western-centric humanism will save the world; mass consumption means mass employment and modern society contained in the grand narrative of history.

Progressive social transformation of the post-modern turn will take us on new adventures; resituating science, technology, society & capitalism into a multi-perspective and multi-disciplinary framework. One attempt to account for the emergence of post-modern condition is the shift during the 20th century of the economic needs of capitalism from production to consumption. Reality is what we see fit by these various forms of seductive illusion.

The prefix ‘post’ clearly implies a break, a relation to a period that has happened before. In the case of post-modernism the previous period is undoubtedly ‘modernism’. Thus, postmodernism refers to a breakdown of the distinction between culture and society - emergence of a social order in which the importance and power of the mass media and popular culture means that they govern and shape all forms of social relationships. For Lyotard, a key post-modernism theorist, the post-modern condition is neither a periodizing concept nor does it refer to the institutional parameters of modernity and post-modernity. Rather it is:

“…the condition of knowledge in the most highly developed societies. I have decided to use the word post-modern to describe that condition… (it) designates the state of our culture following the transformations which, since the end if nineteenth century, have altered the rules for science, literature, and the arts” (Lyotard, 1991, pg xxiii)

Lyotard refers to postmodernism as a loss of faith in meta-narratives, the big stories that have justified the rational, scientific, artistic and political world of the modern world. Rejection of all overarching and totalising thought; Marxism, liberalism, etc. that tell universal stories which organize and justify the everyday practices of a plurality of different stories (narratives); Science, which has developed importance since the Enlightenment, has assumed the status of a meta-narrative, organizing and validating other narratives on the road to liberation. Lyotard says “since Enlightenment status as a meta-narrative has waned.” Science is no longer seen to be making progress on behalf of mankind.

It’s a breakdown in distinction between art and popular culture: there are no longer any agreed and definite criteria which serve to differentiate art from popular culture. For example, take Warhol - Velvet Underground art becomes increasingly integrated into the economy both because it is used to encourage people to consume through the expanded role it plays in advertising, and because it becomes a commercial good in its own right.

Popular cultural signs and media images increasingly dominate our sense of reality, and the way we define ourselves and the world around us. The world which tries to come to terms with a media-saturated society.

Mass media was once thought of as holding up a mirror to, and reflecting society. Now, reality can only be defined as the surface reflections of this mirror. Society has become subsumed within mass media - it is no longer a question of distortion of reality, since the term implies that there is a reality outside the surface simulations of the media, which can be distorted, and this is precisely what is at issue according to post-modern theory. Is the media creating reality?

Linked to this is the notion that it is more difficult to distinguish the economy from popular culture. The realm of consumption is increasingly influenced by popular culture. For example, we watch more films because we have a VCR, then they reference and advertise products that we go and buy. Surface and style have become more important and evoke a kind of designer ideology. The obsession with being super-model thin, fad-diets, use of sexuality, football, designer clothing, and many more simulations that work as a network in exchange order with each other to create reality narrative for post-modern consumer. The argument is we increasingly consume images and signs for their own sake rather than for their usefulness or for the deeper values they may symbolise. The very values that ‘modernists’ used to talk about.

In the production-era machines had to be built and updated, basic materials like iron and steel made, infrastructures such as roads, rail, communication had to be laid down, the work force had to be taught the work ethic: Taylorisation and Fordism. Once this was established, the need for consumption emerges. And people need to acquire a consumer ethic. The need to consume becomes equal to the need to produce. Increased affluence combined with consumer credit, advertising, marketing and design. Culture celebrates consumerism and style, therefore the media becomes more important. New occupations or changed role of older ones involved in need to make people consume: advertisers, marketing, design, journalism, television, finance, etc.

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