Wednesday, 4 August 2010

The intoxication of modernity (C. Olalquiaga)

"19th century witnessed the multiplication of visual reproduction techniques which transformed western cultures's optical unconscious. Mechanical reproduction not only altered the possibilities for proliferation and affordability of images, but made it possible the apparition of a specific sensibility, a modern one, based in the supremacy of sight and accumulation. Although remainders of this kind of sensibility can be found in previous centuries, what emerges in this particular moment is the unprecedented democratisation of the act of looking and collect. This is widely shown with the proliferation of photography and the reorganisation of the street as a place for mercantile and spectacular exchange for the mid class. [...]

Instead of being rejected, the serial and mechanical aspects of the industrial culture were valued as signs of a modern and cosmopolitan spirit which traded antiquity and authenticity for novelty and quantity. [...]

Yearned by many and despised by few, abundant for some and unattainable for others, new one day for everybody and for nobody the next day, mass consume articles rode on the opulence and the comfort of the emerging mid class and of the apparition of places such as passages, which rapidly flowed the culture of tradition and maintenance. The new soon became dated of itself - "the intoxication of modernity" -, identified with a notion of progress for which the consume speed was an equivalent to the progress in time. Thrusting on novelty the main charge of modernity - leaving behind a dark past and moving towards and luminous future - consumer's goods assured themselves a place in the temple of fetishism. Consumer's goods were "dream images" or "desire images": more than objects, they represented utopic desires."

Olalquiaga, C. (2007) El reino artificial. Sobre la experiencia kitsch. Barcelona: Gustavo Gili. (pp 15-21)

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