Monday, 21 January 2013

OUGD501 // Lecture 11 // Censorship & Truth

Overview of Lecture

Notions of censorship and truth
The indexical qualities of photography in rendering truth
Photographic manipulation and the documentation of truth
Censorship in advertising
Censorship in art and photography

Ansel Adams - Do you see it as quality photography or something that is cheap ...
Photographs moons to a great degree.

Negative photographs

The idea of truth - does it delivery truth in terms of the delivery.

Same negative but imply different types of light.
Does it matter ?

Manipulation goes back to alter things

‘Five years before coming to power in the 1917 October revolution, the Soviets established the newspaper Pravda. For more than seven Decades,until the fall of Communism, Pravda, which Ironically means “truth”, served the Soviet Communist party by censoring and filtering the news presented to Russian and Eastern Europeans’

Aronson, E. and Pratkanis, A., 1992, Age of Propaganda: The Everyday Use and Abuse of Persuasion, New York, Henry Holt & Co., pages 269 - 270

This person was deleted out of history by using manipulation

This manipulation is more apparent because of digital technology

This image takes recognizable things and gives them a twist...
This mocks advertising students. Changing the context of the media in a humerus and ironic way ..

This image of kate Winslet on GQ shows her with elongated legs to appeal more to men. This will have been done using the program illustrator

This image has been blended together with another to create a better image for a newspaper or magazine to sell

Robert Capa

The dury is out on this photograph if you are actually seeing the death of this man.
Do we need to know if this is death or is it goo propaganda for showing the faschism is bad ?

Propaganda and persuasion

‘At that time [World War II], I fervently believed just about everything I was exposed to in school and in the media. For example, I knew that all Germans were evil and that all Japanese were sneaky and treacherous, while all white Americans were clean-cut, honest, fair-minded, and trusting’

Elliot Aronson in Pratkanis and Aronson, (1992), Age of
Propaganda, p. xii

The photo was romanticized in the french magazine Vue ...

‘With lively step, breasting the wind, clenching their rifles, they ran down the slope covered with thick stubble. Suddenly their soaring was interrupted, a bullet whistled - a fratricidal bullet - and their blood was drunk by their native soil’ – caption accompanying the photograph in Vue magazine.

Jean Baudrillard

‘Abstraction today is no longer that of the map, the double, the mirror or the concept. Simulation is no longer that of a territory, a referential being or a substance. It is the generation by models of a real
without origin or relativity: a hyperreal. The territory no longer precedes the map, nor survives it.  Henceforth it is the map that precedes the territory – precession of simulacra’

Jean Baudrillard, Simulacra and Simulations, 1981, in Poster, M. (ed.) (1988), Jean Baudrillard: Selected Writings, Cambridge, Polity Press, page 169

‘Whereas representation tries to absorb simulation by interpreting it as false representation, simulation envelops the whole edifice of representation as itself a simulacrum.
These would be the succesive phases of the image:

It is the reflection of a basic reality.
It masks and perverts a basic reality.
It masks the absence of a basic reality.
It bears no relation to any reality whatever : it is its own pure simulacrum.’

Jean Baudrillard, Simulacra and Simulations, 1981, in Poster, M. (ed.) (1988), Jean Baudrillard: Selected Writings, Cambridge, Polity Press, page 173

He here talks about the stages of manipulation. In the end there is nothing true left ...

‘As we approach the likelihood of a new Gulf War, I have an idea and it occurs to me that the Digital Journalist may be the place for it. As we all know, the military pool system created then was meant to be, and was, a major impediment for photojournalists in their quest to communicate the realities of war (This fact does not diminish the great efforts, courage, and many important images created by many of my colleagues who participated in these pools.). Aside from that, while you would have a very difficult time finding an editor of an American publication today that wouldn't condemn this pool system and its restrictions during the Gulf War, most publications and television entities more or less bought the program before the war began (this reality has been far less discussed than the critiques of the pools themselves)’

Peter Turnley, The Unseen Gulf War, December 2002,

In the first world war there was many photo journalists and were governed by the American military. This meant that the government decided which photographs they wanted the public to see..

First time which images were used and published to show the true devastation of war.

“It is a masquerade of Information: branded faces delivered over to the prostitution of the image”

Jean Baudrillard, The
Gulf War Did not Take Place, 1995, p.40

This explains the idea that it is a simulation war or a reproduction of a war.
"It is the bellicose equivalent of safe sex: make war like love with a condom! On the Richter scale, the Gulf War would not even reach two or three. "

In reality it was what the media wanted the war to be. In reality it was a very sanitized war

This appeared on the front of British Newspapers. To be faced with this was very shocking. Regulators deemed this as to gruesome for the front of a newspaper.
Deemed to be to shocking but it was in fact the reality of the war...

"Alas, much of American audience today cannot distinguish between computer war games and real war, between news and entertainment’."

This documents a different type of war. It is more fine art photography so it is a beautiful image rather than recording war how it is... Making art out of war ...

The practice or policy of censoring films,letters, or publications

Treffry, D. (ed.) (2001), Paperback English Dictionary, Glasgow: Harper

A person authorised to examine films, letters, or publications, in order to ban or cut anything considered obscene or objectionable

To ban or cut portions of (a film, letter or publication)

Treffry, D. (ed.) (2001), Paperback English Dictionary, Glasgow: Harper

Principles of behaviour in accordance with
standards of right and wrong

Treffry, D. (ed.) (2001), Paperback English Dictionary, Glasgow: Harper


A code of behaviour, especially of a particular group, profession or individual.
The moral fitness of a decision, course of action etc.
The study of the moral value of human conduct.
Treffry, D. (ed.) (2001), Paperback English Dictionary, Glasgow: Harper

Cadburys Flake adverts ,,

Women in bath with romantic music as she puts a flake into the mouth

‘Suppose that a picture of a young woman inserting a chocolate bar into her mouthmakes one person think of fellatio, but someone else says that this meaning says more about the observer than it does the picture. This kind of dispute, with its assumption that meaning resides in a text quite independently of individual and group preconceptions, is depressingly common in discussions on advertising.

Oliviero Toscani, United Colors of Benetton advert 1992

“Decorative models do seem to increase recognition and recall of the advertisement itself. The same probably is true for nudity. Thus , as one article on that technique suggested, ‘While an illustration of a nude female may gain the interest and attention of a viewer, an advertisement depicting a nonsexual scene appears to be more effective in obtaining brand recall”’.

Phillips, M. J. (1997), Ethics and Manipulation in Advertising: Answering a Flawed Indictment, London, Quorum Books, page 121

This image was placed on the side as it was too sexual when left lieng down.
At the tme it was the most complained about image in advertisement history ..
Is it more acceptable when you are tricked to think that it is not as sexual ?

Jemaine Grier talked about how images of nude women in advertisement is not allowed while you can visit the national gallery and view images like the one above... Incestuous scene of mother and son. This is deemed to be a masterpiece and yet if it is displayed in any other context it would be deemed inappropriate.

This artist treads a dangerous line. They only become acceptable because they are painted. They would be deemed unacceptable if they were a photograph

The girl featured on the photo on the right was only "15" years old which would not be accepted today yet fine in the photograph ...

Amy Adler – The Folly of Defining ‘Serious’ Art

Professor of Law at New York University

‘an irreconcilable conflict between legal rules and artistic practice’

The requirement that protected artworks have ‘serious artistic value’ is the very thing contemporary art and postmodernism itself attempt to defy

The Miller Test 1973

Asks three questions to determine whether a given work should be labelled ‘obscene’, and hence denied constitutional protection:

Whether ‘the average person, applying contemporary community standards’ would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest
Whether the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct
Whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value

Obscenity Law

‘To protect art whilst prohibiting trash’
‘The dividing line between speech and non-speech’
‘The dividing line between prison and freedom’

Who decides what is serious art and what isn't ?

- These cause a stir because they show semi erotic values
- The argument is that your parents have nude photographs of you but this does not justify placing them in exhibitions and blowing them up

- Laws and society has changed in the way we view things.
- In an age where schools won't place photographs of children without consent
- Artists are still aloud to photograph their children nude and place it on websites

‘Upper crust “art lovers” are paying £5 a head to ogle degrading snaps of children plastered across the walls of one of Britain’s most exclusive galleries’

‘A revolting exhibition of perversion under the guise of art’

News of the World
- To place these images large in a gallery is seen as perverted...

- ‘I think that the pictures are incredibly innocent and totally unsexual. I don’t crop them, I don’t retouch them and the shots are never staged. I might introduce an element like a mask, to a given situation, but I would never insist that the child put it on’

Tierney Gearon, Guardian, 2001

Richard Prince, spiritual Prince, 1983
- ‘A bath-damp and decidedly underage Brooke Shields … when Prince invites us to ogle Brooke Shields in her prepubescent nakedness, his impulse has less to do with his desire to savour the lubricious titillations that it was shot to spark in its original context … than with a profound fascination for the child star’s story’

If you try and look at this image on the website you get this view

Final Thoughts
- Just how much should we believe the ‘truth’ represented in the media?
- And should we be protected from it?
- Is the manipulation of the truth fair game in a Capitalist, consumer society?
- Should art sit outside of censorship laws exercised in other disciplines?
- Who should be protected, artist, viewer, or subject?

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