Tagged: Books

The Image and the Witness: Trauma, Memory and Visual Culture, By Franis Guerinn and Roger Hallas

– ‘images are not just a particular kind of sign,  but something like an actor on the historical stage, a presence or character endowed with legendary status, a history that parallels and participates in the stories we tell ourselves about our own evolution from creatures ‘made in the image’ of a creator, to creatures who make themselves and their world in their own image’ – W.J.T. Mitchell.

– ‘the iconoclasm that pervades the production, dissemination, and philosophy of the image in the 21st century is nowhere more pronounced than it is in relation to images of traumatic historical events. In spite of the ubiquity of public images that witness such events, there is a persistant scepticism expressed toward their capacity to remember or redeem the experience of the traumatised victim. Similarly, images have been repeatedly deemed inadequate in the face of events understood to be too heinous to be represented. This is because, hitherto, images have been embraced for their mimetic promise. For their perceived ability to produce a representation which addresses the demand for evidence triggered by historical trauma. As Kyo Maclear asserts in her study of testimonial art about the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the visual art of witnessing has long been ‘tethered to criteria of accuracy and authenticity’ that insist in an ‘ evidentiary necessity’ as the principal function of such art, and if, as trauma studies maintained in the last decades of the traumatic experience. Then the mimetic image claims to represent what is, in fact, unrepresentable.’ -p2
– ‘this popular skepticism toward the visual representation of historical trauma finds its intellectual correlate in the shared assumptions of two interdisciplinary formations that have profoundly influenced te contemporary course of the humanities: visual studies and trauma studies. Both formations developed partially in response to the post structuralist critique of representation that understood the categories of truth and the real as effects of discourse, and therefore as historical constructs’ – p3
‘The concept of the Anaheim as performative moves our understanding of it away from the all-too-common tendency toward iconoclasm. This shift away from an evaluation of the mimetic achievement (and failures) of the documentary image to produce evidence toward an interrogation of the language, processes and broader concerns of visual documentation extends the interest of documentary studies, most influential lu in the work of bull Nichols and Michael renov. -p4/5.
– the Collective Imaginary – p5 – the idea of a collective understanding of historicised media / history.
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Thinking about God in an Age of Technology, By George Pattison.

P2 – “What is perhaps most striking about contemporary technology is not dimly the marvel (or horror) of one or other technical achievement. – space travel, the Internet, the cultivation on animals of organs for human transplants – but simply the sheet pervasiveness of technology in everyday life. Television, the mobile phone, and the Internet – the ‘information bomb’ (p. Virilio, the information bomb London: verso, 2000) – coupled with the seemingly irresistible expansion and sophistication of travel (above all, the car and the plane, with space tourism now starting to become a reality) make technology the omnipresent medium and condition of contemporary living’

P3 – ‘I have my world in the palm of my hand and I take it with me wherever I go’ – a famous quote for a mobile phone adept in the early 2000s. “This is to only a statement about technology. It is a statement about the self-image and the identity of the person using it: as the originators, the users, and the objects of our thinking, as if it were a mere supplement to the real questions of science, questions one used to see in book-titles along the lines of “Man’s place in the Universe”

Digital Technology – “It is something we ourselves are constructing and transforming through a technology that can no longer be regarded as merely an instrument intervening between ourselves and our environment.”

Aldous Huxleys Brave New World.

Teilhard de Chardin’s noosphere.

Propaganda: Power and Persuasion.

These are examples of Propaganda imagery from David Welch’s book ‘Propaganda: Power and Persuasion’. I’m interested in how the combination of text and imagery has such a profound effect on its viewer. Unfortunately due to the nature of the subjects, many of these posters and prints were made under dyer conditions such as war, disease or within a troubled state.

Although it hasn’t been visual propaganda’s only use, it’s most notable effect has been realised by authoritarian and dictatorial states provoking the masses with their political agenda. Alongside this, there are posters damming the effects of alcohol, and even one, which is my favourite, that encourages parents to swat flies, in order to stop them from killing their children…

I’m interested in the impression this imagery has had on it’s audience. The subjects of these prints are usually embedded in the daily lives of it’s viewers, and therefore enhances their opinions on the subjects, be them positive or negative. A constant flow of this imagery is particularly impressionable, and in some cases, has inspired atrocities and even racism amongst it’s viewers.

There are a number of modern examples of this persuasive technique, mostly found online, and currently very prevalent in the UK media, due to the Islamic State. The word propaganda is thought of mostly for it’s use in politics, and therefore it doesn’t entirely coincide with my own interest. I’m more focused on it’s power to promote an idea to an audience and in turn it’s ability to mould an identity for a specific culture or an element of culture.

The quick wit, fascinating figuration and inclusion of typography are my main inspirations from these examples. I intend to create some small prints, based on similar compositions to these examples. I do not intend to provoke any political or social agenda, and instead will ensure that these prints are focused on the medium’s ability to insight it’s subject. Many of the examples’ styles, such as the Mussolini or Stalin poster, show characteristics of advertisements used in today’s media.

The Entente Cordiale,

  The Entente Cordiale,

The Entente Cordiale under a little 21st-century strain, in a cartoon by Chris Riddell, published in the Observer (12 June 2005). Anglo-French love-hate propaganda has absorbed many themes over the years. In this case, Tony Blair and Jacques Chirac hug in amity as they attack each other’s presumed economic stance – and stab each other in the back.”

                      'Bravo, Belgium!'

  ‘Bravo, Belgium!’

“From the pages of Punch (12 August 1914, cartoon by F.H Townsend). A valiant Belgian boy stands firm against the advancing Prussian bully, ho is replete with stereotype. A violated Belgian neutrality played a large role in the British rationale for war.”

                          'Freedom American-Style'

   ‘Freedom American-Style’

“Symbols and counter-symbols. This Soviet poster subverts the traditional symbolism of the Statue of Liberty. In a probable reference to the ‘police riot’ at Chicago’s Democratic Part Convention (1968), the eyes become policemen, and a truncheon becomes a falling tear, in lament for what the caption describes as ‘Freedom American-Style”

                          British AIDS Warning 1987   British AIDS Warning 1987 A leaflet warning about the threat of AIDS, as distributed throughout Britain in 1987. Its simple and stark message was emphasised through the sombre, funereal, granite-like visuals.”

Soviet Anti-Alcohol Poster,

“The sensible construction worker, mindful of his duties to self and the state, attempts to smash the insidious evil that is alcohol, its malevolence reinforced by the presence of a snake.”

Soviet Anti-Alcohol Poster

British Public Health Poster

“The point is made in a dramatic but simple way through the outrageously outsize fly, producing an image intended to shock its target audience.”

  British Public Health Poster     Lord Kitchener His unavoidable glare, in the first incarnation (5 September 1914) of the most famous recruitment image of the war. Its stark simplicity makes it all the more effective, and it inspired countless imitations. By the time conscription was introduced in Britain in 1916, this image had helped to recruit over 1 million men. Lord Kitchener   ‘Long Live the Victorious Nation! Long Live Our Dear Stalin.’ Stalin mythologised. The symbol of the Communist Party shines with a sun-like radiance, while a carefully selected, diverse group of types represent ‘the people’. Centrally, the god-like figure of Stalin rises high above his people, reflecting the culmination of his dictatorial infallibility following the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazism in the ‘Great Patriotic War’. 'Long Live the Victorious Nation! Long Live Our Dear Stalin.' Benito Mussolini “Mussolini in typical bombastic pose, in a poster of 1938. Il Duce is shown in formal Fascist Party paramilitary uniform addressing a mass rally, with the Party symbols – the fasces (rods bound with an axe-head) – visible on either side of him. Official posters like this, together with countless propaganda newsreels and photographs, embodied the Fascists’ image of themselves. The movement;s demand is expressed in the Italian formula ‘Believe/Obey/Fight’.” Benito Mussolini ‘Come children of fatherland, let’s achieve the liberation of the people.’ A French poster (1918) from the First World War, in which Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau paraphrases ‘La Marseillaise’ to rally the nation. The figure urging the nation on derives from a painting of the anthem’s creator, Rouget de Lisle, singing the song for the first time.           'Come children of fatherland, let's achieve the liberation of the people.'   ‘All Germany listens to the Fuhrer with the People’s Radio.’ ‘Under the Nazis, German radio became the ‘voice of the nation. To increase the number of listeners, the Nazis produced one of the cheapest wireless sets in Europe, the VE 30131 or Volksempfanger (‘people’s radio’). By the beginning of the war over 70 per cent of German households owned a wireless set, the highest percentage anywhere in the world. There was a catch: radios were designed with a limited range, which prevented Germans from receiving foreign broadcasts.’ 'All Germany listens to the Fuhrer with the People's Radio.'   ‘When will we get rid of alcohol?’ An emotive French poster (1918) tacking the problem of drink. ‘When will we get rid of alcohol?’ it asks, as the distressed mother and fearful children confront the dissolute husband/father’ 'When will we get rid of alcohol?'