Monday, 6 March 2017

Post production lecture #2 by Dr Anna Powell; Friday 3rd March

Continuing from the previous lecture, Dr Powell discussed the work by Mark Amerika and his post-production techniques as "remixes", and for example the website

There is an interesting remix entitled "an artist yapping about some art stuff times for" and also the piece "isarhythm."

Some of the concepts were originally developed before remixing by the artist William Burroughs and his original work around literary cut-ups. This was re-presented at various shows in Paris and San Francisco.
I wondered whether perhaps Burroughs's influence may have come from Henri Matisse perhaps? I know that Matisse spent considerable time towards the end of his life using cutouts to re-assemble the art that he had previously painted. With regards to Burroughs, he used text as a form of bricolage, an experimental way of writing that was especially fashionable in the 1960s.

Breaking down this concept into its core elements of texts, they still remain semiotic signs and provide meaning as words in themselves. This helps us to rethink how language works. By shifting the thinking as words, these become triggers for new ideas. Subjectivity comes into play with inter-textuality.

The re-contextualization of concepts therefore begins. A decision-making process is going on, even though superficially there is a perceived randomness to the outcomes at first sight.

See the video by David Bowie and an interview with Alan Yentob which discusses his own musical lyrics work and Bowie's use of cut-ups, particularly during his Ziggy Stardust phase. 

See also

These ideas of intertextuality were developed further by Julia Kristeva and later built upon by Lucy Kimbell and Mark Amerika.

We then conducted a practical exercise where we chose 10 to 20 words from three disparate documents and then re-mashed them together as a creative exercise. The outcomes were fascinating as the brain attempts to make sense from the phrases being randomly pushed together and new ideas start to emerge.

Going back to the origins of some of these ideas, it was the advertising critic and writer Marshall MacCluhan who came up with the ideas of form and content in advertising and started the infamous phrase "the medium is the message".

When we talk about art in the contemporary sense, the form itself tends to connect with the style being presented.
 Whereas the content looks at the media or medium in which the art has been created and therefore relates to the context in which the art form situates itself.
 In this sense, it could be argued that "the message is in the media."

The central idea of these notions is that the material from which something is made of, tells us something about the context through content. This sums up a much deeper communication theory, in that the medium gives a much deeper and practical engagement with some artworks.

In Marshall McLuhan's book "the medium is the message", he changed the title of his second book in 1967 to "the medium is the massage". This was a clever play on words as it makes his original book a far more accessible manuscript to engage with as it can be taken forward in a much more intellectual level. This playing on words to reprogram and change perceptions is how McLuhan (who later suggested that he just made a typo!), can be used as a piece of artistic practice.
The variation of the word;

  • message into mess-age
  • can then be changed to massage, 
  • which in turn can be adapted to mass-age.

This helps to understand the idea of post producing texts by re-conceptualising an original thought.
See the work by Shepard Fairey: The Medium is the Message, - exhibition (October 1999). See

In this piece, which was a simple graphic design sometimes referred to as the "OBEY" sticker which was exhibited in the six space in Chicago, became a ubiquitous sign that has appeared from everywhere from lampposts to sides of buildings to the gallery exhibition space itself. The graphic design was originally taken from an image of a WWA wrestler called 'Andre the Giant'. And has also appeared in films such as "the Devil's Own" and "Batman" and also is a favourite of skateboarders, as a 'cult' image.

The process of letting ideas and their corresponding images snowball is akin to making something out of nothing. The artist argues that his work is famous "because we want it to be!"

Being critical; however, Shepard Fairey theorised that the idea of his own image becomes overwhelming because his sticker was positioned in so many different places such as skateboards, lampposts, hats of gang members, T-shirts et cetera. Because it is depicted as a simple sticker, it has
become a message to make a mess.

I recall commenting in Anna's lecture that it seems that Fairey had been influenced by the novel "1984" by H.G. Wells.  With a little post productive research for myself, it is clear that he had. See the exhibition that Shepard Fairey had in London, at the "Stolen Space" gallery on Osbourn Street; entitled "Nineteeneightyforia"...

The simple face (which can be seen to the right hand side of Fairey's works above) is is not unlike a logo that appeared around the wartime (Second World War) often referred to as the Chad ( found earlier in the 1930s in the UK) or Kilroy (USA version, WWII) logo.

Jasper Johns in 1954 also explored this notion of semiotics & through his work entitled "Flag" (1954): A Process Caused in Caustic, as he called it. The context of this work was based on the time of America's involvement in Korea. It asks the question where do you draw the line between a flag becoming an identity and representation?

A more contemporary way of thinking about this idea of postproduction is the way that it is used in guerrilla marketing. For example, see 3M's advertisement for their vandal-proof glass where they place what appears to be a huge sum of money between two sheets of their product in a public space and then video various attempts by vandals trying to get access to it!

Taking this idea further, consider "The Exhibition" and try listening to the audiobook of "the medium of the message" by Quentin Fiore and Jerome Agel in 1967. The text was taken and then re-contextualised.  (There is an excellent resource at

In the series of programmes that were produced by John Berger, "Ways of Seeing" discussed the ideas of "The work work of art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction" (by Walter Benjamin) in a more contemporary way. This provides an excellent source for further study. The program opens with the start of the classic film by Russian director Dziga Vertov. (see

Berger identifies that "in the painting, there is no unfolding of time". This in itself is an interesting concept.

An interesting exercise worth pursuing would be to take an existing theory or text and then applying some form of post production to it, for example perhaps the re-manifestations of John Berger's "Ways of Seeing" and Marshall McLuhan's "The Medium is the Message", and then re-contextualise it with current notions.

This could become a task to pursue for the next session?

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