Baudrillard, ‘Fetishism and Ideology’

There is no such thing as pure visuality, except as a concept or a theoretical construction, generated in a historically and culturally specific context.

The work of art that consists solely of an idea is a collective fantasy that has haunted the history of modern art.

The regime of visuality and visibility incites a frenetic exchange of visual codes and formulas among disciplines such as art, film, architecture, pop music and design. //Van Winkel, ‘The obsession with a pure idea’.


Photographs pretend to offer a pure visuality that bypasses rhetorical and theoretical obfuscation. It is something immediately recognisable on the surface of the image. Photography is honest because it can withhold nothing. Everyone can grasp a photograph, or rather: there is nothing to grasp at all. The structure of the dialogue is compromised when translated into a series of photographic stills.

Burgin, V. (1982) ‘Photography, phantasy, function’, in Victor Burgin (ed.) Thinking photography. [Online]. London: Macmillan.

The image which on first looking gave pleasure by degrees becomes a veil behind which we now desire to see.’ It is not by chance, then, that the use of photographs is organised in such a way that we never have to dwell for long on a single specimen; there is always a next one demanding our attention.

When image, sound, and text are combined, bringing contrary logics in conflict with one another. Under such circumstances, the assembling of different media into a single product generates a reduction instead of an increase of possibilities – and the seams in the hybrid reality of the media suddenly become visible.

  • 영화나 드라마에서, 상대방이 갑자기 전화를 끊었다는 스크립트가 나올경우, 배우가 momentarily gazing amazedly at the telephone handpiece. 하는 것
  • 시계 광고에서 시계는 언제느 10시 5분이거나 10분인 것.

In a world that is excessively visualised, the visual possesses an ambiguous potential. It has two internet yet contradictory dimensions. On the on hand, the visual is the aspect of the world in which we easily lose ourselves. It functions by way of immersion. While the gaze is absorbed by a sight, the body becomes languid and weak or, on the contrary, rigid and tense. The visual presses consciousness through a narrow slot, behind which it is no longer your or my consciousness, but merely a mindless imprint of the object world. Prolonged gazing into an open fire, or staring out of a window, or at a computer screen, will cause the space of experience to flatten and fold and empty itself.

At odds with these immersive effects is the culturally determined association of the visual with distance, detachment and control; with observation and contemplation. Gaze provide depth. From sight follows insight; from vision to supervision.

Visibility has become a quantitive matter, verifiable only with statistical means like polls, rating and market research. The classic duality of seeing and being seen, of looking and being-looked-at, has disappeared; there is, to be sure, something that is seen, but no longer anybody that is seeing. Mediatized consciousness no longer offers room for the role of observer.

(newspaper images, disasters and terrorist attacks, active reporting 은 accidental eye-witnesses로 대체되었고 In such cases, the pure sensation of ‘this-has-to-be-seen’ outweighs professional journalism.

Being-seen takes over the central position of seeing and absorbs all connotations of activity and dominance. It is not the gaze but the object of the gaze that now dominates the visual field, even if there is no one left to be dominated.

(대신 봐주는 세상, 이제 좀 있으면 대신 느껴주는 세상)

The psychopathology of everyday life is marked by a seemingly random oscillation between moments of immense synaesthetic euphoria and instances of total numbness and disconnection.

Mass media

Jameson, F. (n.d.) Reification and utopia in mass culture. Social Text. (Winter), 130–148. // Jameson pointed out that the primary goal of every product is to find a public that wants acquire of ‘consume’ it. This goes for cultural products — novels, films, paintings or string quartets — as much as for any other product. Since this late-capitalist transformation makes itself felt not only in the marketing of works but even in their creation, traditional Kantian aesthetics based on a ‘purposiveness without purpose’ is struck as its core. However, Even the most shallow and banal forms of mass culture still contain traces of a critique of the social order that has produced them. Th the extent that mass culture aims to legitimate the social system and to neutralise destabilising ideas and fantasies, it first has to evoke these fantasies and thus, in a certain sense, give them a voice, no matter how deformed that maybe. The ‘wish-material’ is strategically injected into a symbolic structure that eventually defuses it; collective desires considered dangerous and intolerable are staged informs that, once consumed, generate a feeling of satisfaction and contentment in the audience.

Fine art, design and production, this relationship is following the high and low cultural relationship. Both rely on desire. Follow the modernity comes with the deviation of the high culture to the low culture, post modernism run into the mix conceptual breaking the boundary strategy with mocking and alter the high culture society. However, since their position was still at same side or starting point as a intellectual, it is no more than making high culture to consume and desirable.

Both in the higher as well as the lower spheres of culture, the interpretation of a work should therefore look for ways in which transgressive desires are gratified and repressed within one and the same mechanism.

Jameson, F. (n.d.) Reification and utopia in mass culture. Social Text. (Winter), 130–148. // Modernism generates ‘compensatory structures of various kinds’, while mass culture offers a ’narrative construction of imaginary resolutions’ and projects ‘an optical illusion of social harmony’.


Baudrillard, ‘Fetishism and Ideology’, p. 95.