DEATH IN THE IMAGE WORLDProgramme of research
| In art we can experience Holocaust at the Imperial War museum, Apocalypse in RCA, and we can just view Euguene Smith's photographs and Helnwein's amazing art within stupefaction, or we can even find ourselves attached with Tarantino's 'ironic, affectless and funny' violent images...
On one hand, the perception and cognition of reality within these images of death, dying and suffering are bound to change one's attitude, ethical and moral views, and opinions in a way where the familiarity to death is dissipated and has become submissive. It has become easier to face the idea of death. So one might argue the fact that desensitized impression is actually sensitizing. On the other hand, the artist, who chooses to exhibit and present the political and provocative images of pain as a means of catharsis in order to heal, might be bringing a new way of dealing with the issues of death, suffering and dying (as in Helnwein's case).
So the project aims to scrutinize the fine line between these two views while investigating the contemporary images of death within a sociological, philosophical and historical approach.
death in the image worldThe programme of research
Title of the proposed investigation:Death in the world of image.
|What purpose can we attribute to the images of death?|
Aim of the investigation:
• To investigate the extent to how the images of death alter the individual's conception of reality in the post-modern era in terms of the degree of social stigma attached to death.
• To examine the value, meaning and use of images of death within sociological and critical discourses as a way of identifying how viewer perceives and consumes these images in everyday life.
• To consider how the understanding of the image cognition is transmitted into creating a desensitised impression within the perceived role of subject matter, which is used, and explore the tacit knowledge behind images of death which guides the individual's contemporary self.
• To propose a new insight to the notion of images of death which will describe the immunity of individual's current condition towards the boundaries between human and inhuman.
Proposed plan of work, including its relationship to previous work, with references:My MA study was based in the explorations of the meaning and reality of objects within philosophical theories. Its focus was: 'Why is it important for a designer to ask the question "what is an object?"' My aim was to explore the nature of the object while examining the designer's perception of the designed-object. The investigation located the reality of objects against philosophical theories, arguing that each design is in a kind of modification, and is seen as an indefinite manifestation.
|Yet there are issues of the perception and the usage of the image in the modern society in terms of to what extent the image offers a significant proposition relation to the viewers' perception of consumption and changes in the values attached to the image and the conception of reality. In the expense of images of death there have been profound changes over periods of time. There is no doubt that we have become more desensitised to a degree where on some level one has started to feel fascinated by the phenomenon of dying and death with the help of media, advertisements and the Internet. Nowadays social effort characterises the curiosity with the help of a click on the Internet where one would easily find and come across with death images, and choose from the 'death and destruction menu' to confront the mortality. In art we can experience Holocaust at the Imperial War museum, Apocalypse in RCA, and we can just view Euguene Smith's photographs and Helnwein's amazing art within stupefaction, or we can even find ourselves attached with Tarantino's 'ironic, affectless and funny' violent images.|
|Building on the experiences of this programme, the research project is to be developed as an inquiry that will investigate contemporary function of the images of death, and social stigma attached to death in the context of images used in art, films and advertisement. It is anticipated that the first part of this inquiry will begin to clarify the questions for further explorations of the usage of death images from the very beginning to the contemporary situation within a historical approach. And how these images are bound to change the personal extinction through the impersonal abstraction whereas individual's attachment is transmitted as a part of daily life which are becoming much easier to face the idea of death with the help of images.|
|Poynor, R. (2001) 'Obey the Giant-Life in the Image World', London: August/Birkhauser, p.105|
|This will include a consideration of the extent to which artists and designers are ready to address the responsibility not only in the exhibiting these images but also the nature of artworks which disarms its viewer. A methodology that involves sociological issues, the key purpose will be to question how the so called 'post-modern' culture of individualism associates with the idea of perceiving the images of death as disposable and insignificant events relation to the actuality of the dying, suffering and the idea of death.|
|While taking the post-modern developments as providing the broader framework for this investigation, the consideration will be to direct attention at the work/ideas of anti-consumerism of the 1990s to the present day. The inquiry will reference the 90's 'economic-materialist' and 'psychological-cultural' approaches to the 'sociology of consumption' and its commentary on the relationship between the image and consumer. (Campbell, 1995, p.100) There will be a reconsideration of such issues as self, disillusionment, 'symbolic elaboration of death' and desensitising images of death. In this respect the intention will be to concentrate on the critical discourses from Baudrillard in order to speculate on the 'reabsorption of the metaphor of life' and death.|
|Through a historical consideration of the images of death, the aim will be to identify to what extent these images are pertinent to the principles of values, particularly in the way which the actuality of the perceived image is dissipated with the help of art, films and advertisements. It will pose further questions on the viewer's response, and on manipulation of the attraction and fascination. With particular reference to the ways in which images of death are consumed and image viewer relationship is perceived, the investigation will focus on the purpose that is attributed to these images. The methodology will comprise sociological and cultural theories informed with a disciplined study of visual data in order to identify and propose a new insight and awareness into the ideas and values attached to the images of death.|
|The MPhil stage of the inquiry will review the historical expansion of the images of death on the perceived relationship of image and the viewer, and its attribution to the values and relation to the actuality of death in terms of social stigma of death in the modern society. This task will take 'interaction' to imply a transaction/exchange values, which with image as a key part of the viewer-image alliance, draws attention to the important role of imagination. This stage also will look at the questions of elaboration as it impacts on the symbolic meaning of images of death, which if presented as a narrative, could develop an immense indifference to the conception of reality as a philosophical and practical problem. Through case studies supported with visual data, the Ph.D. research inquiry will address questions on the purpose of the images of death in terms of moral and ethical codes of contemporary society. The outcome of this research will be to propose a new insight -maybe a disturbing one- to the notion of images of death and the immunity of individual's current condition towards the boundaries between human and inhuman which are getting blurred.|
|Project aims: This project aims to explore the attitude toward death in the contemporary society while adapting the idea of we have become more desensitized with the help of the images of death in media, art and films. Social stigma attached to death has been changed over the period. We have started to come across with the images of death, suffering, dying where the real victims exhibited day by day on TV, media and art, whereas the manner toward death and dying has modified our perception of reality. The image plays a significant role in the contemporary society, changes the values attached to the perceived subject matter and alters our awareness and perception of reality. The project intends to investigate the function of the images of death in terms of to what extent one is attached to the reality while viewing the images. There are two sides to the argument, which proposes our desensitized manner toward death within the images of death. On one hand, the perception and cognition of reality within these images of death, dying and suffering are bound to change one's attitude, ethical and moral views, and opinions in a way where the familiarity to death is dissipated and has become submissive. It has become easier to face the idea of death. So one might argue the fact that desensitized impression is actually sensitizing. On the other hand, the artist, who chooses to exhibit and present the political and provocative images of pain as a means of catharsis in order to heal, might be bringing a new way of dealing with the issues of death, suffering and dying (as in Helnwein's case). So the project aims to scrutinize the fine line between these two views while investigating the contemporary images of death within a sociological, philosophical and historical approach.|
|The outcome will be a written thesis and either a film or an installation.|
This research;Aims to explore the idea behind the images of death in terms of what kind of consciousness and awareness are associated to the actual reality of dying, suffering and death.
|Brings a historical investigation through the images of death in order to come to grips of how the images of death has started to be exhibited, made public and occurred in the daily life as every other image. But having said that, the text will be predominated within historical approach in terms of cultural and sociological debates rather than starting with the history of art and revealing the mythological and classical drawings of death images. The emphasis will be on the images of death where real victims take place substantially. The historical approach to the subject matter will manifest the images of death where one can view the suffering, discomfort, the actual snapshot of dying, and victims of extinction.|
|Scrutinizes the contemporary situation of the individual in terms of to what extent the perception of reality and the idea of mortality in the modern world is shaped by the images of death, and how the images of death fit in reality. Are we going to 'get used' to these images? Do we want to? Is it possible to see the victims as human beings? As Rick Poynor asks the question 'is it possible to cast aside your routine ironic detachment or salacious attraction and see these victims as human beings?|
|Proposes the terms such as human and inhuman should be questioned when attempting to solve the question what purpose it is attributed to the images of death. I'm seeking to understand how the perception of reality shaped by the designs and images of the modern world -as in bringing a new immensity to the indifference and desensitizing consciousness?|
|My research is also taking me into philosophical consideration of how the perceived event shapes our perception of reality in terms of assumptions and illusions of understanding. The social stigma attached to death has been changed over the period of time. The research adopts a position that accepts the notion of death images -which the actual suffering and dying is exposed and let the viewer to interpret- has altered the viewer's consciousness and awareness through the notion of dying and death in a negative way. This also brings the questions of censorship but the significant consideration will be on the individual's changing conception of reality with the help of images.|
|Will look at the recent exhibitions, advertisements where the images of death appear, and create -what?- in the consciousness of the viewer.|
|Exemplifies images of death in order to come to an understanding of the function of these images, the visual side of this project will also be predominant.
Outcome of this research will intent to bring a new insight and an understanding of the human nature where the images of the daily life -whereas one can confront the idea of death, dying and suffering easily- create such a strong impression in our perception of reality.
|-Image plays a big role in the consciousness of the viewer.
-Image shapes our sense of reality and reverses the idea of death to something entertaining.
-Image creates symbolic elaboration of which eliminates the actuality.
|Eventually if I get desensitized, I'll defeat my own purpose…|
• Aries, P. (1994) 'Western Attitudes Toward Death, From The Middle Ages to The Present', London: Marion Boyars
• Aries, P. (1981) 'The Hour of Death', Oxford: Oxford University Press
• Aries, P. (1985) 'Images of Man and Death', London: Harvard University Press
• Barker, M. and Petley, J. (Eds.) (1998) 'Ill Effects', London: Routledge
• Barthes, R. (1973) 'Mythologies', London: Paladin
• Bataille, G. (1986) 'Eroticism, Death and Sensuality', San Francisco: City Lights Books
• Bataille, G. (1989) 'The Tears of Eros', San Francisco: City Light Books
• Baudrillard, J. (1993) 'Symbolic Exchange and Death', London: Sage
• Baudrillard, J. (1983) 'Simulations', New York: Semiotext(e)
• Baudrillard, J. (1988) 'The Ecstasy of Communication', New York: Semiotext(e)
• Baudrillard, J. (1994) 'The Illusion of the End', Cambridge: Polity Press
• Burke, E. (1998) 'A Philosophical Enquiry', Oxford: Oxford University press
• Carse, P.J. (1980) 'Death and Existence, A Conceptual of History of Human Mortality', (?)
• Cohen, S. (2001) 'States of Denial: Knowing about Atrocities and Suffering', London: Polity Press
• Debord, G. (1994) 'The Society of the Spectacle', New York, Zone Books
• Dewey, J. (1980) 'Art as an Experience', New York: Perigee Books
• Featherstone, M. (1991) 'Consumer Culture and Postmodernism', London: Sage
• Fuller, B. R. (1972) 'Utopia or Oblivion, The Prospects for Humanity', Middlesex: Penguin Books
• Helnwein, G. (1998) 'Helnwein', Köln: Könemann
• Hobsbawn, E. (1994) 'Age of Extremes, The Short Twentieth Century', London: Abacus
• Holbein, H. (1947) 'The Dance of Death', London: Phaidon Press Ltd.
• Huxley, A. (1972) 'Brave New World Revisited', London: Chatto and Windus
• Huxley, A. (1969) 'The Perennial Philosophy', London: Chatto and Windus
• Midgley, M. (1997) 'Wickedness, a Philosophical Essay', London: Routledge
• Lefebvre, H. (1968) 'Everyday Life in the Modern World', London: Allen Lane
• Polanyi, M. (1959) 'The Study of Man', Chicago, London: The University of Chicago Press
• Poynor, R. (2001) 'Obey the Giant, Life in the Image World', London: August, Birkhauser
• Roche, D. (2000) 'A History of Everyday Things-The Birth of Consumption 1600-1800', Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
• Rosenthal, N. (2000) 'Apocalypse: Beauty and Horror in Contemporary Art', London: RCA
• Sartre, J.P. (1962) 'Sketch for a Theory of Emotions', London: Methuen and Co Ltd.
• Sennett, R. (1992) 'The Fall of Public Man', New York, London: W.W. Norton and Company
• Taylor, J. (1998) 'Body Horror, Photo Journalism, Catastrophe and War', Manchester: Manchester University press
• Virilio, P. (1997) 'Open Sky', London: Verso
Some Magazines, Films and Artists:Adbusters: Journal of the mental environment.
Dazed and Confused
Journal of Arts and Design
Helnwein : www.helnwein.com
Plan of work:The methodology will concern a deductive reasoning methodology.
Historical framework; 8 months
The research will start investigating the idea and attitude toward death from the middle ages to the contemporary society in order to come to grips of the manner, behavior and changing demeanor. Having said that the historical approach will be predetermined by the text mostly but also will examine the images of death through the historical process-classical, mythological and macabre drawings and motifs from the history of art as a secondary data.
Examining the attitude toward death within historical approach will bring the comprehensive understanding and perception of death. It is anticipated that within the cognition of death, there will be a consideration of comparative analysis and review the relations to the images of death. But before that the research also considers to explore the image world in terms of contemporary society undermining the perception of reality. Within the critical and theoretical investigation of the consumer society and post-modern individual, the research will concentrate the power of the image, the viewer's consciousness, and the relationship between the image and the viewer.
Application and analysis of empirical and theoretical investigation; 8 monthsIn phase two, the intent will be to apply the historical and theoretical analysis to the empirical observations in terms of how the images of death are viewed and how the images of death might change the perception of reality of one's. At this stage while examining the images of death where one can perceive the actual suffering and dying, the research will aim to bring an understanding to the purpose behind those images in terms of fascination, affection and impact that is created within the subject matter.
Evaluation and preparation of the thesis; 8 monthsThe inquiry will be determined with case studies where the artist's intention of exhibiting of these images will be identified in terms of to what extent these images are applicable to the principles of values of contemporary society.
The research will pose further questions on the state of analysis and review, which have been discussed and revealed. Within philosophical approach subtle assumptions and propositions will be identified, case studies will be presented within visual data and the hypothesis will be justified and argued in terms of 'how' and 'why' questions. The outcome might also present either a film or an exhibition within the written thesis.
Rick Poynor, (2001) 'Obey the Giant-Life in the Image World'
About the Author
Rick Poynor writes about design and visual culture. He was founder editor of Eye, the international review of graphic communication. He is the author of seven previous books, including Design Without Boundaries (1998).
Book DescriptionDesign critic Rick Poynor explores the thinking behind contemporary visual culture - intriguing and fascinating appraisal.
In the twenty-first century, commerce and culture are ever more closely entwined. This new collection of essays by design critic Rick Poynor takes a searching look at visual culture to discover the reality beneath the ultra-seductive surfaces.
Poynor explores the thinking behind the emerging resistance to commercial rhetoric among designers, and offers critical insights into the changing dialogue between advertising and design. Other essays address the topics of visual journalism; brands as religion; the new solipsism; graphic memes; the pleasures of imperfect design; and the poverty of "cool".
Around the world, many are now waking up to the dominance of huge corporations - invariably expressed by visual means. This pointed and provocative counterblast arrives at a moment when critical responses are vital if this mono-culture is to be challenged. It offers inspirational evidence of alternative ways of engaging with design, and it will appeal to any reader with a questioning interest in design, advertising, cultural studies, media studies, and the visual arts.
www.amazon.com, Obey the Giant: Life in the Image World by Rick PoynorRISE AND SHINE, June 11, 2002
Reviewer: uselessbeauty (see more about me) from Los Angeles, CA United States
Rick Poyner chimes in on pop culture throughout this series of essays, which collectively produce a loud, clanging wake-up call. If you are a creative professional or student, you MUST read this book!
Mr. Poyner provides an accessible, but unflinching look at the role of our profession and it's impact on humanity. In this book, the cute, hip, self-referential "Irony" of the last decade is no longer a revelation, and Poyner questions what it means now that "respected" corporations and self-promoting advertisers and designers have co-opted it.
As an instructor of Commuication Design, I have for years preached to my students to "be responsible for every mark that you make" in order to communicate effectively. This little book has fueled that fire for me with it's view of the bigger picture and has forever altered my perception of my role not only as a designer and a consumer, but as a human.
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Obey The Giant: Life in the Image Worldby Rick Poynor
August, London, 2001.
224 pp., illus. Paper, $ 28.00.
Reviewed by Stefaan Van Ryssen
Jan Delvinlaan 115, 9000 Gent,