Sunday, 31 March 2013

Hip-deep in postmodernism

Post-modernism in the arts corresponds to post-modernism in life, as sketched by the French theorist Jean-Francois Lyotard: ''One listens to reggae, watches a western, eats McDonald's food for lunch and local cuisine for dinner, wears Paris perfume in Tokyo and 'retro' clothes in Hong Kong.'' To argue about post-modernism, therefore, is to argue about more than post-modernism. Post-modernism is more than a buzzword or even an aesthetic,  it is a way of seeing, a view of the human spirit and an attitude toward political as well as cultural possibilities. It has precedents, but in its reach it is the creature of our recent social and political moment. In style, more than style is at stake.
To get beyond vague talk and knowing genuflection, it is never a bad idea to start by deciding what we are talking about. We can get a rough fix on post-modernism by contrasting it to its main predecessors, realism and modernism.
In the realism that rode high in the 19th century, the work of art was supposed to express unity and continuity. Realism mirrored reality, criticized it and consoled. The individuals portrayed were clearly placed in society and history. High culture was just that - higher, more valuable, than popular culture.
In modernism, voices, perspectives and materials were multiple. The unity of the work was assembled from fragments and juxtapositions. Art set out to remake life. Audacious individual style threw off the dead hand of the past. Continuity was disrupted, the individual subject dislocated. High culture quoted from popular culture.
Post-modernism, by contrast, is indifferent to consistency and continuity altogether. It self-consciously splices genres, attitudes, styles. It relishes the blurring or juxtaposition of forms (fiction-nonfiction), stances (straight-ironic), moods (violent-comic), cultural levels (high-low). It disdains originality and fancies copies, repetition, the recombination of hand-me-down scraps. It neither embraces nor criticizes, but beholds the world blankly, with a knowingness that dissolves feeling and commitment into irony. It pulls the rug out from under itself, displaying an acute self-consciousness about the work's constructed nature. It takes pleasure in the play of surfaces and derides the search for depth as mere nostalgia for an unmoved mover. It regards ''the individual'' as a sentimental attachment, a fiction to be enclosed within quotation marks. ''The individual'' has decomposed, as ''reality'' has dissolved; nothing lives but ''discourses,'' ''texts,'' ''language games,'' ''images,'' ''simulations'' referring to other ''discourses'' ''texts,'' etc. ''Characters'' can step out of character; they can die, as in Philip Roth's novel ''The Counterlife,'' only to live again. High culture speaks the same language as popular culture, even blurs into it...
....In effect, post-modernism expresses the spiritless spirit of a global class linked via borderless mass media with mass culture, omnivorous consumption and easy travel. Their experience denies the continuity of history; they live in a perpetual present garnished by nostalgia binges. Space is not real, only time. The post-modernist style makes sense to the new consumer. In the global shopping center (as Richard Barnet and Ronald Muller have called it), local traditions have been swamped by the workings of the market; anything can be bought, and to speak of intrinsic value is mere sentimentality. Post-modernist literature cultivates place names in the same way consumers flock to the latest cuisine: in the spirit of the collector, because the uniqueness of real places is actually waning. It makes much of brand names (even ironically) because they have become the furnishings of our cultural ''home.'' How else to represent this new world than through post-modernist flatness? The post-modernist motto is: You can't beat trash culture, so join it.
I've been focussing on postmodernism within popular culture lately, and I came across this article which gives an idea of what the ideology of the postmodern is, though the tone is a bit anti postmodern.
Does this mean that postmodernism is a sort of stagnation, and an acceptance of the lack of originality? 

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Introducing Postmdernism.. A bit of light reading.

Since getting this project it's been a pain trying to get my head round what postmodernity actually is... Before jumping into posting about it i thought it would be best to read an entire book about it ... it helped. Sort of. 
I chose to read 'Introducing Postmodernism' by Richard Appingnanesi and Chris Garratt. 

I would definitely recommend this book as the style made this extremely confusing subject a bit easier to pick apart. Overall from what i can gather from this book is that for something to be modern it first has to be 'Post Modern'. Post modernism is all about going against traditions in cultures and also challenging views and opinions of topics that back then could have been considered a bit taboo. 
This is why after reading about Post modernism i am going to start looking into Feminism and Post feminism  as i find it fascinating to see how theorists views have changed throughout the decades, prior and during the postmodern era. 

These are a few pages that sums up what Modernity and Post Modernity are. 

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Dadaism Art Movement

Dada was an art movement of the European Avante-Garde. it started in Switzerland and then moved to Berlin,the United states and Paris.
Dada was born out of negative reaction to the horrors of World War I. This international movement was begun by a group of artist and poets associated with the Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich. Dada rejected reason and logic, prizing nonsense, irrationality and intuition. The origin of the name Dada is unclear; some believe that it is a nonsensical word. Others maintain that it originates from the Romanian artists Tristan Tzara and Marcel Janco's frequent use of the words da, da, meaning yes, yes in the Romanian language. Another theory says that the name "Dada" came during a meeting of the group when a paper knife stuck into a French-German dictionary happened to point to 'dada', a French word for 'hobbyhorse'.

The movement involved visual arts, literature, poetry, art theatre and graphic design and projected its anti-war politics through the rejection of prevailing art standards with anti-art, as well as being anti-war, dadaism was anti-Bourgeoisie (pronounced Bor-je-wah-zee) they condemned capitalism and nationalism and had political affinities with the radical left.
Key people in the movement included Hugo Ball, Emmy Hennings, Hans Arp, Raoul Hausmann, Hannah Höch, Johannes Baader, Tristan Tzara, Francis Picabia, Richard Huelsenbeck, Georg Grosz, John Heartfield, Marcel Duchamp, Beatrice Wood, Kurt Schwitters, and Hans Richter, among others.
Dada is the groundwork to abstract art and sound poetry, a starting point for performance art, a prelude to postmodernism, an influence on pop art, a celebration of antiart to be later embraced for anarcho-political uses in the 1960s and the movement that lay the foundation for Surrealism.


   -Adaptation Clip, explicit content.

Discussing postmodernism is never a simple task. Analyzing postmodern film proves difficult as well, for it seems that in order to truly explain the postmodern elements of a film, the writing tends to take on postmodern components as well; that is to say, the form of the writing begins to echo the content of the film. Perhaps Lemert explains the quirky, free form nature of postmodernism best: "[postmodernism] is a surprising, sometimes humorous, and always disconcerting mix of present, past, and future" (Lemert, 452).

This quotation seems especially relevant when considering Adaptation, a film which deftly mixes the present with not only the past and future, but also with the imaginary, which often takes the viewer by surprise, reminding them that "the world is no longer one - or even unifiable" (ibid., 459). There are several worlds here, often overlapping or on the verge of doing so: the world that Charlie Kaufman occupies physically and his internal world which is revealed through voice over; Susan Orlean's world as a writer/interviewer, as she is portrayed in her book, and as Charlie discovers her; John Laroche's world as an orchid thief, as portrayed in Orlean's book, and as Charlie discovers him; and glimpses of the childhood worlds of both Orlean and Laroche. The viewer also gets flashes of the world regardless of Charlie, Orlean, or Laroche, flashes that show the history of the planet and of mankind.
Not only do we get the sense that the world is not one, but we also get the sense that each person is not even one, most clearly demonstrated by the presence of Donald, Charlie Kaufman's identical twin brother in the film. Charlie, the writer of the film, not only writes himself into Adaptation, but he writes an imaginary twin brother into the film as well. Donald serves as a sort of foil to Charlie; while Charlie is feeling terribly anxious and insecure with himself and troubled about the film script he's attempting to write, Donald emulates ease and confidence and gleefully begins to work on a script titled "The Three" (Adaptation). It is no coincidence, then, that Donald's film is about a man with multiple personalities, a man who is not only a serial killer, but also a cop looking for the killer, and the soon-to-be next victim of the killer.
His script is merely an altered version of what Charlie has already done by putting a nonexistent twin in his film; whereas Charlie fragments himself into two distinct and often opposing personalities, Donald introduces three distinct personalities only to reveal that all three are actually one. It seems evident that both Charlie and Donald have developed a very postmodern take on the individual, a "heightened sense of self in relation to itself" ("A Postmodern Primer," 1). Charlie sees himself as having more than one personality, the two often in emotional conflict with each other. Donald sees the possibility of one person having several selves, the three in physical and/or emotional conflict with each other.
This is not, of course, the only instance in which an increased awareness of self is demonstrated. The film begins with a voice over of Charlie proclaiming, "I am old. I am fat. I am bald. My toenails have turned strange. I am repulsive. How repulsive? I don't know, for I suffer from a condition called Body Dysmorphic disorder" (Adaptation). The intricacies of the mind at work here are fascinating; first Charlie tells us that he is all these specific things right down to the disorder he suffers from, but his acknowledgment of the disorder at once causes the viewer to question the validity of the previous statements.
We realize, then, the slippery nature of truth, something which postmodernism often calls into question, only to conclude that "truth. . . remains elusive, relativistic, partial, and always incomplete; it cannot be learned in totality" ("A Postmodern Primer," 1). Even when we believe we have encountered the truth, changes in perception or events that follow often distort the believability of that truth, make us question if truth exists.-      (Rachel Gray -
Rachel Gray's analysis of Adaptation discusses many aspects of postmodernism  and how they are evident in the film, and thus in our entertainment culture.  For me, Adaptation explores the experience of the individual and plays with how a story can be told; It's un-linear narrative breaks the rules of traditional story telling.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

I 'love' NY

Milton Glaser's 1975 I 'love' NY rebus was designed for free for the New York City Commerce Commission as a part of publicity campaign to improve the city's global reputation and increase tourism.
This logo is an iconic piece of postmodern design because it plays upon the cultural knowledge that the symbol of the 'heart' is a semiotic signifier of 'love'.
This new logo achieved something that has never been done before, it used graphic design to  successfully "rebrand" a city's image. The rebus has become iconic and reproduced in various ways countless times; on mugs, t-shirts (often worn as a fashion statement by people who may have never been to New York).
The logo has been redesigned and altered over the decades;
It has also been used by other cities all over the world, replacing 'NY' with any other city name or country name as a tourist souvenir. 
Last year the logo was re-imagined by BBDO in a new campaign to improve New York's global image. This new campaign involved public participation asking people to alter to logo by replacing the 'heart' symbol in the logo with another object that they believe to represent New York in some way.
David Lubar of ad agency BBDO said the old logo  had been “co-opted by literally the rest of the world. If you go to Russia, if you go to Spain, you see ‘I heart something’ and it’s lost its New York cachet. My team’s assignment was to bring new cachet back to that logo and make it mean something important.” (

BBDO's re-imagining of the iconic logo is a pastiche and opens it up to a personal interpretation from the audience rather than a cultural interpretation. This is an intrinsic part of postmodernism because it allows the public to pastiche the logo with the own personal response to why they 'love' New York.

Milton Glaser responded with "I saw one that said ‘I Pizza NY’. I don’t get it.”

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Intro to Postmodern design

" The end of the 20th Century saw the gradual breakdown of the hegemony of the International Style in the face of challenges that arose as part of the "postmodern" movement. The term "postmodern" is at its heart a chronological term that means simply "after-modern". However, the term has been complicated by a variety of different and overlapping definitions that were devised to fit certain situations. One overarching idea of what constitutes the "postmodern" is that it rejects that which is "modern"...
However, most scholars feel that the modern movement did not end with the beginning of postmodernism, so that modernism and postmodernism actually have existed side by side, with the former losing ground to the latter over the years." - Graphic Design A New History, Stephen F. Eskilson

So, what I've taken from this short intro is that postmodernism and modernism exist together side by side; that the term postmodernism is used to describe a movement/ideology that began after modernism, or as a response to it. I've read that postmodernism is a rejection of modernism, that it breaks the rules for design laid down by the modernist movement.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Beginning with a quote

"Few words are more used and abused in discussions of contemporary culture than the word 'postmodernism'. As a result, any attempt to define the word will necessarily and simultaneously have both positive and negative dimensions. It will aim to say what post modernism is but at the same time will have to say what it is not. Perhaps this is an appropriate condition, for postmodernism is a phenomenon whose mode is resolutely contradictory as well as unavoidably political." - The Politics of Postmodernism, Inda Hutcheon, 1989.

The effect of postmodernism is a subversion of what we think we know, the things that we take for granted, the hegemony of our society. It challenges and de-naturalises the dominant features of our culture; pointing out to us that the areas of our life that we see as "natural" are actually constructed by us, not given to us.

Postmodernity Research Blog

Hello and welcome to DiC2013 Group 5's research blog. Here we will be posting our researching findings on the complex theme of postmodernity.


The word ‘post’ in postmodernism suggests that it comes after modernism, however both postmodernism and modernism both exist together at the same time. Modernism seeks to give meaning and solid definitions to what things are while postmodernism denies the rules laid by modernism.
Postmodernism denies the existance of scientifc, philosophical or religious truths to explain everything for everybody, while modernism seeks to give meaning and solid definitions to what things are while postmodernism denies the rules laid by modernism. It allows for personal interpretation, with personal experience being placed above abstract principles which paradoxically means that postmodernism can not truly be defined.
Postmodernism spans various different disciplines including art, culture, architecture, literature, entertainment, technology ect, and focuses on de-structered humanity meaning that disorder and fragmentation are acceptable represention of reality for postmodernists. Modernists viewed this view of fragmented humanity as bad while postmodernists seems to celebrate this, accepting ambiguity.
There are no final truths or definitions in postmodernism, it is an attempt to give new meanings and interpretations to everything.
Throughout the coming weeks we are going to explore how postmodernism is evident in various different aspects in our society in an attempt to better understand what postmodernism is and how it affects our lives. We will be looking at examples of postmodernism in pop-culture and entertainment, feminism, architecture, and art and design movements.