Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Initial Proposal

Here is my intial dissertation proposal and the response I received from Gareth. My ideas are very broad here and it is important to narrow things down quickly in order to have more focused research.

The context and concepts you mention here are quite well defined but also a little broad so that over the summer you will have to unpack them and pick apart in more detailed and assertive ways – still, the focus on Hollister is excellent and offers lot of potential. The idea of capitalism, consumerism and post-modern forms of representation and practice are an interesting hypotheses and I am clear about how far you want to go with this as a critical / analytical dissertation which examines the complexities of specific instances of consumerism, identity and the hyper-real. Whilst the proposal is very well formed  (good start on lit searches but they also need some clarity – for key texts do some key word searches using Google books and scholar) all it does up until this point is to offer a rather general way to conceptualise these issues. Critically locating the three key areas (1. Capitalism, 2. Consumerism and 3. Post-modernity) may well offer a better starting point as you need to begin to look at key critical works in media and cultural study which deal with the paradigms you are most interested in.  All of this can then be ‘plugged into’ a clear methodology (questionnaires, interviews etc.) as well as contextual readings of work and advertising campaigns or branding strategies used by Hollister. Performing some key word searches at library and/or doing journal searches and clarifying your methods will enable you to begin to concentrate on just how interesting and at times well-conceived a more detailed intervention is – the real vs virtual dimension may well work out as a way to begin. I know this is only a beginning but keep on unpacking how and why issues complicate one another and reposition aspects of visual representation. This will have to be well illustrated in your research blog over the autumn term and you will need to keep it imaginative yet realistic for the manageability of the project.  I think you need to address the logic of the research and think about information management – A long side of Baudrillards hyper-real perhaps engage with a concept such as Pierre Bourdieu’s ‘habitus’ and/or think about Roland Barthes mythologies / semiotics as a critical / theoretical framework and discourse method as well as thinking about the primary research in more depth. Also, begin to think about building up a critical and theoretical knowledge base/dictionary. I like some of the ideas around primary research and we can discuss in detail when we meet so think about the practicalities of this too. You need to consult a larger number and variety of academic sources and try to be as clear as you can about HOW you are going to go about this. Reading, listing keywords, collecting visual and textual clippings and data throughout summer and into the autumn term will assist with this and create a dissertation proposal with far more clarity.  Do not hesitate to get in touch if you need more advice.
Gareth Longstaff
June 27th 2013 

Cabana Pool Bar

I found this video when looking at interior spaces designed by Toronto based firm, Munge Leung. The video shows scenes of people enjoying the new pool bar designed by Munge Leung. It came to my attention as although it is showing the work of the interior design company, the video is primarily showing a lifestyle to be associated with the pool bar and it's brand. The aesthetics of the bar itself are  in the background, I suppose letting the lifestyle do the talking. The video demonstrates the point of Baudrillard's from my last post that objects are no longer about function; they have social meaning. The many signs in this video all create a network of signs to be associated with the pool bar. Here are some thoughts:

  • The main focus in the video is attractive women (mainly in their bikinis), then men in the film appear to be just enjoying the women. Bikini=glamour, Nudity here=sex. If I go to this bar will I be sexy? Or do I have to be "sexy" to go to this bar? Possibly both.
  • In this situation the shisha is portrayed as being attractive, this is something we are seeing less and less of as smoking has more of a stigma attached today. 
  • The song "sunny" gives off connotations of happiness we associate with the sun. This mix also has a very relaxed feel about it, overall it implies the bar is a relaxed, carefree and happy place to be.
  • The contemporary/clean feel given off buy the abundance of white clothing.
  • Luxury: Presented Food, Branded Spirits, Sunglasses (celebrity vibe?)

Baudrillard for Beginners.

Here I have collected scans and key points from the book Baudrillard for Beginners by Chris Horrocks and Zoran Jevtic. This book simplifies some of Baudrillard's ideas/theories into short snippets of information; it gets to the point. Areas this post will cover:

  • Objects functionality becoming less important that social meaning
  • Shopping spaces which aim to sell a lifestyle as opposed to a functioning object
  • Liberation of Colour
  • Freedom of Choice
  • Needs

[Objects Meaning - Shopping Malls. Personal Relevance Rating: Very Relevant]
P14-15. 'Store displays refer to the consumer not to the objects function but their collective meaning - a calculus or network of signs.'

[Liberation of Colour. Personal Relevance Rating: Could be Relevant]
P16. 'In the 19th Century colours had no independent value from the particular objects they expressed-their symbolic meanings always arrived from their context. In the early 20th century colours became liberated and separated from their forms. They had a life of their own. Anything could be red, or blue, or green.'

[Freedom of Choice]
P20. 'Individual choice is the ideology of the industrial system. Freedom of choice is imposed on the consumer.'

[Needs - PRR: Might be Relevant]
P26. 'If we acknowledge that a need is not a need for a particular object as much as it is a "need" for difference (the desire for social meaning), only then will we understand that satisfaction can never be fulfilled, and consequently there can never be a definition of needs.'

Monday, 2 September 2013

Response to My Initial Ideas

Hi Ami

I think that to focus your energies within these areas is a good starting point and that post-modern spaces, the hyper-real, the leisure / pleasure dynamic and the process of commodification, conspicuous consumption and desire all align to what you say about Hollister and I think this would make an excellent contextual starting point. Think about the ideal or hyper-real body and its implications in terms of how you are seduced and encouraged to consume within that space – how the carrier bags reproduce the perfect yet unattainable identity of the model and how the assistants are simulations or copies of the models who wear the clothes in the advertising campaigns.
Issues such as manipulation, distortion and aspiration are key here and you will do well to continue to unpack these issues using 1. As critically accurate a language as you can (see Baudrillard etc..) 2. A series of contexts to make sense of what can be often abstract claims – for example what do you think Hollister and Black Mirror have in common – what issues link them?
I also think the Nostalgia line is an excellent one but it I s really and either or here as both a just too big for the life of the project – have another think through and see where you get – I hope this helps in some way

Initial Subject Ideas

I have created this blog in order to keep a track of research for my dissertation. The image shoes some initial ideas on themes on paper which I developed in my first email to Gareth:

Shopping centres compared with religious spaces, palaces. Post modern spaces. Fashionable to give into temptation, have discontent with things as they are.

Fad shops such as Hollister where there are in store models, blurring the lines between what is attainable and what isn't. It is no longer just a picture in a magazine which is likely to be photoshopped, it is a real person and therefore could the link between the product and the desirable attributes of the model be stronger? (apologies for the poor wording here.)

Hyperreality. Screens, Black Mirror.

Nostalgia towards traditional shopping, boutiques, farm markets, sweet shops. A sense of giving back­­, doing the right thing locally, guilt free spending – recession. 

The same product can be packaged sold differently, have a different meaning and yet essentially it is the same thing. Branding.

Demanding culture, everything should be instant, now. No waiting. Itchy feet.