Thursday, 31 March 2011

Portfolio Task 6 – Sustainability and Capitalism.

Sustainability in the text Balser, E (2008) 'Capital Accumulation, Sustainability & Hamilton Ontario'is defined as being an ‘inter and intra-generational equity in the social, environmental, economic, moral and political spheres of society’. (Meadows 7) It is also stated that ideologically it is a communal concept, however in reality environmentally conscious decisions have largely fallen to the individual and through technology. It is said that sustainability is a concept that only the rich can afford.
The characteristics and tendencies of Capitalism are that it is constantly looking for things to commodify; it thrives on creating and is constantly expanding. It subsumes non-capital markets and intensifies internal markets. Capitalism is not a linear system but a diverse web that continuously expands and traps.
The natural world is a necessary pre condition of any profitable business and therefore a crisis of capitalism would be the loss of natural conditions needed for production.
Solutions that have been offered are –
Radically increase the productivity of resource use.
Shift to biologically inspired production with closed loop, no waste, and no toxicity.
Shift the business model away from the making and selling of things to providing the service that the thing delivers.
Reinvest in natural and human capital.
An example of a solution is the BIOX Corporation in Canada, which was built to provide ‘high quality, accessible and affordable bio-diesel for environmentally concerned consumers’. However this plan is flawed due to a sacrifice of social equality. The local community have seen their quality of life diminish and residents of the area are exposed to potentially harmful chemicals and pollutants. Bio-fuel is also expensive and therefore can only be afforded by the rich, at the expense of the poor. The plant was built on community green space and constant tremors have caused damage to the nearby resident’s houses, this is also an example of ‘crisis of Capitalism’.
I think the lines between the concepts of sustainability being compatible with Capitalism are quite blurred due to the contradictions it makes. It states that ecological integrity and economic prosperity are important for sustainability, however this is at cost to the local environment and at the sacrifice of the poor. In theory sustainability is supposed to be a communal concept but in practice it is down to the individual and technology, this creates a class divide in the population. It blames capitalism for the environmental problems we face but also asks for its help to rectify them. The ideology of sustainability is not compatible with capitalism, however in practice the reality of sustainability is that it is compatible.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Portfolio task 5 – Lefebvre and space

Social space in Leeds - Woodhouse Moor Park

Map of Woodhouse Moor

Woodhouse Moor 1906

Woodhouse moor, sometimes called Hyde Park, was the first public park in Leeds. The council purchased it in 1857 for use as a recreational space for the growing population of the area. It was formally designed and landscaped in the 1870’s with a vision of it being ‘the most healthy open space in the township of Leeds’. It consisted of open green spaces with diagonal tree lined paths leading to the centre, where stood a bandstand and a fountain with clock turret. It was used by hundreds of people who would stroll around the paths of the park and sit listening to bands and concerts at the bandstand. Although it was extensively used by the local people, it was apparent due to the lack of lighting that it could only be used during the daylight hours and so in 1902 it was enhanced with iron archways and gas lights to ‘facilitate evening promenading’ extending it’s use even further. It was the epitome of the Victorian’s ideology of a social recreational space.
In the present day it is also still used as a public park and boasts it is the most intensively used green space in Leeds. It is large, open grassland, multi recreational family friendly space. 26 hectares in size it contains, among other things, a children’s play area, Skateboard Park, multi use games area, tennis courts and bowling greens.
However the location of the park and its layout mean it is not always used as intended. Based in a heavily populated student area of the city it attracts a lot of young people who use the park as a place to hang out, often drinking alcohol, creating noise and leaving litter. There are also many disputes with local residents concerned with the amount of fires and barbecues on the park.
When the paths were laid out over 100 years ago they were intended for people to stroll around the park at their leisure, they were a way of controlling where peopled walked to keep order and preserve the grass. Now the paths are in a bad state of repair and due to the way people use the park, are not always followed. The park has become more of a cut through to other areas and often people veer away from the allocated pathways and find their own way across the grass, taking shortcuts to their destination. This is apparent in the areas of bald, muddy paths where the grass has died through heavy footfall.
The park was intended to be a family friendly space but due to anti social behaviour and concerns regarding health and safety this is not altogether true. Poor visibility and lighting are contributing factors towards the high rate of crime in the area.
There are ornamental gardens and statues in the park for people to enjoy, however these are often vandalised and fall into a state of disrepair due to lack of general upkeep.
The vision of the way the park is intended to be used in the present day is one of a family friendly, easily accessible, multi use sports and general recreational space intended to bring the community together. However in reality it is actually an untidy, unsafe and non-family friendly place, which is prone to vandalism and crime.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Contextual studies task 4 – Essay ideas

Hannah Montana Video Game TV Advert

I have chosen this short TV advert which is advertising a product associated with the children’s TV icon Hannah Monatana. I think it sums up what I am going to investigate in this essay. It promotes the idea that if you play this video game you too can lead a life like a famous rock star.

Contextual studies task 4 – Essay ideas

Title – Could children’s TV advertising be thought of as negative or harmful?
The main thrust of my argument;
• Advertising and how it affects society.
• The history of advertising children’s products, medium used, who it was aimed at, who it was for etc.
• The advent of Television and Consumerism, and how it affected children’s advertising.
• How advertisers target children. Age, gender, race etc.
• How adverts affect children.

I will do this by looking in to advertising in general, the history, type’s aims and how it affects society. I will then research advertising and children focusing on gender, age and race differentiation, and the effects advertising have on children.
I will look into how advertisers communicate to children and how they market products designed for them.
I will focus on a particular advert and analyse it in relation to my findings.
Finally I will construct a conclusion based on my findings that answers my question.


Berger, J. (1972) Ways of Seeing. Penguin: London.
Fennis, B. Stroebe, W. (2010) The Psychology of Advertising. Psychology press: Hove.
Gunter, B. Furnham, A. (1998) Children as consumers; A Psychological analysis of the young people’s market. Routledge: London.
Kenway, J. & Bullen, E. (2001) Consuming Children. Open University Press: Berkshire.
Strasburger, V., Wilson, B. & Jordan A. (2009) Children, Adolescents and the Media. (second ed.) Sage publications inc: California.
All of the above should give me a good insight into advertising, marketing to children and the psychology behind it.

Contextual studies task 3 – Semiotic Analysis

The first signifier in this image that draws your attention is the bold headline. It occupies a quarter of the page and is written in upper case, bold, black letters aiming to catch the attention of the viewer and causing them to be curious as to what the article is about. The word GOTCHA is a simple, straight to the point, one word headline that appears confident across the page. Gotcha is a slang term for the words ‘got you’ and is often used in an informal way. This is a term that would often be used when playing a game, or swatting a fly for instance, a very informal and playful word used to signify a very a very formal and serious subject such as war, which makes this a very tasteless headline.
The Sun newspaper is a red top pro-war newspaper whose political stance at the time of this article was towards the Conservative party. It is one of the highest selling newspapers in the country and is aimed at young, working class men who thrive on reading about shocking news. The use of slang and informal words throughout the piece connotes that this is the audience they are trying to communicate to.
After reading the headline your eyes automatically move to the left of the page where underneath the headline sits two images of ships, these are key signifiers as to what the article regards. One is an image of a boat similar to the one sunk which is accompanied by text underneath it. The word ‘sunk’ is written in white, bold, upper case, italic letters on a black banner denoting news about the war in a very ‘matter of fact’ way. This is continued under the second image, which is of the Belgrano, and reads ‘crippled’.
Next to these images your eyes lead you to the subheading which is also written in bold, black lettering and is underlined. Under this is the name of the writer which also states he is aboard the HMS Invincible, denoting that the news is coming right from the heart of the action and therefore must be true, promoting confidence within the reader that the information provided is fact.
The Argentinians are often referred to as ‘Argies’ in this text giving connotations of a cultural prejudice towards the opposing side. Connotations of conflict are also present with the use of words such as on their knees, double punch, wallop and asking for trouble all day. These are all part of a cultural code aimed to make the reader feel they can relate to the story. The words ‘our lads’ are also part of this cultural code designed to make the reader feel like one of them and evoke patriotic feelings among the readers of pride and national unity.
To the right of the article is a logo which reads ‘battle for the islands’ and contains an image of a soldier ready for battle, this denotes the information is about the war and is also a key signifier.
After reading the article your eyes move to another article also about the War; however in this article the enemy is the Union. The Sun sees the Unions opinion as a boycott and this is denoted in the bold, upper case, black, and italic heading ‘Union boycotts war’. This connotes that The Sun sees the Union as being ‘party poopers’ within this ‘game’ of war and this promotes a negative feeling towards the Union. This also connotes that this is a pro-war newspaper.
From this article your eyes avert to a small piece in the top right hand corner, here The Sun claim in quite a childish, playground manner that they know everything that is happening in the War first hand, reinforcing the idea that their newspaper is the one to buy if you want to the latest War news. The article states that the QE2 is also poised and ready for battle, denoting strength and dominance. This is a key signifier of confidence in defeating the opposition.
There are a few examples of myth within this piece, such as mis-information about the damage done to the Belgrano, quoting that the Belgrano was ‘not sunk’ and ‘left a useless wreck’ when in actual fact it had sunk. Also there is wrong information within the article about the type of torpedoes fired at the Belgrano.
The ideologies throughout this piece are ones of a superior, united, strong and unbeatable nation, giving the reader confidence that this is just a small problem and they shouldn’t worry about it as ‘the lads’ will sort it out. The general consensus of the article is that it is almost laughable that the Argentinians should think they can attack the British with a narrative that basically says ‘Stupid Argies, don’t you know who we are?!’

Contextual studies task 2 – Adorno’s ideas on pop music

Spice Girls - Wannabe

This song epiotmises Adorno's sentiments by having a very standardised structure and rhythm to it. It also has a melodic harmony and is very catchy. When it was released it was heavily plugged by repetition and also by the spice girls brand. It has memorable lyrics, is recognisable, stimulating and also has an element of novelty to it. Each member of the band has their own 'character' based on stereotypes of women, making each one appear an individual but belonging to the same group, all variations of the same, creating pseudo-individualisation. Their slogan is 'Girl power' and yet they dress in provocative and revealing clothing.

Contextual studies task 2 – Adorno’s ideas on pop music

In this piece of writing Adorno states that there are many differences between serious music and popular music. His main point being that popular music is very standardised. He explains that the structure of these types of songs consist of simple melodic harmonies which are easy to listen to and understand by those who are not ‘musically experienced’. Adorno writes about how pop music falls into the category of natural music and is not dissimilar to nursery rhymes and hymns sung as children; therefore this type of music is recognisable as the listener feels they can relate to it in a personal way.
Adorno states that the music industry is very competitive and that they are always churning out pop songs which, due to the fact they are heavily standardised, are very similar. In order to make a pop song successful Adorno explains about ‘plugging’ and how constant advertising, mentioning and playing a song can make it successful. He goes on to explain about how repetition leads to recognition and how recognition is the key to success. He also writes about the plugging of personalities associated with the song such as the band leader, contributing the work to that person as opposed to the composer of the music, this creates a brand preference effect amongst the listeners.
Adorno writes about the effects of popular music on the listener, stating that in his opinion there are several components involved in the act of listening to a pop song, these are:
Vague remembrance; standardisation of pop songs promotes a feeling of vague remembrance.
Actual identification; when the listener remembers they have heard it before (due to it being played incessantly)
Connection by label; the listener associates it with the song title, memorable lyrics or the record label.
Self-reflection on the act of recognition; the listener feels proud of their ability to recognise the song.
The psychological transfer of recognition; the listener feels a sense of authority to the object and feels flattered to own something everyone owns creating an illusion of value.

He also writes about the reasons why people listen to pop music stating that popular music offers a stimulant and novelty for which the public crave. He explains about how people wish to be distracted from the demands of reality by entertainment that doesn’t demand attention and induces relaxation. Popular music can easily create this due to the fact it is patterned and pre-digested. He also states that popular music creates pseudo-individulisation among people, causing them to think they are an individual by liking a certain genre of music, when in actual fact they are just conforming to their stereotypes.

Contextual studies task 1 – panopticism

I have chosen CCTV as a panoptic aspect of contemporary culture.

CCTV is short for closed-circuit television and refers to the use of video cameras for surveillance in areas that need monitoring. These areas may need monitoring for a number of different reasons but the main reason I am going look at CCTV as panoptic is in relation to its use for the purpose of crime prevention.
CCTV is a mechanism designed to control the mass population by leading people to assume that they are constantly being watched and therefore adapt a sense of self-regulation. Foucault states that “He who is subjected to a field of visibility, and who knows it, assumes responsibility for the constraints of power; he makes them play spontaneously upon himself; he inscribes in himself the power relation in which he simultaneously plays both roles; he becomes the principle of his own subjection.” (Foucault in Thomas. 2000. Pg66)
Foucault’s idea behind this “permanent visibility” is that it “assures the automatic functioning of power” creating a disciplinary society made up of docile bodies who are constantly self-monitoring and self-correcting in their behaviour. (Foucault in Thomas. 2000. Pg65) This reinforces Foucault’s theory that “it is not necessary to use force to constrain [the convict] to good behaviour.” (Foucault in Thomas. 2000. Pg66)
The nature of this form of control means that the controller; the person watching the video in the central control unit, does not have to have any special kind of training or qualities, all they are required to do to carry out the task is to watch. As Foucault states “it does not matter who exercises power. Any individual, taken almost at random, can operate the machine.” (Foucault in Thomas. 2000. Pg66)
Foucault argues that the “Panopticon is a machine for dissociating the see/being seen dyad” stating that the controller “sees everything without ever being seen” and that the individual who is being watched “is seen, but he does not see; he is the object of information, never a subject in communication.” (Foucault in Thomas. 2000. Pg65)

Thursday, 10 March 2011

seminar notes 11.2.11

Identity and the other in visual representation
- Creation of identities
- Concept of otherness
- Analysis of visual example
Identity creation – what makes you you?
(subjectivity) – who we think we are and everything that we think has made us. What conditions and creates out subjectivity?
Values, how you were brought up, where, western subjectivities and non western.
Culture, sub cultures, job, intelligence.
Education – different educations have different effects.
How do you express your identity? (who we are/want to be/how we think we are)
Fashion, culture you consume (music etc) job.
Identity is not constructed by us or by someone else it is a dialogue of the world.
Complex multi determined battleground.
Production – the things you do, make, what you do in life.
Representations – stereotypes, stereotypical representations of your identity already in society.
Consumption – what you consume, buy, what you have.
Regulation – how you regulate yourself, you can only be what a given society will allow you to be.
Identity formation
Mirror stage 6-18 months old
Sense of self – an illusion of wholeness receiving views from others – determined by what other people think of us.
Identity is a performance created for a reaction from others.
Constructing the other.
Defining who you are.
We as subjects create objects to reaffirm ourselves.
Perpetuate negative stereotypes.
We other people to secure our own identity
Subterranean values.
Go through a magazine or journal etc find various bits of magazine (photo/scan) think about how the other is represented.

seminar notes 28.1.11

SPACE – urban space
Social space – sites of power
Ways of looking and interacting in spaces
All urban spaces hidden are mechanisms of control and power the more you think about them the more you can spot them.
Cant park wherever you like
Attempts to order space and control people within it
Adverts – billboards etc (try and effect how you feel, to encourage to consume and spending) businesses.
Dehumanising and regulating society.

Single point perspective – unique to western art, optimises a particular way of thinking about the world.
Quote 1

Jemima Stehli – strip
Henri Lefebvre (1905-1991) French intellectual Marxist sociologist
Revolution via everyday life
Influenced the situationist in 1950’s and 60’s
(Guy Debord)
Influenced student leaders may 68.
A theorist of radical movements.
A rambling revolution of provocations.
Creation and function of space – spatialisation.
‘the production of space’ 1974
The reality of space is defined by how people use it, not just a plan on paper.
Choose a social space in leeds.
‘Illusion of transparency’
The illusion that; 1) understanding is possible
2) the objective viewpoint exists and somehow enables understanding.

seminar notes 10.12.10

2000 word essay – 18th feb 2011
Choose your own title - critical and theoretical, something you’re interested in.
pick a lecture or a visual communicator
think about things through a certain lens (feminist/Marxist etc)
pick an initial topic or title
chose something you’re interested in and links to your practise (i.e animation, film, photography) and a particular aspect of it.
Do a library search and select the books which will be most useful.

Plato – allegory of the cave – to teach us a lesson about how people interact with the world, slaves
Prisoners shackled facing wall, born in the cave, die in the cave.
Only reality known to prisoners is shadows on walls.
We only see what we are shown.
TV, tabloid newspapers – present a certain image of the world.
Metaphore – psychological imprisonment, only fed a one dimensional vision of the world.
People chose ignorance instead of reality.
Reality and representations of reality.
Hyper-reality – a condition of the modern age where images become a representation of the world.
Haddon Sundblom – illustrations for coke ads 1930’s, santa – what we think he looks like. Used to dress in green, red-branding.
Cognitive illusion – an illusion that appears in your brain.
A world of hyper-reality and simulation.
Jean Baudrillard (1929-2007) also a post structuralist
Structuralism – all culture is a language and can be read and analysed.
Post-structualism – its not as simple, more broad than that.
Society is obsessed with the spectacle of the world – produced by mass media, TV film etc.
Guy Debord – similar to Baudrillard.
Rather than being you, you are living the way you think you should.
Sign value – symbolic value, dominates symbolic exchange, more important than monetary value.
A copy of reality that makes it difficult to distinguish between reality and a copy.
The desert of the real – Baudrillards explanation of reality.
Charlie brooker.

seminar notes 26.11.10

The gaze
Men act, women appear, men look at women, women watch themselves being looked at (Berger 1972)
Imbalance of power, power relation
Hans Memling – Vanity (1485) implies she enjoys looking at herself and enjoys being looked at.
Double power game
The nude becomes a genre of painting
Venus – goddess of love
Produced by men for the consumption of men
Ingres ‘le grand odalisque’ (1814) a western perspective on the east, weird and wonderful women to perve on.
The gaze that meets you is not a powerful one, usually a weak one
Doe eyed, look up as opposed to down, look of innocence or youth
Manet – Olympia (1863) a gaze that meets your gaze, more powerful, not in fantasy land, fantasy born out of reality
Manet – Bar at the folies bergeres (1883)viewing it in the first person, power, real.
Erotic appeal of paintings is it’s a one way gaze.
Jeff Wall ‘picture for women’ (1979) 1st person is the camera – we are seeing what the camera sees, an updating of the gaze critique.
Susan Sontag (1979) ‘on photography’ book
Image making is always about power, trying to show someone in a certain way.
Photography judges and aims to be judged.
Mechanical extension of the male gaze.
Images are produced in a male way, even if they are produced by men or women.
Commodity fetishism
A – B A finds B sexy and B finds A sexy too, very human.
A – C – B A likes B because of what B has/is wearing etc.
Knowing that you are constantly being scrutinised means you adapt your behaviour (panopticism)
Normalising – what you class to be ‘right’ is right.

lecture notes 25.11.10

The information or cybernetic theory of communication
Useful for – researching how as a designer your work makes effective communication
Main limitation is that it is a linear process and is not concerned with

Level 1 – technical accuracy, systems of decoding and encoding, compatibility of systems/need for specialist equipment or knowledge.
Level 2 – semantic precision of language, how much the message can be lost without meaning being lost.
Level 3 – effectiveness does the message effect behaviour the way we want it to? What can be done if the required effect fails to happen?
Systems theory
BARB – broadcasters audience research board
Audience catagories – individuals, adults, men, women, children, housewives – further subdivided by
age and social class.
Audience sub-categories, sub-demographic

Semiotics – three basic concepts

The phenomenological tradition – the process of knowing through direct experience, it is the way in
which humans came to understand the world.
Sociopsychological tradition – study of the individual as a social being.

lecture notes 11.11.10

Critical positions on the media and popular culture
Critically define ‘popular culture’
Contrast ideas of ‘culture’ with ‘popular’ culture and ‘mass culture’
Introduce cultural studies and critical theory
Define ideology
Interrogate the social function of the mass media and the extent to which the media constitutes us to society.

What is culture?

General process of intellectual, spiritual and aesthetic development of a particular society at a particular time.
A particular way of life
Works of intellectual and especially artistic significance

All societies are based around forces of production – materials, tools, workers, skills etc
Relations of production – employer/employee, class, master/slave etc
Social institutions – legal, political, cultural
Forms of consciousness – ideology
Fundamentally antagonistic

Ideology – system of ideas or beliefs (eg beliefs of a political party)
Masking, distortion, or selection of ideas to reinforce power relations, through creation of false consciousness

Well liked by many people
Inferior kinds of work
Work deliberately setting out to win favour with the people
Culture actually made by the people themselves

(book) Raymond Williams (1983) keywords

Inferior or residual culture
Popular press v’s quality press
Popular cinema v’s art cinema

Graffiti – popular culture
Folk archive

Early modernity – mass working class
Clear lines of class division
Working class and bourgeois became separated
(books) Matthew Arnold (1867) culture and anarchy
Leavisism – F.R Leavis and Q.D Leavis
Mass civilisation and minority culture
Fiction and the reading public
Culture and environment

Frankfurt school – critical theory
Institute of social research, university of Frankfurt 1923-33
University of Columbia, new york, 1933-47
University of Frankfurt 1949-
Theodore Adorno and Max Horkheimer reinterpreted Marx for the 20th century, era of late capitalism
Defined ‘the culture industry’
2 main products – homogeneity and predictability
All mass culture is identical, anti thinking device.
Walter Benjamin – the work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction 1936 essay.

seminar notes 5.11.10

Panopticism – idea of constantly being observed (self regulation)

Shift in society from physical to mental control
Discipline aims to make us useful for society
Humiliated and punished in front of people – people were frightened, scared to misbehave
Docile body – a person who will take instruction, behave, conform to society, easily controllable, controls self
Foucault calls it - disciplinary society
Institutional power
Power is a relationship
Write a few hundred (200) words on an institution which you feel is panoptic with reference to at least 5 quotes from the sheet (use key foucaudian language)
Specialist knowledge – power to define what is normal.

Panopticism in contemporary society
Facebook/social networking
Lecture theatre
Art gallery
Swimming pool

1) Consequently, it does not matter who exercises power. Any individual, taken almost at random can operate the machine.
2) The perversity of those who take pleasure in spying
3) It is not necessary to use force to constrain the convict to good behaviour.
4) He who is subjected to a field of visibility, and who knows it, assumes responsibility for the constraints of power; he makes them play spontaneously upon himself; he inscribes in himself the power relation in which he simultaneously plays both roles; he becomes the principle of his own subjection.
5) He is seen, but does not see; he is the object of information, never a subject in communication.

lecture notes 4.11.10



The panoptican – building (school, army, hospital)

Michael Foucault 1926-1984
Madness and civilisation
Discipline and punish – the birth of the prison
The great confinement (late 1600’s)
Houses of correction to curb unemployment and idleness
All people deemed to be socially useless – mad, tramps, criminals, unmarried pregnant women, drunks, unemployed – locked away in confinement.
Made to be useful – put to work, teaching them how to be a ‘normal’ person in society, repress devients.
Operated for a long time then seen as a gross error
Started to corrupt each other
Legislation to segregate them
Asylum – disciplinary techniques were different, if good were rewarded
New forms of knowledge emerge.
Specialists have super human powers to decide fate of people
The pillary – put in front of the people to have stuff thrown at them etc
Disciplinary society and disciplinary power

Panopticon – a round building, illuminated by windows, going to be a prison
Each prisoner shut away separately, everyone constantly visible – always being watched, self- regulate behaviour.

Allows scrutiny
Allows supervisor to experiment on subjects
Aims to make them productive
Reforms prisoners, helps treat patients
Open plan areas – easy to control, keep an eye on people, people constantly watched.
Google street
Everyone everywhere under surveillance and scrutiny
CCTV – classic example of panoptic gaze
Always stay in line cos you know your being watched
Disciplinary society produces what Foucault calls – docile bodies
Self- monitoring, self- correcting, obedient bodies.
TV – classic way of creating docility
Bruce Nauman – video corridor pieces (late 1960’s)
Michel Foucault
Panopticism as a form of discipline
Techniques of the body
Docile bodies