All posts tagged with 'visual culture'
Deepthi Welaratna is a New York-based writer and researcher focusing on media and culture and a graduate student in media studies at The New School. As a strategic communications consultant, Deepthi has directed marketing and communications strategies for a range of nonprofit and for-profit companies. She has worked in radio and TV broadcasting and authored an arts and culture review column for KQED in San Francisco covering music, theatre and film. Recently, she was invited to serve as a judge for the Asian Pacific Fund’s Growing Up Asian in America program, an annual art and essay competition for Bay Area k-12 students.
Metonymic Icons: How Faces Inspire Global Imagined Communities
Human faces have united many imagined communities, both past and present. From religious iconography to royal figures to fictional composites, bodies and faces have historically stood in for nations and religions, functioning as an effective tool of national and ideological representation. In recent years a new, more participatory kind of cooptation of the face has emerged that bridges the divide between convergent and divergent ideoscapes and between the global and the local. This new face is simultaneously representative and unique, and is created, traded, and used under expanded modes of production and consumption. The new face has a more malleable meaning, as a result, belonging to everyone and no one. Using theoretical underpinnings from Benedict Anderson, Arjun Appadurai, Jean Baudrillard, and Bernadette Wegenstein, I will track the evolution of the face through four examples: Marianne (the face of the French republic), Che Guevara, Barack Obama, and Neda Soltan.
Graduate Degree candidate, Media Studies, New School. In debt. Founded media performance collective rev.99 (2000), music (Megaphone, PAX, Tzadik), words (“saved a life” – Robert Hunter; “brutal … kill” – Minneapolis Star Tribune; with Klezmer Madness, “visionary poet” – Seattle Times, “demented” – Village Voice), video / film (Martha Colburn, Benton-C Bainbridge, Donald O’Finn). Places: Knickerbockers (Lincoln, NE). Henry Miller Library (Big Sur, CA), Hirshhorn Museum (Washington, DC), web (www.ernstgrid.com). Two year old son. Producer trying to structure improvisation and find my Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting in Saturday Morning Cartoon collective.
“Britney Spears” Autopsy and Séance
Stan Brakhage exhumed the Greek sense of “the act of seeing with one’s own eyes” (autopsia) to document Pittsburg; so too can the imagined community that is embodied as Britney, be examined to see (“opsis”) our senses of self (“auto”). The vortex of sights and sounds collected under the sign “Britney Spears” rewards the cultural coroner. An autopsy obviously implies a dead body, but when examining a sign forever being modified within numberless contexts, the critical stop is what materializes the corpus. Analysis not only functions as a post-mortem, but in an age of simultaneity and infinite regress, critical thinking restores some sense of life and death within the simulacra. The sign itself dies only once the icon is forgotten (something almost impossible to measure in a world that archives itself so particularly.)
This media-rich presentation includes archival video, stills and text from media rituals and events embodied as “Britney Spears”. To situate a broader cultural context additional documentation includes Senate Hearings of Child Abductions, Amber Alerts, Estrogen “dominance” (excess), the New Disney, and the Tween Consumer. Certain media theories also gain historical context by the examination of the visual tactility of the mid-drift, imagined communities (M-I-C-K-E-Y) and media mega-events like the Super Bowl half-time show.
Treating “Britney’s” body of work as extensions of the body politic, the autopsy seeks to uncover some of the complex representations and enactments of compliance, resistance and mystery involved with the popularizing of “Britney”.
And with a little luck Britney Spears – refugee from Kentwood, Louisiana and global citizen par excellence – may, like a ghost within the machine, materialize for a moment.