Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Modernity and Modernism

The first lecture we had for Context of Practice was on 'Modernity and Modernism'. Below are the notes I took during that lecture; with these they have helped me to understand many different areas which were affected by Modernism.

The term Modern is said to be up to date, improved, better than before, that new is best; modernism was progression. In the early 20th century, Paris was classed as the most modern and radical city in the world. The process of Modernity began around the 1750's and didn't end until the 1960's. Industrialisation was the key shift in which things started to change, rural farming changed to industrial work which meant more rules and set times to work. Along with this came urbanisation which bought in more people to the city, life began to speed up - trains were invented, people were more able to get around so this in turn made the world 'shrink' as everything became more accessible.

The city became the hub of social life. A place of experience where artists and historians would come to study. Artists began to turn their attention to the city for their subject instead of using myths or high society people. The city became a valid reason to paint it, it began to show the individual responses to modern experiences. However with this new form of subject came artists who would portray the 'new' life in a bad light. Degas for example painted 'Absinthe Drinker' (1876) which showed the horrors of modern life, how people would drink away their sorrows. Yet within his painting, he showed new techniques which many artists were picking up. The layout is a direct influence from photography, artists were increasingly finding it difficult, as painting could be obsolete as photography could depict the world better so artists abandoned realism for expressionism.

During the 1850's Paris underwent a regeneration, it was transformed into a 'new' Paris. The old architecture of narrow streets and run down housing was redesigned by a city architect named Haussman. He created large boulevards which were easier to police- a form of social control. All the dangerous elements of the W.C were moved outside of the city centre so this then became an expensive middle and upper class zone. By doing this it created more of a divide within the society. Fashion was also another factor that would show the differences with the society classes, showing off you 'finery' started with fashion in modernity. They were a key part to show identity.

Modernism in design became quite apparent as new ideas came into place. There were ideas that there should be truth to material, let the material used speak for itself and be in its natural form; form should follow function - the aesthetics and style of a product should come secondary to how it works. e.g. Bauhaus cutlery. Beauty comes from functionality. Adolf Loos said 'Ornate is Crime', you shouldn't try to make something trendy. Trends go in and out of style so fast, if you make them neutral they will never go out of fashion.

 As I want to specialise in animation, there are some areas within Modernism that you can see cross over and influence that specialism. The main thing that stands out to me is where fashion was a way to show off your social class, 'The Princess and The Frog' for example is a film about a young woman who lives in New Orleans in 1926. She has two jobs as she wants to save up money to buy a restaurant of her own, her childhood friend however is very rich due to her father's wealth and this is shown through the clothes they wear. Another example would be a game called Fable 2. Even though it is set in a fantasy world the clothing is still a big part in telling people apart. It gives them an identity. You can instantly see who is of a higher social class, who are the ones who have the money to show off the way they dress.

Another area that would relate to animation is how technology responds to design. As the years have gone on, technology in the animation industry has progressed. It's progressed to the point where 3D animation is becoming more popular than 2D animation. As throughout Modernism: 'new is best'. During the 1920's through to the 1960's the 'Golden Age of Animation', this was where 2D animation began to become more recognised. Walt Disney made it what it is known for today. However after this time, 2D animation began to take a dip as technology was moving along, there were people out there who were trying to push the boundaries of new computer technology. New technology could now respond to their designs and ideas, and this still continues to happen in our modern day. Films and visual effects are always striving to achieve the best that they can do, Avatar for example had been delayed since the 1990's in order to allow the technology to advance to a sufficient standard where the director felt it was good enough to produce. For me this area in which Modernism has influenced will never change, technology will always become better and therefore people will design and create films and animations which will show off the technology to the best of its standards.

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