Escapism by Yi-Fu Tuan – Preface

Escapism by Yi-Fu Tuan
The Johns Hopkins University Press
Baltimore & London
1998

Black = My thoughts
Pink = Quotes
Blue = An external reference

Preface

Before I start I must make one point, when reading a book that attempts to analyse culture you must take into account the personality of the writer, every day we meet different characters we don’t agree with, the same goes for writers; just because they have been given the permission and support to publish a book does not make them right. In this case within the first 2 pages I have already made assumptions about Yi-Fu Tuan:

– He talks about how he was surprised he enjoyed Disneyland as “well educated people, among whom I count myself, are taught to dismiss the theme park as an unreal, fantasy world supported by hidden – and therefore somewhat sinister – forces.” – This gives me a sense of snobbery, someone who doesn’t let themselves enjoy an activity that is below his intelligence – for me this gives me a bad impression of the book as at the moment I see escapism through media and entertainment as a way of disengaging the brain and being submissive to pure childlike entertainment. – My opinion on this might change however.
As Tuan discusses the differences between humans and animals he talks about how he aspires to be immortal – I think you have to be quite narcissistic to actually want immortality, again just like each writer puts their own opinions throughout their book, I the reader will read it in a different way than you might.

I can always resort to imagination, which is the most readily available means of transporting the self.” — “But imagination can lead us astray – into fantasy, the unreal, the unreal, and the grotesque; and it can tempt us into first picturing, the (too often) acting out evil.” – I’ve never considered imagination as escapism, only ever digital objects – this is an overlook perhaps of my generation. Now it seems obvious the original escapism is to daydream or imagine. It’s interesting to consider the difference between imagination and fantasy and think about their negative aspects not only positive ones.

LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS – “And if the project is not food but a monument, a city, an empire, the amount of prior destruction, the exploitation of labor both animal and human, the sweat, pain, and death, add up to a picture closer to hell than heaven.” – The end point is the method of escaping (i.e. a house used to escape nature) but what has lead to it’s creation could take away from the “sanctuary” image we hold. – The escapism is lessened.

I haven’t even started yet and I’m raring to go, I don’t agree with everything Tuan has written, but that makes this all the more exciting. Stay tuned for chapter updates with quotes, thoughts and references.

Japan, Godzilla and the Atomic Bomb by John Rocco Roberto

Japan, Godzilla and the Atomic Bomb

A Study into the Effects of the Atomic Bomb on Japanese Pop Culture

by John Rocco Roberto

Before I delve into this essay I want to provide a bit of context. I am starting to finally realise the importance of when and where essays were written, we are told to challenge everything we read for the symposium, but it’s silly to challenge a piece of writing you haven’t done any research into.

John Rocco Roberto

While John was not well known with some of the newer members of the fandom, his influence was far reaching. He was the true mover and shaker of the old days when fans didn’t have the internet to connect with one another. His articles, as well as the articles of his contemporaries in the old issues of G-Fan and later in Kaiju-Fan set the standard for serious analysis of the films (“Godzilla in America” anyone?)

– ‘Special Tribute’ By John “Dutch” DeSentis

He [was] one of the founding fathers of modern Godzilla fandom, helping establish G-FAN and G-CON.

– ‘Remembering John Rocco Roberto’ by BRETT

It’s safe to say from these account that John Rocco was a key player in the fandom world of Godzilla and was active in his passion. Therefore I can accept that this isn’t a half researched essay. Founding conventions and fan bases for one film takes a lot of work and dedication, and the success for G-Con reflects on his knowledge of not only the film but it’s surrounding debates.

Let’s get started on the essay…

The section I am particularly interested in is titled ‘From Desperation to Insperation’

However, one could argue that the true date of Godzilla’s birth was not November 3rd, 1954, but August 6th, 1945, the day the United States dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

I had my suspicions before that Godzilla was a representation of the Atomic bombing, purely because of it’s release which was just after the bombings. However John Rocco Roberto explains this with more substance.

“On the plane ride back to Tokyo, I was desperate,” Tanaka recalled.“  I was sweating the whole time.”  The year was 1954, and the film he intended to make was to have beenIn the Shadow of Glory, co-produced in cooperation with the Indonesian government.  The plans for the film, however, fell through when Tanaka could not get work permits for the film’s stars.  Having a budget for a war film, but having no film to shoot, Tanaka agonized at the prospect of losing face in the eyes of his company.  But it was during that plane ride that, as Guy Tucker argues, “desperation became his friend … and would lend him an idea that would develop into something far larger and more enduring than the project he left behind.”

At the end of the Second World War Japan was devastated; physically, politically and financially.  The people of the nation were starving and homeless, and their spirits had been broken.  There was an atmosphere of hopelessness, known only too well to Haruo Nakajima, who served in the Imperial Army during the war, and who would go on to play Godzilla in eleven films.  “There was a feeling of great despair [all around].  It was very difficult for people to find work at this time,” Nakajima recalled. The intensity of the Japanese reaction to their defeat, and the devastation brought on by it, is evident in their present anti-nuclear policies. Their inner feelings towards this defeat, however, have never been fully examined.  But one place to start that examination could be through analyzing two important Japanese films in the context of their times.

Quotes by the man inside the Godzilla costume and Tomoyuki Tanaka himself define the idea of the bombs not only having an effect on Japan physically and financially but also culturally, inspiring the iconic character that is Godzilla.

Under SCAP guidelines Japanese directors were to stress how all Japanese “were endeavoring to construct a peaceful nation [and] how soldiers and repatriates were being rehabilitated into civilian life.”  The result was a series of poor films half-hearted in their execution.

We can clearly see that there was a massive reaction to the bombing in the film industry. John Rocco Roberto goes on to explain this in the section section…“Gorja”

In Gojira, the monster Godzilla is the United States’ atomic bomb, devastating Tokyo and reducing it to a radioactive cinder all in one night.  Originally conceived by Tsuburaya as a giant mutated octopus, producers Tanaka and Mori felt that a giant dinosaur-type creature (mutated through the effects of atomic testing), would have more appeal and be more threatening to land-based civilizations… In Honda’s conception, the monster Godzilla would not merely be awakened by the bomb; instead “He would be twisted and mutated by it, into a rampaging uncontainable force; the A-bomb made flesh.”

“Japan and the bomb in the 21st century”

Dropping the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of the Second World War has remained a heated and controversial debate in the United States to the present day.  Whether the Japanese were about to surrender; whether the Soviet Union was about to enter the war; all remain good, but academic points in the 21st century.  The bombs were dropped, and Japanese culture changed forever.  On the surface, there is very little sign of pre-war Japan.  American influence has completely embedded itself into every part of Japanese society.  In fact when one travels to Japan, one is immediately taken with the lack of any sign that Japan suffered from nuclear attack. In fact there are very little signs that Japan ever lost the war.  The average Japanese citizen drinks Coca-Cola, eats breakfast at Dunkin Donuts, eats lunch at MacDonalds or Kentucky Fried Chicken, enjoys American sports such as Baseball and Bowling, and flocks to their local theaters to watch big-budgeted Hollywood films.  There is no sufficient way to describe the experience of traveling in Japan unless you have actually experienced it.  The best description would be to imagine Times Square in New York City multiplied by 100.

“Japanese Pop Culture and the Bomb”

Beginning with the lifting of SCAP restrictions in the 1950s, several films began to address the issue of the atomic bombings

Read the full essay here

Whilst this essay has been interesting and informative, and have allowed to me form a strong group of quotes, it reminds me again of the importance of titles, The sub header suggests this essay explores how the bomb effected Japanese popular culture, when instead it only explores Godzilla. It is still, however an insight into post Bomb Japan, and worth referring to in the future.

‘Bullshit and the art of Crap detection’ by Neil Postman – 1969

These are my thoughts and notes on ‘Bullshit and the art of Crap detection’ by Neil Postman…

Crap Detecor = originated from Ernest Hemmingway interview, he was asked is there one thing needed to be a good writter, and answered, “Yes, a built in, shock proof, crap detector.”

types of bullshit…

Pomposity:

When people use fancy words and phrases to make the reader think they are clever when they are really incapable.

Fanaticism:

“It has almost no tolerance for any data that do not confirm its own point of view” here the fanaticism is shown through the idea of a WWII Jewish man trying to spare children from the gas chamber, and the executioner replying “If we do it for one, We do it for all”

Inanity:

A form of talk, harmless. From the essay I gather that this is has been blow up by the mass media, people who have little knowledge of something are now in a position where there opinion can be heard and registered, even though they have no understanding of the subject. The reminds me of youtube videos, people spreading their opinions online and having them read and quoted all over the shop.

Superstition:

“Superstition is ignorance presented in the cloak of authority” this is what Postman described superstition as, I chose to quote it because I think it is great. The idea that someone who is highly regarded can be seen as always being right because of their position has always ben a joke to me. This makes me think of the Pope, he was born into his religion and made his way up the food chain, so therefor he has the power to tell me how to live my life? I don’t think so. Superstition Bullshit at it’s worst.

I think i love this guy. Usually I find it so hard to read allocated text because  I have to google every other word and get headaches interpreting it, it’s great to know someone is using their authority and position to stop the Bullshit, instead of conforming to the educated and their way of writing.

I really want to follow up on postmans work it’s very refreshing.

The Representation of Religion in the work of David LaChapelle and Pierre et Gilles

“The Representation of religion in the work of David LaChapelle and Pierre et Gilles” – by Daisy Ware-Jarrett

There is no doubt that Religion has played a key part in Art’s history, especially in Europe. When we look at some of the most iconic sculptures and paintings from the last 1000 years that have emerged from Europe, most of them have religious themes. Michaelangelo’s ‘David’ (1501-1504) refers to the biblical story of David and Goliath, Leonardo Da Vinici’s ‘Last Super’ (1496-1498) to Jesus’s last meal with his disciples and Raphael’s ‘Sistine Madonna’ (1513-1514) depicts Mary holding the new born baby Jesus. But why did all the great artists feel the need to paint religious narratives? In many cases it wasn’t because the artists were religious. At the time that all these pieces of art were being produced, the Church was the centre of Europes power; politics, money and art were regulated and controlled by the Church. Churches would commission artists to produce divine imagery, maybe as a self promotional tool, or to aid the mass illiterate public at that time about religious stories. It also benefited the artists, because the Church was the only place that really had Art on display, other then the bourgeoisie’s homes, but these weren’t accessible to the public. So where does this leave Religion in Art today? In a society which is obsessed with possessions and in which the Church has little power and money.

In a video interview with ‘The Art Newspaper’ (2008), American photographer David LaChapelle explains that “You don’t mention Christ or Jesus in art circles… unless it’s done in some real ironic way”. He uses the controversial photograph ‘Piss Christ’(1) (1987) by Andres Serrano as an example of modern arts representation of religion. This idea, that religion is unapproachable as a serious subject matter in art is something that LaChapelle himself tries to overcome. A lot of LaChapelles work is based on religion, mainly because of his Catholic upbringing; this supports the ideas of Roland Barthes(a), who says the Photographers way of seeing is reflected in their work. One of his images ‘Last Super’(2) from the ‘Jesus is my homeboy’ series (2003) conveys iconic religious imagery in a contemporary way. When looking at the image you notice a direct reference to Leonardo Da Vinci’s ‘The Last Super’(3) which i mentioned before. Everything from the Jesus figures clothing to his mannerisms are the same. There has been a lot on controversy surrounding this depiction of Jesus, I asked a variety of religious and non religious people (either in the church or studying religion) for their opinions on the images I will be talking about in this essay. One man particularly picked up on the representation of Jesus in ‘Last Super’. “he looks like the singer from Reef” Martyn Chapple (Church Deacon in Morpeth, UK) this is true, LaChapelle has represented Jesus in a very European way. A long haired, white Jesus figure is a common depiction that features in the work of Artists like Leonardo Da Vinci, perhaps this2

representation would stem from LaChapelles religious roots and saturation of Catholic Imagery. Nikki Carmichael (Youth and School Worker) agrees with Martyn Chapple, “the image used of Jesus I find inaccurate. He wasn’t white, surely,”. Contradicting to this Georgie Horth, Atheist, studying Philosophy says ‘Religion is a way to get through life and to deal with the problems that arise because of it, I personally like how Jesus is presented here, he takes on an almost Superheroic role’. The referal to Jesus as a superhero is interesting, is that what Jesus is considered to be today? an equal with batman? Rather then Jesus being a superhero I see it more as Hollywood representing superheroes to us so many times in a jesus-like way, sacrificing themselves to save people, and being an omnipresent hope, society regards these mythical heros to be modern day gods. This shows that it’s not just LaChapelle’s way of seeing that effects the image, it is also ours as the viewer (b). The representation of Jesus is similar in the work of Pierre et Gilles, ‘Jésus D’Amour’ (4) (1979) a inhuman glow burst from behind Jesus’ head, a sight that we are so familiar with because of the representations of religion in the past; This accompanied with the European look we talked about before does make you think it is a higly unrealistic representation of Jesus, but thats just it, it is just a representation, emphasis on the RE. LaChapelle and Pierre et Gilles have done what nearly all artist do and have done before, subliminally used their experience in the past a projected this onto their work. So this cannot really be called an unfair representation, it might be offensive to you as an individual, but to all 3 Photographers it is their way of seeing.

The depiction of Jesus is not the only controversial subject in LaChapelle and Pierre et Gilles work. The Sexualisation of Religion is too. Sex is a huge part of our society, we live in a culture saturated it, in music videos, song lyrics, advertising and un-policed 24 hour access to porn online. The Specsavers 2008 Viral advert is a great example of sex in advertising (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N0YKdr0SbH4), a funny but sexual advertisement that is accessible online via anyone who can work computers, which is from the age of 7 (2011 European Commission survey( c)). So how do we respond to the often called sexual representation of religious figures in Pierre et Gilles work? In “St Sebastian”(5)(1987) we see a man who we believe to be the Martyr Saint Sebastian (due to the title), a loin cloth tied around the lower part of his sculpted body, his hands are tied to a post and in correlation with the story of Saint Sebastian he is being killed with arrows. St Sebastian’s eyes do not express pain in this image, as they stare off into the distance he seems at peace whilst he dies, this could be how Pierre et Gilles felt a Martyr would experience death, liberated and peaceful. But this peaceful glare and use of dreamlike post-production can be seen in a sexual way. Martyn Chapple (Church Deacon) suggests it is “homosexually provocative” which he describes as “not cool”, but if we look at older depictions of Saint Sebastian there has always been some sort of sexual nature, the way Pierre et Gilles have represented Saint Sebastian is no different to how Botticelli did in 1474 (6), over 500 years prior; or to Andrea Mantegna’s depiction (7) in 1478. These representations were celebrated in an era where religion was not questioned and sacrilegious imagery wasn’t allowed, therefore you have to ask yourself if the negative denotation is a product of the society we live in? We are so exposed to images of sex, the idea of a naked man being tied to a post instantly makes us read the image in a sadomasochist way, just like before, Pierre et Gilles have taken a common depiction and re-presented it to us, it is our interpretation which should be questioned.

Todays culture, in the West especially, Religion has become less important compared to the significant role it has played in our history. One way that both photographers interoperate modern day religion is through the obsession of Celebrity. Footballers, Musicians and Film Stars have become the gods of our time, what they do,wear and act likes has the power to influence a mass population.

“It is definitely true that celebrities are our modern day gods and goddesses, and we build them up and tear them down. Madonna has been torn down. Michael Jordan has been torn down.” – David LaChapelle

LaChapelle has very clear views on celebrity, and the way he talks about Madonna in this quote is reflected in his piece, ‘Madonna: Sacred Heart’(8)(1998), LaChapelle uses props like the crown and colours like purple and gold to show Madonna’s royalty-like status in society, and her “title” as the Queen of Pop. He also plays on her role as a religious influencer, the use of a iconic sacred heart, refers to Madonnas once devout dedication to the Catholic church, also, the Sacred Heart is a devotion taken in the Catholic church, part of this devotion is “I consecrate myself and my whole family to you…To you we give our bodies, our hearts and our souls. To you we dedicate our home and our country.” in this sense LaChapelle is representing Madonna as a god, the public devote themselves too her in the same way they do to Jesus or Mary (the usual beholders of the sacred heart). The Halo reinforces this idea, as does Madonnas name, Mary is also known as Madonna in religious stories. Through all of these technique LaChapelle is making a very strong comment on the role of celebrity today. Pierre et Gilles use similar iconic subjects and imagery to convey a sense of divinity, ‘Sainte marie MacKillop, Kylie Minogue’(9) (1995) depicts the Australian Saint, Marie MacKillop via the use of Australian Pop star Kylie Minogue, a modern day Australian Saint? not really, but that is how Pierre et Gilles see Kylie’s power and recognition, the equivalent to a saints. It’s not only La Chapelle and Pierre et Gilles that have picked up on Celebrity as gods, adidas has too, their 2006 campaign(10) uses the iconic imagery of the Sistine Chapel but replaces saints and religious figures with footballers, this advert is a much more positive outlook on the situation though, using the celebrity status as gods to promote their clothing brand.

It seems to me that Religion has not lost it’s place in modern day Art, the representations may not be the same as they were a few hundred years ago, but the concept has remained the same. In the 1500’s the Church had status and power, and were able to monopolise society. Today the power lies in Hollywood, Sex and Celebrity, LaChapelle and Pierre et Gilles have taken the iconic religious imagery that represented the Churches power and applied this to this modern day situation. Neither intend to shock or upset the viewer with their representations of religion, they are simply using it as a tool to point out flaws in our society.

Bibliography and theory references

Image references

Face to Facebook – smiling in the eternal party

This is a theory published by two men, Paolo Cirio a media artist and Alessandro Ludovico a media critic. These men very cleaverly design software that exploits online media instituions. They manage to find holes in the terms and conditions of big institutions such as Google Amazon and Facebook and then build software that gains them access to millions of peoples “public information”. After lots of analysing they use their findings in theories. The newest on is called “Face to Facebook” and the key part of their theories I am interested in is this…

“First, the profiles sublimate the owners’ (real) social actions and references through their virtual presences. Second, they synthesize their effectiveness in representing real people through a specific element: the profile picture. This picture, an important Facebook interface, more often than not shows a face, and a smiling one at that. Our face is our most private space and simultaneously the most exposed one. How many people are allowed to touch our face, for example?
And generally speaking, the face is also one of the major points of reference we have in the world.

There are even “special” regions of the human brain, such as the fusiform face area (FFA), which may have become specialized at facial recognition [3]. Faces are now so exposed that they do not remain private, but are thrust into the public domain and shared (they can even be “tagged” by other people). So any virtual identity (composed of a face picture and some related data) can be stolen and become part of another identity, through a simple re-contextualization of the same data. “

Amazing analysis by these two, explore how intimate our faces are but yet we offer it for the world to see. You can read the rest of the theory here

Development of Peter Lippmann

My Lippman project has come to a sudden holt over the last week or so, i attempted the vinyl series but i got so captivated by the lighting and texture i completely went off topic. But today as i began packing for uni i came across all my old art books, as i looked through them i found a project i completely forgot about that fits hand in hand with the idea of photographing with a strong influence of art. My A-level art project was based on futurism, i forced myself into doing it because all my paintings were realistic so i wanted to learn more techniques. I loved studying the meaning f the movement and i loved even more that the creation photography and new technologies were the influences.

This is an essay i wrote on Futurism…

‘Futurism’ by Daisy Ware-Jarrett

And these are some of the pieces i created, a mixture of photographs and paintings…

©Daisy Ware-Jarrett
©Daisy Ware-Jarrett
©Daisy Ware-Jarrett
©Daisy Ware-Jarrett
©Daisy Ware-Jarrett
©Daisy Ware-Jarrett
©Daisy Ware-Jarrett
Daisy Ware-Jarrett
©Daisy Ware-Jarrett

I can definitely mov this project on, incorporating all the information i’ve found and painting techniques to create Photographs influenced by Futurism.