Relationship between art and popular culture studies

relationship between art and popular culture studies

Key words: popular culture, high culture, advertising, art prices, The New York Times For those interested in what are often referred to as the "high arts", the relationship and popular culture, especially as reflected in the studies of public . What is the relationship between high culture and popular culture? spiritual cultivation were thought to depend: intellectual work and the arts. In this way, texts of culture studies are comprised of all the meaningful relationships between media texts and the production of identity.

These developments are affecting everything from the paraphernalia of everyday life to ontological categories. As the pace continues, predictions about future discoveries and their consequences are impossible. Artists can establish a practice in which they participate at the core of this activity rather than as distant commentators, even while maintaining postmodern reservations about the meaning of the technological explosion.

Popular culture studies

Some analysts see scientific and technological research as the central creative core of the present era. I believe that the art historian of the future may look back at this period and see that the major aesthetic inputs have come from science and not from art Maybe science is evolving into a new science called art, a polymath subject once again. They can learn enough to become researchers and inventors themselves.

From the time of Leonardo until recently, the merger of scientific and artistic activity was not uncommon.

relationship between art and popular culture studies

The claim that this unified method of functioning is impossible now because scientific or technological research requires mastery of too much specialized knowledge and access to an elaborate research infrastructure must be critically scrutinized.

Artists can function in other ways. Free from the demands of the market and the socialization of particular disciplines, they can explore and extend the principles and technologies in unanticipated ways. They can pursue lines of inquiry abandoned because they were deemed unprofitable, outside established research priorities, or strange. They can integrate disciplines and create events that expose the cultural implications, costs and possibilities of the new knowledge and technologies.

This practice does not accept the output or the conceptual frameworks of the science and technology world as givens. Rather it seeks to update the notion of the arts as a zone of integration, questioning and rebellion to serve as an independent center of technological innovation and development.

This idea has precedents in earlier parts of this century. For example, Gregory Kepes in New Landscape in Art and Science described the need for artists to work in a proactive way with developing science: Rapid expansion of knowledge and technical development have swept us into a world beyond our grasp; and the face of nature is alien once again. Like the forest and mountains of medieval times, our new environment harbors strange menacing beasts; invisible viruses, atoms, mesons, protons, cosmic rays, supersonic waves.

The images and symbols which can truly domesticate the newly revealed aspects of nature will be developed only if we use all our faculties to the full -- assimilating with the scientist's brain, the poet's heart and the painter's eyes. It is an integrated vision that we need; but our awareness and understanding of the world and its realities are divided into the rational -- the knowledge frozen in words and quantities -- and the emotional -- the knowledge vested in sensory image and feeling.

Artists and poets on the one hand, scientists and engineers on the other, appear to live in two different worlds. Their common language, their common symbols, do not exist.

Why Pop Culture?: Alexandre O. Philippe at TEDxMileHigh

It requires they be connected to both the art and technical worlds - for example, by joining the information networks of journals, research meetings, and trade shows. It asks artists to be willing to abandon traditional concerns, media and contexts if necessary.

It challenges artists to develop new systems of support and access to the contexts and tools relevant to their investigations. Ironically, with success in becoming innovators, these worlds may seduce the artists to forget art agendas and to fully join the ranks of technologists and developers. How does this kind of practice relate to the issues raised by cultural theory that were described earlier?

relationship between art and popular culture studies

On one hand, the willingness to go outside traditional art world definitions of problems and arenas does represent a kind of postmodern opening up of discourse.

On the other hand, this practice manifests a more problematic position in regard to the more radical desconstruction. While these artists may share an interest in deconstructing the texts and narratives of the technical world, be skeptical about its self representationsbe involved in elaborating the unappreciated cultural implications of the technology, and be wary of the ways research and technologies get coopted, many share an underlying openness to the possibility of science-based progress.

They believe that some research, invention and development may transcend the cultural contexts in which it arises. Furthermore, they believe in a kind of avant-garde in which researchers and artists can develop genuinely new knowledge which creates new cultural meanings and possibilities rather than just circulates old signs. Also, this practice can fail to address issues of gender and cultural hegemony raised by cultural theorists.

The extent to which scientific and technological research concepts, practices and values are themselves intrinsically gender and culture bound is an open question which invites analysis by theorists and artists alike. Many electronic artists are interested in the new possibilities created by telecommunications technology and seem interested in inventing and extending the technology. Certainly, they are interested in the issues cultural theorists might raise: How is it represented to consumers and to developers?

What larger cultural movements is it part of? What fantasies does it tie into? Even though these topics might be substantive focuses of their work, their tone is basically optimistic about the potential meanings of these developments. Roy Ascott, a long time pioneer in this work, illustrates this optimistic outlook in his article "Art and Education in the Telematic Culture.

This is precisely the potential of telematic systems. Rather than limiting the individual to a narrow parochial level of exchange, computer-mediated cable and satellite links spanning the whole planet open up a whole world community, in all its diversity, with which we can interact With electronic media, its flow of images and texts, and the ubiquitous connectivity of telematic systems this isolation and separateness must eventually disappear, and new architectural structures and forms of cultural association will emerge.

And in this emergence we can expect to see, as we are beginning to see, new orders of art practice, with new strategies and theories, new forms of public accessibility, new methods of presentation and display, new learning networks - in short, whole new cultural configurations. Taking advantage of unique traditions of the arts, such as valuing iconoclasm and interdisciplinary perspectives, artists can choose to be a part of the efforts to create these new technologies and fields of knowledge.

Furthermore, this artistic stance calls for artist participation in other fields beyond the digital technologies that are focused on in this essay such as new biology, materials science, and space exploration. Crossing Boundaries The artistic stances described above outline a range of responses artists can and have taken toward emerging technologies.

Real practice, of course, is not so clearly demarcated as these categories. As they go about their work artists cross over. For example, consider how this analysis might be applied to artists' work with virtual reality VR technology. Many artists seem to want to work within historically recognizable artistic traditions, with virtual reality seen primarily as a new medium. They want to create highly interactive compositions that will be judged by their thematic, dramatic, visual and sound accomplishment just as traditional media have been.

New aesthetic categories focused specifically on the interactivity and kinetic engagement will no doubt be developed but the social niche of VR as entertainment or art form is not that different from what already exists. The interest expressed in this technology by the entertainment industry attest to its readiness to assimilate this technology to traditional forms.

And as with traditional media, independent artists are developing works based on this technology, which elaborate poetic, expressive, craft, sensual or conceptual directions likely to be ignored by commercial interests. One direction for artists using the VR technology in a conceptual or social commentary mode might be to use it reflexively on the technology itself. No cleanup reason has been specified.

Please help improve this section if you can. July Learn how and when to remove this template message Still the traditional views have a long life. The criticism raised can be summarized in three main arguments. First of all, the culture industry theory has completely abandoned the Marxist dialectic conception of society. Every impulse, according to this view, comes from above.

Resistance and contradiction are impossible, and the audience is manipulated into passivity. Alan Swingewood and others emphasize that the Frankfurt theory has to be seen in the light of left-wing frustrations about the failure of proletarian revolutions early this century, and the easy submission of the European nations to fascism. A second reproach is that this view may be as elitist as its aristocratic counterpart.


Both establish the lonely, autonomous, avant-garde intellectual as the only light in a zombie society. Thus the former Marxists arrive at an uncritical praise of the elitist and antirevolutionary upper-class culture.

relationship between art and popular culture studies

This brings us to a third argument, already made in the sixties by Umberto Eco. The historicity of the contemporary situation is not taken into account, so its internal contradictions are ignored, and thus revolution can only be seen as purely utopian. The culture industry theory, therefore, would lead to passivity and thereby becomes an objective ally of the system it pretends to criticize. It is of course mainly the influence exercised by the Frankfurt School which matters here: In Das Schema der Massenkultur, [7] for instance, Adorno discusses a "nucleus of individuality" that the culture industry cannot manipulate, and which forces him to continuously repeat his manipulation.

Thus they easily arrive at an exaltation of experimental literature as necessarily revolutionary. However, they may neglect the fact that the ideology is never simply in the message, but in the position of the message in the general social discourse, and in the position of its producers in the social formation.

Other theories easily yielding to monolithic thought stem from the emancipation movements of oppressed groups. Early feminist theoryfor instance, often described society as universally and transhistorically dominated by patriarchy in every aspect of life, thereby presenting a pejorative view of the women they claim to defend. As Andrew Ross [9] argues, the same remark goes for the widely accepted account of rock history as a continuous appropriation of black music by a white music industry.

Only studies analyzing the cultural oppression of homosexuality seem to take a less deterministic position. Contemporary liberal pluralism[ edit ] In liberal-pluralist accounts of popular culture, the theorizing on its supposedly liberating, democratizing function is nowadays most often pushed to the background. This type of criticism, often produced by people who are also active in popular literary writing themselves, often amounts to paraphrase and suffers from an uncritical identification with the study object.

One of the main aims of this type of criticism is the establishment of ahistorical canons of and within popular genres in the image of legitimized culture. This approach, however, has been accused of elitism as well. To put it simply: Though Roberts claims to take a distance from studies of canonical fiction, he justifies his implicit decision to impose canonical models on popular fiction as follows: If we consider all the views depicted in the present article as instances of both the thesis and the antithesis of an argument, it is a less known scholar, Blanca de Lizaur who manages to finally produce the synthesis.

In the sociological line of Mims and Lerner, she sees Literature as a necessary social institution -id est: That of explaining, justifying and promoting its society's world-view, values, ideas and beliefs, through depicting them "in action" in lyrics and narratives from which we all learn. The expression of the feelings that may be expected to accompany depicted actions and events, also constitutes a fundamental part of its social role, as we naturally expect Literature to constructively account for, inform, modulate and educate our feelings.

Hence why Literature is present in every human culture, all along history.

Popular Culture and Cultural Studies - Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Communication

Because of its fundamental role and our need for it, Literature will always find its way to, and adapt to the latest technologies and to the furthest reaching distribution channels available.

It is also because of this reason that works that successfully represent their audiences' values, ideas and beliefs, and attain commercial success, will at the same time become the subject of unsurmountable pressures De Lizaur, emerging from the field of Literary Studies, also developed a full literary theory that accounts for popular works' aesthetics, strategies, resources, genres, and meaningful criticism, as opposed to ideologized or prejudiced criticism.

Contemporary apocalyptic thought[ edit ] Marshall McLuhan caused wide irritation with his statement that the traditional, book-oriented intellectuals had become irrelevant for the formulation of cultural rules in the electronic age. Equally alive is the aristocratic apocalyptic view on mass culture as the destruction of genuine art. As Andrew Ross [11] writes, a history of popular culture is also a history of intellectuals, of cultural experts whose self-assigned task it is to define the borders between the popular and the legitimate.

But in contemporary society the dispersed authority is ever more exercised by "technical" intellectuals working for specific purposes and not for mankind.

relationship between art and popular culture studies

And in the academic world, growing attention for popular and marginal cultures threatens the absolute values on which intellectuals have built their autonomy. In the sixties, Marshall McLuhan caused wide irritation with his statement that the traditional, book-oriented intellectuals had become irrelevant for the formulation of cultural rules in the electronic age.

This is not to say that they lost any real political power, which humanist intellectuals as such hardly ever had. It does mean, however, that they are losing control of their own field, the field of art, of restricted symbolical production Pierre Bourdieu.

While in the 19th century, intellectuals managed to construct art as a proper, closed domain in which only the in-crowd was allowed to judge, they have seen this autonomy become ever more threatened by 20th-century mass society. The main factor here was not the quantitative expansion of consumption culture, nor the intrusion of commerce into the field of art through the appearance of paperbacks and book clubs.

After all, protecting art from simplicity and commerce was precisely the task intellectuals set for themselves. More important is the disappearance of what has been called the "grand narratives" during this century, the questioning of all-encompassing world views offering coherent interpretations of the world and unequivocal guides for action.

As Jim Collins argues in Uncommon Cultures, [12] there is no master's voice anymore, but only a decentralized assemblage of conflicting voices and institutions. The growing awareness of the historical and cultural variability of moral categories had to be a problem for an intellectual class which had based its position on the defense of secular but transhistorical values. This brings us to a second problem humanist intellectuals face, that is, the fragmentation of the public. Thus they cannot control the reception of their own messages anymore, and thereby see their influence on the structuring of culture threatened.

relationship between art and popular culture studies

Many neo-apocalyptic intellectuals, such as Alain Finkielkraut and George Steineremphasize their concern about the growing "illiteracy" of the masses. In practice they seem to be mainly concerned with high culture illiteracy, the inability to appreciate difficult art and literary classics.

The neo-aristocratic defense of so-called transhistorical and universal human values may also often be linked to a conservative political project. A return to universal values implies the delegitimation of any group which does not conform to those values.

It is no coincidence, therefore, that attempts in the United States to define a common "American cultural legacy" tend to neglect the cultures of ethnic minority groups. Or that the fight against franglais French "contaminated" by American English in France was mainly fought by intellectuals seeing their traditional position in French society threatened by the import of American cultural products, as Clem Robyns [13] describes.