BRANKO AND THE FAIRY – THE ROLE OF ART AND VISUAL CULTURE IN POPULARIZATION OF THE CULT OF NATIONAL HERO

Shaping the national identity in the 19th century led to the constitution of the national pantheon where, in addition to the heroes of the past, were also the heroes of a new era. In the formation, upkeep and expansion of the cult of national heroes, the roles of art and visual culture were very important. The heroes were made known all over the nation through artistic representation. Mass audience did not require a representative art and therefore the possibility of serial and industrial duplication of images of national heroes and important historical events were of particular importance in the construction of a private national identity. As the hero of letters, who distinguished himself in fighting for the Serbian language, Branko Radičević became one of the most celebrated Serbian poets. As Radičević died in Vienna, an essential moment in the process of heroization of this poet was the transfer of his body to Stražilovo, where he was buried and his tomb became a place of memory and pilgrimage. A big public ceremony was organized during the transfer of the body and the funeral, accompanied by the inevitable artistic production of his portraits in various media, intended for mass audiences. Among these works, the greatest popularity came with the painting Branko and the Fairy from 1878, which became a patriotic icon and part of the decoration of many houses in Vojvodina. Although it does not belong to representative art in which one can simultaneously monitor the cultivation of the cult of national heroes, Branko and the Fairy and its replicas and variants present in the mass media were part of the art and visual culture of the 19th century nationalism. They were in the service of building national consciousness and creation of national entity that was organized and shaped by a set of images of the glorious past, heroes, people and territory. Visually shaped messages of such works reach general public in order to permanently store the hero in the collective consciousness.

THE PASTS THEY HAD LOST – SERBIAN SENSE OF HISTORY AND THE SHIFTING OF TIME IN THE KARLOVCI ARCHBISHOPRIC

The issue of Serbian heritage in the case of the Archbishopric of Karlovci is inseparable from that of the collective self-identity of this 18th century ethnia in the Habsburg Empire. The creation and construction of the Serbian view of its past and culture was not unique, but belonged to the greater mechanisms of collective self-awareness current in the European states at the time. The Baroque man was the first individual who fully explored the power and influence of the past on the present events; also the first to search for the borderline which separates the past from history, the individual or collective experience from the record for posterity. Henceforth, the Baroque man realized the full potential of the rewriting and editing of the past, of the fabrication of history and its integration in the greater narrative of validity and legitimation. And employed for the glory of faith, the Church, and the absolutism. But what is the past? And how does it differ from history? What is memory in relation to the past? Even today this presents a highly contested field among historians and historiographers, far more complex than it was seen in the Baroque age. It could be said, that awareness of the past is common to all individuals, and that it shares both the mechanisms and its subject matter with the concepts of history and memory. But the past is only at the beginning of the creation of history, since through history we validate and clothe it in the mantle of recognition, necessary for its acceptance – we institutionalize memory.

SEMIOTIC THEORY AND VISUAL TEXT

Semiotic theory explores the generation, transfer, operation and transformation of visual signs in social life, thus pointing at the cultural and contextual and not the „natural“ origin of interpretation. The semiotic reading does not seek to produce a separate interpretation of a work of art in the first place, but to explore the conditions of such an interpretation according to the referential field of cultural construction of the work itself. Instead of the esentially erroneous traditional understanding of the image as a perception record, semiotics suggests to treat the image as a visual sign system that is present in the inter-individual territory of recognition, and the meaning of which may not be separated from the context it belongs to at a specific moment. Recognition of the context as the text is one of significant contributions of the semiotic theory, the very context being produced as the text that consists of signs requiring interpretation. The visual text, as an open space for transfiguration, reinterpretation, production and exchange of meaning between the visual object and the observer, is produced only in the process of communication and cannot be conceived beyond the grand whole that we call culture. The nature of the visual text is to look at its recepient and to produce its meanings only in an encounter with him. In the process of reading no reader will appreciate a separate work, but will interprete that work on the basis of an entire social context in force in a given historic moment. By locating the visual phenomena in the realm of textuality, the semiotic theory showed that each observation understood as reading is in fact writing down a new text in the process of interpretation.

CONTEMPORARY VISUAL ART AS MASS PRACTICE: PLEASURE IN DIGITAL RELIGION CONFESSION

In the era of mass production and consumption, the emergence of new technologies and opportunities of quick and easy reproduction, Duchamp with his ‘readymade’ objects opens a new field of artistic activity which has allowed the artist not only to present industrial products as art, but also to keep their industrial, not an artistic look. This allows the creation of a new form of ‘creation’ and ‘exhibition’ – Internet which is, as a digital ‘democratic’ creation and other modern technology that goes with it, available to everyone, not artists only. Given that the artist is no longer the only one who possess the skill and technical knowledge, art is what artist create, share and exchange with other people in everyday life. Contemporary visual art as if became a mass practice. It seems that everyone is an artist today, since everyone creates everyday and exhibits its’ creations on popular web sites. Is this what Boys predicted with his thought that everyone is an artist? Life exhibits itself, and everyday life becomes a work of art. Process of self-documentation and its presentation to the public in the form of confession on web sites – the digital “religion” became a mass obsession, because it leads to a double pleasure, even though it leads to double frustration too. In addition to enjoying the cathartic exposure of their life and their minutes of fame, the Internet users also experience double frustration in the misappropriation as the byproduct of this exposure – re frustration that occurs when the ‘audience’ do not pay attention to the offered exposure. Contemporary visual arts and the Internet are increasingly becoming ‘time based’ – projects which key feature is longtime duration, repetition and documentation (archiving) of life itself. Artists and other people in the race to document all aspects of life, in fear of time passing and loneliness, are desperately trying to achieve mass communication.

JAZZ AGE IMAGE

This paper covers every kind of visual presentation of jazz, from advertising posters and newspaper advertisments, to neon signs, photos, album covers art and film. The performers, their instruments, popular bands, jazz clubs shown in jazz ambient were themes of visual presentation. If we look for a form of the greatest influence to the expansion of jazz, it would certainly be photography, and to this day it remains the most important genre visual representation.

AESTHETICS, COMMUNICATION AND THEORIES OF RECEPTION

This text analyses theories of reception, i.e. the aesthetics of communication within the art and media studies. Realistic, antirealistic and productivistic theories of reception, i.e. essentialist, ontological and relativistic, constructionist theories of reception were distinguished. Theoretical systems that treat piece of art as a source of communication are presented, for example: cognitive aesthetics (Ernst Gombrich), hermeneutics (Hans Robert Jauss), analytic aesthetics (Nelson Goodman), theory of the open art work (Umberto Eco), phenomenology (Maurice Merleau-Ponty), structuralism and poststructuralism (Roland Barhes), and also contemporary, interdisciplinary theories of vision and visual culture (Jonathan Crary, Norman Bryson, Martin Jay).

ON VJING AND PERFORMANCE OF NENAD RACKOVIĆ

In its depiction of VJing, performance and the studio of the artist Nenad Racković this paper presents ideas for “new”/”different” considerations of mass communication digital representations. Racković’s VJing and performance broadcasted/performed while DJ played electronic (techno) music in the club (discoteque), turned to a subversive perfomances breaking the rule of “clubbing” spectacle. The studio interior the artist had decorated with images taken from the mass communication media (press, TV and Internet) thus making them a 3D network of digital pictures and the space itself a panorama of diverse views and experiences. 

WINCKELMANN ON OBSERVATION OF ART WORKS

The idea of art as communication was sporadically present among Serbian artists, critics and art historians, but was rationally developed in the Serbian science on art in the second half of the 20th century. Three major procedures are distinguishable in the context. The critic procedure (Trifunović in art history), where the artist’s work is interpreted, evaluated in the context of art, while the discussion with the artist serves more as a role model, example and encouragement for a number of similar but not identical procedures. The theoretical procedure (Ognjenović in psychology) introduces valuable observations about artistic creation to generalizations and statistically validated models, which may serve to a number of researchers in the same, scientifically demonstrable way. The scientific procedure in the narrow sense (Petrović in sociology and culturology) starts from the validated model and in the “laboratory” conditions (using tests on artists) scientifically confirms the model, as well as some of the critical points of view. What all three procedures share is to find role models, bases, or at least encouragement in a number of researchers of information, communication, semiotics and others who interpret the artistic process using the model: inspiration-artist-work of art-viewer-interpretation. Though the elements of this way of thinking exist in the Serbian art criticism and theory as common place since the early 20th century, they are not studied or used; the idea of art as communication is taken from the current theoretical conceptions of the science in the world. However, if one looks in historiography for some earlier examples, or sources of the idea of art as communication, one could trace a communication “model” back to the time of Winckelmann, and his article On the observations of works of art (1759). He pointed to the artist’s creation, to the content of work of art and to the procedure of the observer in the evaluation and understanding of the work of art. It is interesting that the text was presented in the Serbian culture in a 1848 shortened and adapted translation used merely for entertainment of the public. One could conclude that in the period of century and a half (between the time of the naive translation to the time of introduction of communication theory) the Serbian culture relatively successfully mastered the process of receiving ideas from developed cultural or scientific centers (translation of sources, publishing, scientific interpretation, application, the training of specialists, popularization), but still does not succeed in keeping the continuity of those ideas, as it exists in the centers of their origin.

PROPAGANDA CAMPAIGN OF THE VIENNESE COURT IN TURKISH WAR 1716-1718 ON MAPS AND ENGRAVINGS

At the beginning of the 18th century the public sphere in Europe was a broader communication model different from the old representational public. It implied a more active audience participation. Tendencies such as “image building” of a ruler in public and “improving reputation” demanded well thought out propaganda campaign with clear goals, targeting specific audience and accomplished through specific media. The Habsburgs insisted on the universal dimension of combat between Christianity and Islam during Turkish wars. The Emperor Charles VI considered himself the protector of the Christian world and counted on general approval in that battle. To ensure support of European powers and states within the Empire for the new war against Turkey (1716-1718), the Viennese court employed all its propaganda capacities that included the use of printed visual media. Considerable production of maps, siege views, panoramas and engravings with battle scenes were part of the propaganda campaign. War events significant for the Emperor and the state politics were commemorated by various visual products meant to influence public through “media strategy”. The intention of the highest court officials was to “win” wider European public and public within the Empire for the Emperor’s crusade mission with prolific printed production and its distribution. Mass production of graphic sheets was relatively fast and cheap, its distribution was easy and that made it suitable for informing and propaganda. The media campaign targeted the public in the Empire, especially German principalities that had not provided Habsburgs’ military forces with arms. The campaign appealed to the German solidarity and dynastic patriotism. Propaganda that targeted wider European public was aimed to win universal approval and support. The Viennese court campaign was well received and became a practice of many European courts to commemorate their participation in “glorious victory of Christianity”, and independent publishers saw profit in their publishing.