Thursday, 29 November 2012

Lecture Seven - Celebrity Culture.

  • the history of celebrity
  • the relationship between photography/film/tv/celebrity
  • the cultural significance of celebrity
  • contemporary icons as case studies
  • how contemporary identity and celebrity are intwined

Julia Margaret Cameron
  • celebrity portraits
  • the pictoralist tradition
  • late 19th and early 20th century
  • a style that imitated painting, soft focus, sepia tones
  • sitters are often acting scenes from mythology or religious themes
  • male celebrities were given a different treatment photographically, more solid and less ethereal
  • more about what they did than how they looked

Invention of moving pictures
  • Louis Aime Augustin Le Prince, an inventor who lived in leeds
  • filmed moving images on leeds bridge in 1888
  • perfected the cinematography
  • The Artist (2011), silent movie except music, portrayal of an earlier era

Early celebrities
  • Josephine Baker (1906-1975)
    • her success coincides with the Art Deco movement
    • a muse for contemporary authors, painters, designers and sculptures
    • Langston Hughes, Christian Dior, Pablo Picasso
    • influences in popular culture - Beyonce, Fashion Rocks
  • Clark Gable
    • 'king of hollywood'
    • starred opposite many star actresses
    • silent films and on stage
    • portrayed as an on and off screen hero
  • Bette Davis
    • known for willingness to play unlikeable characters
    • less attractive or evil
    • Mildred of 'Human Bondage' (1934)
    • Regina Giddens in 'The Little Foxes' (1941)
    • married a man who claimed he had never heard of her
  • Marilyn Monroe
    • actress, singer
    • iconic as a sex symbol, spectacle
    • her death freezes her status as her image will never disintegrate
    • relationships with Arthur Miller and the Kennedy's
    • Andy Warhol pop art - her face becomes a mask, endlessly repeated in publicity and the news, idea that there is a different women underneath
    • Audrey Flack 'Marilyn' (1977) - vanitas painting where object in the image have a symbolic meaning
  • Elvis Presley
    • Warhol uses an image of him acting the classic american hero, the cowboy
    • blurs our vision, reminds us that the image is all we can see
    • music, good looks and acing all colliding
  • John F Kennedy
    • celebrity politician
    • youth and good looks
    • television speeches
    • fashionable and beautiful wife
    • his death in 1963 was not filmed by TV cameras but by the public
    • most valuable film footage $16million

Advent of Television
  • 'golden age' begins in the late 40's and goes through the 50's and 60's
  • focus on drama as entertainment
  • celebrities from public to private domain

The changing face of celebrity
  • The Jacksons as a brand
    • musicians/performers
    • 1971 the Jackson 5 had an animated cartoon on TV
    • 1976 the act in a comedy where they perform as themselves
    • the changes in Michael Jacksons appearance
    • symbolic of a society that is obsesses with appearance
    • he looks less like his father, reduces african american features
  • Madonna
    • changes her image for each tour and album
    • Material Girl (1985)
    • Vogue (1990)
    • post modern recycling of the golden era of Hollywood
  • Lady Gaga
    • post post modern icon
    • Lady Gaga recycles her image for every public appearance
    • mutation of image
    • no longer a signature look, like in the early Hollywood days
    • can't connect with the real person
    • just about the spectacle not her personality
    • meat dress - a feminist statement or looking at the hypocrisy in the attitudes to eating meat or an anti fashion statement or no meaning?

Modern Celebrities
  • Barak Obama
    • 'pop' president
    • young, good looking, musical
    • politicians reaching out through popular culture
    • reaching out to the masses
  • YouTube
    • created february 2005
    • self made celebrities
    • the masses reaching out
  • Princess Diana
    • 1980's
    • represents innocence and beauty
    • reinvents herself as a fashion icon as the begin to separate
    • photographed by Mario Testino, fashion photography
    • remarketing herself
    • the paparazzi seem to be to blame for her death
    • but our demand for 'real life' images of celebrity gives a demand for these images
    • share in grief and drama
    • one exaggerates the other
  • David Beckham
    • contemporary 'everyman'
    • Beckhams as a brand
    • cross worlds of fashion, sport and music
    • overcomes private life scandals

Imitation of celebrity
  • comic
  • tribute bands
  • commercial value to imitation

Photography of celebrities
  • Alison Jackson 'Private' 2004
    • unreal 
    • set up scenes
    • the underside of celebrity
    • voyeuristic moments
    • as if they are being secretly looked at
  • Pierre and Giles
    • elevating celebrities
    • before Photoshop was commonly used
    • retouched/airbrushed images
    • studio sets
    • colours from Indian religious posters
    • god like status and worship

  • we can follow celebrities
  • details of their home and private lives
  • find out about latest projects
  • read their innermost thoughts
  • crosses line between public and private
  • gossip vehicle
  • replacement of magazines

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Goji Brief Bird and Feather Designs.

I have decided to look into the theme of birds and feathers from this brief. I got this from the word 'freedom' that was mentioned as a main idea from Goji. It made me think of the saying 'free as a bird' and I thought it would be a nice starting point for ideas.

Sabine Reinhart

I really like the style of these pattern designs with the contrast of block colour and linear shapes. I also love the colour scheme and think it would work well with a female audience. I could imagine something like this working very successfully on an iPhone/pad cover or a laptop sleeve as I think the bold design will be very aesthetically attractive.

Allan Deas

This is a very bold design that is very eye-catching. I really like the layered effect and I think it is an interesting response to pattern design. The contrast between the white, black and yellow has a lot of impact. I also think this style is more suitable for both genders.

Pol Kip

This style has a very strong hand rendered illustrative look which appeals to me. I think how all the birds fit together like a jig-saw and how it creates white space that is a nice break from the detailed look of the birds. I really like colour scheme of different shapes of blue and I think a range could be created using different colours.

Eva Hebenstreit

The pattern in these designs is based within the illustrations rather than the repeat of the shapes, which is a slightly different approach. I am not as keen on the look of these birds as I think they have a more childish look that isn't suitable for the target audience I am focussing on.

Matt Richards

I think these feather patterns are great and have a lot of impact, which could be because of the monochrome colour scheme that has a lot of contrast. I think these designs would be a lot more suitable for males and females because of the neutral colours and simple yet effective design.

Patricia Mafra

I chose to look at these deigns as they focus on different breeds of birds than the rest I've looked at. I like the abstract look and use of texture applied to the shapes and background. I like the bold shapes.


These designs focus on a very simplified look at birds that I think is interesting. Yet the bold, simplified shapes work well and still get the design across clearly. I also like the use of similar tones of colour that work well in getting the form of the bird across whilst still retaining the simple look.


I like how these designs show birds in flight which I think emphasises the 'freedom' idea. The limited colour palettes is also effective and works well in separating the form of the birds. Furthermore, it is a good way to distinguish between different gender options. It also works well as a pattern even though all the images aren't identical, this also really gets the thought across of birds flying in a group.

Matt Layen

This design really goes with the overlaid aesthetic, although I think it would be improved with a bit more white space as the overall look is very dark. I think this aspect also makes it more suitable for a male audience.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Lecture Six - Popular Culture.

  • critically define popular culture
  • contrast ideas of 'culture' with 'popular culture' and 'mass culture'
  • introduce cultural studies and critical theory
  • discuss culture as an ideology

What is culture?
  • general process of intellectual, spiritual and aesthetic development of a particular society, at a particular time
  • a particular way of life
  • works of intellectual and especially artistic significance

Marx's concept of Base/Superstructure
  • Base
    • forces of production - materials, tools, workers, skills
    • relations of production - employer/employee, class, master/slave
  • Superstructure
    • social institutions - legal, political, cultural
    • forms of consciousness - ideology
  • base > determines content and form of > superstructure > reflects form and legitimises > base
  • base = industrial capitalists and workers
  • superstructure = systems of law, ideology and religion, politics, army

Raymond Williams (1983) 'keywords'
  • 4 definitions of 'popular'
    • well liked by many people
    • inferior kinds of work (base culture)
    • work deliberately setting out to win favour with the people
    • culture actually made by the people themselves, made by the masses for the masses
  • class divide between popular culture and culture

  • Jeremy Deller and Alan Kane (2005) 'Folk Archive', work that wouldn't normally be displayed in a gallery, ask the question why are these not classed as culture?
  • Graffiti in South Bronx and Banksy piece exhibited in Covent Garden, stolen buy culture

Evolution of the Base
  • E.P Thompson (1963) 'The making of the english working class'
  • heavy industrialisation, process of urbanisation, growth of the city, hyper development of industrial capitalism
  • clear who the rich and poor were
  • clear lines of class separation
  • before it was believed culture was shared but it was made by the elite
  • then a culture made by the workers for the workers, done for profit, entrepreneurial
  • entertainment - music magazines
  • political literature - speaking of classes
  • independent living was ground upon by the upper classes
  • birth of chartism, movement to get working class people the vote
  • backlash from the 'taste makers' of culture.
  • Matthew Arnold (1867) 'Culture and Anarchy'
    • ''the best that has been thought and said in the world'
    • culture is a study of perfection
    • attained through disinterested reading, writing thinking
    • the pursuit of culture
    • seeks to 'minister the diseased spirit of our time'
    • anarchy should be seen as the working class who dare to stake a claim or write a culture of their own
  • Leavisism - F.R Leavis & Q.D Leavis
    • similar views to Matthew Arnold
    • still forms a kind of repressed, common sense attitude to popular culture in this country
    • standardisation and levelling down
    • 'culture has always been in minority keeping'
    • believes culture is on the decline as society has become more developed
    • culture is more standardised and stupid
    • 'the minority, who had hithero set the standard to taste without any serious challenge have experienced a collapse.
  • collapse of traditional authority comes at the same time as mass democracy (anarchy)
  • nostalgia for an era when the masses exhibited an unquestioning deference to (cultural) authority
  • popular culture offers addictive forms of distraction and compensation
  • emergence of mass democracy

Frankfurt School
  • institute of social research, University of Frankfurt, 1923 - 33
  • University of Colombia New York, 1933 - 47
  • University of Frankfurt, 1949 - 
  • argued that popular culture maintains social order
  • doesn't present a challenge but strengthens the system that we live in
  • isn't a threat to social order
  • Reinterpreted Marx for the 20th Century  - era of 'late capitalism'
  • defined the culture industry, two main products: homogeneity and predictability
  • 'all mass culture is identical'
  • 'as soon as the film begins, it is quite clear how it will end, and who will be rewarded, punished to forgotten'
  • all uniform and identical: films, tv, music
  • people are fed a monotonous stream
  • why are people so pacified in the modern world? endless stream of popular culture, reaches you prescribed views stops you trying to change it
  • culture acts as a fog that makes things seem ok

Authentic culture v popular culture
  • contemporary 'culture industry' 
    • x-factor - sympathy stories, creating a system that is self perpetuating, teaching us that way out is to go on a talent show and be judged, not saying the way forward is to start a revolution
    • hollyoaks calendar - presented as sexual objects
    • big brother
  • Adorno 'On popular music'
    • programmes us
    • hates all music
    • standardised
    • pre-programmed
    • easy to produce

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Goji Design Research.

For research into the design aspect of electronics accessories I have started to look at current products on the market. 


The colours used in the prints are very rich and earthy tones which gives a sumptuous look. Because they are all a similar tone they work very well together, this is something I will have to consider. I also like the use of cream as I think it helps break up the composition and makes the patterns more visible.

Mark Jacobs

I like how with some of these the companies branding has been incorporated into the design. Sometimes this could be annoying but because of the high profile nature of Marc Jacobs the audience would like the fact that it is visible for other people to see. How it has been done also applies to the design in a cool way.


I find these designs very interesting as I like the detail that has been captured within them. I really like the colour scheme of teal and how the orange adds a vibrant pop. The shapes here remind me of a kaleidoscope because of the symmetry and reflection.

Diane Von Furstenberg

The shapes on these iPhone covers are especially bold and eye-catching. I think with the example on the left this is because of the use of the bright, neon green and on the right because of the thick stroke width and contrasting colours.

Jonathan Adler

These shapes appear very childlike and naive because of the combination of shape and colour. I think a design like this would be more suitable for a young person.

Tory Burch

The slightly muted tones of these cases really appeal to me as they appear vibrant without being to in your face. With the orange  example I like how a textural appearance has been created by the shapes and varying tones of orange. The case on the far right also has a very graphic look, that I think is helped by the reflection of the composition down the centre.

Goji Brand Research.

For initial research I wanted to look at Goji's current product range. What I surprisingly found was that for a new, up and coming company the items they had were very bland and generic. The colours were dull and the only aspect of pattern is polka dots. There doesn't really seem to be a sense of style that would attract a young, fashionable audience. The materials used also seem very plain and don't have any luxury look about them.

Logo and strap line:

Current products: