Saturday, April 17, 2010
Not only do the oil industry and its principal symbol, the oil rig, occupy a defining position in Edmonton's economy, it also occupies a defining position in Edmonton's civic culture.
The reality of the oil industry is not as predominant in the local media, because it is bad for business for Albertans to disagree with the worlds most important industry.
The iconography of the oil derrick is hugely pervasive in the evertyday lives of Edmontonians. From education to culture, down to the basic economics, the symbolism of the Oil Derrick can reach near religious proportions. As the volatility of the price of oil continues, we the people begin to see our dependence on our primary resource.
When one sees one wearing such a pendant, such as the one pictured left, it is often assumed that the wearer is a Christian. For Christians, the crucifix (simplified as a cross) embodies the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and the clemency earned for mankind by Christ's martyrdom.
Crucifix pendants come in a variety of forms, from simple crosses to the more elaborate rosaries famously associated with the Catholic church. Moreover, specialized rosaries for particular beliefs are available -- such as the rosary of the unborn, described as "the most powerful and ultimate weapon to end abortion".
The crucifix doesn't hold the same symbolism for everyone. Some groups consider the crucifix to be a symbol of oppression. More pointedly, some have treated Catholic rosaries as symbols of the oppression of women, or the sexual abuse of children.
These drill bit pendants are popular with those who work on rigs -- both drilling rigs that typically use these drill bits, and well servicing rigs that typically do not.
These pendants identify their wearer as part of a particular community -- the rig working community. As with crucifix pendants, more elaborate versions of these pendants can be purchased. Just as more elaborate crucifixes can often denote certain beliefs or values, more elaborate -- often gem-encrusted -- pendants at least suggest one has attained a greater level of achievement.
Moreover, these pendants can have different meanings to different people. Environmentalists, for example, may consider these pendants to be symbolic of the wearer's complicity in environmental destruction.
Simply put, the oil industry and its symbols don't hold the same meaning for everyone. It is very different things to very different people.
George, Roland. “ Alberta’s energy future: Focus on Oil.” National Energy Board.
Pallanik, Kyle. “The Oil Sands Project and the Battle that Threatens Canadian Unity.” Digital Journal.
Winton, Ezra. “Alberta tar sands documentary raises questions about the newest bonanza.” Art Threat Culture+Politics.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
We examined how the display and presentation in Art Gallery of Alberta influence people’s behavior and viewing habits. Viewers are more likely to get different feelings when they see art in a gallery, compared to seeing it on the street. The design of the space can affect people because it can create a mood through principles of architecture and can interact with the art in which it houses. This interaction can push an aspect of the art to the forefront, or it can be incorporated into the art. Viewers gaze at not only individual art pieces, but also at the environment in which it is placed.
Displays and People’s Behavior
Displays affect people’s behavior in the gallery, and make them viewers who interacted with the art. For example, in the exhibits of Francisco Goya, The Disasters of War and Los Caprichos, there are two rows of prints displayed at eye level across the room. As people watch the exhibits, some are folding arms, putting hands in pockets, or putting hands under chins. Also, many were bending forward while examining the paintings. In general, viewers in this exhibit showed heavy concentration. In another example, the exhibit Edgar Degas, Figures in Motion, there was a blend of both sculptures and elaborately framed sketches and paintings. Some people were imitating the posture of the sculptures, or looking at them from far away and then coming closer. Some even tried to sketch the exhibit. There was a sculpture where the viewer could look down on it, as it was displayed only a foot off of the ground, and thus the gallery shifted the level of viewers’ gazes.
Lightning/Color and People’s Behavior
Sounds and People’s Behavior
There are two exhibits with sounds as a focus in the gallery made by Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller. In the “Storm Room” are four plywood walls set up in the middle of the room and a path leading into the opening of the installation on the opposite wall. The installation is a room that is small, dark, and has windows with water trickling down and audio recordings playing continuously. People seem to be puzzled at first, and many enjoy the interesting space after examining further. (You can listen to the audio file provided to get the idea of viewers’ reaction.) The second installation was titled “The Murder of Crows”. There are two entrances leading into a large dimly lit room with white walls and high ceilings. The center of the room has a spot-lighted gramophone with wooden chairs set in a semi-circle formation around it. Throughout the room and between the chairs are ninety-eight loud speakers set up. Some people close their eyes so that they can concentrate on the aural qualities art.
The Panopticon and the Gaze in the Gallery
Although people tend to enjoy by themselves in their own ways in the gallery, we could observe the social relationship among the people. From the point of “the gaze”, the security guards keep gazing at you while you are gazing at the exhibits. It means that the person who is gazing is also the person who is being gazed. Individuals are forced to “regulate their own behaviour” (Strurken and Cartwright 2009).
We observed that in the gallery, certain spaces had more security in them. In these cases people became less active in gazing at the art, speaking at a minimum rather than communicating with one another. According to Phil Lee's essay “Eye and Gaze”, the panoptican serves as a place where data (or in the case art) is “collected and collated” (Lee 2003). Thus being in a panoptic environment such as the gallery, the viewer becomes aware of being watched therefore collecting and organizing what they are gazing at. Foucault termed this the “inspecting gaze”(Foucault 1975) and said that while being watched the citizen is the “object of information, never a subject in communication” (Foucault 1975).
While viewing a piece of art in the Art gallery of Alberta, the viewer is constantly aware of being watched by either security guards, surveillance cameras, or other gallery goers themselves. The effect of the lighting, wall color, sounds, and presence of other people in the space all affect the viewer's viewing habits and behaviors.
Struken, Marita, and Cartwright, Lisa. 2009. Practices of Looking: An Introduction of Visual Culture. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.
Lee, Phil. 2003. eye and gaze. University of Chicago. http://humanities.uchicago.edu/faculty/mitchell/glossary2004/eyegaze.htm
Foucault, Michel. 1975. Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison, New York: Pantheon.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j3KeMyPkF18 - Our audio recording of the Storm Room
This blog post was written by Amy Walsh, Yumeko Naito and Kevin Leung
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
In recent years the slogan of Edmonton (“The City of Champions”) has come under fire as many residents no longer feel the slogan is appropriate. A main factor in this belief is the recent string of unsuccessful seasons by the Edmonton Oilers.
Although the rafters in Rexall Place are filled with championship banners, only 1 of them was achieved in the last 20 years.
Although the rafters in Rexall Place are filled with championship banners, only 1 one them was achieved in the last 20 years.
 Snider http://rivercitywriter.com/the-edmonton-book-of-everything/
 Snider http://rivercitywriter.com/the-edmonton-book-of-everything/
 MacDonald et al., Motivational Factors for evaluation sports spectator and participant markets
 Connecttoedmonton.ca, Post 1 http://www.connect2edmonton.ca/forum/showthread.php?t=411
 Conference Standings, NHL.com
 Doug Harrison, http://www.cbc.ca/sports/hockey/story/2009/11/27/sp-sharks-oilers-preview.html?ref=rss
 Elizabeth Withey, http://communities.canada.com/EDMONTONJOURNAL/blogs/saladdaze/archive/2007/07/31/wanted-new-slogan-for-edmonton.aspx
 Connect2Edmonton.ca, Post 1, http://www.connect2edmonton.ca/forum/showthread.php?t=411
 ibid, Post 1
 ibid, Post 1
 Connect2Edmonton.ca, Post 2, 3, 4.
 ibid, Post 27,
 Edmonton City of Champions, http://www.flickr.com/photos/12775160@N00/264626100/
 Elizabeth Withey, http://communities.canada.com/EDMONTONJOURNAL/blogs/saladdaze/archive/2007/07/31/wanted-new-slogan-for-edmonton.aspx
 The Edmonton Gay Pride Parade, http://www.epl.ca/edmontonacitycalledhome/EPLEdmontonCityCalledRememberTitlesSingle.cfm?type=story&id=460
 Haskins, http://www.edmontonexaminer.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=2235195&auth=Scott%20Haskins/EXAMINER%20STAFF
 Rexall banners, http://www.flickr.com/photos/bobkh/1322637360/
 Sunger, http://edmonton.ctv.ca/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/20090616/edm_champs_090616/20090616/?hub=EdmontonHome
 Pittsburgh Calling Themselves ‘City of Champions’, http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=62356916922&topic=8308
 Coakley, 376
 ibid 389
 ibid 390
 Edmonton Oilers 2006 Playoff Whyte Ave Party, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y-cJew1p9NI&feature=related
 Coakley 226
 Calgary Flames SUCK, http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2214942262
 Bryant Cummins, 220
 ibid 221
 ibid 224
Calgary Flames SUCK. 2009. Facebook.com.
Live Sporting Events on Sports Fans’ Self and Social Identities. In Examining Identity in Sports Media, ed. Heather L. Hundley and Andrew C. Billings, 217-238. Los Angeles: Sage.
Withey, Elizabeth. 2007. WANTED: New Slogan for Edmonton. Edmonton Journal, July 31. http://communities.canada.com/EDMONTONJOURNAL/blogs/saladdaze/archive/2007/07/31/wanted-new-slogan-for-edmonton.aspx
Edmonton: City of Champions. Flickr.com
Rexall banners. Flickr.com
Edmonton Oilers 2006 Playoff Whyte Ave Party. YouTube.com.
Oilers vs. Red Wings 2006 Game 6. YouTube.com.
Monday, April 12, 2010
The new Art Gallery of Alberta, opened in Edmonton in January 2010. This unique building has had it share of controversy with it's bold design and obvious departure from other conventional buildings in the city. Love it or hate it, the new AGA establishes itself as an architectural icon reflecting and capturing the creative and cultural spirit of the city of Edmonton. We'll look at how the building does this by comparing it with other city buildings and contrasting it with how space is traditionally divided in the downtown area.
By explicitly discussing several feasible meanings of this image, it becomes easier to see why it works in the advertisement. But one must also realize that when exploring connotation “the reading of the photograph is …. always historical; it depends on the reader’s ‘knowledge’ just as though it were a matter of a real language [langue], intelligible only if one has learned the signs” (Heath 1977, 28). Someone from outside of our culture who may have never even seen a cell phone would surely not make the same connections and this particular image would be rendered an ineffectual add-on to the billboard.
Given the cultural practices and values in our current society, this picture works well to sell its viewer on a polished, urban lifestyle. The text helps to explain and anchor the advertisement’s message, but the photograph serves a true function as well. The image is entrusted with giving a symbolic, affective description, which we can perceive and digest more quickly than a lengthy verbal description (Heath 1977). The advertisement is successful in that we can immediately grasp its message in more ways than one.
"As the population of the United States and Canada continues to mature, marketers in these countries are directing increased attention to older consumers" (Lumpkin et al., 1985). This is appropriate, as individuals in advanced years are becoming increasingly attractive targets based upon their numbers, income, and purchasing patterns (Keane, 1985). When seniors retire, they have the option of deciding where they would like to live. Many sell their homes in favor of moving to a smaller development. Sometimes seniors like to be around other people their own age and live in a building that caters specifically to their needs. They can choose a retirement home designed for old folks or maybe opt for something that will give them the optimum living environment.
This section will focus on illustrating several billboards of senior advertisements and contrasting them and their true meanings. These billboard advertisements are the perfect option for marketers to target the certain classes they are looking for.
These billboard advertisements are the perfect option for marketers to target the certain classes they are looking for."Most advertising is always constructing consumers as dissatisfied. "Most advertising is always constructing consumers as dissatisfied in some way with their lifestyles, appearance, jobs, relationships and so forth. Many ads imply that their product can alleviate this state of dissatisfaction. They often do this by presenting figures of glamour that consumers can envy and wish to emulate, people who are presented as already transformed, and bodies that appear perfect and yet somehow attainable" (Sturken and Cartwright 2009, 275). In this advertisement above, you see a happy, senior couple wearing expensive clothing and drinking wine while smiling and apparently enjoying each other's company. This billboard screams prestige and high class. And it is no wonder; this billboard is advertising a senior's home that is aimed for the wealthy. WIth a built in nurse and cook, a huge recreational facility that provides entertainment, a pool, a gym and so much more, these seniors are living the life of luxury. With rent that is a minimum of roughly $200 a month, this senior home is exclusively for the rich and the billboard clearly supports that statement.
This billboard is located in the west side of the city with a suburb house environment located nearby. The houses that are located near this location are all pricey and belong to those who are upper middle to upper class people, Therefore, all these people living in this are would see the billboard for this new wealthy senior development and begin saving for when they themselves retire to live in it or perhaps for their parents if they can afford it. Therefore, this billboard is set in the perfect location targeting just the right type of people who choose to live in that sort of development.
“Representation is the use of language and images to create meaning about the world around us” (Notes). As we can see, what is represented in this photo is a wealthy senior couple enjoying their life because they get to live it high class. It represents the notion that living wealthier means good times as is represented by the smiles in the advertisement. Of course, this whole advertisement plays into the idea of the myth of photographic truth. “We perceive photographs to be an unmediated copy of the real world” (Notes). What may in fact be a happy couple in this advertisement may just as well be a total set up. This brings us into the denotative and connotative interpretations behind this billboard. Barthes identified that an image has a literal, denotative meaning as well as a connotative meaning which employs a cultural and historical context. What is denoted in this photograph is a happy old couple enjoying life and their environment. This of course, could also be interpreted another way. It is interesting that this couple happens to be white and wearing clothes that would identify as being of an upper class. These characteristics in themselves show a broader meaning behind this happy couple. It shows the ways in which this marketing company is targeting to a certain ‘type’ of people and represents it by using white upper class couples.
Therefore, this demonstrates how what seems to be a standard advertisement, is in fact stereotyping a certain message to the buyers. That this certain living development is for those of the higher class and represents that through a white, wealthy senior couple.
Obviously, the main intention is to entice the viewer into purchasing one of these houses. But in order to create this desire, the advertiser consciously presents us with representations of a healthy and relaxed existence. The man running alongside his “best friend” and the woman riding her bike all embody a feeling of vigor, strength and happiness. They are disciplined people who are afforded leisure time in which they enrich and strengthen their bodies; they live their lives in a way that so many of us plan but never actually do. And when they are finished exercising, there’s a conveniently placed bench set in a picturesque atmosphere, which is awaiting their arrival.
When perceived together, the pictures portray a desirable communal life. They represent the conventional, nuclear family that our culture has long idolized, and which may be particularly a focus for this neighborhood, which maintains a military legacy. There are several explanations for the advertisement, as “the connoted image is reduced to a phenomenon of language, and it exhibits all the characteristics of a text: it possesses a “discourse” which can be “read” and interpreted in a cultural or ideological context” (Halley 1982, 70). The images are presented as more than just visual distractions; they are stories and metaphors, which are meant to entice wonder, contemplation and understanding.
The misconception that a photograph is a direct reflection of the real world is a notion Roland Barthes refers to as the myth of photographic truth. When under this impression, the billboard is merely an unmediated announcement of a new condo development. But when we explore the myth, the billboard comes to have a new existence, a life that is born from history and culture and understanding.
Initially, the image is merely that of pleasant looking homes, but when we read the description on the right, “Tuscan Village, Start Living from $179,000,” we are instantly transported to an Italian villa, and we see the condominiums in a new light. Their stucco walls, ornate verandas, and terra cotta roofs suddenly stand out as prime features of an Italian lifestyle and may even seem to offer us a “quaint village atmosphere” as is stated on the Tuscan Village web site. The phrase “start living” posits that our current lives are inauthentic, and that this new community can offer us a more genuine, pleasurable lifestyle.
Part of what has made this advertisement successful is the communication between the photograph and the surrounding text (Heath 1977). The image is given instant additional meaning by association with the words beside it. Therefore, “in the relationship that now holds, it is not the image which comes to elucidate or ‘realize’ the text, but the latter which comes to sublimate, patheticize or rationalize the image” (Heath 1977, 25). In other words, “the text loads the image, burdening it with a culture, a moral, an imagination” (Heath 1977, 26). The picture’s hidden connotations are illuminated, and suddenly this thought “denotation of reality” somehow makes us crave a life that offers romantically lit streets lined with archways and green space, a place where we can roam serenely as if in a dream, a place where we can “start living.”
Barthes, Roland. “The Photographic Message.” In Image Music Text. Edited and translated by Stephen Heath. New York: Hill and Wang, 1977, 15-31.
Barthes, Roland. “Rhetoric of the Image.” In Image Music Text. Edited and translated by Stephen Heath. New York: Hill and Wang, 1977, 32-51.
Cartwright, Lisa. Sturken, Marita. Practices of Looking: An Introduction to Visual Culture.New York: Oxford University Press, 2009.
Halley, Michael. 1982. Argo Sum Diacritics 12 (4): 69-79.
Kips, Henry. Culture Unbound: Journal of Current Cultural Research; 2010, Vol. 2, P 91- 102
Lacan, Jacques (1981): The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis, Jacques- Alain Miller (ed), Alan Sheridan (trans) New York: Norton
Peterson, Robin T. “The Depiction of Senior Citizens in Magazine Advertisements: A Content Analysis.” Journal of Business Ethics, Vol. 11, No.9 (Sept. 1992) P 701-706
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