Saturday, 11 December 2010

Lecture 6 - Postmodernism

Initially born out of optimism, an aspirational reaction to World War 1, with a view to
  harnessing technology to improve people’s lives
Ends up doctrinaire, almost blind obedience to rules, above all Form Follows Function

The post modern condition 'everything has been done before, no originality, ironic.

The key characteristics of modernism was about improving peoples lives, positive however the 'rules' became a doctrine which proved limiting

Below classic examples of Modernist architecture.  critic - neutrality and forms follows function has removed any form of humanity.

Examples of modernist practice

Modernism is associated with

The Postmodern condition is characterised by -
Pluralism - Many different styles
Disillusionment with the idea of absolute knowledge
Post modernism does not see originality as important, doubt over genius, more light hearted. Fed up with technology and the new.
But some overlap

Expression of:
Modern life /Technology / New Materials / Communication [Modernity]

Post modernism
Reaction to:
Modern life /Technology / New Materials / Communication [Postmodernity]

Origins of post modernism
1917 - German writer Rudolph Pannwitz, spoke of ‘nihilistic, amoral, postmodern men’
1964 - Leslie Fielder described a ‘post’ culture, which rejected the elitist values of Modern Culture

1960s  beginnings
1970s  established as term (Jencks)
1980s  recognisable style
1980s & 90s dominant theoretical discourse
Today: tired & simmering
Uses of the term "postmodern"
after modernism
the historical era following the modern
contra modernism
equivalent to ‘late capitalism’(Jameson)
artistic and stylistic eclecticism
‘global village’ phenomena: globalization of cultures, races, images, capital, products

Jean Tinguely ‘Homage To New York’, 1960

Le Corbusier ‘Plan Voisin’ 1927 - The plan on paper.
There was a belief that new technology and inventions will make improvement hwoever this is not always true eg Inernet rejected by Post modernism.

15 July 1972, 3:32pm -
Modernism dies, according to Charles Jencks
The demolition of the Pruitt - Igoe development, St Louis less than twenty years after it was built
True modern architecture with equal spaces ended  up becoming ghettos/slums caused bt condensiing under classes, criminals did not result in the Communities hoped for. A failed project of modernism as it did not consider social needs of human beings.

The Language of Postmodern Architecture (1977)

Post Modernism
  • Postmodernism has an attitude of questioning conventions (especially those set out by Modernism)
  • Postmodern aesthetic = multiplicity of styles & approaches
  • Cultural Space for ‘new voices and directions'  Everyone unique - equality.
  • Questions values of modernism - elitest opinions, one dimensional.
  • Is a recation to these rules
  • In a nutshell - No rules, rules are authoritarian.  Society gets lost and confused which can be empancipating as there is more choice.
  • Starts as a critique of the International Style
    Robert Venturi, Learning from Las Vegas, 1972
    Ideas developed by Charles Jencks, 1977

  • Only rule is that there are no rules
Celebrates what might otherwise be termed kitsch

 An example of Modernist architecture - Mies Van der Rohe and Philip Johnson, Seagram Building, New York, 1957

Park Hill Flats, Sheffield C1960
Imposed modernist architecture which looked OK when built howver below failed becane a slum which was a horrible place to live.  The public want these demolished but it is considered of historical importance so is a listed building.

The solution below. A post modernist regeneration by Urban Splash

AT & T Building, Philip Johnson, NYC, 1982 A solution to Modernism to make the design more huam, more irregularity.  Mixing the old with the new, more individual.
Frank Gehry, Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao 1997 Modernist but not.  the Metal materials are a facade rather than functional

Classic gallery, the grids are made wavy and painted green.  Block are removed delibearately.  Attck on Monumentality and seriousness, More fun

Future Systems, Selfridges, Birmingham, 1999 - 2003
References Modernism but mixes with Sci-Fi.
Lots of new acrhitecture is emerging

“Is somebody proposing to dive from this tower?”
Prince Charles (1984), A Vision of Britain: A Personal View of Architecture, London, Doubleday, p. 67
He hated Modernist architecture but also hates Post Modernism.

Lots of Post modernist architecture in Leeds

Leeds Magistrates Court is a new building with a revivalist style.  Post Modern reaction to contemporary styles and conservative voices

J-F Lyotard -  A complex threory written by a French philosopher.
The Postmodern Condition’ 1979
‘Incredulity towards metanarratives’
Metanarratives = totalising belief systems
Result – Crisis in confidence
Problem of the post modern world is a disbelief in any vision of the world..  He attacjed Marxists as a totalising belief system. 
Post Modernism undermines belief systems and rules of the past.  Individual narrative directing us ie Sub-Cultures.
Many Christians believe that human existence is innately sinful but offered redemption and eternal peace in heaven - thus representing a belief in a universal rule and a telos for humankind. See also Universal History.
The Enlightenment theorists believed that rational thought, allied to scientific reasoning, would lead inevitably toward moral, social and ethical progress.
Marxists believe that human existence is alienated from its species being, although capable of realising its full potential through collective, democratic organisation.
Freudian theory holds that human history is a narrative of the repression of libidinal desires.
An uncritical belief in the free market is a belief that through humanity's aquisition of wealth all who work hard and are afforded the right opportunities will succeed materially.
Bricolage - Aesthetic techniique, mixed materials.
Pop art emeregence of Post Modern attitude in fine art.  Attached seriousness and elitism of art using the comic.  Roy Lichtenstein ' This must be the place' 1965

Hih art V Low Art divide bgan to crumble.

Robert Venturi wrote Learning from Las Vegas' ' Las Vegas is a post modern city'  No night and day, you can see the whole world in one city.  rejection of the 'modern' city

Modernist view pont would be degeneration of the world
Quote 1. Robert Venturi
‘I like elements which are hybrid rather than ‘pure’, compromising rather than ‘clean’, distorted rather than ‘straight-forward’, ambiguous rather than ‘articulated’, perverse as well as impersonal'

New Buildings are decorated sheads which refelect difference and individuality.

Post Modern dystopia

Las Vegas - loss of order and self, failure of the human progress.

Blade runner is an example of a Post Modern film - concept of future dystopia

Akira — The principal subject of the story. Akira was a young boy who developed immense psychic abilities when serving as a test subject for secret government ESP experiments in the 1980s. He somehow lost control of his power and destroyed Tokyo in 1988. After the event, his dead body was dissected and subjected to every test known to modern science. His remains were placed in a cryogenic chamber underneath the Neo-Tokyo Olympic Stadium. 1988  Director Katsuhiro  Otomo
Notable themes of the film include yculture, deliquency, social unrest and future uncertainty weighed against the historical spectre of nuclear destruction and Japan's post-war economic revival. This pervasive atmosphere of impending doom is set to fuse in the feature's tag line, "Neo-Tokyo is about to E•X•P•L•O•D•E."

Post Modern changed the status of an srtist into a celebrity or levelling out.  Warhol had a neutral stance

Notice the distinct change in presentation from the traditional artists persona.
Reality is cloaked in the postmodern cult of celebrity.
Also methods of production - FAC TORY - removing ‘Aura’ - Art made in a factory by friends, mistakes were left in..  Art attacking what it means to be artisitic.

Andy Warhol ‘Marilyn Monroe Diptych’, 1962

Warhols position was a rejection of Modernism

At the end of the 1950s the purest form of Modernist painting was FORMALISM, theorised the critic  Clement Greenberg
Complete opposite to Modernist painting.
James Stirling, Neue Staatsgalerie, Stuttgart, Germany, 1977 - 1983

Franz Kline Untitled 1957
Self-reflexive, purity of painting, emotion, as achieved by Jackson Pollock

Pop art version

Roy Lichtenstein red paintinf  (brush stroke) 1965
 Andy Warhol, ‘Oxidation Painting’, Copper metallic paint and urine on canvas, 78 x 218 ins., 1978

David Shrigley Art Lovers 2000  Post modern take - art is fraudulent

Piero Manzoni 'Artists shit' 1961 A post modern artists - rejcts art world

Frederic Jameson 'beatless society' Society just inertested in the surface, just superficial.  No new ideas to change things.  Seeks to explain role of peasant (Van Gogh image)v Post modern Warhol diamond shoes 'Apperance no deeper meaning
Aesthetic & Commodity production have become indistinguishable. Technologies of reproduction have replaced technologies of production. Art was increasingly sponsored by commercial companies = interdependnce of art & advertising. Social levelling causes shifts in class values.

“Advertising is the greatest artform of the 20th Century” Marshall McLuhan

Jenny Holzer

Richard Hamilton, Just What Is It That Makes Today's Homes So Different, So Appealing?,

"Just what is it that makes todays homes so different, so appealing?" is a small (26cm square) 1956 collage by Richard Hamilton that is an early example of Pop Art and is the first recognised artwork to feature the word 'Pop' in this context. The piece was intended as a poster and catalogue illustration for the exhibition "This is Tomorrow". The work shows an interior with a Charles Atlas type bodybuilder holding an outsized lollipop with the word 'Pop' on its wrapper. He is paired by an almost nude female figure who is posed on a sofa. Other elements are a tin of ham placed on a coffee table, a reel to reel tape recorder and a framed page from a romance comic strip predicting the work of Roy Lichtenstein. The interior also uses a high altitude photo of the Earth as the ceiling, an image of sunbathers on a beach as a rug, an advertisement for Hoover vacume cleaners and windows that look on to a view of a Warner Brothers cinema advertising "The Jazz Singer".In preparation for the piece Hamilton had written down all the elements that defined his interest "Man, Woman, Food, History, Newspapers, Space, Cinema, Domestic, Appliances, Cars, Space, Comics, TV, Telephone, Information". Hamilton himself had not been to America yet but other members of the Independent Group had and John McHale provided Hamilton with the magazines that were the sources of the piece. The title came from another magazine article.Interpretations of the work are various. Hamilton was interested in the new ideas of communication promoted by Marshall McLuhan and Cybernetics and the piece has all the human senses cast in various modes. The work is comparable to the "Arnolfini Wedding" in having a young couple surrounded by their worldly goods.

 Quote 2. ‘Generally post-modern artists like to mix the highbrow and the populist, the alienating and the accessible, and to ‘sample’ elements from different styles and eras….’

Post Modern artists and Graphic Designers who who miced modernis, sans serif and fun fonts. 

Sottasass - memphis group Design for post modern - A set of draws rejection of form follows function 

David Shrigley

The Post Modern band 'Kraftwerk album cover in post Modernist style

  • Karl Klefisch – typography ("lettering")

  • Günther Fröhling – photography

  • Quote 2 (cont)  ‘… you can reinvent yourself endlessly, gaily pick ‘n’ mixing your way through the gaudy fragments of a shattered culture’

    A post modernist culture is one that can reinvent itself. 
    Cover of Roland Barthes 1976 UK edition of ‘Mythologies’, designed by Phillip Castle

    Crisis in Confidence
    also = freedom, new possibilities
    Questioning old limitations
    Space for marginalised discourse:
    Women, sexual diversity & multiculturalism
    Feminsim emergeed - marginalised voices came to play

    Punk was post modern rebel against old order, no form follows function.

    Design Anarchy issue

    Post modernism - An inconclusion
    A vague disputed term
    Po-Mo attitude of questioning conventions (esp. Modernism)
    Po-Mo aesthetic = multiplicity of styles & approaches
    Shift in thought & theory investigating ‘crisis in confidence’ Eg. Lyotard
    Space for ‘new voices’
    Rejection of technological determinism?


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