Tag Archives: Post Modernism

Discussion: Concepts of the Self: Modernism week 2

Some of these concepts are quite challenging so don’t stress if at first they are not clear. Over the next few weeks they will start to make more sense. Try answering some of this week’s tutorial questions. Refer back to the Hobson reading if you need a little clarification.

1. What are the essential components of a medieval concept of self?

2. What is the role of religion in the medieval concept of self?

3. What are the essential components of a modernist concept of self?

The medieval concept of self was quite organic and according to Aristotle, knowledge came from experience.

I do not agree with Hobson in that it is difficult to relate to a Medieval person’s sense of self, simply because as a Christian my views are similar. I also believe that everything comes from God and the ‘self’ is essentially my soul. However there is no debate in my mind about women sharing rationality with men, because after all we are all children of God.

To me it seems that in Medieval times, religion was something one could cling to, when there was so much suffering and “social and political injustice” (Hobson, 1996).

The concept of self in a modernistic world view is mechanical and something which can be taken apart bit by bit to examine and manipulate.

This to me seems cold and harsh. I think that I agree with Rogers when he explains the sense of self as a journey which one must take to be who they truly are.

Discussion – Rogers reading
This is quite an interesting reading. When you are completing this reading, think about the questions below. Discuss your answers with the other tute members…and add anything else that you might have found of interest.

• Do you agree with Rogers’ thesis?
• What does it mean ‘to be the self which one truly is’?
• How can you apply what Rogers is saying to your own life?
• How does the question of life goals relate to your study goals?
• Rogers quotes Jacob (169) who argues: “the impact of the college experience is to socialise the individual, to […] fit comfortably into the ranks of the American college alumni”. As you work through SSK12, consider if this unit is socialising you to conform to the requirements of the university. Should or shouldn’t SSK12 do this?

I am in agreement with Roger when he states that I must be myself behind the façade, away from outside influences for better or worse and to embrace this process in order to create a balance in my life.

I am grateful to have read this article because while it asks many questions of me, it answers them as well. I want to take his advice to just be me and not what others want me to be. To be brave and take this journey to expose what holds me back. Because when I do, I will be free to be me.

My study goals will surely expand to include things I didn’t think I could do simply because I did not trust my self. I didn’t consider myself smart enough. But on page 175, Rogers (1967) explains that he has “seen simple people become significant and creative in their own spheres, as they have developed more trust of the processes going on within themselves, and have dared to feel their own feelings, live by values which they discover within, and express themselves in their own unique ways.”

I think SSK12 should teach us as students how to study and give advice on what to do in regards to learning. However, places where groups gather will always have a culture that people conform to. It is up to the individual if they want to follow the crowd.

Discussion – Hobson Lecture

The most important thing to think about while going through your readings or listening to the lectures is to try to identify the author’s thesis (the main argument or point the author is making), and the reasons the author gives to support the thesis. This is important because once you start to write academic essays, your own essays need to have a clear thesis statement. So, whenever you work your way through a reading or listen to a lecture:

• Can you identify the thesis (especially one statement that sums up the argument the author is making)?

• Can you identify the main points the author makes in support of the thesis?

I think the thesis is this: The self is a politically, culturally, socially and historically constructed concept.

I think Hobson uses history to make her point in that she illustrates the way the self has been discussed during the ages. She starts of with the Medial World View, where the general consensus is that God will provide the answers to mankind’s question about life.

Next, in the Modern World View Hobson explains that “science will find the way” (1996). Everything is broken down into something smaller that can be taken apart and studied.

Her next point describes the Postmodern World View where we as people are coming to realise that there is more to life than science, and that being rational is not exactly the best option to base our knowledge on. After all, after a Holocaust, two world wars and a financial crisis, Hobson admits this has not been our finest century.

I enjoyed listening to the lecture and I got a lot out it. I understood where the intro, thesis, main points and conclusion were. I hope to learn a lot from it.

Discussion – Hobson Reading

This is an important reading in the context of this unit. You will use it in your first essay, so you need to be able to pull out some themes, choice quotes, etc. This reading is full of information and I’d like you to discuss amongst yourselves what you thought of it and the key ideas that you took away from it.

The thesis is obviously “All knowledge that you encounter at university is a knowledge that is spoken, written, or theorised by a person or group of people in a particular time and within a particular culture.”

I found the reading very similar to the lecture, so in that sense it was good to read it as I was listening to Hobson. It made her points clearer and more defined in my mind. When I read the article on its own the first time, I had some difficulty following it however, after a couple of attempts, I found it interesting and enlightening.

I think I will need to reread it and keep making notes to help me write a better essay.


Hobson, Julia. 1996. Concepts of the self: Different ways of knowing about the self. SSK12 lecture transcript. ed. Lorraine Marshall. Perth: Murdoch University.

Rogers, Carl R. 1967. On Becoming a Person: A Therapist’s View of Psychotherapy. London: Constable. “To be that which truly is” a therapist’s view of personal goals, 163-182.


Posted by on 12/07/2012 in SSK12


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Week Five part 2

Simon Blond3 Lecture

Modernism/ Post Modernism

Modernism: Defining Characteristics

  • Since Postmodernism defines itself with reference to Modernism it is necessary first to find out what are the defining characteristics of modernism.
  • Because it’s clearer and more straightforward I will do this with regard to architecture. These principles apply to design in general but partly to art.

Still image of table. William Morris: Truth to materials, Oak table c1860s

Truth to Materials

  • Principle set out by John Ruskin and William Morris in late 19th C:
  • The design of any object or building should express the qualities of the material in which it is made. It should not try to be another material.

Still of Truth to materials: Garage Door Como – steel being steel  vs Garage door St James – steel pretending to be wood.

Another principal to modernism, Sullivan: ‘Form follows function’, Prudential building Buffalo New York 1894 (product design)

Adolf Loos: ‘Ornament is a crime’ (therefore simplicity is a virtue) Moller House Vienna 1927 (Loos was a very influential Austrian architect) Still of house with very naked façade.

Walter Gropius Bauhaus 1925 Dessau Germany 1919-1933 (closed by the Nazis) He said, “A modern building must be true to itself, logically transparent and virginal of lies or trivialities.”

Quite a few principles of modernism, truth and lies: moralist, logical, it should be clear in structure.

Still of St John’s House Lichfield UK early 18thC the pitched roof hidden by the parapet. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just not modernist.

Still of the Whitehouse Washington DC.

Mies von der Rohe: “Less is more”. Still of Seagram Building NY 1958 with Phillip Johnson. This is the principal behind the international style, in other words what most people think of is modern architecture: boxes. The problem with box architecture, because there is nothing to distract the eye, is so stark its portions are extremely important. So if you are on a budget or the brief is problematic, you often get very boring buildings.

Robert Venturi: “Less is a bore.” Still of a House 1962, where there is an arc with no function whatsoever, it’s there just to look fancy.

Phillip Johnson the Glass house 1949, still of house where modernism has been taken to the extreme, where in fact it has become impractical.

Phillip Johnson AT&T building NY 1978 Still of building’s roof with quotation, very much like Thomas Chippendale, the furniture maker’s cupboard 18C. Still of cupboard. Why on earth should a book case have a roof? This is a quote from Greek architecture.


Statements that say one thing but mean the opposite or have another playful layer of meaning to those who realise.

It is important to realise this is a quotation, if you have just simply reproduction antique furniture, which you’ve always have, that’s not post modernism. Or if you have a copy of a federation style house in Perth, that’s not postmodernism. It’s the fact that on a modernist building you have this reference back to a historical quotation, that’s what makes it postmodern. Modernism is very serious.

Robert Venturi detail still. A reference to ancient ionic Greek Columns, but of course out of proportion with wrong materials.


Subversive mimicry (ie making fun or sending up). Can be used as a means of exposing weakness or pretension in the original by the use of irony.

Modernism/ Postmodernism for Design

  • MODERNISM                                        *      POSTMODERNSISM
  • Simple                                                      *             Complex
  • Innovation: looks forward                   *             Quotes from past
  • Autonomy(no reference)                      *             Makes references
  • Moral                                                        *             Amoral
  • Truth to materials                                  *             Rejects truth
  • Serious                                                      *             Playful

Postmodernist buildings

Frank Gerhy own House 1978, anything but logically transparent. We don’t know what is going on, no structure.

Frank Gehry Guggenheim Museum 1997 Bilbao Spain still image of curved building. The shapes are not dictated by the function. Generally speaking, what is needed is a series of cubes or rectangular rooms. The internal function is not at all expressed in these shapes. Nor is there any reason for these imaginative shapes other than his own wish to make an interesting building. The shapes are made with a titanium skin that part is functional. There is a lot acid rain, in that part of the world. He couldn’t have made the walls out of limestone or concrete.

Product Design

Still of Wilhelm Wagenfeld Table Lamp 1942 (Bauhaus). A great example of classic designs, designs that have lasted. Designs that can be looked at and not be described as antique even though they are old. The reason why is because these designs have really stood the test of time and have been made entirely from modern materials.

Still of Eileen Gray Occasional Table 1926, black lacquer with chrome plated tubing. A British designer.

Still of Salvador Dali Mae West lips Sofa 1937, (retrospectively could be regarded as PM). The sofa is making a reference outside of itself, a reference to film; it’s not just being a sofa. And that is a pm feature. However, we must say, ‘Retrospectively, could be regarded as PM’, because PM did not start until the late 70’s.

Mae West: “A hard man is good to find.” Known for her cheeky, slightly risqué comments.

Memphis Shelves c1980, playful and ironic; still of bookshelves that are poking fun at structure.

Ettore Scottsass, reference and irony, still of a boxing ring supposed to be where people sit and communicate, make friends…

Edmund Vaughan: advert for Southern Railways UK 1929, very much a modernist poster, the way that it makes its impact is by the very Advant Guard design. But a poster can be so arty, that it defeats its own purpose. However, the message here comes across quite well after thinking about it for a second or two.

Lynx Shower Gel Advert, irony. PM with regards to sexuality. Still of muddy woman’s body with “Wash me” on her belly.

Saatchi and Saatchi: Silk Cut Advert, again making a reference to other adverts run by the same firm, for cigarettes. This ad is relying on the fact that you have already seen these ads. And when you look at it, you feel pleased that you are in the know. The ad doesn’t show cigarettes, it doesn’t show any words. When an advertising company uses visual language it assumes you are able to read it. The assumption is made that a viewer can decode the message/ meaning.


Modernism in Jewellery: Torun Watch 1960’s, this watch does not have numbers on the dial, it is very simplified piece of beautiful jewellery.

Still of Salvador Dali Broach 1949 with rubies and pearls (fore-runner of PM). In retrospect this broach has all the characteristics of PM.

Still of Salvador Dali Telephone Earings 1949 (retrospectively could be regarded as PM). Because they make a reference to something outside itself.

PM in Jewellery: A contemporary Felicity Peters Broach: House Journey 2004, this was made after she had moved house. This also refers to something outside itself. It looks a little like a house.

Fashion and Fabric design

Sonia Delaunay Fabric Design, Simplicity and geometry.

Modernism in Fashion: Still of Coco Chanel Theater Suit 1938, clear cut lines, totally plain fabrics. Very similar to architecture.

Still of Yves Saint Laurent dress 1968

PM in Fashion: Vivienne Westwood Pirate Collection 1981, making reference to something outside itself. It’s playing on the idea of pirates.

Buffalo Collection 1982-3

John Galliano 2003 Collection, making reference to traditional European dress.

Alexander McQueen Jack the Ripper Collection 2009

Modern: Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka (modern innocence), whereas when Johnny Depp played Wonka, there was PM knowingness and reference to Michael Jackson. These reference are an in joke.

PM film making: Peter Greenaway Drowning by numbers 1988, complex reference, playfulness, where he hides numbers throughout the film.

PM in Art

Note: simple vs complex central to design is not relevant to art. More important is

  • Modernism: non-referential: focus on the aesthetic
  • PM: referential to other art often with irony

Modernism in Art

The Pioneers of Abstraction from c1914. In your essays it is important that you choose examples, whether its design or art, that are typical of Modernism or PM. So that the art work that is most typically modernist is abstract. It’s no use saying Monet started Modernism, so he’s a good example, but Modernism was just beginning at that time so he is not a good example. Look further down the road.

Still of Piet Mondrian Composition 1929

Still of Wassily Kandisky Composition 1923 this work has no reference outside itself. It’s like a piece of instrumental music; it does not make reference to the outside world in general. It affects you purely aesthetically. What do the senses notice? Visually it will be the colour, shape, lines, the way they relate to the rectangle, texture, and music and so on.

Still of Kasimir Malevich Suprematist Composition 1920s oil on canvas 90x 66cm

The New York School 1950-60

  • An art movement based in New York that was entirely abstract (non-referential).
  • Also called Abstract Expressionism.

Still of Jackson Pollock Blue poles 1952 212x 489cm

Still of Mark Rothko Light Red Over Black 1957 231x 153cm

Barbara Hepworth Three Forms 1935 marble, a totally abstract work, by the 1st female artist, who was on the cutting edge.

PM in Art 1:

1980s Neo-Expressionism

  • A return to reference and historical style

Still of Georg Baselitz Shepherd’s Head 1986

Still of German Expressionism: Kirchner Two People with Bathtub and Stove 1911

Still of Georg Baselitz Painter with Sailing Boat 1982 (at the time was painting upside down)

Still of Julian Schnabel The Sea 1981, an American example.

Patients and Doctors 1978 oil paint + broken crockery on canvas 244x 274cm

PM in Art 2:

1990s Key examples:

  • Gordon Bennett b1955 Australia
  • Jeff Koons b1955 USA

Still of Gordon Bennett Possession Island 1991 162x 260cm (National Gallery of Victoria). Reference to Pollock’s work, as well as Samuel Calvet’s Taking Possession of the Australian Continent in 1770 painted 1865, a reference made somewhat in anger.

Gordon Bennette b1955 Australian of Aboriginal descent

“I had in mind to create fields of disturbance which would necessitate re-reading the image, and the mythology.” (Gordon Bennett, the Manifest toe in Ian McLean & Gordon Bennett, The Art of Gordon Bennett, Craftsman House, 1996, pp 34, 35).

Home Decorating (Algebra) Ocean 1998 182x 365cm (private collection, Melbourne). He quotes himself and other artists such as Piet Mondrian’s Composition in Yellow Blue and Red 1921 (Tate Modern, London).

1990s PM: Jeff Koons

Early modernist work: One Ball Total Equilibrium 1985

Ushering in Banality 1988 painted wood, a lot of irony and deception going on as to what is high or low art. For example, still of Inflatable Flower and Bunny 1979 plastic and mirrors and Rabbit 1986 stainless steel balloons. A totally sentimental work, Yorkshire Terriers 1991 wood carving. Middle class being bought up to hate things like this, but secretly love it.

Post Modernism as an Ahistorical Retrospective Category

PM shares some identifying characteristics with:

  • Pop Art eg reference and complexity, but Pop Art is celebratory while PM is cynical.
  • Andy Warhol: reference to popular culture and fame. Self promotion – playing the market, focus on surface.
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Posted by on 07/07/2011 in HUM100


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