New terms and ideas that I am being exposed to in the book Practices of Looking by Marita Sturken and Lisa Cartwright.
] Simulation/Simulacra [
Terms most famously used by French theorist Jean Baudrillard that refer to a sign that does not clearly have a real-life counterpart. A simulacrum is not a representation of something, but is more difficult to distinguish from the real. Hence, it can be considered to be a kind of fake real that could potentially supercede the real. Baudrillard stated that to simulate a disease was to acquire its symptoms, thus making it difficult to distinguish between simulation and the actual disease. For example, a casino or amusement park simulacrum of the city of Paris can be seen as creating a substitution for the actual city, and can perhaps for some viewers seem to be more real than the city itself. The term simulation is often used to describe aspects of postmodern culture in which copies and realities get blurred.
] Hyperreal [
A term coined by French theorist Jean Baudrilard the refers to a world in which codes of reality are used to simulate reality in cases where there is no referent in the real world. Hyperreality is thus a simulation of reality in which various elements function to emphasize their “realness.” In postmodern style, hyperrealism refers to the use of naturalistic effects to give an advertisement, for instance, the look of a realist documentary –”natural”, sound, jerky, “amateur” camerawork, or unrehearsed nonactors, yet which is understood to be a construction of the real.
] Modernism [
A term with meanings in culture, art, literature, and music, modernism/modernity refers both to a particular time period and a set of of styles associated with that time. Modernity refers to to the time period and world view beginning approximately in the 18th century with the Enlighment, reaching its height in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when broad populations in Europe and North America were increasingly concentrated in urban centers and in industrial societies of increased mechanization and automation. Modernity is a time of dramatic technological change that embraces a linear view of progress as crucial to humankind’s prosperity and an optimistic view of the future at the same time that it embodies an anxiety about change and social upheaval.
In art and film, modernism refers to a set of styles that emerged in the late 19th and early 20th centuries that questions traditions of representational painting and emphasizes the importance of form. Modern art values linearity, form, and the mechanical, and embraces abstraction over realism. Most modernist art movements share the general principles of breaking with past conventions, foregrounding form over content, and reflexively drawing attention to the materiality of the medium.
] Postmodernism [
Used to describe particular styles in art, literature, architecture, and popular culture, to define particular aspects of contemporary theory, and to designate a particular way of viewing the world (often seen as a time period) in the late 20 century, postmodernism is often seen as both imprecise and multiple in its meanings. Broadly, the term has been used to describe a set of social, cultural and economic formations that have occurred “post” and after the height of modernity, and that have produced both a new world view and different ways of being in the world than that of modernity.
Postmodernity has thus been used to describe a radical transformation of the social, economic, and political context of modernity, while at the same time it is often understood as an extension of modernity. It has been referred to as postmodern questioning of “metanarratives” by French philosopher Jean-François Lyotard, and of the premise within them that they could define the human condition. It has also been described by Frederic Jameson as a historical period that is the cultural outcome of the “logic of late capitalism.” Postmodernism has been characterized as a critique of concepts of universalism, the idea of presence, the traditional notion of the subject as unified and self-aware, and of the modern faith in progress.
In terms of its application to art and visual style, postmodernism has been used to describe a set of trends in the art world in the late 20th century that question, among other things, concepts of authenticity, authorship, and the idea of style progression. Postmodern works are thus highly reflexive with a mix of styles. In popular culture and advertising, the term “postmodern” has been used to describe techniques that involve reflexivity, discontinuity, and pastiche, and that speak to viewers as both jaded consumers and through self-knowing metacommunication.
] Enlightment [
An 18th century cultural movement associated with a rejection of religious and pre-scientific tradition through an embrace of the concept of reason. The enlighment emphasized rationality and the idea of moral and social betterment through scientific progress. Kant defined the enlighment as “man’s emergence from his self-imposed immaturity,” and awarded it the motto of sapere aude– Dare to Know. The Enlighment is associated with broader social changes, such as the decline of feudalism and the power of the Church, the increased impact of printing in European culture, and the rise of the middle class in Europe. It is considered an important aspect in the rise of modernity.
] Alienation [
Various meanings in various contexts. In general, the sense of distance from others. In Marxism, a specific condition of capitalism in which humans experience a sense of separation from the product of their labor, and hence, all aspects of life including human relations. In psychoanalysis, a split subjectivity and the discovery of the fact that one is not in control of one’s thoughts, actions, and desires because of the existence of the unconscious.
] Surrealism [
An art movement of the early 20th century in both literature and the visual arts that focused on the role of the unconscious in representation and in dismantling the opposition between the real and the imaginary. The Surrealists were interested in unlocking the unconscious, in Freudian terms, and working against the rational. Surrealist practice included automatic writing and painting and the use of dreams to inspire writing and art. The movement’s primary proponents were André Breton, Salvador Dalí, Giorgio di Chirico, MAx Ernst and René Magritte.
] Conceptual Art [
A style of art that emerged in the 1960’s that focused on the idea of concept over material object. An attempt to counter the increased commercialism of the art world, conceptual art presented ideas rather than art works that could be bought and sold, and thus worked to shift the focus to the creative process and ways from the art market. Artists who worked in conceptual art include Joseph Kosuth and Yoko Ono.
] Constructivism [
An art movement in the Soviet Union following the 1917 Russian Revolution that deployed a modernist avant-garde aesthetic. Constructivism emphasized dynamic form as the embodiment of the politics of ideology of a machine-driven culture. The pro-Soviet artists of Constructivism embraced the theories of Marx, ideas of technological progress, and a machine aesthetic. Its primary proponents were Vladimir Tatlin, El Lissitsky, and filmmaker Dziga Vertov.
] Sublime [
A term in aesthetic theory, specifically in the work of 18th century theorist Edmund Burke, that sets out to evoke experiences so momentous that they inspire intense veneration in the viewer or listener. The history of traditional landscape painting, for instance, was about imaging the sublime in that it intended to create in viewer’s a deep awe of the limitless splendors of nature.
] Cubism [
An early 20th century art movement that was part of the modern French avant-garde. Cubism began with a collaboration between Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, who were both developing new ways depicting space and objects. Cubism was a deliberate critique of the dominance of perspective in styles of art, and an attempt to present the dynamism and complexity of human vision by imaging objects simultaneously form multiple perspectives.
] Futurism [
An italian avant-garde movement that was inspired by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti’s Futurists Manifesto, which was published in 1909. The Futurists were interesting in braking free of tradition, and embraced the idea of speed and the future. They wrote many manifestos and maintained a provocative and challenging style sometimes associated with fascism. Some of the Futurists painters, such as Giacomo Balla, focused on painting objects and people in motion, and others worked in Cubist styles.
] Master narratives [
Also referred to as metanarratives. A framework that aims to comprehensively explain all aspects of a society or world. Examples of master narratives include religion, science, Marxism, psychoanalysis, and other theories that intend to explain all facets of life. French theorist Jean-François Lyotard famously characterized postmodern theory as profoundly skeptical of these metanarratives, their universalism, and the premise that they could define the human condition.
] Presence [
The quality of immediate experience that has been traditionally contrasted with representation and with those aspects of world that are the product of human mediation. The quality of being “present” has thus been understood historically to mean that one can be in the world in a way that is direct and experienced through the senses, and unmediated by human belief, ideologies, languages systems, or forms of representation. Postmodernism criticizes this concept of presence as the illusion that we can actually experience the world in a direct and complete way without the social baggage of language, ideology, etc.
] Polysemy [
The quality of having many potential meanings. A work of art whose meaning is ambiguous is polysemic because it can have many different meanings to different viewers.
] Hypertext [
A format for presenting text and images, which forms the basis of the WWW, that allows viewers to move from one text, page, or web site to another through hyperlinks. This means that any web site, for instance, can have a number of links to other sites, to audio, video and other graphics. The importance of this format is that it allows for web users to move laterally through a significant amount of material that is linked.
] Irony [
The deliberate contradiction between the literal meaning of something and its intended meaning (which can be the opposite of the literal meaning). Irony can be seen as a context where appearance and reality are in conflict, for instance when someone says “beautiful weather!” when in fact they intended to state that the weather is terrible. Irony is more subtle and less direct than sarcasm and satire.
] Parody [
Cultural productions that make fun of more serious works through humor and satire while maintaining some of their elements such as plot or character. Cultural theorists see parody (as opposed to the creation of new and original works) as one of the key strategies of postmodern style, though it is not exclusive to postmodernism.
] Pastiche [
A style of plagiarizing, quoting, and borrowing from previous styles with no reference to history or a sense of rules. In architecture, a pastiche would be a mixing of classical motifs with modern elements in an aesthetic that does not reference the historical meanings of those styles. Pastiche is an aspect of postmodern style.
] Metacommunication [
A discussion or exchange in which the topic is the exchange taking place itself. A “meta” level is a reflexive level of communication. In popular culture, this refers to ads or television shows, etc. in which the topic is the viewer’s act of viewing the cultural product. An ad that addresses a viewer about the ways that the viewer is looking at the ad is engaging in metacommunication.
] Repression [
A term in psychoanalytic theory that refers to the process by which the individual relegates to and keeps within the unconscious those particular thoughts, feelings, memories, or desires that are too difficult to deal with. Freud postulated that we repress that which produces fear, anxiety, shame, or other negative emotions within us, and that this repression is active and ongoing. He felts that it was only through this repression that we can become functioning and normative members of a society. Michel Foucault offered another approach, in which he argued against the idea that these desires are hidden and unexpressed. Foucault wrote that systems of control are productive rather than repressive. By this, he meant that social structures encourage such desires to be expressed, spoken, and rendered visible, thereby allowing them to be named, known, and regulated. For example, in a Foucaultian approach, talk shows in which people confess their bad behavior and secret wishes would be seen as a context in which desires can be cataloged and therefore controlled.
] Dialectic [
A term from philosophy whose use is varied and often ambiguous. In Greek philosophy, it referred to the process of question and answer promoted by Plato as the means to higher knowledge. The term has generally been used to refer to a conflict or tension between two positions, for example the dialectics of good and evil. However, its use in philosophy refers to a mediation or resolution of this conflict. In Marxist theory, history moves forward not in a continuous progression but through a chain of conflicts that are resolved only to bring new conflicts. Marxism speaks in this respect of theses and antitheses, for example an owner (thesis) and a worker (antitheses), whose antagonism leads to a synthesis through dialectical process.
] Intertextuality [
The referencing of one text within another. In popular culture, intertextuality refers to the incorporation of meanings of one text within another in a reflexive fashion. For example, the television show The Simpsons includes references to films, other television shows, and celebrities. These intertextual references assume that the viewer knows the people and cultural products being referenced.
] Commodity Sign [
A term that refers to the semiotic meaning of a commodity that is constructed in advertisement. The representation of a commodity, or the product itself, and its meaning together form the commodity sign. Contemporary cultural theorists state the we do not consume commodities, but commodity signs. That is, what we are really purchasing is the meaning of the commodity.