October 13th, 2008

operesque

The rise and fall of postmodernism

Tuesday, 6pm at London's Architectural Association I'm giving a talk called "The Ideology of the Iconic", but it might be better titled "The Rise and Fall of Postmodernism". Here, just so I can have all my notes for the talk in one place, are my notes. ("Et tu, Momus?" gasps Pomo, staggering on the steps of the forum, ironic blood pouring from its back.)

I'll start with a bold assertion: Postmodernism begins and ends with Persil. The "Saponides et Détergents" essay in Roland Barthes' Mythologies (1957) discusses Omo and Persil (both made by Unilever) as if they were iconic deities (in fact they were almost identical powders). Almost fifty years later Spice Girl Victoria Beckham said she wanted to be "as famous as Persil Automatic".

Richard Hamilton in 1957, The Eleven Commandments of mass culture:

1. Popular (designed for mass audiences) 2. Transient (short-term solution) 3. Expendable (easily forgotten) 4. Low cost 5. Mass produced 6. Young (aimed at youth) 7. Witty 8. Sexy 9. Gimmicky 10. Glamorous 11. Big business.

Distinctions collapsed by postmodernism:
HIGH / LOW
HERE / THERE
NOW / THEN
MINE / THEIRS
SACRED / PROFANE (the old and new definitions of "iconic")
ORIGINAL / COPY

Perhaps we should add FREEDOM / COMPULSION; despite the idea of the "death of the author" enabling the reader, pomo saw the disabling of the will of the consumer (the guilty pleasures of puritan consumerism), the creative (the metaphysical masochism of the capitalist creative), the critic (the curse of situatedness), the icon herself.

Diana to Bashir: "you see yourself as a good product that sits on a shelf and sells well, and people make a lot of money out of you".

http://imomus.com/thought110100.html
Metaphysical masochism of the capitalist creative

http://imomus.livejournal.com/86472.html
Guilty Pleasures

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v24/n23/jay_01_.html
Speaking Azza (Martin Jay / David Simpson) Situatedness

Artists, too, ceased to impose their own will. Warhol's capitulated stance that everything was "great", his (ironic, non-ironic, nihilist) celebration of celebrity, leading to Koons, Hirst, Pharmacy, gormless irony, and the twin traps of satire and pastiche.

Kirsty Wark: "Love her or loathe her, you cannot underestimate Madonna's impact on music or her iconic status"

John Wilson interviewing Terence Davies on Front Row (audio file)

Oasis referencing the Magical Mystery Tour, Keane referencing Ashes to Ashes -- even when inspired by creative mentors, they also have their creative will radically disabled by the ouroboros / echo chamber / museum pop has become

Pop culture has become an interpretive art, not an improvisational or innovative one

Failure to rip up the rulebook has produced an epigone culture

Critics pick iconic albums over the decades, only three from the last ten years

http://imomus.livejournal.com/315200.html
The rise and fall of popular music

ARCHEOLOGY OF THE WORD ICONIC

Repetition culture, marketing and PR, instant classics, branding, celebrity, recognition rather than cognition

Russian icons exhibition at the RA 1998

Rant by prof
Dr Stephen James
Senior Lecturer in English
University of Bristol
http://imomus.livejournal.com/405514.html
Pop, populism, unpop, apoptosis

http://www.amazon.com/How-Brands-Become-Icons-Principles/dp/1578517745
How Brands become Icons: Principles of Cultural Branding by Douglas B Holt
In this eye-opening book, Holt demonstrates that brands become icons not by highlighting unique features and benefits but by staking out a provocative and valued position in the national culture. Iconic brands address acute cultural contradictions -- and the widespread desires and anxieties they create -- by "performing" myths.

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v00/n03/zize01_.html
Don't Just Do Something, Talk
Slavoj Zizek on the tendency for financial analysts to go meta: to describe their sentiment of market sentiment

http://www.frieze.com/comment/article/genuinely_rude/
Genuinely rude, Frieze: fall of master critics, rise of PR people: 47,800 PR people feeding stories to just 45,000 journalists in the UK

the recursive fate of all attempts to redefine

http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/arts/artexhibition-20634236-details/Tino+Sehgal/artexhibitionReview.do?reviewId=23384000
Tino Seghal at ICA: "But as an act of 'subversion' surely it's all a bit lame. Certainly, the typical ICA crowd this will attract are just too art savvy to think this a genuinely thought-provoking piece. For where once the pushing of boundaries in art gave the ICA its purpose, that very concept now appears extremely tired."

In order to understand Nathan Barley's jokes, you had to be part of the group it satirized.

MID-POMO


Paul Morley interviews Brian Eno in The Thing Is... 1992
Note Barbara Kruger graphics

The promise of digital democratization

http://imomus.com/index499.html
Pop Stars? Nein danke!

http://www.shirky.com/writings/powerlaw_weblog.html
Power Laws, Weblogs and Inequality Clay Shirky

http://imomus.com/thought270199.html
Time Out sections and their different attitudes to Pomo in 1999

WHAT POMO HAS BECOME

http://imomus.livejournal.com/241754.html
Love... or "remasturbation"?

http://www.wired.com/culture/lifestyle/commentary/imomus/2007/02/72705?currentPage=all
Golden Age of Stupid Impact

http://imomus.livejournal.com/255928.html
Retro Necro

http://imomus.livejournal.com/342852.html
Quinlan Terry

LATE POMO POP CULTURE

http://imomus.livejournal.com/205196.html
Chop of the Pops

http://imomus.livejournal.com/384077.html
As with Disco, so with the disc

The MUDAM conference in April, Candice Breitz's admission that appropriationism might be "generational"

THE RE-ESTABLISHMENT OF HIGH AND UNDERGROUND CULTURE POST-POMO

http://www.juliangough.com/journal/2008/9/14/david-foster-wallace-has-committed-suicide.html
Julian Gough on attacking pop culture as "beating up prostitutes"

Bourriaud's idea of the Altermodern
a globalization of multipolarity, translation, a point-to-point, many-to-many world rather than the New World Order of 90s globalization, which arranged everything around a single, central hub (the US, the West).

http://www.wired.com/culture/culturereviews/commentary/imomus/2007/04/imomus0410

Failure of the democratic promise of pomo

http://imomus.com/index499.html
Pop Stars? Nein danke!

http://www.shirky.com/writings/powerlaw_weblog.html
Power Laws, Weblogs and Inequality Clay Shirky

Repressive desublimation

http://imomus.livejournal.com/116632.html
Dionysus, meet Jesus!

Adam Curtis Century of the Self
There is a policeman inside our heads -- he must be destroyed

Nuns Sister Corita
Reappearance of nuns and museums in work by, for instance, Tacita Dean and Lucy Skaer & Rosalind Nashashibi

http://www.frieze.com/issue/review/5th_berlin_biennial
Frieze review of 5th Berlin Biennial

"disappeared moments fade again, or twinkle obliquely across a great divide: the dusty conflations of ancient and modern objects (coins, cracked vases, keys, scissors) that Paul Sietsema’s camera patiently anatomises in his 16mm film Figure 3 (2008), for example, or the half-revived remnants of antiquity in films, photographs and a floor-based Perspex mimicry of a frieze of charioteers in Lucy Skaer and Rosalind Nashashibi’s installation Pygmalion (2008). These works can’t restore the certainties those times appeared to enjoy. What we might do now, this show quietly infers, is evolve towards an acceptance of the restlessly incommensurate"

Dexter Sinister's ludic didacticism

http://imomus.livejournal.com/353140.html
Pervasive Urban Gaming, my ambivalence about the ludic

There is a tyranny of structure, and a tyranny of structurelessness

Turning the corner on the American Empire

Gangsta rap -- the ultimate incarnation, perhaps, of American pop cultural values (suitcases of money, power, corruption, murder, guns, sex, the inflated maverick self) -- replaced by reggae, Afropop and Matsuri-kei.

http://imomus.livejournal.com/404886.html
Reggae and the concept of Babylon
Who is the better economist, Lee "Scratch" Perry or Alan "Scratch That" Greenspan?

http://imomus.livejournal.com/405953.html
Matsuri-kei

http://imomus.livejournal.com/406409.html
Afropop

Flashy shows (still going on in the form of Basel and Hirst etc) replaced by Documenta, Berlin Biennial, Yokohama Triennale, etc.

Modernity as our antiquity (bypassing the pomo, an embarrassing, noisy comedy uncle)

Cairoscape
http://imomus.livejournal.com/403930.html

In the Desert of Modernity
http://vernissage.tv/blog/2008/09/23/in-the-desert-of-modernity-house-of-world-cultures-berlin/
Africa as a laboratory for Modernism

http://imomus.livejournal.com/406227.html
Peyton Place or the Altermodern?

Distinctions collapsed by postmodernism (re-examine their resurrection)
HIGH / LOW
HERE / THERE
NOW / THEN
MINE / THEIRS
SACRED / PROFANE
ORIGINAL / COPY

Attacks on popular culture
Tomoko Miyata saying she didn't listen to pop "because I was a rebel"

http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/charlottehigginsblog/2008/oct/08/classicalmusicandopera
Peter Maxwell Davies hits out against Damien Hirst, the universe and everything

http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2008/oct/09/youngpeople.history
Historian says Beatles were just capitalists, and not youth heroes

The re-establishment of the underground and of difficult high culture

http://imomus.livejournal.com/344651.html
Documenta 12 just keeps getting better

http://imomus.livejournal.com/395955.html
Oorutaichi

http://imomus.com/thought061000.html
Unpop

http://imomus.livejournal.com/404264.html
Sacrificial Dandy Simon Bookish

Berlin as a museum of subcultures

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v28/n17/jame02_.html
Frederic Jameson reviews Zizek, defines parallax

http://imomus.livejournal.com/270384.html
Cupid, po and psych

In Sophia's book the origins of postfeminism are described like this: "The first shift between feminism and postfeminism was marked by the following event: Paris, 6 March 1968 -- International Women's Day. Members of the group psychanalyse et politique (later re-named politique et psychanalyse, or po et psych) marched through the city carrying placards reading 'Down with Feminism'." But "postfeminism does not mean that feminism is over. It signifies a shift in feminist theory... In the shift from feminism to postfeminism, women have begun to celebrate difference rather than equality."

Runnerup-ization

http://imomus.livejournal.com/398191.html
Tao Lin
Oasis

http://imomus.livejournal.com/405024.html
De-celebritization of everyday life
An American train driver talks about ritual and legitimacy
(The reverse logic of reality TV)

Multipolarity and incommensurability

The Altermodern

Has pop music now switched from paradigmatic (which connects to iconic) to syntagmatic mode? In other words, is it a landscape of incommensurables, the Zizekian parallax?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apoptosis
Apoptosis

Programmed cell death can create fingers and toes in the organism by killing the cells in between. This is how new shapes are made, new tools which in turn will create new tools, and new culture. In our cultural laboratories we need to cauterize the dead cells of American-era and popular culture, and go forward from the postmodern-iconic-monopolar to the altermodern-incommensurate-multipolar.