Saturday, 22 October 2016

Reflections on a tutorial with Dr Liam Devlin

The Digital Media Concepts model is aimed towards developing practical projects, but also at a technical and conceptual level.

The goal is also to create something with agility, but also end up in a place which might be considered as being totally unexpected! By creating outcomes through research without a specific end objectives usually, makes for a much more vibrant and engaging enterprise.

Taking the advice of Jacques Rancière (one of Dr Devlin's favourite philosophers), it is necessary to create a cultural environment for growth through the activity of sharing experiences; we are all equals!

Mahatma Gandhi said "first they ridicule you,
then they fight you,
then they kill you,
… And then you win!"

In your work, create a sense of tension! Through this tension, (even if you are dealing with it from a myth or an untrue subject), encourage the viewer or reader to make an enquiry.
This idea of tension is a type of hook, a way of entrapping the reader or viewer into a much more interesting dialogue of experiences which becomes two ways in its flow.

[Consider the concept of Magic Realism, Magic myths]

… A photograph is a paradox,-it is a document (which is an accurate record of something)… However, it is also an aesthetic abstraction at the same time!

Magic Realism is a type of literary genre which started to appear in 1955 (particularly in the works of Gabriel Garcia Marquez). In such literature, the writing seems to be presented in a realist sense, but what happens through the narrative is arguably magical. For example in the works cited above a classic example was the story of the man that was found in Chile, who appeared just to be an ordinary man discovered in the middle of a street, but then it transpires that he has wings of feathers on his back. The initial engagement is believable, but as you read on, the idea and image in your mind become disrupted. It can be considered as a challenge through subversion.

The "assumption" of the real is what good modern photography is all about, for example, the "selfie" is really a statement of "how I would like to be seen by the world".
In fact this is not a new phenomenon, as the high street photographer who used to use a background prop of maybe of a scene of beautiful mountains behind the subject, and perhaps they dressed up in theatrical clothes to suggest that they were actually there in the hills (rather than in an industrial city or town high Street ensconced in a small back room of a photography studio) was a popular type of "Magic Realism".

In the writings of Jacques Rancière: and the relationship between aesthetic's and politics and the "aesthetic regime", he discusses this in detail; "the social order (or as Ranciere terms it, "the police order") is a set of rules and conventions…"

Another example might be the book "the Invisible Man" (which is about the daily quotidian of being a black man in a white society) the device used is by taking the background culture to highlight social conventions and then juxtaposing it with an alternative view.

In Jacques Rancière's critique of the spectacle, for him it is located in its origins in Plato's denouncement of the mimesis of the theatre, is the place to "gawp".

Intellectual Emancipation requires an "a priori" notion of intelligence of a situation, according to Rancière.

"How then do we re-image meaningful fabric of "the sensible" to construct a new representation but without the terms of the message is a vehicle". (Rancière 2009:63).

20th-century art and beyond is no longer about representation; it is now a paradox. The "conventions" of language and representation versus the "meaninglessness".
In other words, we make meaning from the art form, including what lies outside of the frame to which we are looking at. [See the work of Jacques Derrida, outside the frame; and also the work of Hal Foster and the "screen" with a little tear in it, - which invites the viewer to poke a hole through it and see an alternative reality].

In essence, it is all linked with the power of suggestion, but without a specific message. In other words, the proposal is there, but there is nothing obvious as to how one might interpret the suggestion.


  • Keep making compelling imagery
  • do not aspire to the masses
  • do not conform to conventionality
  • create something contentious or contrary.

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