Public Scale for Photoshop

In current news, which also perfectly ties into last week’s discussion and week’s prier, talks about having a public scale for images that have been photoshopped.  The article talks about recent studies showing that after just three minutes of flipping through fashion and lifestyle magazines, women, of all ages, “feel bad and/or think negative thoughts about their bodies.”  With this, Dr. Hany Farid and Eric Kee both professors at Dartmouth University, have been in the process of proposing a software that detects how much a photograph was been photoshopped.  The scale ranges from 1 to 5, where 1 is a basic air bush to 5 being an extreme enhancement.  However, there has been two every different sides to this software.  First, models want to look their best, they want to be at 1, they do not want to have this image of not only being rated by the industry, but also by the people that look at their photos in the public sphere.  Moreover, the majority of the people looking at these magazines is the younger generations, girls, aged 11-17.  These girls are still developing their sense of the world, growing and maturing, and they need to know that these models in top fashion magazines do not always look the pore-less Amazon bombshells.  The software is currently being used in the UK, which have banned all cosmetic ads that are photoshopped, due to the fact that this false advertisement.  The question is now if this will be adopted by the United States and what other countries.  And will this software, if adopted, change the industries current state?




The Evolution of Beauty

The African American Dandy

Roland Barthes had this idea that fashion is a system and a symbolic system, built from different relationships and levels that housed individuals who gave these fashion objects their meaning.  He believed that we give these objects like a dress it’s meaning, the way we wear it, to how we act in it, or even how we may objectify it, is all giving meaning to a single piece of fabric.  Monica L. Miller, talks about how African American culture spread though out New York City in late 1910’s and throughout the 1920’s.

It was the diversity of the people there and their collective outlook that was the crucial factor – regardless of whether they came from Alabama, Georgia, Florida, the Village, 52nd and 8th, the West Indies, or even Africa, what this group has in common was attitude.  For all, no matter what geographical or ethnic background, class or educational level, sexual preference or proclivity, Harlem was a new opportunity. [1]

The African American dandies of the early 20th century were about what they wore.  In this social system, the dandy was the ‘it’ thing.  To them the dandy was not just about what they worn, but how they presented themselves, how they acted, how they felt in the suit, with the tie, etc.  To the African American dandy it was about thriving culture, new opportunities, a better tomorrow, that it what the suit entailed.  By putting on this look and fitting into this subculture of the dandy, it was not only just a sign to whites, saying we can dress just like you, however it was about performance, about being someone else, a better you.

As the dandy expressed cosmopolite desires or the possibility of a life lived beyond boundaries, the figure, its queerness, prevented the Harlem Renaissance from defining blackness in a way that satisfied either its prohibitive architects or future critics.[2]

Once the dandy became who they were, it is their duty to perform the tasks of defining their place through culture.  Through their fight of civil rights and exploitation New Negro tactics, the dandy was their idea of new opportunity, to be equal.  Regardless of history, the African American dandy in the 1920’s was the future of African American culture, of identifying with whites, as being equals.  It was time to let go of the past and seek the future, and the dandy did this.

[1] Miller, Monica L.. “Passing Fancies.” In Slaves to fashion: black dandyism and the styling of black diasporic identity. London: Duke University Press, 2009. 176-218.

[2] Miller, Monica L.. “Passing Fancies.” In Slaves to fashion: black dandyism and the styling of black diasporic identity. London: Duke University Press, 2009. 176-218.

Space of Consumption, Starbucks

As I walk into this place where people are talking, interacting, enjoy, reading, drinking, and eating it could be mistaken for a restaurant or office space.  However, as wait in line to order my coffee, Starbucks has created this environment that allows its consumers to feel relaxed and open.  A man to my left is working on a presentation, a couple to my right are talking about the book their are reading, and at the long table in front of me a group of people are typing furiously on their computers.  It is a tame space and everything from the coffee to the tables fit into the industrial look of Union Square.  Therefore, Starbucks has created this ecosystem of chill.

The True Meaning of Shopping…

When you shop, is a there a feeling that is produced? Do you feel more cultured?  Do you feel connected to a certain brand or style?  In the Point of Purchase by Sharon Zukin, she outlines all these ideas, and countless more.  However, one of the most important underlying facts she talks about is, what we buy and how we buy it, changed and shaped the culture that we live in today.

Zukin states, “A true marketplace brings buyers face to face with sellers; the resulting exchange begins in rough equality and ends in mutual benefit.”  In the future pages Zukin talks about how shopping in the 1880’s to the 1920’s were a totally different thing than what it is today.  Back then department stores were the ones that ruled.  The Ladies Mile that stretched from 14th Street to 23rd on Broadway, was the place to be if you were a socialite woman of New York City.  The marble pillars and flooring, the full-length mirrors, electricity that light every room, and the hand-craved wooden molding and fixtures, all created this energy and persona of the department store.  Moreover, powder room, tea rooms, and personal money accounts all furthered the exoticism for women at the time.  Today however, things are a little bit different.  High fashion and luxury goods are much more accessible to the common person.  Before when there was a clear cut line between the rich and poor, we do not see this anymore.  Today, we travel from store to store along 5th Avenue that houses every designer name from China to Paris, and from London to America.  These goods are so tangible now, it seems that shoppers today have almost lost that feel of exoticism we once had. Furthermore, shoppers that cannot afford the luxury names simply take any train to Canal Street, where knockoff designer handbags, sunglasses, watches, and jewelry are at their fingertips.

We can look at our shopping history and see that back then the typical person shopping was a white, middle-aged, wealthy, attractive, woman.  However, in New York City, we are in the center of a melting pot, which means that our culture of shopping has changed.  Zukin outlines how we learned to shop, and who is shopping today.  Is it stereotyping to judge someone of their color of if they are going to shoplift or not?  And why has this then come about?  To me the old saying of, “Don’t judge a book by its cover” always come into play, being a sales associate, however why as our culture started to stereotype shoppers?  And even better, why has marketing departments for major brands study consumers shopping behaviors like mice in a maze?  Is this what our shopping culture has really become?  And what will come of the future?

Short Assignment #1

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Subcultures: Individuality or Conformity?

When Goth comes to mind, it is pretty safe to assume black makeup, safety-pinned ears and nose, dark screamer music, a smug attitude, and black appeal, which is usually safety-pinned together. It is easy to picture someone who is dressed in Goth, just like we can do to the same for a Prep, a Dandy, emo, hipster, or even grunge.  We can assemble a picture in our minds of what each person is wearing.  The hipster will be riding a bike over the Williamsburg Bridge, arm sleeve tattoos, wearing a flannel, oversized beanie, and skinny jeans with a pack of Marlboro Lights hanging out from the back of their jean pocket.  It may be easy to picture these subculture styles and piece together where their from and why their wear what they wear, however in Goth: Identity, Style and Subculture by Paul Hodkinson, he brings up the point of, is Goth individuality or is it conformity? Hodkinson, talks about the raise and fall of the Goth subculture, what it feed off from and how it innovated itself to what it is today.  Goth may be one way for many people to express who they are, just like an emo or prep would, but the question still stands if it is individuality or is it conformity?  Take New England for example, many people grow up going to their summer houses in Martha’s Vineyard, Cape Cod, or somewhere along the east coast, growing up with universities like Brown, Boston College, Dartmouth, Harvard, and Yale knocking on their doorsteps, mother and fathers that went to these schools.  All of this feeds into how this area is shaped, and it becomes who these people become.  I am not saying that all of New England people are a bunch of preppy or waspy people, however I rather say that the environment in which we all grow up in influences us and might conform us to who we are at the present time.  Now, this might change depending on if we move or are influenced by other hobbies or interests, like moving to New York City from LA.  One could see their wardrobe might change from bright fresh colors to more blacks and darker blacks.  So are we really being who we are nowadays, are we expressing our true individuality?  Or are we just conforming to what our environment is, or who lives there, or just everyone else is wearing?  Do we truly know ourselves and are we expressing who we really are?