Sunday, 19 October 2014

Inside the Great Magazines: Episode 1

Episode 1: The Power of the Image

The most influential and life-changing/ society changing invention was the invention the Printing Press- Gutenberg's Press in 1450. 

This meant that literature was not only available to monks/priests (who reproduced bibles) and aristocracy, (that where taught to read) it was now available to the middle and lower classes all of society now had access to words and reading. This new education inspired a huge change in the world. 

Edward Cave created the world's first magazine in 1731. 

The Gentlemen's Magazine

it became a necessary read for social life and interaction,
with the expansion of the roads in Britain at the time it meant that not only could more be produced at one time but it could also be distributed further and wider. 

however with the gaining success of the magazine he began to write about events in parliament and was arrested and sent to jail. 

his readers did have a democratic debate to whether this was fair, but nothing came of it (due to the times, power and authority was very dominant)

Even scientific concepts where now being distributed (enlightenment)
and this all together made the magazine a liberating force and it was a move towards democracy.

The Gentlemen's Magazine sold around 20,000 copies a week and turned into a big business. 

The Image

L'Illustration Paris (first edition was printed in 1843)

(March 4th 1843) and was created by Edward Chatan

it made a fortune from marrying word and imagery together, Chatan realised the need for images within text, and did this through images that where engraved. 

He also added the first photo, (or photomontage) (edited photograph) 

This magazine was the first of its kind. No-one had information about what was happening in their own country let alone the world. And so the first photographs where the discovery of the world. Showing people that there where different religions, cultures and races. 

Alexander Graham Bell realised the photograph and its implications and started the world's most influential magazine that still resounds today...

National Geographic

Changed the world through imagery.
Was fascinated by different cultures and who we are related to.
'A photograph is the moment' you can see a lot in just one image.

Other images alike are ones of the:

My Lai Massacre, 1968

 Napalm Girl, 1972, Huynh Cong Ut
9/11 Twin Tower Attacks, 2011

(the list could go on)

Words and images are how we communicate.

But magazines also tell us who we ought to be
Stemming from the change of a farming society to a consumer one, womens household items where among the first to be pushed onto society. 

Sirius Curtis creates 'Women in the Home' magazine and shows it to his wife. She laughs at him and tells him his view is completely wrong, and so she writes the magazine again, 

The Ladies Home Journal, 

reaches out to women, and is a huge success thanks to Louisa Knapp (Curtis's Wife) and she wrote about real issues in the home from a womens point of view, however ironically she feels the magazine became to much of a burden to her 'duties' and the magazine is taken over by a man named Boch who talks in a superior patriarchal  way but despite this his view had a very influential impact, and was the only magazine of the time that spoke to  women and listened to there concerns, (middle class white women)

The magazine promised them happiness, by 1904 its the largest selling magazine in the world and circulated over 1million copies. However this happiness was only promised to a select audience, women, who where married middle class, white, and looked after the home and had children. 

For instance, African-American women where depicted as their servants.

But ads for women became popular, they where like instructions on how to be 'female', what it meant to be a woman. The magazine blended content with advertising.

The Ladies Home Journal started the trillion dollar industry
Built on selling an image
like advertising now it sells an image not the product.

Models are chosen to optimise the 'ideal' woman, 
FQ mixes fashion with fantasy
and heavily relies on photo manipulation

Magazines have opened the world we live in to a fantasy but we struggle to escape this and come back to reality. 

This stems back to escapism in the postwar 1920's when the economy boomed and people looked for the new.

popular culture and the elite where portrayed in the magazines of the time. 

The New Yorker presented a world weariness, 'The Round Table' at the Algonquin Hotel was where all the famous editors gathered. 

The magazine also showed advertisements for Tiffany & Co and Bentley, high end products. 

Vogue and Vanity Fair where also created in this era and high society and high finance where the content of these magazines, and people in the magazines where held as role models.

The Great Depression spelled the end for Naste, Vogue and Vanity Fair. 

In Germany small portable cameras where invented, 
Erick Solomon, is held as the fore father of photo-journalism, with a small camera it meant he could capture images without the subjects knowing, whereas before all photographs had to be set up and posed for, the subjects knew. 

His first images where of a court case in which he took pictures of the proceedings, by concealing the camera in his top hat. 

These images spread across the world, never before had the general public seen things of this nature and this captured people. His images inspired the hugely popular magazine 


Henry Luce was the most successful editor of his time.
His magazine had images of Gandhi, Churchill, the sailor kissing the girl, Marilyn Monroe.

A 'picture magazine'

Photo-journalists capture the best and worst events of the world. They where considered as artists. 

Magazines showed the daily-lives of people in a photo-essay style (way before television)
Magazines became a mass medium. 

In World War 2, photographers risked their lives for images

Luce erged Solomon to evacuate Nazi occupied Germany, (Solomon was Jewish) 
But he said no and continued to work, until he and his family had to go into hiding. 
One day his family and himself where discovered and taken to a concentration camp (Auschwitz) and killed. 

LIFE spreads american culture across the world, post war, known as the 'American Era' 
Luce's empire consisted of Time, Fortune and Life.
The magazine appealed to a general audience and was highly influential.

They consisted of the only colour images in the world (still no colour television)

In the midst of the 60's Luce looses the readers/ followers of LIFE becoming almost obsolete, due to the new agendas and thoughts of the times, people lost interest in LIFE's content, it was out of touch and in 1967 Luce dies and so does the magazine.  

There will never really be this type of magazine again.

Each of these magazines liberated people from ignorance,

Yet the twentieth century magazines imprison us with who we ought to be.

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