Understanding Visual Culture- Part 2- Good Taste

For this exercise, we had to read “The bottom line on planet one: squaring up to The Face” written by Dick Hebdige in the course reader and answer questions.

Does Hebdige make a clear distinction between ‘high’ and ‘popular’ culture?

Yes, he describes them as two different worlds. The first world relates to power and knowledge and the in the second world “looking takes precedence over seeing” he also describes this as “sensing over knowing”.

Whether he does or not, what are his main arguments against what he calls the “People of the Post”?

With the first world, as John Berger describes it, their aim is “seeking to bind the photograph back to its originary context” whereas the “People of the Post” were not interested in finding the truth and wanting us to interpret images in our own way. Within the article they touch on Barthes, a leading Second World spokesperson, summarising his idea of “cruising” through environments picking up whatever the “reader” finds attractive, useful or appealing.

Explain what you see as the difference between high and popular culture today

I think that nowadays the lines between high and popular culture are becoming blurred. It is so easy for us to access things nowadays and you often find that high culture often references popular culture and vice versa i.e. classical musicians covering pop music.

In the light of developments in the media and other branches of the arts and culture, which is ascendant today, the First or the Second world? Is it flat or round?

Sadly I feel as though the Second world is more ascendant. It has become the norm to pick and chose what you want to read or see. I think that this stems from childhood and secondary education where you are just taught to pass exams and not delve deeper when a subject interests you. This point is made when Hebdige says “When is is said and done, why bother to think ‘deeply’ when you’re not paid to think deeply’.

I also think that it has become a flat world, the saying “it’s a small world( and its getting smaller everyday)” comes to mind. You can find out what is happening in any part of the world at the touch of a button (while I am writing this, I am speaking to a friend in America via Facebook). People from all over the world with similar interests can connect over the internet. In the first paragraph on page 111 it talks about the growing number of people without training or a proper education can using various types of media can become amateur critics of film, photography, television etc. With the advances in media, people without proper training can also become writers, photographers, musicians and film makers.

Examples of popular culture, high culture, high culture referencing popular culture and popular culture referencing high culture

Popular Culture– celebrity magazines such as Heat and OK!, Reality TV such as Big Brother, pop music and TV shows such as The Simpsons and Peppa Pig

High Culture– Fine arts, Operas, Theatre and high end magazines such as the British Journal of Photography and The Lady.

High referencing popular– Orchestras covering pop songs, high-end restaurants serving gourmet burgers and decorating in a minimalist fashion and plays such as Romeo and Juliet being turned into modern day films

Popular referencing high– High street shops mimicking high-end designer clothes, abridged versions of books such as Shakespeare, having a photograph turned into a painting and high street shops creating antique style furniture


About kunsworthphotography

I am currently studying towards a BA (Hons) in Photography with OCA and I have 2 children, Evie(4 years old) and Connor(3 years old)
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One Response to Understanding Visual Culture- Part 2- Good Taste

  1. Pingback: Understanding Visual Culture- Part 3- Author, What author? | kunsworthphotography's Blog

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