A Model for a Collective Aesthetic Consciousness

A Model for a Collective Aesthetic Consciousness

Sherry Mayo (Westchester Community College, USA)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 14
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8679-3.ch013
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During the 20th century, the modern media was born and viewed as an industrial factory-model machine. These powerful media such as film, radio, and television transmitted culture to the passive masses (Enzensberger; 1974). These art forms were divorced of ritual and authenticity and were reproduced to reinforce their prowess (Benjamin, 1936). In the 21st century post-media condition, a process of convergence and evolution toward a social consciousness, facilitated by a many-to-many social network strategy, is underway. Web 2.0 technologies are a catalyst toward an emergence of a collectivist aesthetic consciousness. As the prophecy of a post-industrial society (Bell, 1973) becomes fulfilled, a post-media society emerges whose quest is for knowledge dependent upon economy that barters information. This paper identifies a conceptual model of this recent paradigmatic shift and to identify some of the possibilities that are emerging.
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The Consciousness Industry Reframed For A Post-Industrial Society

All these forms of media are constantly forming new connections both with each other and with older media like printing, radio, film, televisions, telephone, teletype, radar, and so on. They are clearly coming together to form a universal system (Enzensberger, 1974, p. 68).

It could be just Freud’s (1917) melancholia at play but Americans today still structure their institutions and corporations in keeping with the factory-model aesthetic. The habitual seating of kids in gridded rows in school, all facing one direction under the flag, and learning through passive transmission of information from teacher to student still perpetuates our educational practices. Most workers still mentally construct an image of themselves like Lucille Ball in the chocolate factory (I Love Lucy, Second Season, 1952-53), only willing to complete predefined tasks under micro-management. Our most elite intellectual centers remain conservatively tied to notions of corporate practices and adherence with market-forces that wag the dog. And some, only some, of our nations multi-national corporations actually understand the global kaleidoscopic, and create the age that we’re living in.

Just like our addiction to post-modernist aesthetics that popular piety understood as quotation, pastiche, revisionist, feminist, multicultural, and layered; our relentless adherence to an industrial society is more about comfort than reality. Enzensberger (1974) long ago complained about the division of labor between the producer and the consumer and was very concerned about the lack of interactivity of the receiver in the power paradigm constructed by the media. However, he also looked both ahead towards new media and behind to Walter Benjamin. Benjamin (1936) understood mechanical reproduction and foreshadowed an age of many-to-many: a participatory democratic mediated society. He was concerned about the loss of aura, loss of tradition and heritage, through the endless reproduction of images from photography through film. This divorce of ritual practice around the art experience was surpassed by the functionality of the image/art object as a political transferrable sign system that could propagate agendas and build consumerism. In an industrial society aesthetics were defined by the producers of the media and sold to consumers by virtue of a capitalist model.

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