Sj7g09's Blog

Archive for February 2010

Posted on: February 24, 2010

So, an explanation of what’s gone on. It seems like I can’t talk to anyone at my university without it flaring up into something far greater than it started as – lecturers there seem to have a pathological inability to have a discussion without forcing their opinions down your throat. I’m unsure of how to put that word in bold, with underline, but also in 72pt font, so I’ll just write that it’s meant to be viewed at that size and doesn’t have quite the impact intended otherwise.

I was enjoying a lecture series, conducted by a lecturer who I really felt I identified with and wanted to have a discussion with, so I emailed him and met with him yesterday. I feel it is important to explain part of why I felt I identified with him – this is someone who I saw as a free-thinker, totally out of place at this particular university. He had said that politics was a big part of his work, he’d belonged to an anarchist organisation, he mentioned a story about filming something from a plane because he’d been forbidden from filming the building. So this was someone I had a lot of respect and admiration for. The main reason I wanted to talk to him was to ask about politics in his work, and to get some clarity on what he meant by ‘misogyny’ seeing as he used the word pretty much every lecture.

The beginning of our conversation was forgivable – I asked him about politics in his work, giving the background that I’d been told by other staff that if I wanted to do politics, I should have joined a political group or such like. Totally ignoring my experience, he suggested that obviously no one would say that unless you wanted to solely study politics and were not creating any artwork.

I started to think that I might have made a mistake in the placing of my academic affections when asking him what he’d meant by saying that people “can’t make misogynist or racist art” in a previous lecture, and his response being that you couldn’t create work like that within an institution, because the institution could get into trouble. When asking whether irony could be taken into this – what if a work appears misogynist or racist on the surface, but is actually satire, giving commentary on the view rather than embodying it? – the reply was that the artist had to be clear with what they were doing, set out their intentions…. Nice to know that a (presumably former?) anarchist would have his students fill in a form to seek permission to use irony.

I questioned him on his lectures, as he has consistently used images that may shock or offend, and I wanted to know whether he worried at all about people complaining about it. Apparently people have complained about his lectures in the past. He went on to say that mainly he used them to keep peoples’ attention – he used to have to do 2 hour lectures, and needed something to keep people interested. This comment came after him suggesting that if people are going to create work that might offend someone then they must have a very good reason for it.

Obviously I disagree with the last statement wholeheartedly – people should be able to create anything they want. Offence isn’t the worst thing in the world, and if someone makes something that is actually racist or misogynist, people aren’t suddenly going to think that those views are ok, they’re going to have further confirmation that those views aren’t right. The only way to really know what you think of something is to be exposed to the issues properly. Like, I don’t know why so many universities protest the BNP talking on-campus, or even on a wider scale, why people protest the BNP being in the media – they have just as much of a right to air their views as anyone else. It’s not like they’re going to get a platform for their views and then everyone who hears them is going to convert to racism – they’re going to actually hear how ridiculous their policies are and have confirmation that the BNP are actually wrong, rather than just thinking that their views are silly without ever hearing them. Similarly, if Allen Jones was branded a misogynist for satirical work, I’m sure we can credit people with enough intelligence to notice genuine misogyny and not change their worldview because of being exposed to it. Are other people not like me? When I read something that is truly racist or misogynist, I react to it by having a stronger belief in my own alternative view on the subject, which is kind of what has happened with this lecturer.

Somehow the conversation turned to pornography – which I’m not sure is solely due to me, seeing as he has discussed it in his lectures before – and his views surprised me greatly. I hope I didn’t come across as incredulous. I very almost exclaimed “seriously?” to his views, as I thought he must be joking. He wasn’t joking. Unless he’s actually some sort of genius, which I’m increasingly doubting. I want to say now that it’s not that I have a problem with him having different views to me – I think there’s a lot to be gained from discussing with people that don’t share your opinions, but the objective of a discussion shouldn’t be to prove that you’re right, symbolically plugging your ears and repeating the same thing over and over again.

A quick overview of his view as I understood it (despite how much I asked for clarity, I got none, despite explaining concepts being his job) is that he believes that the pornography industry permeates culture, and this has ‘political implications’ (??), and the perception of women by society is influenced by pornography. Pornography is misogynistic because it subjugates women to men, and women are seen as objects (whereas men in pornography are seen as human beings with a fully-rounded personality?). Somehow this leads to rape, which is terrorism against women, hateful, misogynistic… Lots of rape happens every year, did you know? It’s bad I hear. So, because of all of these points that link together seamlessly and have all the necessary evidence to back them up, we can say that these views are definitely correct and there is no other interpretation.

When suggesting that there is no evidence that links media with actual behaviour or views – after years and years of studies, no causal link has ever been able to be made, despite how much our government clearly wants such a study, and sought to get results by commissioning their own, his response was a dismissive, “yeah, but those studies aren’t done well – it’s psychology, psychology is bullshit.” He later used Freud’s theories on penis envy to try to back up his views, and seemingly his worldview, life choices, etc. as he told me that he has 2 daughters, and they’ve been taught that they don’t lack a penis, they have a vagina and a womb. Apparently they now say that they feel sorry for their daddy because he doesn’t have a womb. As deeply disturbing and misogynistic as I find this, it’s his choice to have these views. I don’t use the word ‘misogynistic’ lightly – pornography is not misogynistic, music videos are not misogynistic… Teaching your daughter to define herself by her genitals and feminine internal organs is misogynistic in my view. It’s akin to defining women by tits and ass – personally, I’d prefer that.

I think that despite my shock, I wasn’t trying to convert his views, nor was I saying that my view was definitely right. This is my real problem with what happened – despite me saying that this was my understanding of the issues, my opinion, that I wasn’t saying that I knew everything about it, there was no such admission from him. The closest he came to this was “I might be wrong, but I don’t think I am”. I think it all escalated when I said that I don’t agree with feminism, because I don’t. I agree with the core value of equality, but I’m not going to subscribe to a set of ideals that I don’t totally agree with – I’ll pick the things that I think are important, and believe those. It’s the same with religion – some religions may have good ideas, but I’m not going to make myself believe in everything just so that I can justify liking one idea. I think that feminism is merely an alternative set of norms and values, that still dictate to women how they should behave, and I don’t appreciate the hypocrisy of that. But apparently that’s just not true, and I don’t understand what feminism is. This is where I have the problem with this conversation. I don’t think it’s fair to suggest that I’m not understanding something just because I don’t agree with it. He went so far as to say that “If you don’t believe in Feminism, then you’re stupid”. So it’s a choice of not understanding it, and being stupid, or understanding it and not agreeing with it, and being stupid.

In my view, feminism isn’t one set thing. I don’t understand how someone can possibly believe that there is one definition of feminism. He kept telling me that my view was narrow, but he’s doesn’t seem willing to acknowledge that maybe I’m entitled to a different view of what feminism is. I prefixed many of my statements with ‘in my opinion’ and such like, so it’s not like I was dictating that what I was saying was right…. But apparently opinion doesn’t matter. “Individual opinion doesn’t mean anything”. But then what is feminism if not an amalgamation of individual opinions? There are no solid facts in sociology or psychology or such like – there are theories that you can choose to believe or discard. They may be backed up by studies (but these studies are bullshit, so they don’t mean anything….), but a study can’t really prove anything categorically. They can strengthen an idea by explaining it, but nothing in these fields is objective.

So basically I got told that I was stupid, that I hadn’t read enough books and that I was misunderstanding what feminism was. I could have said the same to him, but that would have been interpreted as arrogant. Why is it ok for a lecturer to act like they know everything – particularly in this case, seeming to suggest he had knowledge of causal links between the media and its effects on society – but if a student sticks rigidly to a point, they’re arrogant?

I’d also like to point out a frankly bizarre comment from him on media effects on society. I suggested that all representations were ok, because I don’t believe that representations are harmful, but also because media representations act as a reflection of societal attitudes. Apparently this is not so – the media is not a mirror for culture, the media creates culture. I suggested that it wasn’t only a mirror, but that it was more a 2-way exchange – that the media reflected culture, and the media may have effects on society, but these are as of yet ambiguous. But no, with no explanation, they are not ambiguous.

To be honest, I was pretty upset with all of this. It’s hard having someone disagree with you anyway, but it’s fine so long as it’s an exchange of ideas where the objective is to learn. This felt more like being categorically told that everything I believe was stupid and wrong. These ideas are a big part of my life – they really influence how I view the world, how I see myself, so it was difficult to deal with. The conversation seemed to edge over into dictating morals even – “any men who watch pornography are funding an industry that promotes misogyny and should be ashamed of themselves.” I love how the whole conversation nicely avoided talking about anything but heterosexuality. What about women who watch pornography? I know I shouldn’t take things personally, but it was a two-fold assault on my sense of self really. Firstly, what felt like the conventional fearing/guilting – being told that the women in pornography “shave their pubic hair and get fucked by some old, bloated man on drugs”. I may be reading this wrong, because he didn’t explain himself, but I take this as an implicit order of how not to behave as a woman. You don’t infantilise yourself by shaving your pubic hair, you are not subjugated to men by getting fucked by them – sex should not be something that happens to you. But then also, the guilting of suggesting that this is what all pornography is, that by watching pornography, you are supporting exploitation, when actually there is no proof for this. I’m sure some pornography is exploitative, but it’s ridiculous to argue that it is all exploitative, unless you’re arguing semantics that all sex work is exploitative regardless of whether it’s consensual.

I tend to watch heterosexual pornography, because it interests me the most, and because it’s the most appealing, but I’m starting to think I need to start looking at Gay and Lesbian pornography also, seeing as it was so well avoided by this discussion. Do gay men not need to be protected from pornography, seeing as pornography seems not to exploit men? What about lesbian lesbian pornography, seeing as this is women choosing to do pornography for other women? (Rather than being exploited into lesbian pornography based on heterosexual male fantasy.) Is lesbian lesbian porn empowering then? But of course I can’t look into any of this, because I’d be supporting an evil evil industry….

Posted on: February 24, 2010

A lot has been going on in my work lately. I found an idea a few days ago, started working on it, had a conversation with staff at my university, dropped the idea and every idea I had ever had… Today I feel more resilient and am willing to start again on it, even if it seems like no one at my university is willing to listen to my ideas or respect that they might have value.

I’m starting to feel like I might just have something inherently in my character that encourages people to try to dominate what I think. Either that, or that teachers, and lecturers, are as authoritarian to everyone but I react more strongly to it because I despise authority.Perhaps it is this loathing of authority, or reaction to criticism, that makes me view such teachers in a completely different way. I hope that my comments don’t seem petty or an attack on their character. Well, I guess they are an attack on their character, but not because I even genuinely care about it, but because this is how I deal with the increasingly common experience of being made to feel worthless. And, I know, they don’t mean to create this effect in me – it’s not their fault, but I maintain that how people at this university do things is wrong. It’s not like I’m going to make a complaint or anything because that would be stupid, but it’s impossibly hard to create in an environment that is totally oppressive of alternative ideas. Which is why I work from home. Having more people in the studio space does not make it a more pleasant environment, shut up, I’m going home. When I imply to stupid bureaucrats that I work in the studio, but am ‘unsettled’, it couldn’t be further from the truth. I actually work however far up the street, in my home, in my bed. I’m perfectly settled.

Posted on: February 15, 2010

So, let’s be honest, my work isn’t going well. It isn’t going anything. But I just had a super conversation with C.H. who appeased my ego. My E key isn’t working and I can’t type well. I like the idea of writing all the things that I think, but then we all know that’s a futile exercise – you think on so many different levels at once that you’re not aware of much of what you think, but then there’s also that there’s too much anyway. But I like the idea of honesty, even though it’s impossible to be honest because some confessions would be so out of the blue that they wouldn’t seem honest at all. Plus, how honest can one person really be?

I think that this will help me though. I’m coming to terms with the idea that reflection can be work in itself… I feel like a bit of a hypocrite because last week, someone in a discussion group praised someone’s writing for being honest, and I disagree. I think the act of honesty is to be admired, but that doesnt make what they’re saying have any more worth. But I am finding myself more drawn to this act of honesty and confession, but it’s always the act that’s more important than what is said.

I used to spendĀ  hours a day writing a diary for myself. It was often minute-by-minute accounts of my feelings, and it helped me to keep track of anything that I felt was important at the time. I still have them on my computer, and I love having documentation of who I used to be, what I used to think, feel, find important. Despite these exhaustive accounts, that’s not real honesty, because often the most important things were the things I only hinted to or left out completely. Either that, or I wrote things in such a way that they sound different to how they actually are. Like at A-level I did an exam piece based on trying to be honest to an audience. It took the form of a journal, with photographs stuck in, ripped up, writing around the edges, often illegible. I’ve never much liked authority or institutions, so relished writing in a piece that would be seen and marked by that institution that I was fucking a member of their staff. It was true, but it was also distorted, firstly in that I wasn’t brave enough to write anything like that boldly enough to be legible, but also that things are different when presented to other people than they actually are. I enjoy the bravado of saying it that bluntly with no qualification, but that view of the reality is a fantasy.

Anyway, I guess what I’m saying is that this blog should get more of this personal drivel if I’m not doing anything useful, because reflecting on what’s currently happening as well as past experiences that may have defined me might be useful in some way. It’s more useful than playing WoW. Plus, I’m so egocentric that this sort of thing is fun to me. I’d also be interested to see what happens when I try to force myself to say truths that aren’t acceptable in an arena where I’m anonymous to most, but accountable to some, and how that would differ to an environment, like my university, where I’m much more constrained by social norms and values of acceptability. It seems like some of my tutors want me to work more in university space – god knows why – and so I’d like to look at how that compares to having supposed freedom to say what I think. Even on a blog, I can’t tell the truth.

Posted on: February 12, 2010

‘Fuck you’ looks really good written down.

Posted on: February 12, 2010

As always, I get my assessment back at such a time that I can’t discuss it with anyone who matters. So, let’s have a review of my assessment here.

Assessment Criteria:

Excellent (100-80) (79-70) Very Good (69-60) Good (59-50) Satisfactory (49-40) Unsatisfactory (39-35)(34-0)

Knowledge & UnderstandingGood

Cognitive (Thinking) Skills Very Good

Key Transferable SkillsVery Good

Final mark62%

Additional Tutor Development Comments:

Very good contextual underpinning to your work, you explore complex themes in depth and have begun to develop and investigative practice. In order to build on this work you continue your theoretical investigations into censorship and feminist debate. You have explored a range of skills, you are able to develop work across a variety of media. You include a large body of work, however your editing skills could be developed to identify the key elements. Allowing your audience to access the work is important and this could lead to a variety of installation options when working with your blog/archive.

So, as with my last assessment, I’m left feeling very much that people didn’t understand my work, didnt read it, or are doing the usual first-year marking job – give them a mark somewhere between 40 and 60, but always below what they actually achieved so they’ll work harder in the future.

I’m also still baffled by the tutor comments in that they are always positive – I don’t think there was any negative comment at all on my last assessment, and I still only got 65%. I’m all for getting feedback on my work, but this isn’t really feedback – it doesn’t tell me where I can improve. Part of that is probably that I disagree with their criticisms, in that I selected work to show them in the presentation. Surely that shows editing – what did they expect me to do, delete half of my work? As for the target audience comment, I’m sorry, I was under the impression that this was a university, that my audience was university lecturers. I must have misunderstood the task – I didn’t realise that it was a year 9 English project aiming to translate complex ideas into language that is accessible to 10-year-olds. It feels like they wanted me to put all the important bits in bold, or do a 1 line summary at the end of each post to clarify what I was talking about so they didn’t have to put the effort in to read it. So, essentially, I feel like I’m being punished for liking to read, write, research, look at art in any way that can’t be assessed in a 15-minute presentation. The university can harp on about art being part of academia all it wants, but that is totally undermined when assessments only seem to take into account how many pretty pictures there are amidst all that ugly writing.

Edit: (See, editing skills!) I said I wasn’t going to do it, but hey, let’s be petty. I like the irony of my knowledge and understanding, and cognitive (thinking) skills (yes, that’s right, every time my university uses the word ‘cognitive’ it has to put ‘thinking’ in brackets afterwards, just in case someone doesn’t know what the word means) being assessed by someone who clearly hasn’t got to grips with simple grammar or punctuation. Full-stops are your friend and cannot always be substituted for a comma. There, I said it.

Posted on: February 1, 2010

‘Dark Places’ focuses on science, technology and sites of secrecy within the UK. Obviously there is a visual element to this exhibition, but I found that the exploration of issues behind the images is what gives the work purpose and meaning. This is particularly relevant to the Mike Kenner archive, which is a culmination of years of work monitoring the Porton Down research facility, giving information on experiments conducted there that may otherwise not be known to the public . I was interested to find that now whenever the Porton Down facility receives questions or requests for information, they redirect the public to Mike Kenner, which, in a way, made me think of the CIA allegedly using Jackson Pollock’s work as propaganda – something that is critical of an institution becomes neutralised by being, perhaps unwittingly, associated with that institution. For me, it also raised issues of responsibility, in that through Porton Down redirecting to Mike Kenner, they are released of any responsibility to give an official statement, instead allowing someone who is not involved to give information, or misinformation. While I didn’t find myself particularly inspired by the literal stimulus of the exhibition, I admired Mike Kenner as clearly he is passionate about his cause inĀ  away that didn’t translate in other work in the exhibition. For example, Victoria Halford and Steve Beard created a film in response to their research into the Health & Safety Laboratory. This film implemented narrative and fiction, which made the information more accessible to the general public who are used to media being presented in this way, but by it being a work of fiction it also became removed from reality and lost importance and credibility. However, as a whole, the exhibition raised some ever-relevant issues of implied consent, freedom of expression and information, legality, ethics and the balance between what an institution chooses to show of itself, what an artist is allowed to reveal, and what viewers are willing to let into their sphere of consciousness, showing a filtering of ‘truth’ through these stages.

  • fred whitacre jr: they don,t have any sex invaled why are we so againce children being nude in pictures because of alll the sick fucking rapetist out there children
  • fred whitacre jr: she only 12 but it is not porn at all it is nude only only a sick person would want to fuck her not me but i will tell you the true she is a very hot
  • fred whitacre jr: i see noghting wrong just a nude girl no porn that would be wrong with a child but not worng with a grown up only nude pics of children is ok if no se