Images and Postmodernity

Images and Postmodernity

Visual culture is concerned with visual events in which information, meaning, or pleasure is sought by the consumer in an interface with the technology. Visual culture is new precisely because its focus on the visual as a place where meanings are created and contested. The Western culture prioritizes spoken word as a form of intellectual practice and they put less emphasis and reliance to visual representations. Unlike modernists, postmodernist aimed at embracing cultural diversity and the prevalence of contradiction in arts. Visual culture is necessitated by the freedom bestowed on postmodern creators as one is able to combine various styles and elements of arts. The apparent theme of the visual art can be irrelevant to the subject of analysis; and that is the extent of freedom that postmodernist creator can embrace. Some of the styles that are articulated by postmodernists include irony, pastiche, collage, digression, and eclecticism (Adams, 2010). In addition, postmodern representation is predominantly visual, but any visual representation is permeated by verbal discourse which forms part of the cultural context in which the work is embedded and given meaning. Indeed, Broude and Garrard (2005) show how critical potential of images may be considerably enhanced when they are combined unconventionally with textual passages; and much feminist visual critique does in fact incorporate textual passages.

Visual culture influences an individual’s perception of life, and how to handle issues and challenges in the society. Before technological advancement took the center stage in the digital world, printed media was used to convey information across the globe. However, with the advent of computers, online communication plays a crucial role in the postmodern society. Digitization is the main characteristic of postmodernism (Lovejoy, 2004). The digital content is delivered through different media including television broadcast, digital radio, digital video disk (DVD), and compact dist (CD) (Lovejoy, 2004). Internet has been a key communication platform in which the digital contents can be convened to the public. Over the past few decades, the growth in mobile devices, rise in the use of internet services, and digital media growing have combined to harness the meaning of digitization. However, digitization has not only realized positive implications in the society, as the images and textual experiences have negatively affected the societal way of norm. Technology blurs the distinction between mass audiences and individuals, and, in turn, replaces the one-to-many model of traditional mass media with the possibility of a many-to-many web of communication (Adams, 2010). The society uses digital content and internet for individual communication with single known recipients such as instant messaging and e-mailing. Also small group communication is evidenced where the recipients are limited like micro blogging, social networking sites, and forums. The blur in the boundary between communication to mass audiences and that to individuals have made observers to replace the word ‘mass media’ with just ‘media’.

The images below demonstrate clear examples of the new textual experiences and simulated environments (Figure 1 and 2). With the aid of digital technology, the society can pass information through textual and/or video representation. In the current society, information is vital and the society relies on internet and online communication to convey information to third parties (Lovejoy, 2004). From the images, the visual texts are the main components of post-modern technology and they possess distinct characteristics of simulation and interactivity. The images portray the current situation in the world, with invention and innovation taking the center stage. The new textual experiences prompt for adversity in developing cultures and provide a platform from which they can access or develop modern initiatives in the society. The images show postmodernism as they are examples of new media technologies and digitization. Consequently, the images demonstrate interactivity among individuals in the society; a through characteristic of post-modernism.

It is the activities of modernism that led to the development of post-modern trends; therefore, it is critical to assess the implications and trends of modernism. The internet service was an invention of modernism which facilitated the development of postmodern online communication. It would be difficult to understand the culture of twentieth century without a clear understanding of the connection between modern and postmodernism (Barry, 1995). Communication in modernity had no direct audiences, as lit was directed to mass audiences. However, the need for high probability of target audience receiving the information necessitated digitization, which is evidenced with the use of emails that are send to specific individual or group of persons. A digital culture has evolved through technological advancement process and it incorporates images, sounds, and spectacles which have enhanced social behavior, shape political views, produced a fabric of dominating an individual’s leisure time and everyday life. It is from these characteristics of postmodernism that individuals have forged their political and social identities. Media stories and images provide resources, myths, and symbols that enhance common culture for different individuals across the globe. Digitization has ensured that resources available enhance creation of identities in which individuals can fit into techno-cultural societies and produce a new global culture.

Digital technology shapes the culture in the society. The digital world, preferably media, consists of sound reproduction systems and radio systems; films; print media including magazines and newspapers, and television. The culture shapes the perception of individuals on the contemporary world and aims at managing their feelings, emotions and providing them with informed ideas on the trends in the society. Digitization is an industrial culture in which it is based on the evolution of the digital media and it is characterized by mass audience and mass production of operations using conventional rules, codes, and formulas. Therefore, most of the individuals in the society will appreciate the contents of the digital world and put it in practice. From the images below (Figure 1 and Figure 2), the society may change from traditional cultural perspectives to a modern one. The mode of dressing changes, as they understand the new fashions in the economy. Unlike the past, where individuals relied on communication through physical means, digitization has ensured that the information can be accessed by various individuals across the globe at a short time; an effective way of conveying information.

Without digitization, the political world would still be characterized by seclusion and inequity in resource allocation. Textual experiences provide a platform in which the world can assess the trends in a particular geographical region, and how it uses the resource available in coordinating its operations. Indeed, the simulation of political arena either provides a negative or positive perception by the public on their operations. The political figures have devised strategy in which they use the digital media to demonstrate their mandates and operations in the economy. This has ensured that they become relevant in the current technological society. Digitization has enabled them to rely on textual experiences to simulate their agendas. For instance, the images below (Figure 2) show some of the innovations that can be implemented in the economy including the modern aircraft and space exploration.
Digital media spectacles show individuals or group of persons who are powerful and those that are powerless. It also demonstrates individuals who are eligible to exercise violence and force and those that are immune to violence. They legitimate and dramatize the power of force and it shows how the powerless can be forced to conform to the rules and regulations enacted by the powerful class; failure to conform will lead to incarceration. For those that are immersed in the consumer society and media, it is critical to understand and criticize the information and meanings of messages (Lovejoy, 2004). In the contemporary digital culture, the media information and the entertainment sector are always misperceived and profound source of the digital and cultural pedagogy. As such, they often contribute to education of individuals in the society through encouraging them to behave effectively, think positive, desire their objectives, and believe in every activity they undertake.

However, criticisms have always been directed towards postmodernism and the new textual experiences on safeguarding the social believes and practices in the society. Digitization has created cynicism on the reality of events and activities through the ability of editing and re-creating pictures. Unlike in the modernity, images and pictures of the individuals or events were conveyed and people believed that they were representation of the real happenings in the society. Sturken and Cartwright posited that the postmodern era has necessitated virtual expressions rather than real life situations (2009, p. 308). Digitalization has enhanced virtuality in the digital media where three dimensional simulated environments denote the current advancement in technology. In the case of Avatar 2011 and Last Riot 2006 the use of three-dimensional simulated environment pose questions on whether the images are real or just virtual. These 3D images are examples of post-modernism and show that new technology can create new textual experiences (Gibson and Aldrich, 2007). In the techno culture experiences, post modernity is signified by gaming where audiences are the users as they are responsible for constructing the narrative and controlling the outcome of the games. For instance, in the case of Sony PSP 2011 the users can interact with the game, and where necessary they can interact with other users across the globe.

Adams, L.S. (2010). The Methodologies of Art: An introduction. Boulder, Colorado, U.S.A: Westview Press.
Barry, P. (1995). Beginning theory: An introduction to literary and cultural theory. Manchester, England: Manchester University Press.
Berger, J. (1972). Ways of seeing. London, England: BBC and Penguin Books.
Broude, N. and Garrard, M.D. (Eds.) (2005). Reclaiming female agency: Feminist art history after postmodernism. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
Gibson, D. & Aldrich, C. (2007). Games and simulations in online learning: Research and development frameworks, Hershey: Idea Group Inc.
Lovejoy, M. (2004). Digital currents: Art in the electronic age, London: Routledge
Sturken, M. and Cartwright, L. (2009). Practices of looking: An introduction to visual culture, Oxford: Oxford University Press.


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