All posts tagged with 'critical theory'
Automatic Documents: Spectacle as Auteur
If the spectacle is the autonomous (objective) development of economic life unto its own laws of expansion – a blind drive for efficiency and maximum resource exploitation – then the documentation of such can be expected to be equally automatic. Indeed, the image economy produces evidence the way a horse shits walking. Such documents provide little illusion of nourishment, only the evidence of use. Critical practice follows behind the parade. Debates about the relative reality of documentation have been rendered moot by the autonomy of the spectacle and its by-products. If earlier documentarians were applauded for entering into the substrata functioning of society, the spectacle externalizes such evidence without the distractions of interpretation. Interpretation, the critical act, must content itself with bearing witness to the dreams of late capitalism.
Spectacullum Documenta evidences “the development of productive forces (that have) been the real unconscious history which built and modified the conditions of existence.” One example of such an unconscious, automatic document is a webpage from Daily Motion featuring a re-edited clip with commentary of a documentary made on Britney Spears by MTV. This page also records (aggregates) comments, changing advertisements, and other evidence of production and consumption. Screenshots of this website over a period of months will be treated as the perfect documentarian devoid of subjective ambition – “an actuality film” of accumulation and alienation.
If the spectacle is a “perfect picture of capitalism” the image of the pop star is a perfect representation of the image as commodity. The abstraction of value onto a grid of monetary equivalences is akin to the abstraction of direct material life onto the indirect representation of existence as a string of appearances.
Digital Popular Music: Atomization and Standardization in the Experience of Contemporary Music
Musical reproduction has become increasingly digitized and new technologies and institutions for musical distribution and consumption have had profound implications for the contemporary experience of music.
Music can shed light on the social circumstances of which it is a product and the possibilities for transcending these immediate conditions. The analysis of the relationship between musical compositions and their historical contexts formed the basis of Adorno’s aesthetic and social theory, and I employ his concepts of atomization and standardization to explore social and musical tendencies which have subsequently been amplified and modified through the digitization of musical content. Using examples from different popular music genres including the music of The Black Eyed Peas and Meshuggah I will develop an analysis of the relationship between musical composition and contemporary social and technological conditions. The digitization of music and its distribution through the internet has facilitated the democratization of access to music and lowered limitations on the choices available to listeners based upon a standardization of format as radio and gramophone had done previously. At the same time, the listening experience has become ever more atomized in that audiences have become more fragmented and music is listened to using personal devices. The digitization of music has increased the tendencies toward the atomization and standardization of the listening experience and facilitated new networked forms for organizing these standardized and atomized elements.
The Super Power of Super Voice Girl: Its Political and Cultural Implications
This term paper studies the Super Voice Girl, an American Idol-style reality TV show broadcast across China in the summer of 2005, which owes unprecedented popularity nationwide to its raw authenticity, huge number of participants and the convenience of electing the winner through mobile phone SMS vote among the individual Chinese.
In this popularity contest adjudicated by viewers, the individual self emerged as a characteristic of China’s integration within the global community. Furthering on that, the right to express uniqueness, to perform, and to engage in “making the individual voice heard” triumphs over regimented conformity of the Chinese traditional culture and pushes forward the idea of democracy in the world’s most populous country. Is this democracy in the disguise of SMS vote a form of peaceful evolution applicable to the Chinese public? Has the program cast into doubt the government’s capacity to regulate self-expression? The paper aims to explore what influences the Super Voice Girl show, as a unique media form, exert on the Chinese society and the people’s mentality.
In addition to the political implications brought about by the reality show, this paper also studies the fans of the winner Li Yuchun by analyzing the discourse of their voices in the virtual community —the fan’s websites and personal blogs. The study also explores how fans interconnect Li Yuchun and their daily lives as well as under such interconnection how this Super Voice Girl contest mirrors diverse youth culture issues in contemporary Chinese society, such as personal aspiration, immediate gratification, individualism and the growing alienation from parents, peers and the society.
Hibah Hussain focuses on the connections between telecommunications law and the media’s potential to contribute to socioeconomic development in the Global South. Prior to Columbia, Hibah worked at Google as an Account Optimizer, during which was heavily involved with the Google Grants program and won a Google Grants Basecamp Award for her work with nonprofits. Hibah has also spent time at the BBC’s Washington Bureau and in South Asia as Mellon Mays Research Fellow. She holds a B.A. in English Literature from Carleton College and an M.Sc. in Media, Communication and Development with Distinction from the London School of Economics and Political Science. While at LSE, she worked with POLIS, a journalism and society think tank, and was the inaugural winner of the Interaction London Research Prize, which is awarded to an LSE student with the best idea for applied research into social media. Her project combines critical theory with virtual ethnography, market research, and social psychology techniques to interrogate the effectiveness of online branding initiatives.