A detailed analysis exploring the way in which Donald John Trump, the current president of the United States, uses Twitter in it’s full capability as a means of communicating his personal opinions towards the public.
After studying several topics within my Graphic Design in Context class, I was intrigued by the subject of Politics the greatest, particularly the way in which social media can create an uproar and affect real life situations regardless of how unserious and silly the statements are or come across. Donald Trump, the current president of the United States of America, has been described as America’s “TV president” (Nesbit, 2016) due to his previous debuts on television as well as being the first famous person to become the president. Focusing on the social media application Twitter, which was founded in the year 2006 (‘Twitter’, 2018) as a private company by Jack Dorsey, I wanted to inspect the way in which Trump approaches and handles it. Unfortunately, there are no books discussing Trump’s usage of the app and how incredibly awkward and unprofessional it looks but considering the topic is of social media, I believe it is acceptable to use sources such as articles and online newscasts. In this essay, I will be breaking down his use of Twitter through the analysis of his popular “viral” tweets to demonstrate how it has affected his presidential campaign as well as the public.
Figure 1. An overview of Donald Trump’s Twitter account (2018)
A first impression on the overview of the manner Trump tweets in almost suggests that he exaggerates his personal problems so they can result into public battles. This allows them to receive attention as well as a response. Between being the president of the United States and a role model for the people, where and why does he find the time to tweet such bogus? And of course, why is it still being allowed?
To provide a little background information on this case, Donald Trump first joined Twitter in the year 2009, the month of March to be precise, when the world was a far less complicated place that didn’t exactly revolve around technology, but was more keen on learning about it.
Trump’s first official tweet was sent on the 4th of May of the same year and was to let his fans and followers know about his guest appearance on the show ‘Late Night with David Letterman’ (Hartmans, 2017).
A first tweet with the new rookie SMS inspired application (Trump, 2009)
Back to the times before he wormed his way into politics, Trump was recognised for his workmanship in businesses as well as TV appearances. He was privileged enough to inherit his fathers real estate company at the age of twenty-five and settled on renaming it ‘The Trump Organization’ (‘Donald Trump’, 2018). After turning his name into a brand, he ran into a few mishaps with bankruptcy (CNN, 2018) however somehow managed to become the president as well as acquire a net worth of more than 3 billion, with 1.5 billion invested into NYC real estate as well as another 560 million into his golf club resorts (Forbes, 2018).
Trumps twitter account was initially used to promote his new book “Think Like a Champion” along with other platforms such as Youtube (ExpandedBooks, 2009) and tweets were written and sent by staff members such as Peter Constanzo however, over the years, he eventually used the account solely to make comments and slander other politicians and celebrities (‘Donald Trump on Social Media’, 2018). Before he was officially announced the 45th President of the United States of America, he claimed he would “dial down” on tweeting as well as the overall usage of his social media accounts (McCormick, 2016) to appear more fit for the professional job, nonetheless, during his 2016 campaign, he relied on the network a lot more than expected and managed to obtain a lot of attention through it.
Pattinson can do so much better in Trump’s opinion (Trump, 2012)
Previously, Trump would speak on several relevant matters which increased the volume of followers he possessed each time. Above is an example (Trump, 2012). Trump stated his opinion, although it was not asked, on the Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson scandal. Stewart had cheated on her boyfriend and Twilight superstar, Robert Pattinson, with director Rupert Sanders (Eggenberger, 2013) and Trump felt it was very necessary to touch on the topic but did so again (Trump, 2012) ..
and again (Trump, 2012)
and again (Trump, 2012),
..and, again (Trump, 2012). All in a matter of five days.
Tweets like this would all catch light which encouraged Trump to speak his mind more, since there was so much support. Below are some more examples of Trump speaking his mind:
Since 2013, Trump’s twitter style has remained consistent with criticism and remarks on everything and is said to have an average of 11 tweets per day (‘Donald Trump on Social Media’, 2018).
Trump’s twitter activity from the day he made the account, 2009, to last year September, 2017. You can see during the year 2013, his tweeting activity increased dramatically. (‘Donald Trump on Social Media’, 2018)
Trump explained how he believed Twitter and Facebook are “great forms of communication” (McCormick, 2016) and allow him to have a “method of fighting back” against the backlash of a bad or inaccurate story. And of course, he had the full support of the country he made “great again” and using his newly made 2020 slogan “will keep great” (Barnes, 2018) as the first amendment allows freedom of speech (United States History, 2018)! Unless of course you’re a woman, black, disabled or Muslim. But free speech for everyone who isn’t that! Yay!
Next I will be discussing the presidential debate between Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump. This aired on the… was listed as the most tweeted debate (Jarvey, 2016) in Twitter history, holding up to 17.1 million interactions.
Trump and Clinton head to head during a presidential debate (Richards, 2016)
While reading through articles about the debate, this is what was written: “During what turned out to be the most tweeted about debate ever, Trump refused to drop his tax records but instead offered his number of followers on his social-media accounts.” Trump then continue to state “Between Facebook and Twitter I have almost 25 million people,” Trump said at the second presidential debate. “I’m not un-proud of it, to be honest with you.” (White, 2016).
This statement alone further proves that social status Trump has accumulated through Twitter has the ability to fulfil Trump, making him feel accomplished and established due to having such a high amount of followers. It also proposes that Trump respects popularity more than what’s right, using the amount of believers he has as an excuse for anything he does.
The dumbest conspiracy theory I’ve ever read (Trump, 2012)
I believe due to the level of absurdity, the tweet seen above was the most retweeted tweet from that night although it was said over 4 years ago at the time.
Although Trump continuously creates chaos with his excessive tweeting, I do believe there are a few excuses explaining his online existence:
a. He’s the President of the United States which allows him immunity to any sort of discipline or termination despite the copious amounts of disrespect he delivers,
b. Because he trends! He generates debates and interactions but regardless, he brings attention which is beneficial for the app!
c. It’s awfully entertaining. It’s impossible to believe the president of the United States is the same man who tweeted “Happy Father’s Day to all, even the haters and the losers!” (Trump, 2013)
A very lovely message to the community Trump strives to impress (Trump, 2013)
The founder of Twitter, Jack Dorsey, was indeed questioned about the reasoning behind allowing Trump to be on the application actively as well as the matter of banning Trump and why it hasn’t taken place yet. Without entirely addressing the president by name, it was explained that by “Blocking a world leader from Twitter or removing their controversial Tweets, would hide important information people should be able to see and debate” as well as “it would also not silence that leader, but it would certainly hamper necessary discussion around their words and actions,” (White, 2018).
Twitter users have publicly brought their concerns to the Twitter headquarters located in New York directly using visual protests. In the photo below, the quote “Be a Hero: Ban Trump” can be seen projected onto the building.
Protest held outside of Twitter HQ about banning Trump from their app (2018)
Despite all the efforts made, his social empire still stands.This brings into question, would Twitter have allowed Adolf Hitler to have an account? Probably. Is it right to? No, it shouldn’t be but due to the level of power possessed, anything is possible.
In the opening of this essay, I briefly mentioned technology. I am now going to go further into the topic because over the years, it has become the norm to own a handful of social media accounts. The influence of social media is often disregarded but is able to affect your perception and has the capability of exposing information. The power is in everyone’s hands but is exclusively dangerous to those with an immense following.
As Drake once said in his hit diss-track towards Meek Mill “trigger fingers turn to Twitter fingers” (Drake, 2015) and I believe this lyric applies to Trump. Anytime Trump has felt or feels inferior or provoked, he resorts to Twitter in such a way that a therapist’s patient would. It displays vulnerability and childish behaviour. This action of provocative tweeting alone is very alarming and can potentially cause dangerous decisions to be made.
Recently North Korean leader Kim Jong-un claimed that Trump had declared war on his Country (Allen, 2017). What was Trumps response to this?
Of course Trump tweeted something sweet that would fizzle out the rumours and allow the pair to be friends. Don’t be daft, of course he didn’t (Trump, 2018)
Verbally attacking a possible threat and opponent to your country is like inviting a war to your country and isn’t exactly the best way to go about things. Do we really need a world war 3?
Again, the impulsiveness of his Trump’s tweets is a key reason why he should be banned. This type of explosive behaviour is dangerous because it has demonstrated what gets to him, what ticks him off and pushes him to make certain comments; should he be allowed to show such vulnerability considering the risks?
Although Trump’s twitter is identified as a gag and is able to present emotionally filled tweets, when serious situations do occur, it is very hard to acknowledge any attempts at sincerity. Unfortunately, the state of Florida recently experienced a school shooting, the 17th school shooting to happen in America just this year alone (Aiello, 2018). It was tragic and caused the lives of 17 people to be lost. What was Trumps response to this?
“Must always report such instances to authorities, again and again” but they did, and wasn’t listened to. (Trump, 2018)
Rather than blaming the perpetrator and Gunman, Nikolas Cruz, Trump somehow managed to flip the script and victim blame. There were also many records of reports on Cruz that were ignored. Not only was the school was let down, but whole the nation was. A school should be one of the safest environments to be and it’s incredibly sad this happened.
Many people fired back at Trump with tweets demanding gun control and to stop putting cuts on Mental Health programmes, as they believe these would have prevented the incident. There was in fact so much commentary on the incident, it impacted Trump to engage in changing the age limit for guns despite claiming there was “not much political support”.
Trump in regards to age limits within buying guns (Trump, 2018)
To conclude, Twitter could be recognised as the unsupervised ammunition Trump needed for his Smith & Wesson M&P Shield, a gun which has been listed as America’s most popular gun of the year 2016 (CBS News, 2016). Unfortunately, as long as Twitter keeps its rules of allowing a world leader on the platform despite the way they behave, there will always be a debate. Not everyone is going to be happy with the result but I do believe there should be action taken on the restriction of what he can tweet as he does often come out with ridiculous, false statements.
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Figure 1. Screenshot of Donald Trump’s Twitter page. Donald Trump, Twitter. Retrieved from: https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump Screenshot by author (11 March 2018)
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The Bauhaus institution, the original name being Staatliches Bauhaus which was commonly translated into “School of Building” or “construction house”, was founded 1919, in the German city Weimar. The school was founded by Walter Gropius after he independently devised a manifesto and held the idea of combining fine art and crafts into one medium (‘Bauhaus’, 2018). This became influential on Graphic Design at the time because of how out of the box and unique it seemed. No one had even attempted at mixing two different mediums. For the first three years of its existence, it had become shaped by pedagogical and aesthetic ideas of Johannes Itten.
Johannes Itten indeed taught at the Bauhaus school through 1919-1922 by cultivating students on the basics of “material characteristics, composition and colour” (‘Johannes Itten’, 2018) and a lot of workshops within the institution were motivated by him (Bauhaus Archive Teaching, 2018).
The idea of the school and it’s blueprint was thought out many a time, changing very frequently but one aspect Gropius was confident about was experimentation. Experimentation along with thinking organically was highly encouraged in the school as the Bauhaus movement was “set out to change society”; you wouldn’t be able to accomplish this without thinking outside of the box or delving into the range of distinctive techniques the institution had to offer.
Bauhaus Ideal course structure and student pathways (Gropius, 1919)
The teaching methods that remained in Bauhaus was aimed to replace the traditional pupil-teacher relationship and form into more of a social and community bond. For example, Itten refrained from rectifying students work in concern that it would crush their “creative impulse” (‘Johannes Itten, 2018). The objective was to integrate art in everyday life through design, architecture and they would do so by bringing several different practices all under one roof as well as assimilate modern technology with historic techniques (GreenGinger, 2016). There were carpentry courses, mathematics, photography, weaving, ceramics as well as theory classes (Whilsere, 2017). The famous pedagogical diagram seen above contains layers of classes, the biggest being the foundation and the core holding mastery (Tallman, 2010).
The revolutionary Bayer Universal Typeface which only contained lower case letters (Bayer, 1925)
Herbert Bayer was a student at Bauhaus for 4 years and was taught by stars such as Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky. His printing style had developed and formed over the years; he had become associated with “using lowercase, sans serif typefaces and having a crisp style for the Bauhaus publications” (‘Herbert Bayer’, 2018) and was eventually anointed director of printing and advertising by Walter Gropius. The project was exciting for Bayer and he managed to create “Universal”, a typeface with required no upper case and was simple (Design History, 2011).
Lastly, the school would close its doors for good 14 years later, in the year 1933, after the German Nazi’s forced it to shut down (Moholy, 2018). Although the school was shut, the structure of the Art and Design used within the Bauhaus school as well as the material taught is still as relevant and useful as it was back then to this very day!
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Martha Scotford, an American teacher, architect and designer, constructed and created a catalogue with the desire to measure out if there was such thing as a “canon of graphic design history” (Scotford, 1991). But what does this mean and what can be considered or become apart of this canon? She described a canon as being “a basis for judgment; a standard; a criterion; an authoritative list.” (1991, p. 37). The National Gallery (2018) has described a canon within Art to be “art history attempts to question these rules of ‘greatness’, considering issues of gender, race, class, and geography among others.” However, the word was originally used to designate the books of the Bible officially recognised by the Church (‘Biblical Canon, 2018)
Scotford did this by analysing and comparing five different books which she claimed to be the best representatives of graphic design within the last 20 years.
She would also look into the beginning of graphic design work, some which would date back to the 1850’s. She set out an aim to understand which demographic was typically at the top of the canon, whether it was unintentional or not as well as establish which graphic designers may have been wrongly praised by having work that did not belong there or graphic designers that had been overlooked and didn’t receive as much appreciation as she believed they should.
Originally, the list was crowded full of 205 designers and was cut down into a smaller list of 63. She looked into their gender, the year of their birth, the total number of work reproduced, the amount of large productions and so on.
For this instance, Scottford employed the research methodology of quantitative data which is typically recognised as the better option. Why is this? Due to Scotford’s tally-like checking scheme, quantitative data is scientific. It uses allows large amounts of data to be analysed statistically compared to qualitative which can be affected by a persons mood, the weather or even your background. This means that it’s more susceptible to bias unlike quantitative data (Churchill, 2011).
Scotford’s canon highlighting the amount of times a designer has been recognised (1991)
Scotford ended up establishing eight canons of graphic design, which were “Herbert Bayer, Afonse Mouron Cassandre, El Lissitzky, Herbert Matter, Laszlo Maholy-Nagy, Joseph Müller-Brokmann, Henri De Toulouse Lautrec and Piet” (Scotford, 1991)
So what is the relevance of the canon today?
The positives of the unintentional canon being invented? The blueprints for future and current graphic design students to learn about the best of the best; the works of designers that changed perspectives and are considered fundamental pieces of information to learn about.
However the negatives of the canon; all designers of the canon were male. This could potentially discourage female designers, whether this was unintentional to have an all male list or not, it does dawn down that our genders aren’t equivalent and could look into the fact that male work will always have a higher chance of being praised. However, this could also provide a push of motivation to create better, distinctive work.
‘Biblical Canon’ (2018) Wikipedia. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biblical_canon (Accessed: 3 February 2018).
Churchill, E.J. (2011) Is Quantitative Research Better Than Qualitative Research. Available at: https://emilyjchurchill.wordpress.com/2011/11/25/is-quantitative-research-better-than-qualitative-research/ (Accessed: 2 March 2018).
Scotford, M. (1991) ‘Is there a canon of graphic design history?’, AIGA Journal, vol.9 (2) pp. 37-44
The National Gallery (2018) Canon of Art History. Available at: https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/glossary/canon-of-art-history (Accessed: 18 February 2018).
War photography has been described as “photographing armed conflict and its effects on people and places” (‘War Photography’, 2017) and was said to be first introduced around the early 1850’s (Cosgrove, 2014). The first official war image attempt was produced by Gilbert Elliot when he was commissioned to photograph the views of the Russian fortifications, however, Roger Fenton has been described as the first definite war photographer (‘War Photography, 2017).
Mathew Brady was a self-taught Civil war photographer and is still often referred to as the “father of photojournalism” (Civil War Trust, 2017). His photos had a colossal impact on society at the time and would often evoke feelings of disturbance amongst the nation due to the brutal reality displayed.
Four deaths after combat (Brady, 1862)
The first picture to unnerve the public can be seen above. Brady managed to get a photo before the dead bodies of soldiers were moved off of the field after a battle. This photo was overwhelming to the viewers because they had been sheltered from the horrifying truth and tales that lay on the battlefield.
Although Brady’s photography opened eyes by unveiling the alarming matter of death by war, Nick Ut managed to create an immense rift between the involvement America had with war, eventually helping end the Vietnam war by taking one of the most “defining images of brutal conflict” (100photos, 2017).
A naked girl runs for safety after a bomb drops on her village (Ut, 1972)
Despair, pain and terror. By first glance, that is what is noticed. It is hard to forget the sobbing faces of these young Vietnamese children running and screaming towards safety. However, there is also the obvious presence of six completely nonchalant soldiers. Looking down, talking to one another, strolling along the wide-set pavement, suggesting that this is the normal reality; a constant feeling of melancholy.
This photograph (Ut, 1972) was first looked at hesitantly by newspapers due to the ability it had to cause others to feel “offended”. But why shouldn’t one feel offended? It highlighted the terrible ongoing issue of war and how it affected children’s lives. However, because nine year old, Kim Phuc, was naked, it somehow “distracts” that dilemma. Society is more likely to focus on the young child being naked in order to distract themselves from the daunting reality of war. By presenting this raw and honest photograph of the terror war causes amongst communities, it creates fear which the audience may not respond to. Society distance themselves from the harsh reality of war as they cannot fathom what “The terror of war” is presenting. The most ironic thing being, that she was naked due to the military. The Guardian (2015) stated that they accidentally dropped napalm on civilians in Phuc’s village, Trang Bang, outside of Saigon which caused her clothes to catch fire, eventually giving severe life-long burns. Because of this, she took the conscious decision to rip off her burning clothes to prevent further damage to herself, ultimately running towards buckets of water which were later poured on her by the soldiers (Time, 2016). All together, Phuc suffered burns on over a third of her body and managed to survive, despite being told she would not (The Guardian, 2015). Ut recalled being congratulated because “the picture was immediately on the front page of every newspaper and on TVs” as well as there being “anti-war protests all over the world” the very next day (Zhang, 2012).
Nick Ut and Kim Phuc embrace after reuniting (Hong, 2012)
Now nearly forty years later, Phuc has become a motivational speaker, sharing her survivor story as well as launched a foundation in the US with the aim to provide medical and psychological care to child victims of conflict (‘Phan Thi Kim Phuc’, 2017). She has allowed herself to create an afterlife despite bearing very rough beginnings and continues to be a living symbol of the Vietnam war (Ut, 1972). She has managed to keep in touch with Ut and even refers to him as her family; Uncle Ut (The Guardian, 2015). This decidedly shows that positive impacts do exist within war photography.
Americas culture vs. Americas burden (Banksy, 2005)
The original photo has been diversely appropriated by many artists. For example, Banksy. Banksy recreated the photo (Banksy, 2004), however, inserted Ronald McDonald and Mickey Mouse side by side of Kim Phuc, latching onto her arms. What does this mean? Well it could mean a number of things. Ronald McDonald and Mickey Mouse could represent mass American pop culture and it could exemplify how American Capitalism has a hold over foreign children (V&A, 2017). They are not recognised or even put in the same category as American children and are even used in inhumane labour. The egotistical looks on their faces counterbalance the troubled face of Kim Phuc and in fact, mock the matter of her crying for help. It shows the connection between soft and sweet American culture with the reality of what America really is as a colonel power (Zaynabkjp, 2012). Banksy invites viewers to really admit that “the war is a multi-billion dollar industry with very powerful corporate lobbies” (Stencil Revolution, 2017).
Impulsive execution of prisoner by General (Adams, 1968)
Another example and iconic war photograph would be the Saigon Execution (Adams, 1968), however, the outcome this photograph created was horribly unexpected and turned for the worst. Reading into this photo, it holds a lot of misery. Injustice. Brutality. Suffering. But what we don’t know is that it is being misunderstood. Who we presume is the victim, was actually Nguyễn Văn Lém, who was referred to as “Captain Bay Lop” (‘Nguyễn Ngọc Loan’ (2017). Bay Lop was a member of the National Liberation Front and was responsible for “killing the wife and 6 children of a South Vietnamese military officer”. He was caught in the act at the scene where there were over seven police family members dead bodies (‘Execution of Nguyễn Văn Lém’, 2017). General Nguyễn Ngoc Loan, who is being understood as the villain, took it upon himself to shoot Bay Lop with the idea that it could bring justice. In the split second that it took to shoot him in the side of his head, Adams managed to snap a photo. The video (Dszymanski2, 2014) actually captures that moment with Bay Lop falling to the concrete road, as well as how briskly the situation was handled.
In the YouTube video (Fpzzuuulzgaxd, 2008), Adams agreed with the General’s actions of shooting the prisoner stating “I might have done the same thing” because “I had seen so many die at the point in my life”. He also discussed how misconceived the photo had become; “I had no idea of the impact and I still don’t understand it today”. After the photo was released, Adams reflected back often commenting “that picture destroyed his (General Nguyễn Ngoc Loan) life and that’s what bothers me more than anything” (Fpzzuuulzgaxd, 2008) and “the general killed the Viet Cong; I killed the general with my camera” (Time, 2001).
The image proved to have the strength to build extreme amounts of hate for a foreigner in an out of context photograph and was then recognised as an “anti-war” symbol. This encouraged people to take matters into their own hands moreover the disgust for General Nguyễn was revealed in several ways. Nguyễn had been refused treatment from an Australian hospital due to the photo after an attack that resulted into the amputation of his right leg. He was also forced into closing his family Pizza business he had in DC, Virginia because of the low amount of customers and threats he received on a daily basis by the local community (Pdoggbiker, 2015). Nguyễn reminisces one morning when he came into work, he found “we know who you are fucker” written on the toilet wall (Rare Historical Photos, 2017).
It’s clear misinformed perceptions can result in unjust consequences (in Nguyễn’s case it was verbal and physical annihilation) due to the lack of crucial information the subjects actually have on the matter. Adams met and apologised to General Nguyễn and his family for ruining his reputation. After Nguyễn died of cancer, Adams celebrated him: “The guy was a hero. America should be crying. I just hate to see him go this way, without people knowing anything about him” (Time, 2001).
Brave man incautiously stops war tanks (Widener, 1989)
“A Chinese man stands alone to block a line of tanks heading east on Beijing’s Changan Avenue in Tiananmen Square on June 5, 1989. The man, calling for an end to the recent violence and bloodshed against pro-democracy demonstrators, was pulled away by bystanders, and the tanks continued on their way. Jeff Widener—AP” (Pickert, 2014).
Previously on June 3rd, Jeff Widener had been attacked by a Chinese thug who used a rock to strike him in the head, almost causing a concussion and fatality as well as smashing one of his cameras. Although Widener was injured, he was still asked to photograph the events which would later occur the following days on Tiananmen Square. To compromise between his health and his work, he decided to stay at the Beijing Hotel and would sleep off his headache in between taking photos from his balcony on the 6th floor (‘Tank Man’, 2017).
From what happened within the next few moments could only be described as dreadfully courageous. After a line of tanks began to form along the street, a man crossing the lane stopped in front of the tanks and stood there faced towards them. It was evident that he wanted to block the tanks and keep them stopped. Widener stated that he “waited and waited” for the moment the man would get shot but “he wasn’t.” Instead, “the man waved his arms in front of the lead tank as it tried to proceed around him and eventually, he climbed on top of the hulking metal” (Pickert, 2014).
It is said that “Tank Man” was actually a nineteen year old student (Saul, 2014) however, his name could not be traced. Although the actions of this student were deemed brave and one of the most iconic moments of the 20th century, no one seemed to think about the backbone the tank driver had. He could have shot and killed this man after he continuously violated them by disturbing their march. Instead a YouTube video(CNN, 2014) reveals that he talked to the man, heard him out and even tried to move around him.
This photograph (Widener, 1989) has been remade countless times ranging from comedic to very serious. The Simpsons actually created an episode which had an obvious influence of this event. From Homer standing in front of 4 lined taxi’s and mimicking the Tank Man’s movements (Amirali Mohajerpour Iravani, 2012) to a sign stating “Tiananmen Square: On this site, in 1989, NOTHING HAPPENED” (Worteltaart, 2009). Shows like Family Guy have also included this political issue (DontMindMyController, 2015).
Even discussing this topic in China is still considered taboo and unacceptable. In 2013, a remake of the picture was posted onto the website ‘Sina Weibo’. Rather there be tanks, there for 4 big yellow ducks. Using Dutch artist, Florentijn Hofman’s 54ft tall duck that was floating around Hong Kong at the time (Kelley, 2013), it was photoshopped in. The photo was a metaphor for the fact that the subject was prohibited, hiding the tanks with something else to cover it up. This eventually caused Chinese censors to ban the word “Big yellow duck” also from their search, adding that to “Tiananmen”, “1989”, “Square”, ‘Tank”, “Student leaders” and “June 4” (BBC, 2014).
Comical photo that was posted anonymously online (Sina Weibo, 2013)
These examples all demonstrate the effects war photography has had on humanity which vary from favourable (Kim Phuc being able to help children who go through the same bearings as herself) to depressing (the Saigon Execution negatively affecting General Nguyễn’s life up until he died). With governments intervening by censoring search engines to attacks on innocent people but also, giving hope to the public to be able to stand up for they believe in. It goes to show how just these simple photographs were able to expand into different areas of professionalisms, affect the minds of citizens and exhibit the technological revolution war photography generated on civilisation, society and media.
100photos (2017) The Terror of War. Available at: http://100photos.time.com/photos/nick-ut-terror-war (Accessed: 1 December 2017).
Adams, E. (1968) Saigon Execution. Available at: http://100photos.time.com/photos/eddie-adams-saigon-execution (Downloaded: 27 November 2017).
Amirali Mohajerpour Iravani (2012) Simpsons Tiananmen Parody. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e8_tiks1l1o (Accessed: 20 October 2017).
Banksy. (2005) Napalm. Available at: http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O116030/napalm-print-banksy/ (Downloaded: 15 November 2017).
BBC (2014) #BBCtrending: 10 Words Blocked on Weibo for Tiananmen Anniversary. Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-trending-27700982 (Accessed: 22 November 2017).
Brady, M. (1862) Antietam, Maryland. Bodies of Dead, Louisiana Regiment. Available at: http://www.civilwarin3d.com/loc/MD/Antietam/Dead/slides/01104.html (Accessed: 29 November 2017).
Civil War Trust (2017) Biography Mathew Brady. Available at: https://www.civilwar.org/learn/biographies/mathew-brady (Accessed: 29 November 2017).
CNN (2013) 1989: Man vs. Chinese tank Tiananmen square. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YeFzeNAHEhU (Accessed: 2 December 2017).
Cosgrove, B. (2014) Time. Available at: http://time.com/3881577/crimea-where-war-photography-was-born/ (Accessed: 1 December 2017).
DontMindMyController (2015) Family Guy S1XE1 Man Stops Tank. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=raO0x75y5hM (Accessed: 23 November 2017).
Dszymanski2 (2014) Nguyễn Van Lem execution and Kim Phuc video. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bst9mjjiBBo (Accessed: 29 November 2017).
‘Execution of Nguyễn Văn Lém’ (2017) Wikipedia. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Execution_of_Nguy%E1%BB%85n_V%C4%83n_L%C3%A9m (Accessed: 28 November 2017).
Fpzzuuulzgaxd (2008) Eddie Adams Talk About The Saigon Execution Photo. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bv11KilBpHQ (Accessed: 29 November 2017).
Hong, J.C. (2012) Kim Phuc Hugs Nick Ut. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/oct/26/vietnam-wars-napalm-girl-kim-phuc-has-laser-treatment-to-heal-wounds (Downloaded: 13 November 2017).
Kelley, M.B. (2013) China Blocks Searches For ‘Big Yellow Duck’ After Brilliant Tiananmen Square Pun. Available at: http://www.businessinsider.com/chinese-censors-block-big-yellow-duck-2013-6?IR=T (Accessed: 22 November 2017).
‘Mathew Brady’ (2017) Wikipedia. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mathew_Brady (Accessed: 28 November 2017).
‘Nguyễn Ngọc Loan’ (2017) Wikipedia. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nguy%E1%BB%85n_Ng%E1%BB%8Dc_Loan (Accessed: 28 November 2017).
Pdoggbiker (2015) ‘The Story Behind the Famous “Saigon Execution” Photo’, Cherries – A Vietnam War Novel, 3 August. Available at: https://cherrieswriter.wordpress.com/2015/08/03/the-story-behind-the-famous-saigon-execution-photo/ (Accessed: 3 December 2017).
‘Phan Thi Kim Phuc’ (2017) Wikipedia. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phan_Thi_Kim_Phuc#Adult_life (Accessed: 14 November 2017).
Pickert, K. (2014) Tank Man at 25: Behind the Iconic Tiananmen Square Photo. Available at: http://time.com/3809688/tank-man-iconic-tiananmen-photo/ (Accessed: 22 November 2017).
Rare Historical Photos (2017) Saigon Execution: Murder of a Vietcong by Saigon Police Chief, 1968. Available at: https://rarehistoricalphotos.com/saigon-execution-1968/ (Accessed: 3 December 2017).
Saul, H. (2014) Independent. Available at: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/tiananmen-square-what-happened-to-tank-man-9483398.html (Accessed: 1 December 2017).
Sina Weibo. (2013) Untitled. Available at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2335636/China-bans-internet-searches-big-yellow-duck-Tiananmen-Square-anniversary-clampdown-prankster-substitutes-ducks-tanks-viral-image.html (Downloaded: 26 November 2017).
Stencil Revolution (2017) Ronald McDonald and Mickey Mouse. Available at: https://www.stencilrevolution.com/banksy-art-prints/ronald-mcdonald-and-mickey-mouse/ (Accessed: 20 November 2017).
Tank Man (2017) Wikipedia. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tank_Man (Accessed: 20 October 2017).
The Guardian (2015) Vietnam war’s ‘napalm girl’ Kim Phuc has laser treatment to heal wounds. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/oct/26/vietnam-wars-napalm-girl-kim-phuc-has-laser-treatment-to-heal-wounds (Accessed: 13 November 2017).
Time (2001) ‘Eulogy’. Available at: http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,139659,00.html (Accessed: 1 December 2017).
Time (2016) The Terror of War: Nick Ut’s Napalm Girl. Available at: http://time.com/4485344/napalm-girl-war-photo-facebook/ (Accessed: 22 November 2017).
Ut, N. (1972) The Terror of War. Available at: http://all-that-is-interesting.com/napalm-girl (Downloaded: 25 November 2017)
V&A (2017) Napalm. Available at: http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O116030/napalm-print-banksy/ (Accessed: 21 November 2017).
‘War photography’ (2017) Wikipedia. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_photography (Accessed: 26 November 2017).
Widener, J. (1989) Tank Man. Available at: http://100photos.time.com/photos/jeff-widener-tank-man (Downloaded: 27 November 2017).
Worteltaart (2009) References Towards Tiananmen Square Protests of 1989. Available at: https://vimeo.com/4995732 (Accessed: 23 November 2017).
Zaynabkjp. (2012) Napalm (2004-5) Banksy. Available at: https://jamaispasdutoutrien.wordpress.com/2012/10/15/napalm-2004-5-banksy/ (Accessed: 20 November 2017).
Zhang, M. (2012) Interview with Nick Ut, the Photojournalist Who Shot the Iconic “Napalm Girl” Photo. Available at: https://petapixel.com/2012/09/19/interview-with-nick-ut-the-photojournalist-who-shot-the-iconic-photo-napalm-girl/ (Accessed: 3 December 2017).
The word “other” has been defined as something that is “used to refer to a person or thing that is different or distinct from one already mentioned or known about” or “Alternative of two” such as “the other side of the road” (Oxford Dictionaries, 2017).
‘Other’ can be viewed as a negative connotation, becoming inverse especially when used in the context of people. For example, Donald Trump’s statement about Mexican’s being “drug dealers, rapists and criminals” because they aren’t like him (John Miller, 2016). This was based solely on the fact that they were not “American’s” due to their different living-style. This further suggests that “othering” people is generated by the understanding of oneself and recognising ones culture as normal and standard. Does this then set minorities into the “other” category automatically? And if it does, who is the standard?
When you think about the whole spectrum of humanity, who is the least likely to be oppressed? The heterosexual white male. Throughout history, women have been portrayed in ways which western males idealise them; sexually available labourers. John Berger, author of the book “Ways of Seeing” (1972), highlights this by suggesting that women are taught to learn how they are looked at and internalise this expectation that they are a spectacle. It also incorporates the “male gaze” briefly. The male gaze has been described as “depicting the world and women in visual arts and literature from a masculine and heterosexual point of view” (‘Male Gaze’, 2017). Typically, the male gaze has been connected to power because it is able to objectify women into being studied unconsciously. An example of the male gaze would be (Newton, 1981).
Newton photographing two models and while his wife of 32 years glares into the camera holding a fed up look on her face (Newton, 1981).
McCord (2016) focuses on the fact that Newton’s work has been linked to the portrayal of confident and assertive women, however, it is evidently clear that she the model is unintentionally eager to please him while he actively observes her.
To go against the “male gaze”, a new hashtag has recently been born. #Girlgaze, “How girls see the world” (Ashley, 2016). The hashtag presents and uplifts female photographers photographing other female subjects to almost take back control and show the difference between the female and male gaze. They also allow ethnicity to play a part as they support black female photographers a great deal because of the lack of diversity there is within the creative industry as a whole.
Cindy Sherman is also another artist that battles against the male gaze. In fact, Sherman produced all her work around the idea of self portraiture. She explores into a number of different forms of identities to demonstrate the possibility there is within existence. Her recreations include historical figures to analysing gender types, she would create stereotypical photographs and allow the audience to focus on the constant positioning of herself as a woman (Sherman, 1977-1980).
Sherman playing against the idea of the male gaze by appearing sexually available and poise (Sherman, 1977-1980).
Ashley, M. (2016) [Twitter] 16 October. Available at: https://twitter.com/MathuraAshley (Accessed: 17 November 2017).
Berger, J. (1972) Ways of Seeing. London: Penguin Classics.
John Miller (2016) Clip #1: Trump Calls Mexican’s Rapists. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TML2cApMueU (Accessed: 15 November 2017).
‘Male Gaze’ (2017) Wikipedia. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Male_gaze (Accessed: 16 November 2017).
McCord, B. (2016) Dazed Digital. Available at: http://www.dazeddigital.com/photography/article/31247/1/your-ultimate-guide-to-helmut-newton (Accessed: 16 November 2017).
Newton, H. (1981) Self Portrait with Wife and Models. Available at: https://www.artsy.net/artwork/helmut-newton-self-portrait-with-wife-and-models (Accessed/downloaded: 17 November 2017).
Oxford Dictionaries (2017) Other. Available at: https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/other (Accessed: 17 November 2017).
Sherman, C. (1977-1980) Untitled Film Stills. Available at: https://curatingthecontemporary.org/2014/11/07/subverting-the-male-gaze-femininity-as-masquerade-in-untitled-film-stills-1977-1980-by-cindy-sherman/ (Accessed/downloaded: 19 November 2017).
Todays task consisted of visiting a photography gallery. Whether that be the gallery in Greenwich or the Louvre in Paris, we needed to document what we saw, what we liked and our overall thoughts.
I saw this as an opportunity to visit the Photographers gallery and fortunately, it was conveniently close to where I worked. For this visit, I wanted to explore deeper into the exhibitions I saw and question every aspect. As Lucy Soutter (2007) poses the question; “What is the difference between an art photograph and a designer handbag?”. Many people stated that an art photograph could hold a certain “aesthetic” and be considered “more precious than a mass produced fashion accessory” (Soutter 2016). Another argument was photography documents “social and political truths” whereas a handbag is only worth what you are willing to pay for it. This question has the ability to distinguish interests and help highlight whether you identify more with fashion culture or documenting truth.
The Photographers gallery provided me with artist Wim Wenders; a photographer who delved into instant photography before it became commercialised. His exhibition was spread out onto two floors because of the extent of polaroids he included. He also displayed a short film shot, directed and narrated by himself about the backstory of certain polaroids. It revealed his struggle between living and photography as no one shared his vision, with it often regarded as a waste of time. Ultimately, he survived and was hired to travel through Japan, Israel and Cuba to take photographs which “capture the essence of a moment, place or space” (Wikipedia, 2017).
A quick stop at the gas station while on the road to New England (left) (Wenders, 1972), Bright and sunny day driving through the desert, destination: Utah (right) (Wenders, 1977)
I also managed to visit the Tate Britain due to being informed about an exhibition which included ‘Stan Firm Inna Inglan: Black Diaspora in London (1960-70)’ by Black Caribbean and African artists living in England within the late sixties. The title ‘Stan Firm inna Inglan’ was taken from the poem ‘It Dread inna Inglan’ by Linton Kwesi Johnson (Bwoy Ruff, 2006) and was for minorities living in England; for them to understand that they have to stand firm while living in a country that doesn’t want them there because they hold the right to stay whether it is respected or not. A lot of images also focused on the race divide, labelling whites as superior, which is still a potent message in todays society.
Two young black men stood in front of bold words “Black Power” (left) (Jones, 1973-76) and young black girl holding her arms crossed with a deadpan stare across her face (right) (Jones, 1973-1976)
My favourite photograph would have to be the young black lady on the right. Although there isn’t much context to this image, the stern look matched with her folded arms comes across as territorial and firm. Jones documented the disparaged community who managed to make the best of everything despite the constant feeling of “displacement” (Taylor, 2007).
Bwoy Ruff (2006) Linton Kwesi Johnson – It Dread Inna Inglan. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4QCYQfov6I (Accessed: 23 November 2017).
Jones, C. (1973-76) Untitled, ABP2252. Available at: http://imagebank.autograph-abp.co.uk/search/detail/abp2252/search?&category=colin-jones&offset=38&fix=0 (Accessed: 18 November 2017).
Jones, C. (1973-76) Untitled, ABP2236. Available at: http://imagebank.autograph-abp.co.uk/search/detail/abp2236/search?&category=colin-jones&page=P40&offset=70&fix=0 (Accessed: 18 November 2017).
Soutter, L. (2016) What is the Difference Between an Art Photograph and a Designer Handbag? Available at: http://masteringphoto.com/why_art_photography/ (Accessed: 22 November 2017 ).
Soutter, L. (2007) Why Art Photography? Available at: http://www.source.ie/archive/issue53/is53feature_Lucy_Soutter_19_34_08_13-09-12.php (Accessed: 21 October 2017).
Stan Firm Inna Inglan: Black Diaspora in London (1960-70) [Exhibition]. Tate Britain. 7 April 2017–19 November 2017.
Taylor, R. (2007) Colin Jones and the Black House. Available at: https://www.timeout.com/london/things-to-do/colin-jones-and-the-black-house (Accessed: 4 December 2017).
Wenders, W. (1972) On the Road to New England. Available at: https://thephotographersgallery.org.uk/whats-on/exhibitions/wim-wenders-instant-stories (Downloaded: 4 December 2017).
Wenders, W. (1977) Valley of the Gods, Utah. Available at: https://thephotographersgallery.org.uk/whats-on/exhibitions/wim-wenders-instant-stories (Downloaded: 4 December 2017).
Wikipedia (2017) Wim Wenders. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wim_Wenders (Accessed: 23 November 2017).
For the beginning of the second year, I chose to study the subject “Photographic philosophies”. I really enjoy taking photos (when I have the time to) and wanted to become more educated about the topic such as how it began, who some world famous photographers are and how it developed and became modernised throughout society.
Our first task was to bring one of your favourite photographs. I was very confused what to bring for this one. You see, I have a few favourites that I have taken myself but also have a selection of favourite photographers such as Terence Donovan, Ren Hang, Jude Liana, Ivar Wigan, Quentin De Briey and so on. I really examined the idea behind some of their photos and came to the conclusion that Quentin De Briey holds my favourite photograph. It’s a photo he took for @WSJmag but was actually an outtake (unsure as to why). It was photographed in Ladakh, Kahmir India which is why there are some mountains in the background. Seems to be a Indian civilian on the phone casually.
Quentin De Briey – Ladakh, Kashmir 2017
While looking at it, I wrote in my notes “I love the pose, it doesn’t seemed forced. Almost documentary photography because of how natural it looks. Did he ask him to pose this way or was this his natural state when he shot him? He seems so sharp and focused just by the look in his eyes. Content. What was he talking about?
The vibrance of his blue supertech t-shirt in contrast to the off white sand is very nice.
The depth of field (boy to the mountains) is very good. The mountains almost look like paintings. I love it.”
Quentin De Briey almost always uses a film camera to take his photos but I am unsure about this one. Either way, I love the photo. This is the type of photography I would love to take – In the moment.
History is described as “narratives of past events, account, tale or story”, “learning or knowing by inquiry; an account of ones inquiries.” (Oxford Dictionaries, 2017) whereas Photography is “drawing with light” (‘Photograph’, 2017) as well as “the art or practice of taking and processing photographs” (Oxford Dictionaries, 2017). There has definitely been a distinct leap into the development of photography since the 19th century. It has resulted into it having the ability to become modernised, regenerated and diverse.
Blurred and static-like image of the view from the window at Le Gras (Niepce 1926-27)
Nicephore Niepce managed to produce the oldest surviving camera photograph by applying a “camera obscura onto a 16.2 cm x 20.2 cm pewter plate thinly coated with Bitumen of Judea, a naturally occurring asphalt” (‘View from the Window at Le Gras, 2017) yet the first successful process of photographic printing was created years later in 1839 by Louis Daguerre. The instructions were then only released to the public on the 19th August the same year and this process was recognised as ‘Daguerreotype’ (‘History of Photography’, 2017). Rather than like today, having the ability to access photos from social media, attachments or even bluetooth, in the past the original copy was the only copy. It was not until Henry Fox Talbot created the ‘Calotype’ process in 1841 which was a method that allowed the original photograph to be copied and printed again (‘Calotype’, 2017). This process had a great deal of potential as it established opportunities of mass printing, nonetheless, the quality of print was considered lesser than the daguerreotype which justifies why it was unable to displace it.
Charles Baudelaire stated that Photography should never be considered a creative art form. He declared “photography must, therefore, return to its true duty which is that of handmaid of the arts and sciences” so it can “be the secretary and record-keeper of whomsoever needs absolute material accuracy for professional reasons” (Ryan and Schwartz, 2003). Because photography lacked imagination, it became solely identified as an accessory to writing by cause of obtaining the ability to archive objects accurately.
The creativity that exists within present photography was not explored or even looked into formerly because it was raw, uncut and generally used to document until the 1880’s as it did manage to break its pattern by becoming a practical tool within criminology (‘Mug Shot’, 2017) after Alphonse Bertillon created a documenting system that the rest of Europe would soon embrace. It was then officially used to log mugshots and crime scenes however, there have been photos of prisoners as early as 1843 taken and used by Belgium law enforcement.
Alphonse Bertillon’s glorious self-portrait that invented state-of-the-art mug shots of today (Bertillon, 1888)
However, it is now possible to incorporate inventive applications such as Photoshop or Adobe Premiere to enhance certain aspects of a photograph. The Youtube video (Eliza Zwingenberger, 2015) demonstrates a perfect example of this because it includes a step-by-step process of commonly used tools such as blurring out imperfections and as well as shadow effects.
Dramatic before and after shots of Beyonce (Eliza Zwingenberger, 2015)
Bertillon, A. (1888) Self portrait. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Bertillon_selfportrait.jpg (Downloaded: 2 December 2017).
‘Calotype’ (2017) Wikipedia. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calotype (Accessed: 1 December 2017).
Eliza Zwingenberger (2015) Editorial-Beyonce-Before and after editing. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sL-buox5xpY (Accessed: 3 December 2017).
‘History of Photography’ (2017) Wikipedia. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_photography (Accessed: 1 December 2017).
Niepce, N. (1926-27) View from the Window at Le Gras. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/View_from_the_Window_at_Le_Gras (Downloaded: 1 December 2017).
Oxford Dictionaries (2017) History. Available at: https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/history (Accessed: 17 October 2017).
Oxford Dictionaries (2017) Photography. Available at: https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/photography (Accessed: 17 October 2017).
‘Photograph’ (2017) Wikipedia. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photograph (Accessed: 17 October 2017).
Ryan, J. and Schwartz, J. (2003) Picturing Place: Photography and the Geographical Imagination. London: I.B. Tauris.
‘View from the Window at Le Gras’ (2017) Wikipedia. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/View_from_the_Window_at_Le_Gras (Accessed: 1 December 2018).
‘Mug Shot’ (2017) Wikipedia. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mug_shot (Accessed: 3 December 2017).
In the early 18th century, women were constantly portrayed as lifeless, passive creatures that were only recognised by whichever compelling male figure had happened to be associated with them. Till this present day, women are still being considered yielding beings, especially due to their “maternal nature of giving”. This has allowed men to believe that they have a right to take advantage of them without receiving little to no serious consequences. Women as a whole, were only given the legal right to equally vote in 1928, after years of protesting and campaigning (Parliament, 2017). Their voices were not only not recognised as actual voices, but were treated more as background noise, “a person or thing considered to be irrelevant or incidental to the main issue or situation” (Oxford Dictionaries, 2017). Men began to realise the power that came from a woman’s mind and made history by allowing women to think and be viewed as equal rather than using them as what Saylor Academy’s (2017) research report described as “instruments for men’s happiness”. Since then, women have managed to be taken more seriously as well as excel in other areas than just the bedroom or kitchen. We now have female painters, workers and designers.
My research within this essay has been based on the opinions of women from the beginning of the enlightenment period (Wikipedia, 2017). The enlightenment period was basically what established the Eurocentric mindset that still has a hold of the world. European men had jurisdiction over everything. They would observe, catalogue and publish their ideas of the perfect world, persuading others that they too needed to live a Eurocentric way of life, instilling their opinions into everything. Indigenous practices from different cultures were considered “wrong” at this time and that the way of their living was something that shouldn’t be celebrated or revered.
“Art is a product of its time” (Santa Cruz, K. 2017) Art is created by the social, economical and political issues surrounding it’s time period. The female nude became an iconic image within the Western culture. Their concept of what a Eurocentric women should be was all that was considered normal and prevailed for a great deal of time in art.
An early example of the nude painting is Venus and the Lute Player (1565–1570) by Titian.
Wikipedia (2017) provides information claiming that Titian was a very versatile Italian painter whose work can be considered the key influencer for the future generations of Western art.
Marina Abramović is a Yugoslavia-born performance artist that loves to challenge the relationship between the audience and the performer. The video (Marina Abramovic Institute 2016), Abramovic describes ‘Rhythm 0’ (1974) as being one of her is one of her most acknowledged projects as she completely pushed her body to it’s limit. It was an interactive instillation in which she allowed herself to be passive and the audience to be in control. She decided to take a passive role because she wanted to achieve the recognition of just another object rather than another person, with thoughts and feelings. 72 other objects were set out onto a table in front of where she stood. The audience were allowed to do whatever they pleased, and could even shoot and kill her with the pistol she had put down if that is what they so desired. Abramović’s aim was to see what the public were “really about” while she stood still, lifeless like a puppet for 6 hours each day. At the beginning of the project, she recalled the crowd being very shy and sweet but as the days went on, it rapidly grew into aggressive, inhuman behaviour. They would cut her skin with the knives, pull the thorns out of the roses and pin them into her arms and rip off her clothes with no question but once she would start to move around again after her shift was over, the audience would run scarce due to the fear of confrontation and coming to terms with what they had let themselves do to her. Her work revealed the terrible side of humanity, showing how fast a person can want to hurt you under favourable circumstances. It exhibited how easy it was to dehumanise someone who would not argue or fight back and how much you can get away with when there are no repercussions.
Such questions arise after this piece was created; if she were male rather than female, would the audience have reacted in the same way? Does this suggest that they would have stopped causing her distress if she just asked? And that consequences are needed when allowing people to do what they want so they do not go “too far”. Maybe this factor is what pushed them to do such things. Such similarities can be recognised from nude paintings of women dating back to the 1800’s.
The way in which women are now anticipated has definitely changed in comparison to the 18th century. Rather than a woman being nude, she is now also naked; bare and explicit. The word nude has been defined as “a naked human figure, typically as the subject of a painting, sculpture, or photograph.” (Oxford Dictionary, 2017) whereas naked has been defined as “(of a person or part of the body) without clothes.” or “(especially of feelings or behaviour) expressed openly; undisguised.” (Oxford Dictionary, 2017).
John Berger, the author of the book “Ways of Seeing” (1972), highlights the hidden meanings behind the nude females look. The gaze of the female subject within paintings are often there to symbolise how women have involuntarily become objective. Their eyes meet the viewers, as they glance out of their canvas and begin to acknowledge them in the construct of their glare. But is this for the satisfaction of the audience or for the painter? Art allows you to understand the world view and reality of that particular artist.. However, when we read or view art; Berger argues that there key assumptions that influence how the work is understood. These influences include beauty, truth, genius, civilisation, form, status and taste. Somethings have been designed so well and thought through too thoroughly that there has to be a reason behind it just like there has to be a reason as to why the nude female has been positioned this same way constantly throughout art-history? When you think about who have always commissioned and consumed the art prehistorically, it has been men. And it has always been men, only up until recently.
Looking back into the Eurocentric approach of things, the nude painting was definitely affected by this. Not only has it made the female body a much bigger deal than it needed to be but it has consistently displayed the same type of body. That constant of a carbon copy body has now manifested into becoming the optimal body. It was only until recently that artists began to challenge the way in which the female body was perceived. An example of this is Lucien Freud’s painting Benefits Supervisor Sleeping (1995). He worked with an obese, naked woman to create this piece because he wanted to paint people “not because of what they are like, not exactly in spite of what they are like, but how they happen to be” (Lucien Freud, 1995). Work like this has helped us as people because we have come to accept various body shapes and sizes that have existed in this world the whole time.
After taking a visit to The National Portrait Gallery, you were able to distinguish the difference between the nude female and the nude male. The nude male, although he is uncovered and bare, revealing his true naked self, he still has and will be recognised as capable, athletic and brave who can typically be strong through anything. John Berger was definitely able to recognise the distinction between the two and acknowledged this with a quote; “A man’s presence suggests what he is capable of doing to you or for you. By contrast, a woman’s presence . . . defines what can and cannot be done to her.” (Berger, 1972, pg.45-46.) Although they are both naked, one almost always managed to look more captivating and hold the viewer with her stronger gaze, “hinting” that she wanted to be controlled whereas the male would assert themselves by imposing their powers over others.
Guerrilla Girls (1985) found and stated that 5% of artists within art galleries are women whereas 85% of nude paintings have female subjects. They created their most iconic coloured poster using the famous ‘Odalisque and slave’ (1842) painting by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres and placed a gorilla’s face over the head to almost disguise her. Their aim was to highlight the sexual discrimination and sexualisation of women that exists within the art industry, asking if they had to be naked to be allowed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This suggested that their bodies were the only things that mattered about them and were most captivating when they were bare, not their talent. Since then, women in paintings are now no longer naked all the time, in fact some are even portrayed the same way a man would be, but the over sexualisation of women’s bodies from the past has affected the equality divide between men and women. Men mean business, whereas women are there for whatever you desire. When men reveal their bare chests, they are deemed as sexy, confident and cool but when women reveal their naked chests, they are seen as whores with easy-access, who are open for invitation.
The main problem with the way women have been perceived in the past is that they only had two options of what they could be in life; these choices were either whores or domesticated wives and/or mothers (Saylor Academy, 2017). This limited women in being taken seriously or even identified as in charge or leaders. Feminism has been described as “the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes.” (Oxford Dictionaries, 2017). The feminist art movement appeared within the late 1960’s. Suzanne Lacy explained the goal of feminist art being to “influence cultural attitudes and transform stereotypes”. Feminism has helped women to no longer be bound to what they do or have done but shows how they are as people, just like men. Women artists have begun to emerge by taking advantage of the nude female body, to make statements projecting how much more in control they all are of themselves now in comparison the 18th century. It creates a bigger statement because of how controversial it is for women to use their bodies as tool, the same thing that men have been doing all these years.
Rihanna Fenty has become a fashion icon through her brave and risky choices, truly showing that to be a woman, specifically a woman of colour, you can do whatever you please. She considers herself a feminist (Instagram, 2017) and plays with her vanity rather than brushing it away. She has over 53 million followers on Instagram and has built a creative platform which explores art through her.
To conclude this essay and to be brutally honest, it will take a very long time for women to be viewed as completely equal to men in any category by every single person in this world. There has been a certain type of misrepresentation of women that has been going around for centuries that we are still trying to diminish and get rid of till this day. Although we have made the progress of having different types of women in art, whether they are the artists themselves or the subject, they are no longer forced to be at the service of men unless they want to be.”Men act, women appear.” Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at. (Berger, 1972, p.75). Women used to do everything in life for men because her own sense of being herself had been overthrown by a sense of being appreciated as herself by the man. We have been able to build a sense of self which doesn’t require the approval of our bodies by men. Instead our minds and thoughts will be recognised.