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)

No comments:

Post a Comment