Thursday, 31 October 2013

The Gaze and the Media

'according to usage and conventions which are at last being questioned but have by no means been overcome - men act and women appear. Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at’- Berger 1972

Berger is not saying that women are vain he is saying they internalise the gaze. Women see themselves according to the images around them

Hans Memling 'Vanity' 1485
Triptych , the painter is applying a moral judgement of the woman in the picture. As she is holding the mirror, it is saying as she is looking at herself the audience can look too. (1485, harsh judgement of women, church and their prosecution of 'witches' / women)

Alexandre Cabanel ‘Birth Of Venus’ 1863
Berger also picks up this device in painting, the pose is like the mirror, there is no challenge to our gaze, as she isn't stopping the look. The motion of the hand slightly covering the eyes is a traditional technique of this.

Sophie Dahl for Opium
This advert was banned for being overtly sexual, the reclining motion suggests the same as  above. For magazines the picture was turned vertical and this was now acceptable.

Titans Venus of Urbino, 1538
Curtain- suggests an element of secrecy, the side look thorough the eyes- flirtatious, inviting. The left hand , slightly covering but maybe a sexual gesture.

Manet 'Olympia' 1863

Olympia transforms a dignified goddess into the simple nakedness of humanity. Olympia does not belong to the world of mythology - Olympia stood “as the first nude to represent modern reality” because she is a prostitute rather than a godess figure
Shocked Modern society - Olympia is adorned with the trappings of success - jewels / bracelets etc, not the degraded prostitute of popular myth - Courtesan
Cat is symbol of individual femininity and independence. Olympia ignores the flowers presented to her, probably as a gift to her from an admirer

Guerrilla Girls formed in 1985 in response to the Museum of Modern Art's exhibition "An International Survey of Recent Painting and Sculpture" which showcased 169 artists; out of those 169, only 17 were women. The curator's press release for the exhibition stated: "Any artist who is not in my show should rethink his career." 

They where asked to design a billboard for the Public Art Fund in New York, they welcomed the chance to do something that would appeal to a general audience. 
The PAF said the design wasn't clear enough and rejected it. They then rented advertising space on NYC buses and ran it themselves, until the bus company canceled the lease, saying that the image, based on Ingres' famous Odalisque, was too suggestive and that the figure appeared to have more than a fan in her hand. 

Coward, R 1984 
The camera in contemporary media has been put to use as an extension of the male gaze at women on the streets

Model wears sunglasses, another common device, she is prevented from giving us the gaze back and so it is similar to the paintings.

Normalisation of the female body in the public.
Again the gaze isn't returned

'The profusion of images which characterises contemporary society could be seen as an obsessive distancing of women... a form of voyeurism

-Peeping Tom , 1960 - film, he is a voyeur. 
Objectification to an extreme

There is some objectification of men , again in the classic reclined posed and eyes closed. But the sheer volume of women in advertising outweighs the men. There is no balance. The balance wouldn't make it any better.

Even though they are semi-naked unlike the other images the gaze is returned by every single man on the page.

Marilyn: William Travillas dress from The Seven Year Itch 1955

Laura Mulvey did not undertake empirical studies of actual filmgoers, but declared her intention to make ‘political use’ of Freudian psychoanalytic theory (in a version influenced by Jacques Lacan) in a study of cinematic spectatorship in narrative Hollywood cinema.
She points out that a particular area of the body will be focussed upon 

She says that the cinema room is darkness , one can look without being seen.
Mulvey notes that Freud had referred to (infantile) scopophilia - the pleasure involved in looking at other people’s bodies as (particularly, erotic) objects. In the darkness of the cinema auditorium it is notable that one may look without being seen either by those on screen by other members of the audience. Mulvey argues that various features of cinema viewing conditions facilitate for the viewer both the voyeuristic process of objectification of female characters and also the narcissistic process of identification with an ‘ideal ego’ seen on the screen. She declares that in patriarchal society ‘pleasure in looking has been split between active/male and passive/female’ (Mulvey 1992, 27). 

Artemisia Gentileschi ‘Judith Beheading Holofernes’, 1620
The women aren't passive in this image like many of the ones in advertising, and film. 
- Griselda Pollock
Women marginalised within the masculine discourses of art history
This marginalisation supports the ‘hegemony of men in cultural practice, in art’
Women not only marginalised but supposed to be marginalised
Cindy Sherman 
Challenges the Gaze , 
Mirror is faced down, hand is up to the face almost mockingly of the paintings

Barbara Kruger 'Your Gaze Hits The Side of My Face' 1981
The words look to be cut out of a newspaper, the word 'hits' suggests' violence.

Sarah Lucas, Self Portrait, Fried Eggs 1996
A reaction to the labelling of the female body, her eyes look directly at the viewer, and it is obvious that there isn't an invitation.

Caroline Lucas MP, June 2013 

She was asked to remove the t-shirt as it didn't comply with the rules. 
Green MP Caroline Lucas has been told to cover up a T-shirt displaying the slogan "No More Page Three" in large lettering during a Commons debate.
She wore the white T-shirt at the start of a debate on media sexism.
Chairman of the session, Labour's Jimmy Hood, interrupted her and told her to "put her jacket back on" and comply with Westminster's dress code.
Ms Lucas picked up a copy of The Sun and waved Page Three, but said she would comply with the ruling.
She added: "It does strike me as a certain irony that this T-shirt is regarded as an inappropriate thing to be wearing in this House, whereas apparently it is appropriate for this kind of newspaper to be available to buy in eight different outlets on the Palace of Westminster estate."
During the debate, the MP for Brighton Pavilion argued The Sun newspaper's Page Three, which features topless models, should be consigned to the "rubbish bin where it belongs".

Lucy-Ann Holmes, who founded a campaign to end the publication of topless "Page 3 Girls" in The Sun newspaper last year, told the BBC that while she had also received death threats, she had not been subject to the level of "sustained attack" experienced by Ms Criado-Perez.
"I'd say it's a constant undercurrent, when women write about feminist issues or are exposed in a lot of media for speaking out about sexism they tend to get a barrage of abuse and threats," she said. (

Caroline Criado-Perez (born 1984) is a British journalist and feminist activist. She has been involved in high profile campaigns for women to gain better representation in the British media
Mary Beard- eminent classicist, The Guardian's Hadley Freeman, the Independent's Grace Dent and Time magazine's Catherine Mayer all said they had received identical bomb threats on Wednesday.

An attempt to silence the voices of women.

1977- 30 years ago ... 

 Women removed or forgotten in history
(wasn't the only newspaper to publish this title)

Social Media
Facebook normalises voyeurism
Male or female posting doesnt matter.
One hundred and 93 thousand young people like or relate to this image
Media and male gaze are one , as Rosalind Coward says in The Look

Pre-teens alreay feeling the pressure to fit into this media stereotype.

Susan Sontag 1979 - on photography
•'To photograph is to appropriate the thing photographed'•The act of photographing is more than passive observing. Like sexual voyeurism, it is a way of at least tacitly, often explicitly, encouraging what is going on to keep on happening'

Pap images steal shots for personal financial gain
The publication of these shots creates a market for their passive consumption (mags and newspapers)
We contribute to the perpetuation of this cycle buy buying the mags, we create the market for our own voyeuristic pleasure
Our desire is to see the mask of celebrity lifted, and ordinary life exposed.
This is ultimately what killed Princess Diana

Reality Television
e.g. Big Brother , the all seeing eye , a power
Allows us a voyeuristic passive consumption of a type of reality
Editing means that there isn't really any reality

The Truman Show, 1988, Peter Weir 
Jim Carey is unaware he is living in a reality tv show, and his life is a staged event.

Looking is not indifferent. There can never be any question of 'just looking'. 
- Victor Burgin (1982)

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Study Task 2 : Advert analysis (Berger Theory)

Chanel (1920)

Emporio Armani- Diamonds (2007)

I have chosen to compare these womens perfume advertisements agains the ideology of Edward Bernays. He believed that tapping into a person sub conscious desires would sell a product better than just being sold on itself. I would say that this is very true. And from these two adverts you can see that this convention hasn't really changed at all, and the companies are still extremely successful and make millions of sales worldwide.

The first advert, Chanel, 'every women alive loves Chanel no.5' the tagline alone to me is saying that you aren't a 'woman' if you don't own Chanel no.5, and I think that therefore if you are not a woman you are not attractive or desired like the woman pictured in the ad who has a man on either arm pining for her. And so according to Bernays theory this goes into a deep human desire to be loved and to be in fact sexually desirable. 
Also as a women looking at this would perhaps make you envious of the women in the advert and so to be like her, or even more you have to have Chanel;

 'it offers him an image of himself made glamourous by the product or opportunity it is trying to sell. The image then makes him envious of himself and what he might be. Yet what makes this self-which-he-might-be enviable ?? The envy of others'  (Berger, J. 1972. p132).

And so what this means in relation to this advert is that it is offering the consumer the chance to be a woman, and to be sexually desirable only if they buy the product will they become this, and how they will know they have become this is they will be envied, just like they envy the women pictured. Not only this but she appears to be wearing a wedding dress and they seem to be her too grooms suggesting that due to her perfume she is now so wanted that she is being flooded with offers of marriage, but not just from anyone, from affluent men (the suits and hairstyles point to this representation of affluence). Not only is she desirable, but she has perhaps gained more wealth from this, and so this leads on to the next point of Berger...

'money is life... but in the sense that money is the token of, an the key to, every human capacity. The power to spend money is the power to live'  (Berger, J. 1972. p143).

money is an underlying theme of this advert and I think that it really supports this statement Berger has made, that money is power and therefore

'Those who have the power become lovable'  (Berger, J. 1972. p143).

And so really it is a cycle of money, power, love. And this is all promised to the audience through a bottle of perfume.

'It proposes to each of us that we transform ourselves, or our lives, by buying something more.'  (Berger, J. 1972. p131).

 And due to the context of the advert the 1920's this was especially important in society. That women where married young and that they had to be the best to get a husband.

The second advert is a more modern version of the first, it is not suggesting the idea of being wanted for marriage, as nowadays it isn't really an important convention in society. However it still offers the ability to be sexually desirable. 

'She is meant to imagine herself transformed by the product into an object of envy for others, an envy which will then justify her loving herself'  (Berger, J. 1972. p134).

This is sold through the ideal of glamour. The celebrity is a enviable figure and many want to be like her as she is deemed, sexy, powerful, wealthy, independent. And so if you  don't have the perfume then you can't love yourself as you aren't as good as her without the product, and so I would say the perfume is being sold of the ideas mentioned, and not in fact its purpose/ function which is its smell. And this is the exact theory of Berger.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Study Task3: Identity: Othering Task

This was the intial advert I saw, I think that this is almost obvious example of othering. The watch is being sold thorough an image of upper class white males, meaning that the watch is attaching itself to this identity. I think that this is a very specific audience and reassures anyone who buys it that they are this, and not a woman, a different race, and a different class. The views of others on this watch would be that the person was wealthy, upper class and predominately white.
The men are well groomed and you can see that they almost haven't really aged, their dress has perhaps got a bit smarter in the second image perhaps showing that they are wealthy business men and wealth will always be with them and so this others anyone who isn't wealthy or has a wealthy family, the advert is almost saying only these type of people can wear their watch.
I also think that as this is a father and son it almost gives the idea of a perfect family, yet there is no mother present and so it is very patriarchal. This others out all women, almost saying that they are inferior to the men of the family. 
I would also say the advert is very traditional looking, the men are obviously white, and to me either British or American, and so this very traditional heritage looking advert becomes very specific to what it isn't in its style. And so it is othering out other countries and societies in particular the east.  

Again I saw this (the same company) I think it reinforces my earlier statement about the presence of patriarchy. I also think that the father and son again in this are upper class, due to the boat and the shirts. I think even more so than the previous ad that this would make anyone who doesn't have a strong father figure in their life would feel othered, especially a male, as it is a male only feature.  

And then I saw this advert, from the same range of adverts, and now that women are actually featured they appear to be child-like, immature, by the portrayal of them playing with the bubbles, it gives the stereotypical 'away with the fairies' view not concerned with work or business like the men in the first advert. And so this is still othering women, and I think that it is quite sexist, saying that women don't and aren't in careers. 

Identity Seminar

who we are , who we think we are & how others perceive us

essentialism- innate characteristic, genetic makeup , defines you as a person

anti essentialist- shaped by society around you 

Online world poses a new way to invent your own identity, away from the outside world e.g. second life
people actually spend money on the sites, but capitalism/ consumerism is still present 
internet has changed identities 


What makes you, you ?
(our discussion)
  • Friends
  • Family 
  • Hobbies
  • Interests
  • Life Experiences
  • Where you live/ from 
  • Background
  • Personality traits 
(group discussion)
  • Parents/ Socialisation/ Money 
  • Environment/ Era
  • Marriage (Marital Status)
  • Diet 
  • Physical (Dialectic- social)
  • Social (Dialectic- physical)
  • Education
How do we express our identity ? 
(our discussion)
  • The way you dress
  • Possessions
  • Hobbies/ Interests
  • Mannerisms
  • Ethics/ Morals
(group discussion)
  • Fashion
  • (Tattoos)
  • (Make-up)
  • (Piercing)
  • (Brands)
  • Possessions
  • Social Interaction
  • Mannerism
  • Accent
  • Hobbies
  • Interests
  • Social Circles
Subjectivity- all previously discussed
limited, given to us by our position in society. arrived at via ways we attempt to express ourselves, and it can be our own creation
we are what society thinks we are but also who we think we are

Circuit of Culture- Stuart Hall
 Culture is the framework within which our identified are formed, expressed and regulated.
five subcategories which all equally affect our identities

(Things we missed, in this diagram)
regulation- laws, orders. Societal limits
What your job is 
what your expected to buy and have
expectations- social stereotypes

Identity is all of these things , its not just one.

Jaques LACAN
theory of the process of identity from birth and growing up 
comes up with the idea of otherness
(after Freud)
The 'hommelette' (babies)
The 'Mirror Stage' (infancy) 

When you are born you don't have any comprehension that you are distinct or separate from your mother, no conception of yourself as a separate human being.  Confused mixed of different parts 

Mirror showing the infant itself externally, showing them they are a being, they are something in the world. Gain a sense of who we are by reactions of people in the world reacting to us. Based on the views of others. 

Subjectivity is based on an illusion of wholeness & independence (receiving views from others)
= own subjectivity is fragile

All the rest of our actions, is basically part of the same process achieved at the mirror stage. 

Constructing the 'Other'
Problems: relies on the assumption of opposition and radical otherness
We measure ourselves against what we are not, which involves other people and simplifying them. a limited reading of what other people our to reassure ourselves. Securing our sense of selves for others. As does society.

Accent - e.g. pronunciation may show you are from a certain class/education and not perhaps from the working class - slang. 

( in ads ) e.g. Lynx othering of gay community, of women, of dominance

shores up unstable identifies through the illusion of unity
shared fashions, belief systems, values
- Subterranean Values ( Matza, 1961)

This brings about : 
racism, sexism and all forms of prejudism

Friday, 25 October 2013



Historical conceptions of identity
Foucalt's 'discourse' methodology
Place critique contemporary practice within these frameworks, and to consider validity

Biological makeup
Inner essence

Post-modern theorists disagree
they are anti-essentialist



More vertical the face is the more intelligent you are, brings around racism and arianism. 
(nazi theory, blonde hair, blue eyes, white is perfect)
Legitimising Racism
Teutonic - German
Iberian- Spain/ Portugal (closer to North Africa, and going upwards to Ireland)

Hieronymous Bosch 1450- 1516
Christ carrying the Cross, Oil on panel

Suggests grotesques, racism e.c.t 

Chris Ofili, Holy Virgin Mary, 1996

Historical Phases of Identity

  • Pre-modern- personal identity is stable – defined by long standing roles
  • Modern- a wider range of social roles, possibility to start ‘choosing’ your identity, rather than simply being born into it. People start to ‘worry’ about who they are
  • Post- modern - accepts a fragmented self, identity is constructed

Pre-Modern Identity

related institutional agency with vested interest
Farm-worker - landed gentry
The Soldier  - The state 
The Factory Worker -  Industrial capitalism
The Housewife -  patriarchy
The Gentleman -  patriarchy
Husband-Wife (family) - Marriage/church

Modern Identity

Charles Baudelaire – The Painter of Modern Life (1863)
Thorstein Veblen – Theory of the Leisure Class (1899)
Georg SimmelThe Metropolis and Mental Life (1903)

Baudelaire – introduces concept of the ‘flaneur’ (gentleman-stroller)
Veblen – ‘Conspicuous consumption of valuable goods is a means of reputability to the
gentleman of leisure’

Georg Simmel
Trickle Down Theory 

Alienation within society, 
the speed and mutability of modernity, individuals withdraw into themselves

Post- modern Identity

Michael Foucault
'Discourse Analysis' 

A set of recurring statements that define a particular cultural 'object'- Cavallaro 

Possible Discourses
Race/ Ethnicity
Sexual Orientation


'Otherness' - anything separate to the 'norm'


Humphrey Spender, Mass Observation, Worktown Project, 1937

Observing Britain living, in Bolton. 

Martin Parr, New Brighton, Merseyside, from The Last Resort, 1983 - 86
Almost Self- Congratulatory

Ascott, 2003
‘ “Society” …reminds one of a particularly shrewd, cunning and pokerfaced player in the
game of life, cheating if given a chance, flouting rules whenever possible’

Martin Parr, Sedlescombe, from
Think of England, 2000-2003 

Martin Parr, Think of Germany,
Berlin, 2002