Vicious visualis: Mythologizing the self

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School of Arts, Design and Architecture | Master's thesis
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Degree programme
Visual Cultures, Curating and Contemporary Art
This thesis subject examines the cross section of anthropology, psychology and visual culture in order to research on ways of human interaction with the world, assigning certain meaning to objects, creating myths through symbols and art. The text should be read as an adventurous dive in a sea of eclectic ideas coming from different areas of studies: culture, religion, philosophy and science. What this work is not about, is trying to impose a certain stigma or condemnation on the subject of visual representation. And therefore, should be taken lightheartedly, as just another glimpse at the enormous psychological and cultural potential of visuality. Due to the particular subject of this thesis, my decision is to omit the production of a visual artwork, so that the lack of it should be considered as part of my statement. My study concentrates on the immediate effect of visuality on the human psyche, and the power it radiates. It aims at unveiling psychological modes of behaviour within cultural stereotypes through examination of societal structures for distribution of power, based on social influences. Its focus is the fast technological advancement of the recent decades which led to a massive shift in those power generating practices, producing a certain cultural crisis, one with no precedent in human history. This writing provides evidence that it is the unique human situation with its duality between being and seeing, virtue and evil, togetherness and solitude, mythos and logos, that is the fundamental reason for separation of the human psyche into conscious and subconscious, or rational and irrational part, which has, eventually, resulted in the cult of the self. Therefore, the human anthropocentric approach is a result of a fundamental paranoia caused by the solipsistic loneliness our mental duality confronts us with. What follows is a journey into the dark corners of the human psyche through the eyes of culturologists, psychologists, scientists, economists, philosophers, and none the least - artists. Its purpose is not the arrival at a certain solution with respect to the future of humanity. I am aware that my collection of references might seem quite experimental at first sight, but so is the whole subject of my writing. Therefore, what I hope for, is a broader way of reading it.
Ryynänen, Max
Thesis advisor
Ryynänen, Max
self, image, myth, culture, spectacle, capitalism, technology, meme
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