The Fine Game Of Nil


After studying photo-journalism for two years, the time to begin my dissertation is rapidly approaching. I have decided to focus my writing on how modern photography and publicity promotes and embeds a irresistible and non-existent idea of the ‘other’ life. Firstly, I would like to say why I find this subject so important. I believe that there are key virtues that we all possess, and that we all wish to satisfy. Passion, lust, charity, hope, diligence, to name just a few. These have consistently been promoted and exalted over many centuries. To fulfil these virtues is to seek and perhaps obtain pleasure and happiness. Once, such principles were procured by knowledge, romantic love, selflessness and equally selfishness. There common factor was there reality, all of the above virtues exist within our mind, and can be achieved in the physical world. However, this is not to say it is an easy task, indeed far from it.

Despite there continued existence in our modern world, these virtues have been corrupted and distanced from, and indeed by, ourselves. We have instead chosen to replace these wholesome principles, with the artificial, false and non-existent. Our current means of expressing sympathy is condensed into 140 characters. We seek passion through a relay of screens. We attempt diligence but are distracted by minute long videos.

Yet, I appreciate the irony that I am discussing this idea through a modern and archetypal blog. Also, I understand that such networks have there purpose, one cannot deny this. For example, freedom of speech has certainly benefited from this rapid involvement by our society, discussing large and consequential topics. Opinions and discussions are integral to our society, and I do believe that such social media has strengthened there availability. However, this is not where my criticism is aimed at.

My dissertation will instead critique how true physical virtues have diminished, and the notion of this ‘other’ life has been consciously enhanced. We are incessantly bombarded by images of publicity depicting a object or commodity in the context of glamour. Such glamour is defined by John Berger in his 1972 Ways Of Seeing as,

‘This state of being envied is what constitutes glamour’

We are told that if we buy a product we ourselves will change. This deception is successful through manipulation of envy, as defined above. The concept of envy as a central pillar to consumerism has certainly benefited from the popularity of social media. We promote a idealised version of ourselves to our peers, creating the illusion of this ‘other’ life, thus creating further envy, ergo resulting in a sense of inadequacy amongst the viewer. The viewer then decides they must purchase more to achieve the life they have apparently ‘seen.’ This action is again relayed through a social network, causing yet more envy.

And so, the incessant cycle continues.

My dissertation will be accompanied by a body of imagery, and I feel this will perhaps be the most difficult part. This blog will be updated with research and further thoughts.

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