Thursday, 31 October 2013

Themes: The Gaze and the Media

The Lecture;
‘according to usage and conventions which are at last being questioned but have by no means been overcome - men act and women appear. Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at' John Berger.

Hans Melming 'Vanity' (1485);
  • Mirror shows an impossible reflection of the womens face.

  • Having the image of a womens face reflecting in the mirror even today in contemporary advertising.
  • This gives you the idea that you are allowed to gaze upon her without interupting.
  • As if you are spying on her

  • This position is doing the same thing as the mirror.
  • Hand held ever her eyes, just waking or just about to sleep.
  • We can see the naked body uninterrupted.
  • Invited by the artist and the women its self to look upon the body. 

Sophie Dahl for Opium;
  • Interesting parallel to the mirror effect
  • This version of the advert was deemed to be too advertly sexual.
  • Turn the image on its side allows the emphasis to change, there is more emphasis on the face rather than the body.
  • Positioning of the hands is very inportant in this image, could be covering her self up, or being suggestive.
  • Looking out of the corner of her eyes at her body.

Manet - 'Olympia' (1883);

  • Also a suggestive manor of the hand position.
  • The women is actually a prostitute, the man is more interested in the modern nude, rather than symbolising her as a goddess.

  • Take origional image and put a gorilla head on it.
  • Showing the image on busses.
  • Image was pulled from the buses, as the image that is showed in her hand looked too sexual.

Manet - Bar at the Foiles Bergeres (1882);
  • Makes it as a type of self portrait, he does this but showing himself in the mirror.
  • He is conversing with her.
Coward, R. (1984);
  • The camera in contemporary media has been put to use as an extension of the gaze at women on the streets.
  • Model is wearing sunglasses, this is common in advertising, this means that the gaze will not be returned.

Eva Herzigova (1994);
  • Normalisation of an unclothed female body in the street.
  • No return of the gaze.
  • Lets you veiw her body without being diosturbed.

Coward, R. (1984);
  • The Profusion of image which charaterises contemporary society could be seen as bsessive distancing of women...a form of voyeurism.
  • Peeping Tom (1960).
  • Films women then murders them, seeing their final moments.

  • Not just the female body that is objectified.
  • His eyes are closed therefore we can look and not be disturbed.
  • There are examples where the male body is objectified in a similar way
    The issue of male objectification is often raised in gender classes that I have taught. 
  • I have heard many men and women suggest that men are now equally objectified in popular culture. Many a people have focused on the Lucky Vanos ads of years past as a sign of advertisers recognizing the desire of women to objectify men in our society. But what is really happening in advertising? Can men be objectified as women? If so, in what frequency is objectification present in ads? The Ads: Consider the number of ads presented in this male trope as compared to other examples of female objectification.
  • It is interesting that when I first began the Web site many years ago, the number of ads in this exhibit were small. Today, there are nearly 60 such ads.

  • Every single male on this page returns our gaze.
  • Representation of a superpower, the body is a machine.
  • There is nothing passive about the body at all.

Marilyn:William Travillas dress from 'The Seven Year Itch (1995);
  • Looks at the way that bodies are chopped up by cameras.
  • Laura Mulvey did not undertake empirical studies of actual filmgoers, but declared her intention to make ‘political use’ of Freudian psychoanalytic theory (in a version influenced by Jacques Lacan) in a study of cinematic spectatorship in narrative Hollywood cinema.

  • Mulvey notes that Freud had referred to (infantile) scopophilia 
    The pleasure involved in looking at other people’s bodies as (particularly, erotic) objects. In the darkness of the cinema auditorium it is notable that one may look without being seen either by those on screen by other members of the audience.  
  • Mulvey argues that various features of cinema viewing conditions facilitate for the viewer both the voyeuristic process of objectification of female characters and also the narcissistic process of identification with an ‘ideal ego’ seen on the screen. 
  • She declares that in patriarchal society ‘pleasure in looking has been split between active/male and passive/female’ (Mulvey 1992, 27). 

  • Two women are trying to cut off a man's head on a bed. Artemisia Gentileschi's Judith Beheading Holofernes shows a famous Biblical assassination. The sword-woman is Judith, a Jewish lady. The other woman is her maid, Abra. Their victim is Holofernes, the Assyrian general.
  • Judith has got into his tent and got him deeply drunk. To judge from his naked body in the sheets and from her slipped dress, she's got him into bed too, before he passed out and they could get to work. Gentileschi pays attention to her story.

Cindy Sherman 'Untitled Film Still #6' (1977-79);

  • Postmodern artists  whose work is adressing the male gaze.
Barbra Kruger, 'Your gaze hits the side of my face';
  • Way ahead of her time.
Sarah Lucas 'Eating a banana' (1990);
  • Humourous concept with a serious meaning.
  • What are you looking at?
  • Again slightly humourous, but still showing someone with a flat chest.
Tracy Emin 'Money Photo' (2001);
  • Rolling in money.
  • Can't be serious because she is making so much money.

Caroline Lucas MP in June 2013;

  • Green MP Caroline Lucas has been told to cover up a T-shirt displaying the slogan "No More Page Three" in large lettering during a Commons debate.
  • She wore the white T-shirt at the start of a debate on media sexism.
  • Chairman of the session, Labour's Jimmy Hood, interrupted her and told her to "put her jacket back on" and comply with Westminster's dress code.
  • Ms Lucas picked up a copy of The Sun and waved Page Three, but said she would comply with the ruling.
  • She added: "It does strike me as a certain irony that this T-shirt is regarded as an inappropriate thing to be wearing in this House, whereas apparently it is appropriate for this kind of newspaper to be available to buy in eight different outlets on the Palace of Westminster estate."
  • During the debate, the MP for Brighton Pavilion argued The Sun newspaper's Page Three, which features topless models, should be consigned to the "rubbish bin where it belongs".

  • CarolineCriado-Perez (born 1984) is a British journalist and feminist activist. She has been involved in high profile campaigns for women to gain better representation in the British media
  • Mary Beard- eminent classicist, The Guardian's Hadley Freeman, the Independent's Grace Dent and Time magazine's Catherine Mayer all said they had received identical bomb threats on Wednesday.
Campaign to represent women on British currency;

  • Elizabeth (Betsy) Fry (21 May 1780 – 12 October 1845), néeGurney, was an Englishprison reformer, social reformer and, as a Quaker, a Christianphilanthropist. She has sometimes been referred to as the "angel of prisons".
  • Fry was a major driving force behind new legislation to make the treatment of prisoners more humane, and she was supported in her efforts by the reigning monarch. Since 2001, she has been depicted on the Bank of England £5 note.

Social Networking;
  • Social networking is used to perpetuate the male gaze/the gaze of the media.
  • The body is broken into fragments-could be any female.
  • Plays on teenagers body consciousness, potentially carrying those  perceptions into adult life

Paparazzi show of Princess Diana;
  • Pap images steal shots for personal financial gain.
  • The publication of these shots creates a market for their passive consumption (mags and newspapers).
  • We contribute to the perpetuation of this cycle buy buying the mags, we create the market for our own voyeuristic pleasure.
  • Our desire is to see the mask of celebrity lifted, and ordinary life exposed.
  • This is ultimately what killed Princess Diana.
Reality Television;
  • Appears to offer us the position as the all-seeing eye- the power of the gaze
  • Allows us a voyeuristic passive consumption of a type of reality
  • Editing means that there is no reality
  • Contestants are aware of their representation (either as TV professionals or as people who have watched the show)
Victor Burgin (1982);
Looking is not indifferent. There can never be any question of 'just looking'.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Identity - Essentialsim

Overview of the lecture
  • People who were born a certain way, will therefore have a certain personality, that people were born with certain characteristics and identities.
  • Thinking about identity.
  • We still draw on essentialist ways of thinking.
Identity and 'the other' in visual representations
  • Creation of identities
  • Concepts of 'otherness'
  • Analysis of visual examples
  • Identity - who are we and how others perceive who we are.
Identity creation; What makes you, you?
  • Apperence
  • Education
  • Upbringing
  • Morals
  • Family and friends
  • Personality
  • Physical attributes (deformities)
  • DNA
  • Clothes
  • Fears
  • Sense of humour
  • Skills and abilities
  • Religion and beliefs
  • Accent
  • Gender
  • Sexuality
  • Essentialism vs anti-essentialism
How do you express and communicate your identity?
  • Clothes
  • Attitude
  • Behaviour
  • Languages
  • Music
  • Lifestyle
  • Choices - vegetarian - conspicuous consumption
  • Body modifications - piercings - boob jobs
  • Job/Career 
  • Emotional availability 
  • Social networking
  • Reality vs projected identity
A desire to project an identity about yourself, no simple answer to essentialism vs anti-essentialism debate.

The circle of culture;
Culture is the framework within which our identities are formed, expressed and regulated. We cannot discuss our identity without discussing, representation, regulation, consumption, production.

Identity formation;
  • Process from psychoanalysis
  • Jacques LACAN
  • The 'Hommelette'
  • The 'Mirror Stage'
When you are born you have no self awareness, LACAN called this 'Hommelette', a play on the word omelette, for a scrambled mess.
The mirror stage is a metaphor, a baby seeing itself in the mirror for the first time, seeing they are real, a thing, something whole and solid, 6-18months old.
  • Sense of self (subjectivity) built on.
  • An illusion of wholeness.
  • Receiving views from others.
  • RESULT=own subjectivity is fragile.
Constructing the 'other';
In the same way that we create our own identities, in opposition to what we are not, so does a society.
Problems; relies on the assumption of opposition and radical otherness.
 - I am a women as I'm not a man
 - I am white because I'm not black
 - I am straight because I'm not gay.
It is in the same way that we create our own.
 - Shores up unstable identities through illusion of unity.
 - Shared fashion, belief systems, values
 - Subterranean values (Matza, 1961)

Monday, 28 October 2013

Task 3 - Othering

Othering is the process of perceiving or portraying someone or something as fundamentally different or alien. For example I am a man because I am not a women, I stupid because I'm not smart, or I am short because I'm not tall. This advert for Calvin Klein underwear is othering, alienating men who don't look after their bodies as much, basically suggesting that they are fat because their not toned. When we “other” another group, we point out their perceived weaknesses to make ourselves look stronger or better. It implies a hierarchy, and it serves to keep power where it already lies. In the same way that we create our own identities, in opposition to what we are not, so does a society.

The advertising that Calvin Klein uses is predominantly male, othering women as they aren't included in the adverts. All Calvin Klein boxer adverts consist of men with just the boxers on, photographed in lighting that accentuates their assets and are ridiculously toned. This is a good example of othering, as Calvin Klein are suggesting that anyone who doesn't have a toned body shouldn't walk around in just their underwear. It is also alienating any other race or culture as the the adverts consist of mainly white males, although sometimes black males are used for Calvin Klein but no eastern countries are represented in these adverts, which means that they are targeting their products at just one race as the company is American.

Even when women are used in the Calvin Klein campaigns, they are all sexualised, othering women who want to buy these products so they can go to the gym to get healthier rather than going to the gym to show off their toned bodies. Including both men and women, Calvin Klein seem to only include beautiful men and women with massive amounts of confidence in their advertising, which is discriminating towards people who will look at these adverts, and judge themselves. Thinking to themselves I am fat because I don't look like that and I'm not thin. Adverts cannot and will not get away from the concept of the other, as it is too crucial for an understanding of the self. But they can limit the ways in which we group people up and construct them as something entirely different from an imagined “us”. The power of definition is a strong one, and when used in the context of othering, it continues to reinforce discrimination.

Thursday, 24 October 2013


  • To introduce historical conceptions of identity
  • To inroduce Foucaults 'discourse' methodology
  • To place and crit contemparay practice within these frameworks, and to consider their validity
  • To consider 'postmodern' theories of identity as 'fluid'and ‘constructed’ (in particular Zygmunt Bauman)
  • To consider identity today, especially in the digital domain

Theories of Identity;
  • Essentialism (traditional approach)
  • Our biological make up makes us who we are.
  • We all have an inner essence that makes us who we are.
  • Post-Modern theorists are ANTI-ESSENTIALIST (more of this later …)

Cesare Lombroso (1835-1909) - Founder of positive criminology - the notion that criminal tendencies are inherited.

The idea of the perfect race has been going for a while, the idea of superiority. If we draw a line down our face from the top of our head through our nose and our chin we measure how intelligent we are. The straighter the line, the more intelligent you are.

Historical phases of identity;
Douglas Kellner - Media culture; Cultural studies, Identity and Politices between the Modern and Postmodern, 1992.
Pre modern identity – personal identity is stable – defined by long standing roles
Modern identity – modern societies begin to offer a wider range of social roles. Possibility to start ‘choosing’ your identity, rather than simply being born into it. People start to ‘worry’ about who they are.
Post-modern identity – accepts a ‘fragmented ‘self’. Identity is constructed

Pre-modern Identity;

Institutions determined identity
Marriage, The Church, monarchy,  Government, the State, Work

 ‘Secure’ identities
Related institutional agency with vested interest
Farm-worker ……….  landed gentry
The Soldier  …….  The state 
The Factory Worker…  Industrial capitalism
The Housewife……  patriarchy
The Gentleman….  patriarchy
Husband-Wife (family)…..  Marriage/church
Modern Identity - 19th and early 20th Century

Charles Baudelaire – The Painter of Modern Life (1863)
Thorstein Veblen – Theory of the Leisure Class (1899)
Georg SimmelThe Metropolis and Mental Life (1903)

Bauderlaire - introduces concept of the 'flaneur' (gentelman-stroller)
Veblen - 'Conspicuous consumption of valuable goods is a means of reputability to the gentleman of leisure.

  • Trickle down theory
  • Emulation
  • Distinction
  • The 'Mask' of Fashion

 Georg Simmel

‘The feeling of isolation is rarely as decisive and intense when one actually finds oneself physically alone, as when one is a stranger without relations, among many physically close persons, at a party, on the train, or in the traffic of a large city’ 

Simmel suggests that:
because of the speed and mutability of modernity, individuals withdraw into themselves to find peace
He describes this as ‘the separation of the subjective from the objective life’

Post-modern Identity...
  • "Discource Analysis'
  • Identity is constructed out of the discourses culturally available to us.
  • What is a discourse?
  • ‘… a set of recurring statements that define a particular cultural ‘object’ (e.g., madness, criminality, sexuality) and provide concepts and terms through which such an object can be studied and discussed.’ Cavallaro, (2001) 
 Possible Discourses;
Sexual orientation

Discourses to be considered;
Gender  and sexuality 

Humphrey Spender/Mass Observation, Worktown projects, 1937

Martin Parr, New Brighton, Merseyside, from The Last Resort, 1983-83

Marthin Parr, Ascot 2003
‘ “Society” …reminds one of a particularly shrewd, cunning and pokerfaced player in the game of life, cheating if given a chance, flouting rules whenever possible’

Alexander McQueen, Highland Rape collection, Autumn/Winter 1995 - 6
‘Much of the press coverage centred around accusations of misogyny because of the imagery of semi-naked, staggering and brutalized women, in conjunction with the word “rape” in the title.  But McQueen claimed that the rape was of Scotland, not the individual models, as the theme of the show was the Jacobite rebellion’.

‘I didn’t like Europe as much as I liked Disney World.  At Disney World all the countries are much closer together, and they just show you the best of each country.  Europe is more boring.  People talk strange languages and things are dirty. Sometimes you don’t see anything interesting in Europe for days, but at Disney World something different happens all the time, and people are happy.  It’s much more fun.  It’s well designed!’

Gillian Wearing, from Signs that say what you want them to say
and not signs that say what someone else wants you to say, 1992 - 3
Another example, she made a series of photographs, she handed out these bits of paper, to get people to write what they felt at the time.

Gender And Sexuality;

‘Edmund Bergler, an American psychoanalyst writing in the 1950s, went much further, both in condemning the ugliness of fashion and in relating it to sex.  He recognised that the fashion industry is the work not of women, but of men.  Its monstrosities, he argued, were a “gigantic unconscious hoax” perpetrated on women by the arch villains of the Cold War –male homosexuals (for he made the vulgar assumption that all dress designers are “queers”).  Having first, in the 1920s, tried to turn women into boys, they had latterly expressed their secret hatred of women by forcing them into exaggerated, ridiculous, hideous clothes’

Gender being associated by the way they look.

Women are in films to look pretty, this is the stereotype of women in films, as seen through the male eyes.

The Post Modern Condition;

Liquid Modernity and Liquid Love

Post Modern Theories;

  • Identity is constructed through our social experience.
  • Erving Goffman The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (1959)
  • Goffman saw life as ‘theatre’, made up of ‘encounters’ and ‘performances’
  • For Goffman the self is a series of facades
Zygmunt Bauman
‘Yes, indeed, “identity” is revealed to us only as something to be invented rather than discovered; as a target of an effort, “an objective”’ 

‘In airports and other public spaces, people with mobile-phone headset attachments walk around, talking aloud and alone, like paranoid schizophrenics, oblivious to their immediate surroundings.
Introspection is a disappearing act. Faced with moments alone in their cars, on the street or at supermarket checkouts, more and more people do not collect their thoughts, but scan their mobile phone messages for shreds of evidence that someone, somewhere may need or want them.’
Andy Hargreaves (2003), Teaching in the Knowledge Society: Education in the Age of Insecurity, Open University Press, page 25

‘We use art, architecture, literature, and the rest, and advertising as well, to shield ourselves, in advance of experience, from the stark and plain reality in which we are fated to live’.
Theodore Levitt, The Morality (?) of Advertising,1970

Our identity is formed by where we shop and what we can buy there.

“The typical cultural spectator of postmodernity is viewed as a largely home centred and increasingly solitary player who, via various forms of ‘telemediation’ (stereos, game consoles, videos and televisions), revels in a domesticated (i.e. private and tamed) ‘world at a distance’”
Darley (2000), Visual Digital Culture, p.187

“If I put up a flattering picture of myself with a list of my favourite things, I can construct an artificial representation of who I am in order to get sex or approval.  (‘I like Facebook,’ said another friend.  ‘I got a shag out of it’)”
Tom Hodgkinson (2008), ‘With friends like these …’, Guardian, 14/01/08

“The notion ‘you are who you pretend to be’ has a mythic resonance.  The Pygmalion story endures because it speaks to a powerful fantasy: that we are not limited by our histories, that we can be recreated or can recreate ourselves... Virtual worlds provide environments for experiences that may be hard to come by in the real”
Sherry Turkle (1994), Constructions and Reconstructions of the Self in Virtual Reality
‘In the brave new world of fleeting chances and frail securities, the old-style stiff and non-negotiable identities simply won’t do’
Bauman (2004), Identity, page 27

‘ “Identity” is a hopelessly ambiguous idea and a double-edged sword.  It may be a war-cry of individuals, or of the communities that wish to be imagined by them.  At one time the edge of identity is turned against “collective pressures” by individuals who resent conformity and hold dear their own ways of living (which “the group” would decry as prejudices) and their own ways of living (which “the group” would condemn as cases of  “deviation” or “silliness”, but at any rate of abnormality, needing to be cured or punished’
Bauman (2004), Identity, page 76

Further Reading;

  • Bauman, Z. 2004) Identity, Cambridge, Polity Press
  • Benwell, B. and Stokoe, E. (2006) Discourse and Identity,
  • Edinburgh, Edinburgh  University Press
  • Gauntlett, D. (2008), Media, Gender and Identity: an
  • introduction, London and New York, Routledge
  • Kidd, W. (2001), Culture and Identity, Basingstoke,
  • Palgrave Macmillan
  • Woodward, K. (ed.) (1999), Identity and Difference, Milton
  • Keynes, Open University Press