Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Art and the World Today (Study Poposal for the MA Communication Design)

In the global world of today, consumerism and the increasing dominant role played by the mass media in our society are bringing huge and dramatic changes not only in a communication and cultural level, but also to human behaviour and the way we perceive reality.
In fact, as we watch a growing cultural homogenization and a virtual shortening of distances, we assist at the same time to a degradation of human life and art through a mass media and commodity fetishism[1], mainly through an overexposure to spectacular images that produce a growing alienation towards the reality we live in.

The work of the Situationist french writer Guy Debord, La Société du spectacle (1967), is very illustrative of this. With the term spectacle, Debord defines the system that is a confluence of advanced capitalism, the mass media, and the types of governments who favor those phenomena. The spectacle is the inverted image of society in which relations between commodities have supplanted relations between people, in which passive identification with the spectacle supplants genuine activity. "The spectacle is not a collection of images," Debord writes. "rather, it is a social relationship between people that is mediated by images." [2]
The effects are evident, as we assist to an increasing number of solitary people, even in huge metropolis, with the substitution of person-to person relationships by virtual social networks, a growing alienation towards social problems, a stupidification of our leisure time, a hindering of critical thought, the creation of false necessities, among others.

So where does art stand is this context?
Nowadays, the independence of art is more and more an arguable concept – in one hand we have the commercial art, in which the system imposes a standardized pleasable image destinated to sell the product, in the other hand we have the conceptual art, that most of the times is valued not by its content but by using spectacular images, through status or shock value.
The stupidification of our leisure time and artistic production (cinema, literature, plastic arts etc) is sythomatic of that. One doesn’t pretend an art that makes us think, only as art to consume. The space to a critical art or of social comment is often relegated to editorial cartoon, poster art, street art or alternative movements of local projection.

My aim and proposal is "to wake up the spectator who has been drugged by spectacular images," through an art that creates "a sense of self-consciousness of existence within a particular environment or ambience" [3]
In my perception, to justify its value, art should have a clear content (to induce self-consciousness) and must be amoral, which means it must not pass judgment in the events, only show the contradictions of humanity and of the reality of its time.
The media I wish to explore are either editorial cartoon, poster art, comic narrative or illustration on the themes of general social comment, or through narrative, documenting simple human relationships and daily life.


[1] Marx, Karl; Capital, Volume I Ch. I, § 4, ¶ 1
[2] Debord, Guy; The Society of the Spectacle, Thesis 4.
[3] Ford, Simon; The Situationist International: A User’s Guide

Daniel Garcia
Lisbon, April 2009

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