2022 Abstracts Stage 3

To what extent does war photography provide the potential for noesis?

The subject of my project is war photography, and the goal is to determine the level of noesis that a photograph can convey. I picked war photographs to emphasise this since it is a reality that many people do not face, particularly in Western Europe. Secondly, I picked war photography because the photographs I’ve chosen for my project represent other people’s grief and suffering, and it’s crucial for society to avoid aestheticizing others’ misery and understand what function they may and should provide. Through Jean Baulldriad’s hyperreality, the project next investigates combat photos in a modern digital setting.

2022 Abstracts Stage 2

Desire and Consumption: an Investigation of Consumerism via Pasolini, Tiqqun, Deleuze, and Guattari

We’ve had Athenian civilisation, we’ve had the Renaissance, and now our civilisation centres round the arse.
-Jean-Luc Godard, Pierrot le Fou

Since World War II, capitalist society has experienced a proliferation of consumer goods and items so vast that, according to Jean Baudrillard, they have come to take on the nature of flora and fauna. Our streets are lined with shops and restaurants, while our houses are filled with various nonessential items. For some, almost every moment in waking existence is related to consumption. For others, consumption is a type of leisure, a break from a life spent in an office doing paperwork. But how did we end up in this endless cycle of consumption? Why is consumption a lifestyle for so many people? How could such a large societal change be enacted in such a short space of time?

Judging by how quickly capitalist society has accepted and embraced consumerism, it would seem as though humans have an endless capacity to consume, and that consumer capitalism frees us to pursue this natural end. However, I will argue in this essay that consumerism is an oppressive identity and force that makes us desire its oppression. I will do so by opening the discussion of a consumer identity through Jean-Luc Godard’s 1965 film Pierrot le Fou. Following this opening, I will use Pier Paolo Pasolini’s critique of consumerism to show how consumerism acts as a force of social homogenisation, and also apply this critique to Pierrot le Fou. Then I will use the concept of the Young-Girl from Tiqqun’s book Preliminary Materials for a Theory of the Young-Girl to show how the consumerism as a form of social control has developed from the 1960s, and how it has created an identity that engenders more consumption, and therefore a degree of self-oppression. Finally, I will use Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari’s book Anti-Oedipus to show how the social and the political directly produce subjects and how desire comes to desire consumption, even if this leads to its own oppression.

2021 Abstracts Stage 2

‘A philosophical investigation to whether the prevalent overuse of social media has a negative impact on mental health’

Due to the recent surge of both social media and overall decline of mental health this project title was chosen, and it seeks to discover a correlation between the two. Social medias rapid growth will be showcased to show its embryonic state, showing its lack of reliability. Once the link is discovered studies supporting the direct link will be showcased as well as Simon Sinek’s motivational talks about raising a generation on dopamine devices, which subsequently forms addiction and destruction of relationships. The ability to maintain healthy relationships is a key aspect in sustaining a good mental health. The philosophical investigation will then be carried out to come to the bottom of the issue, to uncover the deeper problems of SM in relation to the human psyche. Baudrillard’s concept of a ‘hyperreality’ (real without origin of reality) and Borgmann’s ‘virtual fog’ (seeping into human connection) will be explored. Borgmann, Baudrillard and Sinek harmoniously highlight that real life and real humans are complicated enough without adding this hyperreal virtual fog that further scrambles our brains- amplified into a kind of tortuous labyrinth which produces feelings of loneliness and deteriorates our mental states the more we attempt to make sense of it and the further we travel this untrodden idle path. Sartre ties it all together at the end with his ‘existence proceeds essence’, his fight for the potential of locating an authentic self. This potentiality is, arguably, being cut off by this hyperreal virtual fog. Inauthentic human existence produces melancholy. Reclaiming this, is possible as long as the prevalent overuse of social media is recognised as something inherently negative and reduced. Essentially this philosophical investigation concludes that the prevalent overuse of social media negatively impacts overall mental health.

2021 Abstracts Stage 3

Is the age of social media marketing creating a warped sense of reality for Generation Z?

This project looks at the question, ‘Is the age of social media marketing creating a warped sense of reality for Generation Z?’. This project explores and applies Baudrillard’s concepts of hyperreality as well as his theory of sign value, to the modern world of social media. As well as looking at areas such as fast fashion marketing and the effect social media can have on both mental health and our perception of reality.

2021 Abstracts Stage 2

How Free Am I to Shape an Identity Through Consumerism?

I will be exploring the relationship between consumerism and identity. I will ask if people are free to create an identity and control the way in which they express themselves under the social order of consumerism. I will argue that rather than being emancipatory, consumerism instead imposes restrictions on people in ways that will be explored in this essay. The main philosophical ideas used to engage with this thesis will be drawn from works of Jean Baudrillard. I will primarily be drawing from Baudrillard’s The Consumer Society and will later incorporate some ideas from his Simulacra and Simulation. Baudrillard’s philosophical analysis of consumerism provokes much thought about identity, and the freedom that we possess to manipulate this identity. These ideas will be fundamental to my argument.

2021 Abstracts Stage 3

Has the insurgence of Social Networking Services propelled us towards Jean Baudrillard’s concept of social hyperreality?

Has the insurgence of Social Networking Services propelled us towards Jean Baudrillard’s concept of social hyperreality? Well, Jean Baudrillard would argue yes, social
networking services are bringing us closer to a state of ‘pure simulacrum’, where no real understanding of the world can be divined. Albert Borgmann would argue yes, but the issue is more complicated than this. Social Networking Services are a product of our desire in a postmodern Western landscape to integrate technological designs into our everyday life. We can complain, but we caused it! But Hubert Dreyfus would argue not necessarily but engaging on the internet is dangerous in the same way Soren Kierkegaard thought engaging with the press was once. We lose track of our sense of identity and conform too much! No matter who’s opinion you look at more, one thing is for sure, that social networking services hide more than they reveal.

2017 Abstracts Stage 2

Journalism, Ethics and Brexit: An Exploration into our Democratic Abilities in a Post-Truth Age

Project Outline

-This project was undertaken to determine whether the Brexit vote was a result of unethical journalism and whether we can remain democratic in today’s society.

-In order to be democratic citizens, the population needs to be correctly informed from factual evidence and I believe that throughout the Brexit referendum this was not the case.

-This project looks at journalism within the context of the free market to highlight the issues journalists face when companies prioritise money over the truth.

-This project will also use the ideas of Baudrillard to determine the nature of truth in the 21st century and how the phenomena of fake news found its way into Brexit.

2017 Abstracts Stage 2

A Post-Modern Pilgrimage: Can any type of travel be meaningful in the same way pilgrimage is?

Is there any way in which non-religious forms of travel can be as meaningful as religion? My project aims to investigate concepts such as pleasure, disappearance, purpose and perspectivism to form a discourse for how we can talk of a post-modern pilgrimage.

Pilgrimage is an important part of any religion. Those with religious beliefs seek to connect with other’s who are similar to oneself and God, to help reinforce their sense of self and their place in the universe.

Baudrillard believes disappearance is symbolic as well as physical. The absence from our normal life is crucial for personal development, as our mind needs a break to recuperate.

Sartre believes ‘existence precedes essence,’ meaning that we are not born with a purpose. Instead, we are to decide our own purpose and our own meaning for life. This can be found through travelling. We move away from the everyday life and the familiarity and we experience new objects and many unfamiliar and difficult challenges, we learn more about ourselves and so we reflect on our own meaning of life.

Mill discusses the quality of pleasures in his views of utilitarianism. The highest pleasures are the most valuable, those which exercise the mind.
When travelling, we may feel curious to learn more about the country we are in. Gaining knowledge of the world through experiencing this country’s culture directly, satisfies the human mind, as the understanding of the world can shape our ideas of the world.

All three philosophers can apply to De Botton’s views on perspectivism, which is that we begin to look at the world in a different way, by focusing and appreciating the small things. This brings in all concepts of pleasure, absence and purpose, which is demonstrated throughout this project.

2014 Abstracts Stage 3

I Shop Therefore I am

– Joseph Heath
– Tim Kasser
– Charles Taylor
– Jean Baudrillard

“Consumer society sold us dissatisfaction, then sold us the cure” (Lawson, 2009).

“This massive squirrel-wheel cannot but generate a certain amount of stress, not to mention incredible amounts of waste”

With both nutrition and materialism, Kasser states that “they are full for only a short time, as the promise is false and the satisfaction is empty”.

The level of consumption in Britain is so extraordinarily high that if the entire human race had the same levels we would need 3.1 planets to cope with the demand for resources (Lawson, 2009, p.98).

Researchers have found that on average we see around 3,500 advertisements a day. That is a shocking 1, 277, 500 a year.

2013 Abstracts Stage 3

Embedded within Reality? A Philosophical Inquiry into Whether Photographic Practice Differs from Other Modes of Visual Representation in Terms of its Classification as Art

The discussion of this paper will be centred on the argument of whether photography can ever be considered as anything more than merely a mechanical replicate of the world. Photography is generally seen by many as an automatic unemotional means of ‘capturing a moment in time’. Art, on the other hand, is commonly seen as a hand-rendered expression of human imagination typically illustrated within a visual form.

The following questions will be asked;
 What effect has the mass production of photographic images had?
 How much does the intentionality of the artist matter?
 What is the impact of photo-manipulation on the notion of authorship?
 Can our perception of a believed photographic reality be merely an illusion?
 Is our modern consumerist world driven by the image?

We will begin with a brief outline of the ways in which photography of the past designed modes of replicating the painterly styles of the artworks of the time. We shall then discuss the notion of how photography became a product of mass production, whilst introducing the thoughts of Walter Benjamin and Heidegger who both see modern works of art, and photography, as unable to reach the previous standards of past great artworks for they have lost originality, ‘aura’. We shall consider the views of Scruton who fundamentally states a photograph is unable to be the product of aesthetic judgement for it is bound by a casual relation to the world and is an automatic technical invention which requires no thought processes on behalf of the creator to effectively formulate it. Our discussion will finally lead us to the views of Susan Sontag and Jean Baudrillard who believe that under the present age of our consumer media driven tradition, our reality is reinstated by the photographic image, for photographic seeing fundamentally alienates reality.

2009 Abstracts Stage 3

Is the Shaping of Self-Identity in the Post-Modern Era in a Crucial Sense a Body Project?

I cannot help feeling as though there is something seriously wrong with society at the moment if the way we look is the main concern for many individuals. There are a number of things that one must take into consideration as to why and how all of this possibly came about: internet, mass culture, mass consumption the list goes on, ultimately it seems there is a distinct relationship between the way in which we perceive ourselves today and modernity, and the ultimate question then is, are we autonomous subjects within modernity? And is this ultimately affecting our transcendence? I believe the most appropriate research methods for this particular topic will be mainly observational and qualitative. I am also interested in the historical context of identity thinking and the relationship it has with the body for instance the history of dieting, the fashion industry and investigating whether or not there is a specific source or reason as to why we think about our body shapes and physical appearances the way we do today. It becomes obvious that this particular topic is relevant to history and the attitudes people have on the subject matter are tied within the social situations at various times. In my project I will be making philosophical reference to Kant and the autonomy of the subject, discussing how in our present day there are various structures between subjects, for instance the internet, networking systems which mediate our relationships with others. Today bodily existence and spiritual existence are projected as the same…is this making it harder for subjects to know themselves? Are we fragmented selves? Jean Baudrillard points out in the Consumer in Society that the body has taken over the soul’s moral and ideological role as an object of salvation, and Oscar Wilde says “To be really medieval one should have no body. To be really modern one should have no soul.” We have become a society obsessed with the way we look, but does the way we look in such a superficial sense really tell us anything at all about us as individuals… and is this way of thinking pulling us further and further away from ourselves and the understanding of others. In the case of a traditional dualism between the soul and the body, as especially found in Platonic and Christian traditions, the identity of the body will be relatively unimportant, because identity will primarily have to do with the soul, not the body. Increasingly however, it is the body that has taken centre stage in connection with the shaping of identity.

2008 Abstracts Stage 3

Eldon Square: the Culture of Consumerism

In my project I observe the phenomenon of consumption and its cultural implications on our day society. I believe it is very important to demonstrate the complexity and measure of the subject and I attempt to demonstrate some of the key issues through analysing Newcastle’s own Eldon Square shopping centre. My philosophical concept is based on the material of Jean Baudrillard. I believe he showed a real insight in the complexity and complicatedness of consumerism through the notion of the political economy of the sign and demonstrated how sign functions in the relations that involve economic, symbolic and use value exchange.

2006 Abstracts Stage 2

Postmodernism and Contemporary Art

How has art changed since the era of modernity (late 19th century to 1970s)? What evidence is there for these changes in the work of artists like Antony Gormley and Damien Hirst? What is it about contemporary art that makes it ‘postmodern’? Is the postmodern era really a complete break from modernity, or just another state of it? Modern art: broke away from traditional methods and began to experiment. No longer having to paint of draw objects exactly as they appear. More emotion through art. Postmodern art: celebrates and demonstrates chaos of modern life; even more inventive; anything goes; no distinction between higher and lower art; uses features from the past (eg Grayson Perry’s vases). De Duve: nowadays the important question in art is ‘What can be considered art?’. Baudrillard: fashion is what motivates change in art; we want things to be more shocking. Lyotard: importance of profit making when deciding the ‘value’ of a piece of art; idea of ‘the sublime’ coming back into importance in contemporary art. Postmodernity just another state of modernity? From modernity to postmodernity: materials used; methods of presentation; relationship between artist and viewer; media influence; ‘anything goes’; competitive element; purpose/message; historic narratives; concern with current events.

2005 Abstracts Stage 2

Identical Chairs are Socially Destructive?

Mass produced items are everywhere. They perform cold hard lines on our imagination. How can we relate to objects, initially designed by people, but created by machine? As beings that came ‘out of’ nature, do we do ourselves (psychological and emotional) harm by surrounding ourselves with straight bricked walls and replicated items? What philosophical criteria are employed in the architectural decision-making process? Comparing and contrasting the position of Art Nouveau, with the position of Jean Baudrillard a century later, I argue we are alienated in our environment. This is due to industrialisation and the life doctrines capitalism preaches. To inject nature into our surroundings would increase happiness of the occupants. Art Nouveau epitomises an ideal synthesis of nature and machine. If Art Nouveau were to pervade our environment, we would be happier. It is no coincidence that environmentalism forms one of the two movements evidencing the powerful widespread surges of collective identity to have been found in the last quarter of the century.1 I have read the Communist Manifesto, and I have dealt with modern writers who provide Marxian critiques or developments in Marxian thought. In this essay I deal with globalization and capitalism and how they might have affected my environment. I look at an industry that deals with these issues day-to-day (landscape architecture). I look at the criteria that landscape architects might use when regarding chairs and connect human rights to furniture. The ideals of the Arts and Crafts movement should be incorporated more into our environment, as well as the sweeping curving nature-derived designs found in Art Nouveau. The Green Party’s plea is for “The need for a Reasonable Revolution” in the plight to prevent the Ghost Towns of Britain. Is Art Nouveau to some extent a priori?

2005 Abstracts Stage 2

Postmodernism and the British Press

Outline of Investigation. – History of British Newspapers – Statistics of readership – Front Page propaganda – The Sun – Ideology and structuralism – Jean Baudrillard. Special Points of Interest: – Changing language in newspapers – Images in newspapers – Relationship between information media and the masses – The real and the “more than eral”, hyper-realities – Desire and seduction – Passivity versus activity – Obscenity, transparency, pornography – Death of the author and death of the reader. Assertion: The overexposure to media messages, along with the immediacy and quantity of this information has and continues to pacify the individual so that the style and content of British newspapers has to become increasingly simple, accessible and transparent to accommodate for the death of the reader. New Media and Language. What effect has the emergence of media technologies such as radio, the internet and more specifically the television had on the style and content of British Newspapers? Information and communication have never more visible and accessible than in the postmodern era. Media information is everywhere apparent so that it is difficult to imagine life without it and is impossible to avoid. How has this affected the tangible print of newspapers?

2005 Abstracts Stage 2

This is our House

Part 1 Using literature by Terry Eagleton, David Harvey and Hal Foster I explore the idea of postmodernism, including its evolution from modernism and its contradictions and definitions. Concluding with an in depth look at works by Jean Baudrillard and Fredric Jameson in preparation for the main body of my argument. Part 2 Looks at house music culture, its origins from Chicago and influences from the rest of Europe. Using knowledge from part one, I explain how through sampling and recycling, house music is a perfect example of a postmodern aesthetic. I also present neo-conservative postmodern arguments written by Steven Redhead, Hillegonda Rietveld and Simon Reynolds that house music is culture of abandonment, disengagement and disappearance. Part 3 Focuses on the growth of raves in the eighties Britain, and legislation introduced by the government to prevent free parties taking place. Researching into the idea of Techno-shamanism and the tribal nature of house culture, I argue against the arguments presented in part two, and with my own argument, contend that house music can be used to escape postmodern society.

2004 Abstracts Stage 2

Communication channels aren’t neutral: they have strengths, weaknesses and (especially) side-effects’

The Side-effects. The objective of my project is to look at the mediums of mass communication and mass media on the world today. I am exploring the effects they have on us and ultimately how it has created a world in which we no longer interact with the world per se; there is no conversation, but one way communication. Mass media and technological advances have lead to a world in which individual thought has been displaced, and taken over by externally programmed thought. I am looking at the views of the following people primarily: Marshall Mcluhan, Jean Baudrillard. The main concepts that I will be covering are as follows • Global Village – I will be exploring the concept that the world in which we live is that of a village again. Today’s instant communications have all but erased time and space and rendered national boundaries meaningless • Hyper-reality – The concept of hyper-reality refers to the idea that it is no-longer possible, in a media-saturated world, to distinguish between what is real and what is not (what is, in essence, a simulation of “reality”). Hyper-reality, therefore, is a situation in which nothing and everything is “real”; it is a situation in which we have lost the ability to distinguish reality and fiction. • Television – I will explore the side effects of this medium including how it provides an outlet for hyper-reality, how advertising effects the world and how it has lead to a desire for instant gratification, an emphasis on personal experience and a de-emphasis on acceptance of responsibilities Sources: Marshall Mcluhan and Bruce Powers: The global village, Jerry Mander: Four arguments for the elimination of television, Jean Baudrillard, System of objects, Marshall Mcluhan and Questin Fiore: The medium is the message, Adorno: The culture industry, Jean Baudrillard: The ecstasy of communication, Jean Baudrillard: Simulaca and simulation, Jean Baudrillard: Simulations, Paul Virilio: Open Sky, Marshall Mcluhan: Understanding Media: the extension of Man, John Fiske: Power play power works, Jean Baubrillard: Seduction, Douglas Kellner: Jean Baudrillard: From Marxism to Post Modernism and Beyond, Marshall Mcluhan: Mechanical Bride Daniel Joseph, Boorstin: The Republic of Technology: Reflections on Our Future Community, Jerry Mander: In the Absence of the Sacred: The Failure of Technology and the Survival of the Indian Nations, Nick Stevenson: Understanding media cultures : social theory and mass communication

2003 Abstracts Stage 2

Body Image and the Media: a Distortion of Reality

Keywords/ concepts Body image, women, the media, society, reality, sphere of influence, perception, subject object division, networked society Objectives 1. To examine the way women, in particular, can distort the view of their bodies, focusing on the influence the media may have in this. 2. To look into why the media has become an important influence in our lives. 3. To demonstrate how media images can sometimes be distortions and/or distort. 4. To study the way the media can change our notion of reality and to what extent we are networked into the media. Territory I will look into recent studies on body image related disorders and the effect the media may have on the statistics of these disorders. In addition I will study advertisements primarily directed at women and how these can be distorted. I also hope to study writings on networked societies and media deceptions, considering how our sphere of influences has changed. Sources The works of Paul Virilio and Jean Baudrillard, articles from Internet sources, advertisements and articles from popular magazines e.g. Vogue. Change and human aspect I hope to show a change in the levels of body image related disorders as the influence of the media has grown and examine how the media can alter perceptions in society and even deceive it without its knowledge.

2003 Abstracts Stage 2

Globalisation and McDonaldization

CONCEPTS Modernity, Postmodernity, Globalisation and McDonaldization. OBJECTIVES 1. To define as clearly as possible the concepts above. 2. To investigate and explain as clearly as possible the change from modernity to postmodernity. 3. To demonstrate how postmodernity manifest itself in the familiar concepts of globalisation and McDonaldization, as something which may be considered distinct from, and yet also an extension of, modernity. 4. To show how we can identify this in our locality, by looking at the fast food industry on Northumberland Street. SOURCES Spaces of Hope – David Harvey The post-modern & the post-industrial – Margaret Rose After Liberalism – Immanuel Wallerstein Postmodern Culture – Hal Foster (Ed.) Consumer Culture and Modernity – Jim McGuigan Jean Baudrillard Selected Writings – Mark Poster (Ed.) The Consumer Society – Jean Baudrillard Fast Food Nation – Eric Schlosser The McDonaldization of Society – George Ritzer Globalization – Malcolm Walters PROJECT TERRITORY/FIELD OF EXPLORATION I am attempting to trace the change in society from the modernity established during the enlightenment period to the postmodernity of today. To show that we are truly in a period of postmodernity I shall investigate the familiar concepts of globalisation and McDonaldization. Here I hope to demonstrate how postmodernity exists as an extension or acceleration of modernity, before investigating the presence of postmodernity in the fast food industry of Northumberland Street.

2002 Abstracts Stage 3

Image and Reality: Blurred?

What? Discovering if our scientific and technological advances have caused our society to blur the distinctions between Image and Reality. Have our images, and signs become our reality or has our reality turned into an image? How? 1. By looking at the way our world is represented in art and using art and like concepts to get a view of the world. 2. By looking at advertising and mass media and discovering what part they play in this blurring it there is one. Who? Jean Baudrillard The Ecstasy of Communication. Simulacra and Simulation. Danto Philosophizing Art. De Thierry Kant after Duchamp. Walter Benjamin The Work of Art in the age of mechanical Reproduction. When? The 20th Century specifically after 1960 Where? University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne Fine Art Department, students. Why? Am interested to find out where we are today in our ways of interpreting the world around us and I feel that the image and reality issues are particularly influential in our lives.