Monday, 17 October 2011

Lecture One - Modernity and Modernism.

‘Modern’ Definitions

·        Modern doesn’t mean up to date. It is something that has been improved and is better than before, a more radical and more progressive form of art. The consumer world relies on it, without the idea of ‘modern’ fashion wouldn’t exist. Modernism emerges out of the subjective responses of artists and designers to Modernity, a social and cultural experience.
The Modernity Era
·        Modernity began around 1760 due to urbanisation where people moved from a rural world to one of industry.
·        Changes that occurred were: people’s lives were more controlled due to shift patterns, increased population, life speeds up with the invention of trains, more interconnected with telephones, more leisure activities, and different relationship with society.
·        Process of rationality and reason takes place, where people turn to science rather than religion.
·        World time is instigated in modernity with the invention of rail travel.
·        Fashion becomes a way of identifying yourself in the increased population.
·        Growth of disciplines like psychology. People though the progress in technology could drive people mad.
·        Class division became more noticeable. People’s interaction changed as differences were more visible in the modern world. Life became more rational with work and free time, this also cemented the divide.
·        Modernity finished in the 1960’s giving way to a Post Modern era.
The Modernity Cultural Race
·        Around the 1800’s there was a strong rivalry between London and Paris over who was the most modern and culturally forward. Exhibitions would take place yearly where each city would display their newest innovations, where Paris would always come out on top.
Paris during Modernity
·        By 1900 Paris was the most progressive city on the planet and was purposely designed to be the most modern city.
·        There were many changes in the architecture around the city. Crumbling alleyways were replaced with big boulevards to help reduce crime and push the poor out into the suburbs. Electric street lighting was also introduced. The Eiffel Tower was built which rose above the traditional architecture, it was made of modern materials and the scale showed ambition.
·        The city became an area of study for artists and writers, they turned their attention away from myths and rich customers as subjects for their art. The new focus in art was to not paint the world but do paint the experiences of people in this new urban environment.
New Technology and their effect during Modernity
·        You can trace changes in art with changes in the world – society modernises art.
·        Technology became a fetish, a new phenomenon.
·        New development of optical science led to new developments in styles of painting. For example, dots of contrasting colour.
·        Classical painting and its idea of ‘the rule of thirds’ gave way to cropping due to the invention of photography. Artists also abandoned realism to compete, as surrealism was something that photo’s couldn’t create.
·        Kaiser Panorama 1883, a mass optical viewing device that showed slides of art and photography. This invention demonstrates people paying to see images of the world rather than looking for free and also viewing as an individual experience.
·        The creation of film and cinema was a very radical invention.
·        New bird’s eye view angles documented a big shift in visual culture.
·        The development of new materials such as concrete, steel, plastics, aluminium and reinforced glass led to mass production.
Modernism in Art and Design
·        Anti-historicism – always looking forward to invent new styles.
·        Staying true to materials – letting materials speak for themselves and not covering them with something else.
·        Form follows function – the look is secondary to how the design works. The beauty comes from functionality and simplicity.
·        Internationalism – a language of design that could be recognised and understood on an international basis.
·        ‘Ornament is crime’ Adolf Loos (1908). You shouldn’t make things trendy as it will go out of fashion. If you strip it down to the basics it will always look new.
·        Sans Serif fonts were designed in the modernist era. This was also the time where movable type was in use and it was argued that uppercases should be removed to make the process easier and more functional.

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