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Psychoanalysis, Cognition, and Media


Freud, "The Mystic Writing Pad" and "The Uncanny";

Garrison, "The Poetics of Ambivalence";

Liebman, "Un Chien Andalou: The Talking Cure"

Tier 1

  • Mystic writing pad = functioning of the perpetual apparatus of our mind

  • It solves the problem of combining the two functions by dividing them between two separate but interrelated component parts of systems

  • Perception > Short term memory > Permanent

  • It’s like using RAM memory vs computer storage memory

  • Three forms of ambivalence: Affective, will, intellectual

  • Freud: ambi as key to analysis

  • Ambivalence transforms conflict and even ambiguity into opposition

  • Opposition generates ambivalence

  • Ambivalence compounds the values by setting each in opposition to the other = > 20 opposite pairings

  • Ambivalence confuses, devours and tortures

Dream-work: Transformation of a latent verbal thought into manifest visual image

Dream work must reformulate scandalous or morally repugnant thoughts in order to allow them to be represented in the dream

You must listen and see

It achieve the marvelous through complex transfer of language to image; semiotic transfer of language into visual forms

Tier 2

  • Uncanny = class of the terrifying which leads back to something long known to use, once very familiar

  • Unheimlich vs heimlich

  • Involuntary return to the same situation but differs radically in other respects

  • Uncanny fulfils the condition of stirring those vestiges of animistic mental activity within us and bring us to expression

  • Anemic cinema - spiral of language and image into illusory depth. 3D dimensional image, illusion of meaning generated by grammatical structure

  • Most of images are overdetermined, tied together in countless obvious or elusive ways by a series of phrases and concepts

  • Freud: Each image is rebus


  • Duality / simultaneity / double generates the uncanny; the idea of familiarity yet it feels radically different. We live in world of bifurcation or polarities which makes the duality so difficult and alienating. But what does the uncanny do? What can we do with it?

  • Why is deja-vu such an incredibly strange feeling for us?

  • What is the relationship between psychoanalysis and cinema? Why is cinema especially important from a psychoanalytic perspective?

  • Horror in cinema - monsters to

Propaganda / Documentary / Realism


Propaganda Appeals

Lotman, The Illusion of Reality

Critique of Digital Capitalism Chapter 8

Tier 1

  • Manual for making propaganda: on the same team, convenience (Spotify), problem-solver (Mr Muscle), Taichi master shifting the blame, hating on something together, anxiety-inducing > urgency and security needed, admiration and envy, people’s need to do right / social justice warrior, amplifying people’s ideas

  • A need to disassemble propaganda; which appeal, its audience, emotional or rational, its verity, reliability

  • Devices: playing the victim, playing the hero, fallacies, slogans (puts an end to thinking and uses emotional appeal), referral/prestige/quotation/testimonials (dentists, celebrity endorsement), my way or the highway, taichi people’s belief into the propagandist's, identification (one of us), mainstreaming, jedi mind trick with distortion and false evidence

  • Cinema as reality; audience as witness and participant

  • The better we a person, the less resemblance we find in photograph of him

  • Non-artistic photography enforces a single, automatic dependency

  • 60: the aim of art is not simply to render some object or other, but to make it a carrier of meaning

  • Juxtaposition of real life and cinema life; underscored the artistic conventionality of the world he depicts and made us us forget about the conventionality

  • Feeling of actuality, the sense of resemblance to life without = no art of the cinema, is not something elementary, provided by direct sense perception. / facilitated by associations with artistic and cultural experience of society

Tier 2

Lackey, Reflections on Cavells Ontology of Film

  • Panofsky: processes of all earlier representational art start from an idealistic conception of the world

  • Switch the camera on , and the process becomes automatic

  • Bazin: objectivity of film results from the disassociation of the film image from the usual humanizing associations the filmed objected would have if seen with the naked eye


  • Types of propaganda + illusion of cinema as reality = propaganda manifesting in reality

Censorship & Production Codes


Maltby, “A Brief Romantic Interlude”;

Pally, Sex and Sensibility, Chapters 1, 2, 3

Tier 1

  • Just because there is a censorship rule doesn’t not mean the story cannot be good; you can use this to your advantage

  • By creating sequences that audiences can make paradoxical or ambiguous meaning, you let them write the story in between.

  • It is very much like Scott McCloud idea of closure in which the reader is able to think of what happens in between gutter.

  • This requires a sophisticated audience that can draw on relevant contextual knowledge to assist in meaning making


  • references: the role of the reader by Umberto eco and understanding comics

  • Who decides what needs to be censored

  • Censorship = danger = deludes from thinking about / questioning the status quo, from finding faults with what is widely accepted = ignorance = society/individual having tunnel vision and cannot think for themselves

  • As I was reading this, I thought to myself how terrible the past was when it was all censored but then I realized that the world today is very much censored. In America, there are some taboo words or subject you cannot bring up for risk of hostile feedback. For example, calling people by the Color of their skin, saying the right pronoun for transgender. There is an increased sensitivity to these matters.

  • In Singapore, the news is never interesting because I like to think it is safe and problem free but what if the media is just withholding the reality. If you do not see it, you do not recognize it. Ban the image and one is rid of the act. Eg. Korean movie Taxi Driver;Gwangju uprising 1980; large-scale civil uprising which was brutally suppressed by large-scale civil uprising which was brutally suppressed. “. The junta blamed “vicious rioters” and “communist agitators” for the casualties, saying the military had been there only to protect people.

  • But Mr. Hinzpeter’s footage exposed those assertions as lies — not just to the world, but to South Koreans.”

  • Chapter 3: Japanese less rape rate despite violent and abundance of pornographic materials than Singapore which banned these. People get off at these outlets instead of manifesting their depravity in reality


Appropriation, Tactical Media & Semiotic Disobedience


Katayal, “Semiotic Disobedience”;

Keywords: vandalism, guerilla semiotics, myth, Barthes

CAE, Electronic Civil Disobedience, chapter 1

Tier 1

  • Memes & parody as semiotic disobedience

  • Spirit of semiotic disobedience reflects some of the same class goals and interests of traditional civil disobedience

  • Offered the audience the chance to recode a national symbol

  • 502: the dominant industry today is information, not products. For civil disobedience to have any meaningful effect, the resisters must appropriate something of value to the state. Once they have an object of value, the resisters have a platform from which they may bargain for change.

  • 511: SD aims to create a dialogue where one is absent and tries to reclaim the inducement of passivity among modern consumers. … seek to reverse the privileged position of the speaker or author and make the audience an active participant instead of a generally passive spectator

  • Culture jamming: introduce noise into the signal as it passes from the transmitter to receiver = unintended interpretations

  • The goal is to interrupt, disrupt, and replace the speech of the corporate entity with of the disenfranchised consumer

  • Debord: we do not want to work towards the spectacle of the end of the world but towards the end of the world of the spectacle

  • 543: Part 1 verbal and visual signs within language are entirely arbitrary meanings can be unpacked, reframed, and pierced in new and inventive ways

  • For CD to have any meaningful effect, the resisters must appropriate something of value to the state. Once they have an object of value, the resisters have a platform from which they may bargain for change.

  • But streets or city now of no value> change to information valorization instead?

  • Money has no point of origin but is part of a circular or spiraling flow, the best we can expect to find is the flow itself.

  • ECD - trespass and blockage

  • Selective blockage must be considered

  • Power has retreated to cyberspace

Tier 2

  • Case studies; Nike, Native American, Bhopal gas crisis and Yes Men


  • Semiotic disobedience is about having conversation using a universally or widely understood/familiar visual language/ platform

  • The only way forward is through; fight fire with fire

  • We need more Yes Men; maybe they should do one with SCAD on SCAD Day

The Contemporary


Johnson, Modernity Without A Project, chapters 1, 2 and 5;

Keedy, "Zombie Modernism";

Geers, "Neo-Modern";

Tier 1

Entering the 21st century, the postmodern succession has given way to a doom-laden, apolitical orthodoxy. This book offers suggestive readings of “the contemporary” in light of high modernity, postwar modernity, and postmodernity, as framed by the influential institutions of modern art and the spectacles of millennial architecture. Modernity without a Project critiques and connects historical avant-garde currents as they are institutionally expressed or captured, and scrutinizes the remake of New York’s Museum of Modern Art, Minoru Yamasaki’s vanished Utopias, the “anarchitecture” of Lebbeus Woods, recent work of Rem Koolhaas, delirious developments in Dubai, and the unexpected contribution to architectural debate by the late Hugo Chavez.

  • What is contemporary

  • Zombie modernist - the living dead who design among us

  • The message is the same: “I am the voice of clarity and reason, authority and progress, in charge of this family’s values.” > Bauhaus idealized and mythologized by designers… its ideal of universality was a myth and mirage, shattered by the war, politics and the demands of a consumer society

  • Modernism is no longer as style, it’s an ideology: of conservatism

  • Meaning is unstable and has to made by the reader. To impose a single text on the readers is authoritarian and oppressive

  • We must allow ourselves to look at design in new and challenging ways, we must look for ourselves.

Renewed interest in abstraction, materiality, and process in ways that on the surface, recall the formal strategies of modernist art and its Minimalist offshoots

Slow gravitational pull, in both production and reception towards a less reflexive and more nostalgic attitude,

Today's artists, critics, and salespeople fall back on the old mantra of process because in the absence of the lofty discourse that fueled much modernism, there is so little to discuss except process.

(book) Critique of Digital Capitalism Chapter 10

  • Digital capitalism deny physicality - 3d printer, crypto$$$, debitcard, no physical store, self-ordering system, work remotely

  • Generate asset bubbles, followed by crashes precisely because the denial of physicality that is the aura of the digital — an illusion that denies the constraints imposed by physical materiality)

Tier 2

  • Qns: there are services without a physical location: banks, telco, Amazon. The thing you need to day is just a room and food and wifi. The only place that cannot be replaced is a restaurant, is food the only thing we cannot deny its physicality


  • What now? What is beyond this class in terms of theories; what have we not covered? How does this inform our practice? What does making a work based on a theory As we delve deeper into this knowledge, I find myself departing from just being a worker and rather tell people what to do instead.

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