Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Wicus Pretorius
Assignment on Modernism, its philosophies and its outcomes
14 April 2009

Firstly I’m going to explain how Humanism, Enlightenment, Materialism and Positivism relate and connect with modernism. Then I’m going to explain how mechanical reproduction and machines connect with modernism and how that affected the age of modernism. Lastly I’m going to explain to purposes of modernism and how these dreams ended up.

So modernism was shaped by all these ways of thinking and these philosophies. Humanism places a lot of value and authenticity on man and the importance of man rather than some supernatural force or as we call it God. Humanism is placing man in the middle of his achievements and his power. So also modernism focuses and puts the importance and status of the artist and the artist as a creative genius in society. Not only is the importance on the artist, but the artwork is seen as a piece of gold, it must be autonomous and original and so much status is put onto the artwork. So when it comes to the importance of man and his work, humanism and modernism are one in the same thing.

The enlightenment project or age of thinking was mainly based on man’s reason power and to create perfection of humanity through reason. This then connects with modernism which states that reason will lead mankind to utopia on earth and also the belief that the modernists are at the pinnacle of human achievement. They believed they were the avant garde artists of all that came before them. This also reflects in enlightenments notions of perfection through reason.

Materialism believes that everything that exists is made out of matter. Even things like love and affection which cannot be seen still needs a physical thing to create or receive this phenomena. If you read about these people who believe in materialism they have a very singular point of view, they can be seen to believe in this universal truth. They make this statement as if it was a universal truth that everyone must abide by. This links with modernism’s statement which says that there is such a thing as a universal truth and a grand narrative.

Positivism believed in the evolution of human though, firstly it was religious, then meta-physical and finally at the top of human thought it was science. They believed that science was the last and best of human thought. They believed they can prove everything with science or at least work everything out. They were also fond of hierarchies with connect well with the modernists notions of man being at the pinnacle of human achievement. The latter also falls well into this belief that science is at the top of human thought that comes from positivism.

The essay on mechanical reproduction falls very well into modernism. The modernist’s believed in the ethos of the radical new beginning, the ideas of speed and acceleration, the reverence of the machine and the urban. Mechanical reproduction began in the age of modernism for example the industrial revolution, printing, the photo camera and the video camera etc. The way we began to trade and even our lifestyle has changed because of all these mechanisms we created to make life easier on the one hand and faster on the other. Now this begins to link with modernism’s notions of speed and acceleration and it’s obsession with these two things. This kind of thought could lead down a very destructive path. The kind of thinking that is so mechanical, so obsessed with the speed of production and the acceleration of humans is not a natural one. No this kind of thought is very unnatural very machine-like and can only lead to destruction, and it did. The first world war broke out and then the second when this kind of thinking was dominated. This obsession with superiority, power, perfection and the machine was destined to lead to war and not just any war, but a world war. They were obsessed with the way mechanical reproduction worked, the speed and power this machine brought, that they totally forgot about the human in flesh and blood. The human who was not a machine but a being that makes mistakes and lives a life with emotions and a being with flesh and blood. They were too obsessed with their own ideas of utopia through mechanical devices that they brought destruction upon earth.

Modernism’s goal or dream was to create a world of utopia, to create a world that could be controlled by man, a world that could be scientifically figured out and solved, a perfect world that could be better and more comfortable than any other time in history. This betterment and comfort would be achieved by human reason and science. They desired the thought of a world that could mechanically create a perfect world for humans to live in. But the methods and obsession with the machine, as I mentioned above, created anything but utopia. In fact it created quite the opposite, death and destruction. Their constant strive for perfection, their constant notions of superiority, their obsession with themselves and the power of humans drove them to create war using their own power of reason and mechanical devices. I think one of the main reasons why they went on this path of destruction was because they thought they where the centre of the world but more importantly that they where by nature good. We know from history that too much power and selfishness creates destruction. We repeat this over and over again, so to say we are by nature good is a dangerous statement.

So this is how these philosophies connects with modernism and how the age of mechanical reproduction and the’ thought around that made its mark. This is how modernism’s dreams were upheld and shattered within the age of modernism.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Answers on "metropolis" and "Movie man"

Wicus Pretorius
Assignment on Metropolis and The man with the movie camera
7 March 2009

1.1. Industrialisation: the Body and the Machine.

I’m going to start off and discuss the relevance of this topic firstly with “Metropolis” and afterwards with “The man with the movie camera”.

In Metropolis they directly show us the people working in the factory, and they are working like machines. Their physical body literally becoming apart of the machines in the factory, and they are working just as hard as the machines themselves and this brings fatigue and depression to the human being. We are not machines, but the industrialisation brought this unnatural system of working into the world.

The man with the movie camera shows in a more real and adventurous way the actual footage of people working like robots, from morning to the afternoon, doing the same thing over and over again. He is showing people from all kinds of different walks of life becoming part of this system. These machines and technologies that require humans to operate and control them, but we are now shown the way in which this has changed the way humans work. They work just as if they are apart of the machine, doing routines the whole day over and over.

1.2. “The camera introduces us to unconscious optics as does psychoanalysis to unconscious impulses”.
How does this statement by Walter Benjamin relate to each film?

Again I am going to talk about each film separately.

Metropolis is a silent film that was shot in 1927, I could be corrected on this I’m not absolutely sure. Some of the optics the audience experience is that of the camera movement, and I’m sure that at the time this film was released the audience was not that used to the conventional camera angle and the role they played. They used allot of fast pacing movement, where the frame rate at which the camera was shot was lower, but they played it at the normal speed, then it seemed faster. These movements and close up’s and all the things that are done by the camera, make us feel a certain way and make us relaxed or tense. They also grab our attention and pull us into the film, making us aware of the terror and tension the film has created.

The man with the movie camera has made this film in various types of speeds, movements, has brought us close to the real action. He shot allot of different places, people and events. He changes his film movement from fast paced to slow paced shots from long shots to close up’s. He even brought in animation, but the overall theme for me was very fast paced moving images. Everything just flew past me. This variety of images has made me energetic and tired at the same time. Energetic, because there were so many images flying past and tired because it felt that I’ve worked because of all this movement.

1.3. Similarities and differences in each film’s visual treatment and representation of Capitalism and Socialism.

Firstly I am going to compare socialism between the two films, then I’m going to discuss the capitalism between them.

In metropolis they introduce us to the socialist state. All these workers, all these men have no other choice but to work in this type of environment. In this industrialised state that has become one big machine, so all the people have no choice, but to operate on these machines, becoming apart of the machines. Metropolis strongly states this by showing us the steam coming out of the building. In the same way The man with the movie camera shows us all the different people that are locked inside this system of a socialist state. He strongly makes us aware of that fact by showing us a fast paced piece of the people in the streets and trains walking past like ants, following blindly the rules of the state.

Metropolis also suggests a capitalist state, because the son rejects his father and follows his own way. The father himself is a business man with his own business.
The man with the movie camera himself is a business man and entrepreneur with allot of creativity and ambition. So in that sense he shows himself as a person who believes in capitalism, but shows himself living in a socialist state. There are a few places in the film where he shot himself shooting other people, for example when he stood on the car shooting the car next to him.


Firstly I’m going to explain what I see in the movie “I, Robot” to be parallel to the movie “metropolis”. Then I’m going to compare parts and show the meaning of those parts.

The movie I Robot was an interesting movie to me. It brought us forth to the age where we can buy our own robot and brought the ultimate meaning of ‘the machine’ forth. Something that can do anything that human can, now that sounds like ‘the machine’ to me. Then the movie shows us that this thing we have created, this thing that was supposed to help us and make our lives more comfortable and to really improve our life has turned against us. Suddenly there were fatalities and the robots started killing people, they created war against us the very people who created them. The first robot to have killed anyone was a new version, that new version was made to feel emotions and they were controlled by an evil source. The brain was this red looking thing that stood between buildings.

So I think the first relation between the two films is the parallel of the human body and the machine. In metropolis they show us the industrialisation that was supposed to help us as people, to make our life a better place. We built machinery and technologies to help us to do certain things, achieve certain goals. Then as metropolis so clearly shows us, the machines start deteriorating our spirits and the machines turns towards us and starts killing us as human beings. We are no a slave to the machine and must work as hard as they do, because we must operate on them, so the machines started swallowing and killing the workers. The people started war on each other and on the machines, they want the machines dead. So you can see the relation between those two movies, they both created machines to help them and eventually the machines gave them death and ultimately war.

The son in metropolis was the only one from the management to see what was really going on in the machines. He came to the realisation that the machines were killing the people and he came to tell his father about it and he simply ignored that fact. The same with I Robot, where the main character played by Will Smith was the only one to suspect these ‘machines’ and he fought against them and he had seen all the wrong they were doing to the humans. He also went to the head of the company who produced these robots, but they were na├»ve and ignored his claims. Eventually they knew they went too far by creating these new versions with emotions, and they saw where it ended. The same ending as in Metropolis, the father saw that he has made a disaster out of the whole operation.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Research on humanism


It is a philosophy that rejects the thought of super-naturalistic forces and concentrates on reason and science to make sense of the world. It doesn’t place responsibility on supernatural forces, but rather states that we have responsibility and cannot blame other things for the bad we have caused, or didn’t stop. We must choose and control how things around us end up.


Another philosophy that rejects anything other than material matter, so they base their truth and theories on things that are seen. Truth is only based on physical matter and not on spiritual non-seen things. They say that everything including complex concepts like love is based on some physical interaction.


Just like the other two philosophies mentioned above, they share a lot of the same characteristics like, it is a philosophy that is limited by physical, naturalistic and things that exist only in matter. It is often referred to as a science ideology, as it has a positive approach to the philosophy. Behaviour is the positive factor in this philosophy. They also believe in progress through scientific progress.


It is intellectual and philosophical development on the individuals freedom, as such. It brought forth individual rights, it used reason and common sense for it’s thought and concentrated on an individuals liberty. It improved the lifestyle and made all sorts of laws and systems by which people will live. It gave the state absolute power.