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Impact of mass communications and mass media within modern culture

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Cultural Studies
Wordcount: 1857 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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The culture is very diverse. It is quite evident that due to the dramatic development of mass communications and mass media the modern culture impacts on many national cultures around the world. Every society is a legacy of the institutes. These institutes are kind of a collection of habits and customs.

Without culture, the real freedom is impossible. Many researchers are certain that modern challenges require a resolute approach to the problems, and that chief problems appear in the area of culture and their solution is in the development of culture.

All nations that are cultured in a traditional sense have their folklore, their own cultural identity elaborated by many generations. Thor Hansen claimed: “Culture is something that evolves out of the simple, enduring elements of everyday life; elements most truthfully expressed in the folk arts and crafts of a nation.”

“We make history; but we are also made by our history. Individuals and societies constantly move in history and use it as a reservoir of experience, allegiance and ideals that craft identities and outlooks. The patina of history ages the present. But more important: when today is steeped in a vision of the past it becomes a means to envision and shapes a trajectory into the future. History is never a dead letter, even if we fail to learn its lessons, or refuse anything except reliving its mistakes.” (Sardar, 2002, p.11)

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“Tradition, heritage, modernism – all contested terms. But no less contested are the very words ‘art’ and ‘history’, the one leading away from, the other towards, a time-based judgement of the ethical outcomes of creative practice. But it is precisely when the terms are held in dialectical conflict that they function together to produce illuminations not just of the past, not just of the present, but of the processes of change in which we – all humanity now alive – must take our places.” (Sardar, 2002, p.14)

The aim of the present work is to found such phenomena as modernism, postmodernism and contemporary art as cultural reference points. In connection with this aim, the following tasks can be set:

– to look at the history of these movements;

– to relate the art movements under concern with social developments.

Cultural situation of the end of XIX – first half of XX centuries developed under the sign of modernism. Fauvism, impressionism, cubism, futurism, abstractionism, Dadaism, surrealism are not nearly the full list of modernistic art movements.

“Modern” (fr. Moderne means newest, modern, Art Nouveau, Jugendstil) – European and American art style of the end of XIX – early XX centuries. “Modernism is variously argued to be a period, style, genre or combination of the above; but it is first of all word, one that exists, alongside cognate words. Its stem, ‘modern-‘, is a term that, from the latin modo, means ‘current’, and so has a far wider currency and range of meanings than ‘modernism’.” (Childs, 2008, p. 12-13)

The new style spread all over Europe and first influenced architecture and decorative art. “Modern” representatives used new technical and structural facilities, open-plans, unique architectural decor in order to create extraordinary, deeply individualized buildings. Plastic and fluent lines, floral patterns are typical for modern. “Modern architecture, new architectural style that emerged in many Western countries in the decade after World War I. It was based on the “rational” use of modern materials, the principles of functionalist planning, and the rejection of historical precedent and ornament. This style has been generally designated as modern, although the labels International style, Neue Sachlichkeit, and functionalism have also been used.” (Answers.com)

Speaking about modern in the broad sense the term “avant-gardism” may also be used. In other words the art movements mentioned above can be named either modernist or avant-garde ones. “Avant-Garde – the term was first applied to artists in the nineteenth century to indicate those whose work seemed to be at the forefront of new developments in art – as opposed to artists who hitched their artistic fortunes to Academic conformity – and as such its linguistic fortunes have paralleled Modernism (although theorists such as Peter Burger prefer to see the two as separate). Some critics have argued that with the demise of Modernism and the inception of Post Modernism, avant-gardes too have disappeared.”

(Investigating Modern Art, 1996, p. 173)

Considering the above mentioned material we can state that avant-gardism is connected with the retreat of culture from realism and declaration of art independence from reality. Creation of new and unique style and language in art.

Let us go into particulars of art movements of modernism.

Impressionists were against conventionalities of classicism, romanticism and academism, they insisted on the beauty of day-to-day life, simple democratic motives, strove for true-to-life honesty of picture, tried to catch the “impression” got from what an eye sees at the particular moment. The landscape is considered the most typical theme of impressionists. (Britt, 1990, p. 11)

Cubism signified total rupture of connection with real image of the nature, which had been predominating in European painting since Renaissance. The aim of Picasso and Braque was to construct three-dimension form on the plane, its partitioning into geometric elements. Both painters were inclined to simple tangible forms, uncomplicated themes, what was especially typical of early cubism. (Britt, 1990, p. 159-161)

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Dadaists didn’t develop their own original style. They lurched from one extreme to another, tried by any means (including provocative behavior) to shock self-complacent middlebrow. Cross-cutting, collage and “ready-made” (ordinary items presented as a work of art) were favorite Dadaism genres. Dadaism became popular very fast (especially in New York, where Marcel Duchamp was its leader), but the formed movement existed for a small period of time only. (Britt, 1990, p.203-210)

It influenced much to other movements, in particular to surrealism (in its devotion to absurd and fantastic), abstract expressionism and conceptual art. Freud’s theory of the unconscious and his method of “free associations” as a way to pass from consciousness to the unconscious are the source of Surrealism. However, the forms of these ideas’ expression were quite different among surrealists. For instance, Dali drew his illogical paintings, resembling nightmares, with religious exactitude, “likelihood” enhancing impression of hallucination or delusion. Mark Ernst, in his turn, worked out his paintings nearly automatically, “turned off” his mentality, preferring arbitrary characters, which often transferred into abstraction. Though Joan Miro is distinguished from other surrealistic painters by variety and cheerfulness of paintings. (Britt, 1990, p. 226-245)

If we aggregate all historic facts and description of modernism in art, it is possible to assert that the feature of this movement is harmonious combination of very different things, and it constitutes its attractiveness and uniqueness. The age of modernism needed painters with universal talents.

Postmodernism literally means something after “modernism”, or the contemporary times. The genealogy of the term “postmodernism” dates back to 1917. It was first used by the German philosopher Rudolf Pannwitz in his work “Crisis of European Culture”. He was talking about a new person, called to overcome the decline. It was just a paraphrase of the Nietzsche’s idea of a “superman”. (Cahoone, 2003, p.2)

If we disregard further uses of the term, the next stage, leading directly to modern disputes, was a literary discussion of the sixties in the USA. (Ward, 1997, p. 8-9)

Initially, “postmodernism” denoted the crisis of avant-garde literature in it. However, later the term acquired a positive meaning denoting hopes to overcome the crisis, in particular, the gap between elite and mass culture. This term is used more and more often to characterize innovations in literature and art, and also transformations in the social and economic, technological and social and political sphere. (Ward, 1997, p. 4-7)

Postmodernism receives the status of a notion in 80s – first of all thanks to the works of Lyotard who spread the discussion of postmodernism to the sphere of philosophy. (Ward, 1997, p. 169-170)

In the culture of postmodernism there is a trend called neo-expressionism. This is a trend in the art of certain artists in the USA and Europe, especially Germany, which appeared at the end of 1970s. The artists turned again to the expressive means of Expressionism, every time creating a very individual style, often charged with aggression and nervous twist. (Heartney, 2001, p. 13-18)

In the postmodernism epoch there were such interesting terms as postmodernist feminism. From the mid 80s, the increasing number of feminists who studied the implications of postmodernism for the benefit of feminism discussed the problem of their common foundation and even described their own theories as postmodernist ones. According to Linda Nicholson, if feminism continues this movement towards a more historical, non-universal, non-essentialist theory, the one that acknowledges differences between women, then feminism will become “postmodernism in its essence”. However, this movement also means that feminism should reject universal statements concerning the gender, patriarchate and concerning women or “a woman”. For many feminists it means rejecting too much. (Heartney, 2001, p. 51-54)

In the seventies, new trends appeared in the architecture. There is even an exact date – July 15, 1972. On this day a block of new comfortable houses was blown up in the city of Saint Louis. (Introducing Postmodernism, 2004, p. 115)

I think that postmodernism serves as assimilation of the experience of artistic avant-garde. However, unlike avant-garde, postmodernism fully erases the border between formerly independent spheres of spiritual culture and levels of consciousness – between “scientific” and “ordinary” consciousness, “high art” and “kitsch”. The postmodernist attitude to culture appears as a result of violating the “purity” of such a phenomenon as art. Postmodernism consciously moves away from creating “original works” to collage. And the strategy of postmodernism does not consist in assertion of destruction versus creation.


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