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Visual Culture

The modern world is definitely a visual society. With the age of modern technology, humans are bombarded with images every waking moment from television, Ipods with video capabilities, cell phones with cameras and video cameras, and the internet which flashes images constantly into our world. This does not even take into account the printed forms of images that are everywhere we look, from billboards to posters, magazines, catalogs, and etc. Art museums are only a few hours away even for those who do not live in an urban area, and with the internet available around the world, a museum is only a mouse click away.

The world has always been visual, but with the modern world, it seems to be more important than ever. The obvious question about all of the visual elements that are present in the world today is what is art? The situation of the essay will be Errington, Eco, and Berger at the same table at a sidewalk cafe. The discussion will move from Primitive Art and what makes a primitive article art, to publicity images as an art form that is representative of modern culture, and finally how modern culture has introduced the hero and novel as a form of art.

The scene is a sidewalk cafe in New York City. Shelly Errington, Umberto Eco, and John Berger are to speak at NYU the next evening, so they have decided to have a drink and light lunch together. Errington arrives first and is seated. She orders a glass of wine and then she peruses the menu. Umberto Eco is shown to the table. “Mr. Eco, so nice to see you this evening,” Errington says. “Likewise, Ms. Errington. I thought I was going to be late, but I see I am not the last to arrive. ” “As a matter of fact, I see Mr. Berger coming toward us as we speak. ” “Mr.

Berger,” Eco says as he extends his hand. “Nice to see you again. ” “Yes, it is nice to see both of you again. Ms. Errington, it has been several years since I last saw you. You are looking lovely as always. ” “Thank you, Mr. Berger. I am flattered considering you are one who is always aware of the visuals of this culture. ” He laughs and turns to the waiter to order a gin and tonic. Eco orders a dry martini and they all focus on their menu. “I understand that your topic of discussion for tomorrow night will be Primitive Art in Today’s Society, Ms Errington.

” Berger says. “Yes, it is. I am particularly interested in authentic primitive art. ” “Interesting,” adds Eco. “Yes, I think so,” she replies. “I’m curious about how you find it interesting. ” “I was just wondering how you could find an article that was actually used in everyday life could be considered art? ” “How could it not be art? ” “Well, Ms. Errington, the everyday is mundane. If everything is considered art, then what makes art special? Art must be created to be art for art’s sake. ” “That is a valid observation, Mr.

Eco, but Primitive Art is quickly becoming a lost art. You see artifacts that were created to perform jobs or were used for rituals are fading into obscurity because of the spread of modernization. The internet that we find so convenient has brought every inch of the world into the homes of practically everyone. The cultures that were not a part of this modernization have now been thrust onto the screens of billions of computers. With the exposure these cultures will have, others will want to experience their lives.

No matter how you look at it, when these cultures are exposed to the outside world, they will lose part of theirs simply because they have now been exposed to modernization. This makes the artifacts of these cultures art because they will soon be obsolete and the only link the world will have to a culture that will soon be forgotten. ” “I was at the Metropolitan Museum of Art just this morning and I found a particular tunic interesting. Here I have a picture of it on my cell phone,” added Berger. “It is a tunic from 7th–9th century Peru used by the Moche-Wari peoples from the Huarmey Valley.

It is made from cotton, camelid hair. Just look at the use of color. The deep rust color is contrasted sharply by the light tan pattern with a jagged edge. The darker tan and brown is not as eye catching, but help the eye to soften the stark contrast of the other colors. This is definitely a work of art even though it was obviously worn by a person of that culture. ” “I see,” replied Eco. “I do see evidence of artistic craft. ” “Yes,” answered Errington. “As beautifully artistic as this piece is, it will lose its appeal to the people of this culture once they are exposed to the world of modern fashion.

You see that is the topic of Mr. Berger’s talk tomorrow night. “Ms. Errington, you have been keeping up with my work. ” “Of course, Mr. Berger. It is the talk of the campus. Publicity images are the artwork of our modern day society. ” “Please,” Mr. Eco implored. “Publicity images as art, where has this world gone? ” “Mr. Eco,” said Berger. “How can you ignore the constant bombardment of Publicity images? They influence more people in just a few minutes than other forms of art do in a year. For instance. Look at that billboard on the side of that building.

” He said pointing across the street. “That little man with the glasses with his network of people behind him is more recognizable in the world today than any of the works by Michelangelo. The whole idea to use a common man with a group of people from different human service jobs was an extraordinarily clever piece of art. This man’s image as well as the company he represents will be remembered for years. ” “I will admit that it is in the brain of just about anyone who uses a cell phone,” Eco admitted. ”

“You see, he has sold a product by making the individual who purchases a plan through that particular company feel that he or she has a whole network of individuals with him or her at all times. He has not only found fame, but he has sold a feeling of protection as well as a cell phone plan,” said Errington. “There is a story behind this man just like the way that you feel there is a story behind every piece of art. ” Eco smiled as the waiter delivered his second martini. “Ah, the story behind the art,” he says and then laughs. “I think that you are comparing this little Verizon man with my allusion to superman and Clark Kent. ”

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