Aesthetic Journalism & Public Media Spaces

‘This society is involved in a constant search for strategies of authenticity as a source of real experience and assessment for the quality of existence.’
– Alfredo Cramerotti, 2011, p64

Public media spaces provide valuable opportunities to gain insight and experience cultural practices of civilisation. These spaces are all around us – museums, galleries as well as street art and installations. An example would be Sydney’s annual ‘Vivid festival of light, music and ideas’. Vivid Sydney takes place over 18 days between late May and early June, and is an inspiring, accessible media space. The city transforms into a canvas of creativity and innovation, consisting of outdoor installations, performances and illuminating iconic architecture to generate an immersive experience.

vivid 2013 A photo I took at Vivid Sydney 2013. Families engaging with the flashing neon lit seesaws.

Aesthetic representations are effective tools to communicate a message or meaning. Artists present content in unique ways, and every respondent encounters them differently; each experience comes with existing cultural knowledge, which is then used to critically reflect and build on the images presented. The result is a one-of-a-kind cognitive process that can modify fabricated perceptions of society and self-identity.

This publication by Alfredo Cramerotti (2011) explores the influence and progression of Aesthetic Journalism. In medieval times, artistic imagery was commonly used in religious practice as a tool to educate the masses about morality and maintain control. Traditionally, artists represented theoretical knowledge and practical realisations, often predicting images of the future. Post WWII, westernisation prompted a new form of aesthetics, facilitating more contemporary approaches to art. Aesthetic culture transformed into an instrument to investigate the living. Themes surrounding capitalism, consumerism and pop-culture began to blur the boundaries between art and life, paving the way for artistic representations to mirror society’s structures and mass media aesthetics.

Journalistic art entertains, informs and constitutes change. Modernist art was classed as elitist and considered “high culture” as it conveyed complex layers of meaning. Andy Warhol is an example of a famous pop icon of the 20th century, who challenged modernism and cultural perceptions of how art should be displayed. Warhol presented commercialism of culture through the commodification of himself and his works by implementing techniques such as repetition, to celebrate consumer culture unifying citizens. By using consumerism as a subject, Warhol shattered modernist stereotypes, through the transmission of consumer art into high art.

warhol soup

Campbell’s Soup Cans – Andy Warhol 1962

Warhol replicates the cans to symbolise American culture, in a world dominated by mass production and consumerism. The repetition suggests that lack of variety in consumer images dulls the senses and emotions. Viewers are saturated with the same image until it gradually loses significance, corresponding to the discourse of media saturation (Indiana, 2010, p84-86; Zainal Abidin, 2013).

Reference List:

Cramerotti, A 2011, ‘What is Aesthetic Journalism’, in A Cramerotti (ed.), Aesthetic Journalism: How to Inform Without Informing, Intellect, London.

Indiana, G 2010, Andy Warhol and the Can that Sold the World, Basic Books, US.

Zainal Abidin, ND 2013, ‘Andy Warhol and Consumerism’, Slideshare, Slideshow, 31 January, viewed 10 April 2014, <http://www.slideshare.net/akudena22/andy-warhol-and-consumerism&gt;

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