Although linked to my site, it is not my intention to make this blog a promotional tool of my painting production. Instead, it wants to support my research, which I have never understood only as a visual expression, with a series of reflections on the language of images and on the historical-cultural context of which my generation, whether it wants it or not, must be considered legitimate or illegitimate daughter. I am obviously referring to the postmodernity within which we grew up and of which, as a result, our imagination has certainly been nourished.
To reflect on the expressive grammars of images is, I think, an essential aspect for those who are involved in this field in various ways. All the more so in a media system, such as the contemporary one, which is constituted as eminently visual: both with regard to the nature of the media itself and of the messages they spread, despite the presence of a wide illiteracy on the subject. The risk we run today is that the illusionism exercised by images undermines the possibility of democratic choice of individuals. In the absence of the tools for decoding the message, the user can only suffer the transmission, it is even more powerful because it acts at the unconscious level, leveraging cognitive, physiological and cultural aspects that belong to each of us.
Knowledge about images and their linguistic aspects should therefore be widely disseminated and belong to the common school curricula. These media, which have become interactive today, are much more powerful and penetrating than previous passive media such as television. They are able to virtually permeate the lives of users, leading them to a double existence, where the physical-geographical one is accompanied by the immaterial and digital one. And within which the continuity between the time of the subject-worker, therefore subject-producer, and that of subject-consumer, is exacerbated, where free time and entertainment introduce him into an uninterrupted economic dynamic. It is precisely through interaction that the user becomes a product of the new media, to which, through their use, he provides his personal information free of charge. Information that allows communication to be targeted and effective in proposing content and arousing needs. Aspects that do not only concern advertising communication, but that include forms of journalistic, political, social, cultural and economic communication. In short, what we define generically as information and which tends to form the imaginary of a society. Therefore, these aspects are inalienable within the so-called Information Age, generally placed since the early 1970s of the last century, which took its first steps after the Second World War (but whose gestation dates back to a long time before, passing backwards through Norbert Wiener and even reaching 1837 with Samuel Morse), thus grafting into the process of the third industrial revolution – which also originated after the Second World War with the advent of new forms of energy, including the atom – which includes and originates the same digital revolution.
It is therefore clear that the two paths of reflection, grammatical elements of visual language and processes of postmodernism, are intimately linked. The literature on the subject is vast and has tried to examine the subject in its many aspects, but this analysis is certainly not to be considered concluded having as its object recent phenomena and largely still in progress.
I also believe that the contemporary historical-social scenario imposes, on those who have made artistic expression their vocation, a broader intellectual task, requiring analysis and stance that bring the expression itself within a channel of social militancy. An aspect that seems to me today essential to the presence of an artistic orientation that sinks into the logic of short-term consumption dictated by the market. Practices that have made the visual vehicle the battering ram that breaks through the consciences of individuals, debasing the meaning to the sole advantage of the signifier that best meets the needs of economic vector and impoverishment of the imaginary.
Operators in the various fields of image application now have greater responsibility in the light of the new media and their coercive system of collecting and disseminating information, an instrument of a fast-paced capitalist system aimed at devouring every aspect of the human being. The diffusion of fake news, the posts and comments related to them, the methodical creation of false profiles for the orientation of opinions on multiple social and political aspects, as well as models of economic displacement, are equivalent to a desertification and annihilation of the contents and their complexity that are peculiar to the human itself.
Of course, those who communicate visually today must do so in the light of these events, taking responsibility for what they disseminate in terms of content and form. In fact, the debasement of the content passes through the linguistic-formal debasement through different practices: In the field of art, to give just two examples, on the one hand there is the use of a decorativism deduced from already normalized expressive languages, that is, which have already played their role of linguistic renewal, transforming themselves into classics deposited in the imagination of each one – an aspect that constitutes their commercial appeal – often coinciding with the production heirs of the informal, because, once rooted in the common imagination, naturally predisposed to furnishing and decorative aspects that motivate their widespread presence in medical practices, dental practices, in hotels and in many public places; there is also a tendency to practices of mixing figuration and installation with purely scenic purposes, which today impose themselves in a transversal way and which bring together different currents on the absolute need to amaze the viewer, even if this amazement, in many and too many cases, is based on a purely playful-aesthetic matrix of postmodern derivation, practices that totally forget the nature of public space as a place of transmission and social reflection, thus emptying the image by means of urban furniture rather than interior decoration as in the previous case.
It is certainly obvious to anyone that these images do not express the social, human and moral demands that permeate and constitute the scenario of this devastated actuality. It will also become clear to everyone that overcoming such a critical and complex historical phase requires a reflection on its origins and identity. Aspects that, although they cannot dictate certain solutions, will at least have contributed to a better understanding of it.
Finally, it must be said that this same blog, through its diffusion through the digital tools described above, is a testimony, and at the same time an attempt at resolution, of the cultural impasse that characterizes our time.
The drafting of this brief introduction has taken advantage of some bibliographic suggestions rather than a real bibliography. Suggestions that over the years have come to my mind several times and that have helped me to understand some aspects of the changes characteristic of the so-called popular culture formed from the late eighteenth century to the present day, transformations still underway that with the advent of digitization are becoming increasingly hectic.
BORDONI Carlo FOSSATI Franco, Dal feuilleton al fumetto. Generi e scrittori della letteratura popolare, Roma, Editori Riuniti, 1985.
BRANCATO Sergio, Fumetti. Guida ai comics nel sistema dei media, Roma, Datanews Editrice, 1994.
HARVEY David, La crisi della modernità, , Milano, Il Saggiatore, 1997.
LYOTARD Jean-François, Peregrinazioni. Legge, forma, evento, , Bologna, Il Mulino, 1992.