Postmodernism

First used in the 1970’s; ‘reject the past and do better’.

If one was to define postmodernism, it was a ‘reaction to modernism’. It’s clean forward thinking and technology focused as well as returning to traditional tools. It’s general and wide-ranging term which can be applied to literature, art, philosophy, architecture, fiction, and cultural and literary criticism, among others.

Postmodernism saw the rise of photography and the decline of illustration, but it soon returned in the 80’s and 90’s.

Postmodernism pushed for the emphasis on the individual above the community. In the 70’s individuals were referred to consumers, not people. Essentially, ‘anything goes’ is the tagline for postmodernism. In the 1950s you chose to be a Mod or a Rocker, and in the 1970s you chose to follow The Beatles or The Rolling Stones. Whereas these days it’s much more difficult to place someone in categories unless they express that they belong to a group or culture. There is a lot of individuality in today’s society and we can choose to be whomever we like, which is the great thing about the 21st century.

Intertextuality: the relationship between texts, especially literary ones. In today’s world this is referenced within memes (sadly). However, a great example of intersexuality is The Simpsons; you had to understand what was happening around you culturally to understand the jokes. The Simpsons has always had a lot of references to film, media, music, celebrities, historic events and so on, if you’re not knowledgable then you most likely won’t understand the direction in which the episode is going. For example, the episode in which Maggie goes to day care and breaks out is a reference to the Great Escape.

Irony is when one uses something for any other reason than its intended use. Irony and sarcasm often come hand-in-hand, although sometimes it can be a little hit-and-miss depending on whom is expressing it. ‘That’s greaaaaat….’ is an example of irony and sarcasm.

Something being described as Kitsch means it is in poor taste, this could be anything from art to culture. However, being aware the something is kitsch yet wearing it is an example irony. For example, knowing lava lamps are both outdated and ugly yet having one in your living room is an example of kitsch. Yet, there is no distinction between high and low culture. Andy Warhol took the Campbell’s soup can and elevated it from low culture to high culture by putting it in a gallery.

It’s debated what period we are currently in; post-conolisation or post-modernism? Personally, I believe that postmodernism is one of the better theoretical frameworks as it allows room for individuality and there is a scale, yet that is ever changing. Yet the distinction between low and high culture could be somewhat toxic, especially politically. If the minority views shift to become a majority view, Donald Trump being President and Brexit being triggered won’t be the worst thing to happen in 2017, and that is a scary thought.

 

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Betsy

First year studying Graphic Design at Plymouth College of Art.

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