This lecture takes us back to thinking about critical theory and how to understand more complex ideas and concepts. Like Pop culture for instance, what is pop culture? Popular Culture has several characteristics, some of which i personally enjoy especially when you see that it stems from ideas of kitsch culture and over the top consumerism, also pop culture must be something that is well liked by a large group of people; but may not necessarily be in “good taste”. Pop Culture is most famed around the 1960’s, Pop Art for example showed all of these traits as it was fast, easily accessible, mass produced, not necessarily in good taste but definitely bright, eye catching and well liked for the most part. It was part of the throwaway culture that America has become so famous for. Write Raymond Williams said that the culture defined the modern age, and this is true because throwaway culture is everywhere, goods have become cheaper but not necessarily as well made but people don’t care because they have the money to replace cheap for cheap.
Collin spoke about Pierre Bourdieu who came up with the ideas of Cultural Capital and Cultural Fields, this is a sociological concept that dictates that people draw upon cultural capital when participating in their social life, its the knowledge we use to participate even when using etiquette and the ability to read and write. cultural fields has been described in his book as:
The space of literary or artistic position-takings, i.e. the structured set of the manifestations of the social agents involved in’ the field — literary or artistic works, of course, but also political acts or pronouncements, manifestos or polemics, etc. — is inseparable from the space of literary or artistic positions defined by possession of a determinate quantity of specific capital (recognition) and, at the same time, by occupation of a determinate position in the structure of the distribution of this specific capital. The literary or artistic field is a field of forces, but it is also a field of struggles tending to transform or conserve this field of forces.(30)
what i understand from this and from the lecture is that a cultural field is the other references you make to culture when you are trying to understand or analyse something. A piece of art for example cannot be judged on the piece alone, cultural and historical frameworks must be taken into account like when was it made, its like taking other points of reference to understand something on a cultural level. I think this will be useful when doing my essay because it will encourage me to look at the bigger picture, with more variables and ideas rather than just the piece of work itself i intend to look at.
Also in terms of cultural capital, its something humans add to an object or idea that gives it more value. Like in cars for example, you automatically assume that if a car is a Mercedes or a BMW, its worth more in monetary value and social value as opposed to a citroen or a vauxhall. This is because they would be deemed higher in class and capital value. An example of this is that as America was developing popular culture, the mass produced throwaway culture, their artists and creatives automatically had less cultural capital than those from Europe. ( Although i am not sure this is true for the likes of Andy Warhol)
This lecture took me back to thinking about kitsch culture, and why i have a love for it and why it has a presence within the majority of my work. I feel we have become a society that is quick to judge art and design based on their cultural capital, and popular culture or “Low brow” art falls short in this, regardless of the skills and techniques used to create it and whether the finished article is appealing. I personally find that something created by Jeff Koons, although his work lacks contextual meaning on the level of some other contemporary artists, i find his work to be far more of an enjoyable experience to interact with than for example an empty room installation with a few planks of wood stacked up ( yes i have seen this in the Tate Modern).
here is an article i found particularly enlightening in terms of popular culture and Kitsch 🙂 and below is an extract from it that speaks about the subject in quite a logical yet powerful manner:
The Oxford art dictionary hedges its bets, defining kitsch as “art, objects or design considered to be in poor taste because of excessive garishness or sentimentality, but sometimes appreciated in an ironic or knowing way …”
This probably fits most people’s contemporary view of kitsch. But actually such definitions are loaded with preconceptions. “Excessive garishness” and “sentimentality” are dismissals that reveal more about the speaker than the object: so you fear the garish and shun the sentimental? What does that say about you?
In fact, kitsch started out as a dismissive term for the entirety of popular culture. In his essay Avant Garde and Kitsch, published in 1939, the American art critic Clement Greenberg marvelled: “One and the same civilisation produces simultaneously two such different things as a poem by TS Eliot and a Tin Pan Alley song, or a painting by Braque and a Saturday Evening Post cover.” For Greenberg there were only two polarities of culture: serious high modernist art,such as Eliot’s poetry or a cubist painting, versus the vacuous art preferred by the majority, including pop music and the paintings of Norman Rockwell.