This is a church billboard in Melbourne CBD. Apparently, this particular church is renowned for posting trivial, sometimes controversial things that lighten the spiritual load of passers-by. By placing this kind of message on a church billboard in the middle of a major city, this church is attempting to distribute religious humour to as many people as possible.
I find the humour of modern church billboards interesting – in this case, the billboard incorporates a religious reminder with the undertone of mockery of an opposing ‘faith’ (The Jedi, which you are allowed to nominate yourself as in the Australian National Consensus, as did 65,000 people in 2011). http://www.smh.com.au/world/lachlan-murdoch-with-rupert-on-scientology-being-weird-cult-20120704-21ggy.html
This tram stop ad for the Apple iPad is an effective consumerist distribution of corporate advertising to a large group of people (essentially, anyone who is waiting at any number of tram stops in Melbourne). Personally, I found this ad to be disconcerting, as it has taken famous pieces of art and suggested that the iPad enables the everyday person to create art to the likes of Picasso or Warhol. This advertisement is an example of the commoditisation of art with the affordance of new media and technologies.
Although this is not a very clear photograph, I wanted to capture the huge scale of advertising within the CBD of a major city. This NAB logo acts as a form of advertising, conveying a sense of business hierarchy, scale, power, dominance, competitiveness and financial importance, all of which people will unconsciously consider without realising that is it real corporate advertising.
I found this arrangement alongside the railway tracks in suburban Brunswick. I am still unsure as to whether these pieces were placed aside each other on purpose, or whether one was there before the other.It stands out, firstly in contrast to its brick-wall surroundings, but also because it leaves you wondering what the intention of the posters originally was. With ‘THE BIRD IS FREE’, I am imagining deeply-seeded political, cultural or social messages. Either that or it was a great, drunk idea! I love this type of bill-poster ‘graffiti’, with the duality of a casually placed canvas with a deeper meaning, it is perfect for the suburbs.
Activist stencil spray-painting seems to be everywhere in Melbourne! This piece was painted sporadically along on a bike/walk path for about 5km (mostly near nice-looking trees). Provided that it doesn’t give you any information about where you can adodt trees, I assumed that the idea was to promote public supervision of the health of local trees, by reminding them to be take care of the native flora. It stands out, both in colour and message, with a gentle activist nature and a friendly neighbourhood reminder to be nice to nature. I liked it.
Bauman (Identity in the Globalizing World; 2001) writes that ‘needing to become what one is is the feature of modern living’. After becoming familiar with Bauman’s work, I was inspired to start asking people about the different ways in which they build their identities. Is it an ongoing process or do you reach a conclusion? What are the methods you personally use to create and maintain your identity? Now that a lot of us have a virtual component in our lives, has it changed the way we see identity, or how we build one?
I decided to start a ‘conversation’ on TED.com (see link above), where I posited the question: ‘In a modern, globalised world, how do you build or adapt your identity?’. I chose TED as a platform to ask such a question because of the nature of the debate: whether identity is also adapted online required the interaction of people with online personas. Also, I have come to understand TED as a fairly open platform for discussion.
I wanted to share some of the major themes/answers that I found reoccuring in the TED conversation, in order to provide a current (although limited) view of Bauman’s concepts, and what is required of someone to secure their own identity. Also, I found it insightful and enriching, as it ties directly with my current studies.
1 – Identity requires a constant assessment of what makes you or enriches you – it is a project, that consists of continual assessment and reassessment of the types of things that you truly connect with as a being. It is important to try to relate to others, and to be open to new ideas. Lots of responses speak about finding ‘a path’ and not following the latest trends. This type of piligrimist ideal of identity is touched on by Bauman (1996).
2 – The time vs. age debate – identity builds over time, but is it simply and aging process? Or can young people achieve clear ideas of their identity if they actively concentrate on the pursuit of one? For example, one can grow old without seriously considering what it is that makes them ‘them’, but will still have unconsciously developed an identity. Does the development of an identity require concentration? Which leads to the third theme..
3 – Mindfulness is essential. Awareness is the key building block in identity construction. An mindful evolution of your current self is necessary for the maintenance and adaptation of your core identity. One conversation contributor said “The only way I choose to identify myself is as a human ‘being’. I am ‘being’ all that I can be in each and every moment, with curiosity, full engagement in the moment and intent to learn and grow”. This theme carried through a lot of the responses, which might reflect the types of people that were responding to my question.
I recently undertook some investigation into the current state of online news journalism, and I was very interested in the results. As it turns out, this ‘death of newspapers’ that we have all been hearing about might just be a few journalists over-worrying about their job security.
There is an obvious shift in the field of modern journalism, from more traditional closed-sourced communicative journalism styles, to those of a more open-source, participatory-publishing style of journalism and news reporting. However, by researching both sides of the debate as to whether ‘true’ journalism is dying or not, I was given a completely new point of view.
Firstly, the life of print newspaper has not diminished as much as we had thought – Bob Franklin (2008) gathered a group of journalistic scholars to assess the future of newspapers, and they decided that, not only was the newspaper business still thriving, but that the hype around online news/newspaper was dying off because online newspapers can’t provide readers with what they want in a paper. Think about your local newspaper – do you subscribe to it or buy it? Does your local cafe offer newspapers for its customers? While some of us subscribe to the online version of a newspaper, Franklin (2008) and his group of scholars decided that we would move on from online news because we prefer the way the content of newspapers is managed.
Secondly, a lot of the concern of traditional journalism seems to be clouded by the idea that online journalism will provide us with this incredible ability to participate in the way the news is written. Other than times of crisis (when immediacy is crucial; Steensen, 2011), it turns out that ordinary people aren’t that good at writing the news, and they would rather have a professional journalist write it for them (Steensen, 2011; Quinn & Quinn-Allan, 2006).
While there are obviously positive and negative expectations of what online news will do for journalism, I think it is important to consider that, yes, online news might be the way of the future and will affect things like reader-participation, advertising, and content…but it also might not – while it is bound to change the scope and nature of journalism (Flew, 2009), I think that traditional newspaper and news-based professional journalism will prevail.
Flew, T 2009, ‘Democracy, Participation and Convergent Media: Case Studies in Contemporary Online News Journalism in Australia’, Communication, Politics & Culture, vol. 42, no. 2, pp. 87-115.
Franklin, B 2008, ‘The Future of Newspapers’, Journalism Studies, vol. 9, no. 5, pp. 630-641.
Quinn, S, & Quinn-Allan, D 2006, ‘User-Generated Content and the Changing News Cycle’, Australian Journalism Review, vol. 28, no. 1, pp. 57-70.
Steensen, S 2011, ‘Online Journalism and the Promises of New Technology: A Critical Review and Look Ahead’, Journalism Studies, vol. 12, no. 3, pp. 311-327
‘Vimeo is video + you. We put your videos first and give you the best ways to share, discover, and be inspired’ (http://vimeo.com/, 2013).
‘In 2004, Vimeo was founded by a group of filmmakers who wanted to share their creative work and personal moments from their lives. As time went on, likeminded people discovered Vimeo and helped build a supportive community of individuals with a wide range of passions. Today, millions of people from all around the world enjoy Vimeo, and we’re growing bigger every day. We hope this fun and friendly environment fuels your own creativity and inspires you to contribute to Vimeo in the ways that mean the most to you’. (http://vimeo.com/, 2013).
Brought to you from New York City, Vimeo is a (mostly) free short-film initiative that allows all members of the community to share film captures. Vimeo can now be integrated with almost any other online media platform, including Dropbox and iPhone apps for ease of video share.
From face value, Vimeo seems to showcase films of a higher quality and calibre – content-based films created by film-makers and amateurs alike, with strict copyright laws. Funded by advertisements and the public (Vimeo Tip Jar system, premium user accounts),
Vimeo also provides a platform for independent short-film funding programs, such as Kickstarter. Vimeo also allows for film creators to release their films within Vimeo On Demand, asking audiences to pay-to-view short and long independent films. In these ways, Vimeo encourages an online digital film community to thrive and share amongst each other.
The guidelines for Vimeo are simple:
1) Only upload videos that you have created yourself – this means no public domain videos, all copyrights obtained for your films, due credit given to all involved.
2) Do not upload any videos that are intended for commercial use (except for independent artists) – businesses may use Vimeo Plus to advertise but not a basic Vimeo account, no ads or marketing, promotion or TV stations.
3) Specific types of content are not permitted – no sex, hatred, racism, extreme violence, TV/movie scenes or snippets of video gaming.
4) Be respectful, or you’re banned for life.
These guidelines are strictly enforced, allowing for a peaceful and high-quality exchange of material
Vimeo has the opportunity to disseminate huge amounts of high-quality knowledge through video format. Much in the same way that TED Talks allow us to learn from experts in each field, Vimeo has the potential to develop into an educational tool where individuals can come to learn anything they desire, from professionals and leading examples of each industry. Further, Vimeo could hold online, worldwide, post-digital conferences, community-based conventions, events and digital media festivals (which are already being trialled with the online transformation of cultural festivals such as OFFF Festival https://vimeo.com/offf).
With another Bauman (1996) article, we are asked to question the boundaries of our own identities. Bauman reiterates that the postmodern problem with ‘identity’ is our perpetually unfulfilled need to remain open to changes in one’s character and goals – a constant yearning to ‘avoid fixation and keep the options open’ (1996, p18). Here, the essential concept of identity acts, not as a noun used to describe our character, but a verb – the act of persistent re-evaluation and shift. While many of us are given the glorified privilege of being able to sculpt and re-sculpt our personal identities at will, the choices that are available to us are moulded by the society in which we live. These societal influences can help/hinder our chosen identity constructions. Either way, the choice of which type of identity constructor you are remains with you.
This time, Bauman suggests five different fragments of identity construction:
a) Pilgrim – wanderers with a purpose, who are ‘never where they ought to be’ (Bauman, 1996, p20), walking from place to place with no destination aside from ‘the next place’. For a pilgrim, to keep moving is not a choice, but a necessity. In order to avoid becoming lost, they are guided by loose rules e.g. don’t plan trips that take too long, don’t get comfortable, not too much emotional attachment.
b) Stroller – based on the Flaneur (Walter Benjamin), the stroller walks through life, neither within it, nor outside of it. A stroller lives life as a series of episodes without past or future, only viewing other people from a surface-perspective. Being likened to someone walking through a shopping mall, a stroller moves through life with leisure. Here, ‘dependence dissolves with freedom, and freedom seeks dependence’ (Bauman, 1996, p27)
c) Vagabond – a masterless individual who has complete freedom to move. With ‘no set destination’ (Bauman, 1996, p28), a vagabond makes last-moment decisions about where to go next, deciding that is it time to leave a place when the resources of inspiration have run dry. A vagabond has ‘a cherished sense of being out of place always’ (Haslem, 2013).
d) Tourist – Always seeking the novel, different, interesting surroundings, a tourist seeks to disrupt the boredom of the familiar. Unfortunately, the threshold of ‘new’ becomes higher and harder to attain. With a fear of becoming home-bound, the tourist quickly moves on to the next place, in search of a more interesting identity.
‘The tourist’s favourite slogan is “I need more space”. And space is the last thing one would find at home’ (Bauman, 1996, p31).
e) Player – The player differs from all four previous identity constructors. For a player, there are no accidents or predictability – each movement is investigated and crucial toward a definitive end goal. The development of your successful identity will depend on how well you play your character hand. Here, there is a fear that, with a wrong move, one might have to start the game from the beginning. This would signify that one has taken the game too seriously – ‘The mark of postmodern adulthood is the willingness to embrace the game wholeheartedly, as children do’ (Bauman, 1996, p32).
Bauman posits that each individual does not necessarily fall into one of these identity-construction categories, but that each category overlaps and can be used together to make a total identity. Although Bauman later suggests that these profiles ‘cast individual autonomy in opposition of moral responsibilities’ (1996, p33), I realised that I do not agree with the premise of Bauman’s concepts – there seems to be an inherent pessimism in these character profiles, with little room for ongoing improvement and accountability of character. While identity can be constructed by each individual through different patterns of behaviour, I choose to believe that we can ‘sculpt’ our identities from past and present experiences, in order to enrich our characters for the future. Personal growth should always be a result of reflection, and should be in a positive direction.
Bauman, Z (1996), ‘From Pilgrim to Tourist – or a Short History of Identity’, in S Hall & P du Gay (eds), Questions of Cultural Identity, Sage Publishing, London, UK, pp. 18-36.
Haslem, N. (2013, Aug 6). Identity #2. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B8HAhoyHtl8