Saturday, April 24, 2010

Reading Response: "Practices of Looking" Introduction and Chapters One and Two

This was the first reading assigned of the semester, and I actually did most of it at the time. Then in class, the professor started using some of the terms defined in the reading, and it felt so good that I pretty much knew what she meant. You would think that would be encouragement enough to keep doing the reading, but the procrastinator in me took over. (I'm really painting myself as a bad student, aren't I? I'm really just chiding myself. I mean, come on... I know better! Shame on me.)

There really is some interesting stuff here, though--or at least, some important stuff. Interpellation, for example, is important. That's how an image, ore really how anything, calls out to each viewer as an individual. It's when a commercial on TV is aimed at YOU! Even though it's also aimed at every single person who happens to be watching that channel at that exact moment, you react like it's talking to YOU! Yes, YOU and only YOU! YOU really want a Reese's cup, don't you? YOU want to keep your clothes looking great by washing with Tide! YOU are hungry--and even if you're not, you will be by the end of this commercial break because there are so many ads for restaurants. Suddenly YOU are craving Arby's curly fries, so you and your roommate get in the car and go right now! (Obviously, it was a really lame show. Pity it's the middle of the night and Arby's is closed.) It's all because the ad was talking to YOU, and that's interpellation.

Now, the term that oddly caught my attention in this reading was bricolage, which seems a lot like appropriation, which seems to be the more important term. Bricolage (which I might just like because it's a fun word) is taking something out of its usual context and using it for something it wasn't intended to be used for, like turning a safety pin into a earring. Appropriation isn't quite as physical--it has more to do with changing the meaning of ideas, like a slogan or an image or something like that. When someone imitates the style of iPod ads for something completely unrelated to iPods, that's appropriation--and it gets extra points if it's some sort of social critique.

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