Lecture Notes on Modernism and other 'isms'

Topics: Modernism, Culture, Idea Pages: 5 (1948 words) Published: August 11, 2014
Tuesday 24th September 2013
5010GD ‘Isms’ as ways of seeing / thinking / reading
1. ‘isms’ is a shorthand for the seemingly complex array of ideas and theories that surround art and design as a socially and culturally located practice. With many of these ideas it is difficult to find a starting point, and a lot of these terms have superseded one another or are in conflict in some way. There is no real chronology of these ideas, in fact, a linear approach to these ideas is probably misleading. 2. These different ways of formatting knowledge are prevalent in visual culture and art and design. They are what followers of the French philosopher Gilles Deleuze might describe as ‘reading machines’ or a tool kit for examining the world of ideas, concepts that shape our lives. 3. They are ways of modelling the world as well as being lenses through which we view our surroundings, the ideas, habits, concepts and histories that make up a culture or society. Ways of thinking like this provide critical positions from which we organise these seemingly chaotic or impractically complex surroundings. 4. The following list is by no means exhaustive but I hope that in some ways what will become apparent are the different ways that people try to make sense of their subject (Graphic design or illustration), their discipline (art, art and design, applied art, visual communication, visual culture) and the wider world (society, political systems, culture, difference, power etc). 5. These ideas can often provide insight, comfort and / or revelation to the adherents, but they can also impose dogma, inflexibility and / or a predictable response. Think of the different approaches almost as a set of tools that can be used to strip down the engine of history. 6. My perspective on this, and one I think I share with everyone here, is the perspective of the practitioner. 7. Whether the concepts here are familiar or entirely new, what I ask all of you to do is re-think these ideas interms of how they might relate to each another and to your practice, your practical research and your written work for this module. 8. We will begin to consider race, gender, class, sexuality, in themselves, and as ways of as ways of reading or seeing cultural material. 9. As we go through the material that you are presented with, you should also try to think of an original idea to research for the essay that you will be writing for the end of the semester. These ideas may also respond to some more fundamental questions that you may already have about things in general. 10. Modernism. Historical, grand narrative, about progress and humanism. We know modern art, but the first use of the word modern was used in the time of the Emperor Charlemagne in about 800AD. 11. The enlightenment in the 18C is the beginning of what we would call ‘modern’ with science, the beginnings of industry, rationalism and a belief in progress taking over from a superstition and subsistence. Western values, from the quasi-historical trope of the 300 (battle of Thermopylae) seen as defence of West against East. 12. Michael Gove represents English kings model of linear history, Paolo Friere educational theorist against this banking model of education. 13. Narrative of the thread of history often still dominant in public discourse. 14. Challenge the idea that to know anything you need to know its entire history. Be wary of this, as it takes up a lot of time. Ideas exist in the present. Better to apply new knowledge or ideas to current issues, practices etc. than to attempt a rambling second hand history that is largely in the public domain anyway, linear history, progress. 15. The ideas and principles of modernism are fundamental to the development of capitalism and the free market. 16. Modernist literature, high modernism, Joyce, Beckett, Ezra Pound, Eisenstein, De Stijl, Bauhaus, modern art. 17. Intertextuality – ‘texts’ refer to one another. Some would argue that this period of modernism...
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