2012 Abstracts Stage 2

Honda: the Power of Dreams

The Advertising of Honda – Popular and life-affirming, but is it just a capitalist front designed purely for selling and promoting the spectacle?

Popular and life-affirming, but is it just a capitalist front designed purely for selling and promoting the spectacle?
The Society of the Spectacle (Guy Debord) – claims our society is dominated by the spectacle (TV for e.g.) but is it too cynical?

‘The Power of Dreams’ or ‘the glitter of the spectacle’s distractions’? Through this project, I aim to examine the theory Guy Debord asserts in his The Society of the Spectacle in detail, in order to discuss the relevance of a Debordian analysis with relation to Honda’s advertising.

2012 Abstracts Stage 3

A Philosophical Enquiry into the Consumerism and Advertising used in the Housing Industry in Britain

Our Commodity Fetishism has led to a growing consumer culture which advertising capitalises on and helps generate.

We are bound by our desperate consumer culture according to both Philosophers. Marx believes that humanity has created a culture of ‘Commodity Fetishism’ where use and exchange value have been warped by our capitalist culture. Where Debord despairs that: ‘all that was once directly lived has become mere representation.

Comparing luxury development One Hyde Park with affordable Norfolk Homes one I have found that advertising capitalises on and helps generate the commodity fetishism. The advertising feeds the audience response not the product through signs of satisfaction; these satisfactions are different for diverse audiences. Gap in luxury and price is maintained through specific target marketing.

2011 Abstracts Stage 2

Has our Society Been Changed by the Increasing Influence of the Television?

– “Television is by now so inextricably part of all our domestic lives that it resists analysis.” (Fred Inglis) 
– In this project my aim is to examine how the television has affected our lives in the last fifty years.

Guy Debord
– In this project I will discuss Debord’s theory of mass media 
– I apply his theory to contemporary television to discuss the extent to which his argument is valid.

“A Short History of Celebrity” by Fred Inglis
– Through looking at this book I have examined how the television has affected the celebrity 
– I have compared David Beckham to Stanley Matthews to see how the television has affected the footballer as the celebrity

Political Affect
– I have examined the different propagandas used by politicians 
– I have looked at the first televised debates in 1960 between Nixon and Kennedy 
– I have discussed the extent to which the television has influenced votes.

Paris Hilton
– I have chosen Paris Hilton as a case study 
– Paris has used the media and the television to create herself as a brand which she sells

2010 Abstracts Stage 2

Protecting the Wealth of the Nation. A Study of the Ideological Structures of Radical Capitalism

As anyone may notice there is an obvious assumption in my title which I should first work to explain, namely my assertion that current, late capitalist power structures are radical. I use this term in its meaning of ‘extreme’. As I will seek to show, while the values of the majority of people, across most societies of the world, are those, broadly speaking, of freedom, democracy, choice and fairness, and of respect for the dignity of human life, these are not values that are followed through in the operating of modern states or the capitalist system.

In my project I intend to explore how this radical state manages, through its prevailing Ideology, to continually reproduce the conditions of production, and so continually assert itself over the rights of the majority of the people.

In order to do this, I shall use Guy Debord’s concept of the visible manifestation of ideology – the spectacle – in order to show the spectacle/reality distinction in several examples, centred in the last ten years of Neo-Liberal Capitalism.

EXAMPLES INCLUDING: The Illusion of Democracy Capitalist Realism and The Myth of the West’s Civilizing Force

I shall expand on these examples with comparison to Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-four as a paradigm for a radically oppressive ideological system, as well as theory and analysis from Slavoj Žižek, a prolific writer on the functioning of ideology, Noam Chomsky, an outspoken critic of modern state manipulation and the manufacturing of consent, Louis Althusser’s theory of Ideological State Apparatuses and Mark Fisher’s book Capitalist Realism. In this way I intend to show how Ideology dictates what is thinkable in life, how our free market Neo-Liberal system, is really just a system for funnelling rights and capital into the hands of the incredibly wealthy, and how our free and fair democracy is in fact a cynical sham, in which policy is dictated by corporate leaders.

2009 Abstracts Stage 2

Art Incorporated: Exploring the Growing Relationship between Capitalism and Art

Whether or not the realm of freedom apparent in the plurality of styles used by contemporary artists is actually a way of concealing its true function, as a slave to business? In contemporary art’s exploration of the human psyche, it appears to hold out no consolation; conventional styles are broken and indiscretions of morals all define the basic contemporary art world orthodoxy. However although contemporary art has reinvented itself this also means that art’s existence now comes in relation to world politics, commerce, consumerism and the worlds of business and finance. In this project I will discuss how art has changed and been shaped by the demands that these external pressure points have put upon it, and what that means for the way we ‘read’ art and treat artists in contemporary culture. I will centre my argument on how the mass consumer culture of our society has lead to the commodification of art. I will focus on the artists Tracy Emin and Damien Hirst, and how both artists have embraced commercial success and celebrity status, buying into the values that art originally transcends, suggesting that they themselves have become a brand name out of which their art is made. The key philosopher that I will be using is Karl Marx and his theory of capitalism. He believed that the continual modernization in industry means that old structures, traditions and attachments begin to dissolve, so that in his famous phrase “all that is solid melts into air.” This can be applied to art’s status which is conventionally and ideally aligned with truth, beauty and ethics but with capitalisms involvement there is a shift from ethics to aesthetics. Contemporary art has become about creating pieces that are morally ambiguous, that promote corporations and entertain the mass culture. I will also be using Guy Debord and his Society of the Spectacle to elaborate on Marx’s theory and explain how he felt art had become commodified and the consequences of this, such as alienation and the loss of art’s function.

2008 Abstracts Stage 2

An Investigation of Philosophical Concepts within Fashion Trends in Music

For my project, I decided to investigate the role of fashion trends within music. I wanted to discover how the two are connected, and the influence they have upon each other. I wanted to understand how they both change, and the reasons why they change. I focused upon the Punk movement from the 1970s to the present day, which allowed for an easy transition from my stage one project, and still remains an area of importance within my life. Philosophically, I based my investigation on the works of Guy Debord and the Situationists, Surrealism and the works of Deleuze and Guattari. I also included sociological and psychological theories. I studied the role of the mass‐media in great detail, and found that theories presented by neo‐Marxist thinkers allowed me a greater understanding of my subject. I found that the mass media is responsible for the creation of Marxist “Ideology” and Debord’s “Spectacle”. These two create a false world view which allows people to be manipulated by others. I discovered that the media and business plays an important role within alternative rock music and the trends it creates. The media will offer positive or negative press regardless of stylistic content, and big companies will control what music, and its derivatives, are allowed into the public domain. This of course is a display of Debord’s Spectacle, and how alternative rock music has become its victim.

2008 Abstracts Stage 2

Are we Ready for the new Technologies?

Although the idea of technology has been with mankind ever since the first tool was invented, the term has never achieved such a glorified status to which it was elevated in the twentieth century, a term and an aspect of science which will now take on an even more awe-inspiring tone in the twenty-first century; but now, eight years after the dawn of a new millennium, a millennium which was born into war, one cannot help to ask the question of whether the advent of new, more powerful technologies is actually beneficial to the progress of mankind, technologies which yes, could help many people, but also, if misused, bring about the premature end of our race. My project aims at discussing the repercussions of the prospective new sciences in our society, sciences which promise to change every aspect of life as we know it, and at asking the question of whether we are indeed ready for such power. I begin my discussion with a look at these new technologies, weighing the good aspects of them against the bad. Afterwards, in a slight departure from the technological basis of this project, I analyze the current state of society as I see it and discuss the problems which we must face before we even think about implementing new technologies; This part of the discussion will be aided by the philosophy of the situationists, specifically that of Guy Debord, regarding the society of the spectacle. After this analysis, I merge back into the theme of technology, and seek to examine the relationship between it and the spectacle before I address the views of technological determinism in relation to both Hegel’s and Nietzsche’s philosophy of history. Finally, I shall draw my conclusions regarding how ready we are as a race, a conclusion fully based on the discussions I have endeavored in to that point.

2008 Abstracts Stage 2

How Does the Band The Gorillaz Represent the Spectacle of Society?

Territory: I decided to begin my research with one of my favourite bands the ‘Gorillaz’. The Gorillaz is a project created by Damon Albarn, who composed the music, but created a cartoon-like band to represent it for him. The band exists between the boundaries of the real world and the imagination of Albarn. Whilst researching the band, I was amazed to discover how many different artists, musicians and producers worked on the albums. The cartoon front for the band meant that all the artists and contributors could work on the album without having to be acknowledged for it. The animated characters take responsibility of looking and acting like the greatest rock band on earth, whilst the real musicians can contribute the music without the pressure of the commercial image which accompanies it. Concept I decided to focus on the notion of society as a spectacle as written about by Guy Debord. The main reason for this is because I agree with Debord’s notion that we live our everyday lives through a spectacle of society. I think in some ways the Gorillaz create their own spectacle of society as they reflect flaws in society through themselves. Examples of this are the ruining effect that big record companies have on music, and the harsh reality of the supposed glamour of being a star. Questions To what extent do the Gorillaz reflect Debord’s notion of the spectacle? Is it possible to escape the reign of the spectacle through art and music? Does the spectacle of a capitalist society fuel our sense of isolation and loss of creativity?

2007 Abstracts Stage 2

Women in Society: Identity, Self-image and Social Determination

Territory: Women and their representation within society over the last 100 years. Object: Within Territory looking at women in relation to Identity, Self-Image and Social Determination. Philosophical Concepts: Sartre – Existence preceding essence. Debord – Society of the Spectacle, Donna Haraway – Cyborg and a sexless society. Over the last 100 years, the representation of women within society has completely turned around. With advancements in liberation and law, women now enjoy an equal status in UK society. I was initially inspired by fashion, and how women have used fashion as a vehicle of expression. However I realised the way women dressed and expressed themselves, merely mirrored the social and cultural changes of the time. I looked at each decade over the last 100 years in the UK, studying the major changes of each decade which have impacted women’s liberation. How women’s identity has changed from a second class citizen, to the role of a strong maternal figure, to enjoying equal status. Key historical moments like WWI/WWII and women getting the vote have helped. Women’s self-image has changed, as women enjoy relaxed rules about dress, sex, marriage and children. This has allowed women to liberate the way they are seen and how they feel about themselves. Fashion movements like the mini skirt along with movie stars like Marilyn Monroe encouraged women to view and express themselves differently. Women’s social determination has moved to a point where first and second wave feminism are contradicting each other and influences from the media mean women are confused about their true role and representation within society. From Thatcher to Madonna, how are women now supposed to fit into society?

2007 Abstracts Stage 2

Celebrity and the Spectacle

In August of 2006 I noticed a Headline on a copy of The Sun newspaper, the most popular newspaper in the United Kingdom. Accompanying a full page picture of the celebrated reality television star Jade Goody, the headline read: “THE FACE OF EVIL” This headline inspired me to focus my second year project on celebrity culture. Specifically I am interested in this modern phenomena present within our culture of individuals gaining celebrity seemingly for merely the fact that they are available to us to observe on a mass scale, at peak times, the ratings for the T.V. show on which Jade Goody found her fame, Big Brother reached to over seven million. Following the notorious incident of alleged racial abuse committed by Jade onto another contestant, our chancellor of the exchequer and soon to be Prime Minister Gordon Brown made a public apology in concerns to the incident. This led me to ask several questions. Is Jade Goody seen as a public representative of British culture and standards? For what reason specifically do we ‘celebrate’ people who have gained fame in this manner? On what basis could we reasonably suggest that jade is evil personified? My suspicion is that this culture is an element of a grand illusion, a mere spectacle. Exploring this subject I have drawn on the writings of the situationist Guy Debord, and various publications concerning modern mythology.

2006 Abstracts Stage 3

Advertising and Consumerism Rule our Culture: what Effects does this have on the Individual?

Themes: • In this project I look at how advertising, marketing and consumerism rule our culture, and the effects of this on the individuals existing within this society. The effects on the individual’s life such as freedom, happiness and identity. • The majority of most of our lives is spent working in order to make money, to purchase consumables. Consumables have become the indicators of status, rather than leisure time, or rank at work. For example what car you drive and labels you wear has become of incredible importance. • We now build up our identities through what we consume, and find a sense of freedom in the consumer arena. We feel that we are free to buy what we want and make personal choices, when in fact we are brainwashed and seduced by advertising and the mass media. • Is the world in which we are living a reality? Have we become so obsessed with objects and image that we do not know our real desires or what real fulfilment is? Consumer fulfilment is just postponing the emptiness of our lives, which is why we continue to consume, to constantly fill this void. Sources: I shall focus on three main thinkers, two sociologists Bunting and Bauman and the philosopher Debord. I shall also be comparing these thinkers to other philosophers throughout. • Bunting: I shall look at her book Willing Slaves, How the Overwork Culture is Ruining our Lives. She examines how we as a culture work exhaustive hours in order to consume, this desire to consume is installed in us through the media, advertising and marketing. • Bauman: I shall mainly be looking as his book Identity, and how our society saturated with the media and advertising has a huge effect on our identities. • Debord: I shall be looking at his book Society of the Spectacle, in which he critiques our culture. I shall be investigating what he means by the spectacle, and how he suggests that the society in which we live is not real due to advertising and the media. Our society is fake in a sense, and we have lost contact with our true desires and selves.

2006 Abstracts Stage 2

Dead the Sublime, Evermore the Ephemeral

Introduction. The 20th century has arguably brought about the evolution, or rather devolution into, commodity and the spectacle. Life has become an experience not in itself, but through proxy. ‘Dead the sublime, evermore the ephemeral’ is an investigation into why the ephemeral seems more relevant than the sublime, and how a modern society reacts to such a notion. I will conduct this investigation with regards to travel, why people take on such an activity and how it has possibly changed the way we think. Instilled in travel is the quest for change, experience and rebellion, hence inherent in the concept of travel are other movements searching for the same ends. Punk is one of these movements, which I shall encounter in this project. Aims. In this project I aim to evoke the change in Avant-garde movements over the latter half of the 20th century. Focusing on the work of Ballard and Debord I will suggest why such Avant-garde movements arose and what they stood for, hence ultimately what they aimed to achieve through the movement. I will approach travel as a possible Avant-garde movement itself, in the dying age of rebellion, I will convey the issues travel raises when considered as a movement itself. I will ask questions such as will travel, like punk and other radical movements, be a movement itself; will it achieve its aims and will it ultimately become what it stands to reject? Concepts. I will be focusing on two philosophical thinkers, Guy Debord and J.G Ballard. They will provide my argument from three similar, yet different and individual perspectives. The concepts these thinkers evoke are the “Society of the Spectacle”, and the ‘Death of Affect’. I will investigate their ideas and explore whether they evoke meaning in relation to why we travel, the effect it has on us and other people.