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Siegfried Kracauer and Visual Culture - Essay Example

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Siegfried Kracauer, like Walter Benjamin, sees the medium of cinema as an unrestrained amplification of sensational leisure. Distraction for Kracauer presents itself as a demonstration of the intrinsic anarchy that exists within nature, but unlike Benjamin, Kracauer positions a greater weight upon what might be termed the fundamentals of distraction…
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Siegfried Kracauer and Visual Culture
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"Siegfried Kracauer and Visual Culture"

Download file to see previous pages Distraction in the forms of flickering images on an enormous silver screen during Kracauer's time presented an ephemeral discharge from the mind-numbing dehumanisation at the factories where most of the moviegoing audience worked. One of the reflections on modernity is that it exists as a complex experience that typically is made up of several individualised constituents that serve to empower the prevailing status quo. As the underclass grows to depend more on leisure and entertainment for the fulfillment that is absent from their alienation from the product they create during work, consumer products become an increasingly more essential ingredient in maintaining economic dominance. This process creates the aura of consumerism on a mass scale. For many, this mixture of state with rising power of production has only one destination: fascism. The still images flickering on a large wall appear to have motion in the minds of the viewers, when in fact they do not. This is a perfect encapsulation of how cinema infiltrates authentic reality to create a false consciousness and, in turn, that can be metaphor for how distraction works to create false socio-economic consciousness (Aitken, 1998, p. 125).
Kracauer's scrutiny of capitalism takes this idea as starting poi...
This is an essential element of modernity, reflecting the disjointed sense of reality. Therefore, cinema must be engaged as a means of exposing the attributes of modern life that can be understood frame by frame within static images that are just as disjointed as the society in which they are joined. Kracauer apprehends the static images given movement and meaning by the workings of the human eye and brain as an agent of distraction from society. There is a palpable ideological need to serve up a distraction to the masses in order to keep them from seeing through the consciousness of domination by naturalizing the concept. That distraction results in mass audience eventually becoming more than mere spectators; they become actual accomplices.
Kracauer's views on capitalism are such that feels that under the capitalist idea film production becomes a mirror of the existing society and serves to maintain its structures of domination, insisting that the capitalism was not just a means, but an end in getting the proletariat to first apprehend the structures and then embrace them. The capitalism mentality lay at the heart of the disenfranchisement of the masses and fragmented quality of society (Mlder-Bach, 1997, p. 44) . The "Tiller Girls" presents itself as an excellent illustration of the crowds in a modern metropolis, and the upper class saw them as a distraction for the common masses but the masses are like clockwork and could be controlled. Kracauer believed deeply and sincerely that the cinematic techniques that expose aspects of modern life could best be seen frame by frame and in those choppy and fragmented images were much like our modern world (Ward, 2001, p. 34).
An example of the extremes of this process becomes apparent in ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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