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Critical looking in advertising : Gerry Human's University of Johannesburg Alumni Exhibition : Humanism: The Art of Selling

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dc.contributor.author Gray, Brenden
dc.date.accessioned 2012-07-26T07:30:28Z
dc.date.available 2012-07-26T07:30:28Z
dc.date.issued 2009
dc.identifier.citation Imaging Ourselves: Visual identities in Representation, Johannesburg, 5 June 2009 en_US
dc.identifier.isbn 978-0-620-45946-4
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10210/5288
dc.description.abstract In 2008 Gerry Human, the chief creative officer of Ogilvy South Africa, was invited to exhibit pieces from his creative career as an alumnus of the University of Johannesburg (the former TWR) at the FADA Gallery. The ironic title of the exhibition, Humanism: The Art of Selling, suggested that Human was aware of the potential ironies and incongruities involved in exhibiting pieces of advertising within the context of a university art gallery. As a more or less reflexive practitioner, Human provoked in the framing of the exhibition questions about the power of advertis­ing in a post-modern world where the field of legitimate culture, the aesthetic, and the university as institutional categories may have lost their potential to affect major social change. I examine the implications of this statement asking what methodological and theoretical approaches are most effective in examining complex, ironic and multilayered advertising products within a gallery context. In particular, I use the exhibition as a vehicle to ask how advertising may be pedagogically framed, to produce critical, media literate students in the field of visual culture (Willis 1999; Giroux 2005). In doing so, I explore the tensions that exist between understanding the consumption of advertisements and popular culture as passive, hegemonic and constructivist notions of creative consump­tion, problematising easy readings of advertising products in terms of WJT Mitchell's (2005) notion that images exert power over readers in complex ways, Pierre Bourdieu's (1993) understanding of the cultural field as one where social distinction is produced, and Jean Baudrillard's (1995) ideas around the proliferation of commodities and their value in an economy of signs.A variety ofvisual methodologies (Rose 2006) are critically examined in terms of developing the "interpretative repertoires" of students in relation to the complexity of Human's print advertisements. Human's framing of the exhibition is examined in terms of critical discourse analysis and audience studies. A social semiotic/critical discourse method is proposed as a method for allowing students to unpack the structure of addressability of particular advertisements produced by Human. Here, I draw on Gunther Kress and Theo Van Leeuwen's (2006) social semiotic methods, as put forward in Reading Images: The Grammar of Visual Design -methods such as the "transactional gaze", "narrative and conceptual structure", "social distance and framing" -in order to argue for the predominant use of the declarative as Humans' primary mode of visual and textual address. I link this visual strategy to Bourdieu's (1993) theories of how class distinction is constructed through visuality and begin to unravel the complexities involved in dealing with advertisements in terms of class and the desiring gaze exploring the tensions that may exist between students' lived experiences, the textually mediated world of consumer culture (Fairclough 2006) and the interpretative repertoires students are exposed to in a formal learning environment. en_US
dc.language.iso en en_US
dc.publisher Visual Identities in Art and Design Research Centre en_US
dc.relation.ispartofseries Imaging Ourselves: Visual identities in Representation-Johannesburg, 5 June 2009 en_US
dc.subject Humanism : The Art of Selling Exhibition en_US
dc.subject Gerry Human Alumni Exhibition en_US
dc.subject University of Johannesburg Alumni Exhibition en_US
dc.title Critical looking in advertising : Gerry Human's University of Johannesburg Alumni Exhibition : Humanism: The Art of Selling en_US
dc.type Article en_US

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