Fetishisation of the Image: the Ugly/Beautiful Paradigm

Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
Citation:
2016, 17
Issue Date:
2016-01-01
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We occupy an era with an abundance of modes of communication and devices through which we communicate. Technology has allowed for the development of multiple screens through which images are perpetuated, copied, commodified and networked. Photocopiers, hand-held devices, computer screens and televisions have become the windows into and projections of the aesthetic world, providing perpetual information and imagery to the viewer. This advancement in information delivery has produced an information society, one in which there is more and more information and less and less meaning according to Baudrillard (1988). Baudrillard exclaims that we live in a world in which despite efforts to reinject meaning and content, meaning is lost faster than it can be rejected. The image itself has become the new reality; simulation and hyperreality are the new authentic so that ‘real’ is displaced by the virtual. This perversion of reality detaches the image from its context, ultimately objectifying the whole act of viewing, to the point where the gaze passes over a subject without seeing in it anything other than the objective subject. For representations of the body, this decontextualising of the image and projection of the body into virtual perpetual simulacra, disengages the body subject from a fixed contextual and experiential understanding. The sheer abundance of images and replications means that images of bodies are now speculative, fracturing meaning and read with the same objectifying gaze that is typical of viewing any other image of an object. The body is stripped of its fixed contextual and political situation, and the image is held up as a reality. We can now choose our own projection of ourselves through the internet; series of avatars and collections of photographs become our own projection of self in the virtual. We make copies of ourselves and of others through photographs, perpetually transporting ourselves into the hyperreality of the virtual. While this is not a new or profound understanding it does offer some interesting provocations to aestheticism and the notion of the ugly in relation to the privileging of the image.
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