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22 JULY 2014

The Arcades Project: a world of secret affinities

"the entire Arcades complex (without definitive title, to be sure) remained in the form of several hundred notes and reflections of varying length, which Benjamin revised and grouped in sheafs, or 'convolutes;' according to a host of topics. Additionally, from the late Twenties on, it would appear, citations were incorporated into these materials–passages drawn mainly from an array of nineteenth–century sources, but also from the works of key contemporaries (Marcel Proust, Paul Valery, Louis Aragon, Andre Breton, Georg Sinunel, Ernst Bloch, Siegfried Kracauer, Theodor Adorno). These proliferating individual passages, extracted from their original context like collectibles, were eventually set up to communicate among themselves, often in a rather subterranean manner. The organized masses of historical objects–the particular items of Benjamin's display (drafts and excerpts)–together give rise to 'a world of secret affinities;' and each separate article in the collection, each entry, was to constitute a 'magic encyclopedia' of the epoch from which it derived. An image of that epoch. In the background of this theory of the historical image, constituent of a historical 'mirror world;' stands the idea of the monad–an idea given its most comprehensive formulation in the pages on origin in the prologue to Benjamin's book on German tragic drama, Ursprung des deutschen Trauerspiels (Origin of the German Trauerspiel)–and back of this the doctrine of the reflective medium, in its significance for the object, as expounded in Benjamin's 1919 dissertation, 'Der Begriff der Kunstkritik in der deutschen Romantik' (The Concept of Criticism in German Romanticism). At bottom, a canon of (nonsensuous) similitude rules the conception of the Arcades."

(Howard Eiland and Kevin McLaughlin, p.x)

Benjamin, Walter (2002). "Das Passagen–werk [The Arcades Project]", US: Harvard University Press. 0674008022
Fig.1 Edizioni Brogi (circa 1880). No.4608 "Ottagono della Galleria Vittorio Emanuele", Milano.

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193519th century • a world in miniature • a world of secret affinities • affinityAndre Bretonarcadescitationcollectibles • convolutes • department stores • documentary synopsis • encyclopaedia • epoch • Ernst Bloch • expose • Georg Sinunel • historical image • historical objects • Institute of Social Research • Louis Aragon • magic encyclopaedia • Marcel Proustmirror worldmonad • monadology • nostalgic tributenostalgic yearningnotes • original context • Parispassages couvertsPaul Valery • reflections • sheafs • Siegfried Kracauer • similitudeThe Arcades ProjectTheodor Adorno • topics • Walter Benjamin

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
29 JUNE 2011

A going concern. Toilet signage as an international cultural artefact

"Toilet signage itself has a relatively young history, following that of the public loo, which only became common in the late nineteenth century, stimulated by increasing mobility and the separation of work from home. Public conveniences first appeared in British railway stations and department stores, but the practice was then exported through the British empire.

These early signs were text–based but increasingly mobile populations in the twentieth century encouraged the development of pictorial systems that did not require shared language. Visual languages such as the US Department of Transportation symbol system designed in 1974 – the first comprehensive pictogram system – and systems developed for the Olympics aimed for universality but very much reflected their Germanic roots in abstract systems such as those of Otto Neurath. Once embraced by international communications and business, they became part of the International Style."

(Lynne Ciochetto, 13 August 2009)

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1974 • abstract systems • British Empire • British railway stations • cultural artefactdepartment storesGermanic rootsglobalisationgraphic representation • increasing mobility • India • international business • international communicationsInternational StyleInternational Typographic Style • late nineteenth century • Lynne Ciochetto • mobile populations • modernismOlympicsOtto Neurathpictogrampictogram systempictorial systemspostcolonial • public loo • rail • separation of work from home • shared languagesignssymbol systemtoilet signagetwentieth century • US Department of Transportation • visual communicationvisual language

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
08 APRIL 2011

The Aesthetic Movement: Art for Arts Sake

Exhibition: The Cult of Beauty: The Aesthetic Movement is at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London SW7 from 2 April to 17 July 2011.

"The movement started in a small way in the 1860s in the studios and houses of a radical group of artists and designers, including William Morris and Dante Gabriel Rossetti. These were angry young reformers who explored new ways of living in defiance of the horrendous design standards of the age as revealed in the 1851 Great Exhibition.

Over the next two decades aestheticism burgeoned, drawing in architects and craftworkers, poets, critics and philosophers to create a movement dedicated to pure beauty. The aesthetic movement stood in stark and sometimes shocking contrast to the crass materialism of Britain in the 19th century. "Art for art's sake" was its battle cry, a slogan that originated with the French poet Théophile Gautier."

(Fiona MacCarthy, 26 March 2011, The Guardian)

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1860s187719th centuryAesthetic Movementaestheticisationaestheticism • Albert Moore • angular aesthetic • architecture • art fabrics • art for arts sake • art furniture • art historyart movement • Arthur Liberty • Aubrey Beardsley • beautyceramic tile • Christopher Dresser • colour • Cult of Beauty (exhibition) • Dante RossettiDe Stijldecadencedecordecorationdecorative artsdepartment stores • design standards • eclectic mixEdward Burne-Jones • Edward William Godwin • excessexhibitionexoticfine art • Frederic Leighton • Frederick Leyland • frieze • furniture design • George Du Maurier • George Frederic Watts • Gerrit Rietveld • Green Dining Room (1865) • Grosvenor Gallery • interior decorationinterior designJames McNeill Whistler • Japonism • Kate Vaughan • Libertys (department store) • lifestyleLondon • Maurice Maeterlinck • Oscar Wildeoutlandish • painted panels • Patience (1881)peacockperformance art • provincial towns • Punch (cartoon) • pure beauty • Queen Anne style • radical art movement • sensuality • shabby chic • silliness • South Kensington Museum • spectacularstained glass • tenebrous house • The Great Exhibition (1851)The Guardian • Theophile Gautier • turquoise • Victoria and Albert MuseumVictorian artvisual style • Walter Crane • Walter Pater • western art • Whistlers Peacock Room • William Morris

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
26 SEPTEMBER 2005

Mobilised Virtual Gaze: Simulation Of Movement And Visibility

"Anne Friedberg in Window shopping has formulated the phrase 'mobilised virtual gaze' to describe a simulation of movement and visibility that she traces back to the dioramas and panoramas of the nineteenth century, through the emerging consumer culture of the first arcades and department stores, and on into the twentieth century mobilisation of the consumer through the imaginary landscapes of cinema, tourism, television, shopping malls, the internet, etc."
(Allen Meek)

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arcadescinemadepartment storesdiorama • Friedberg • Internet • mobilised virtual gaze • panorama • shopping malls • televisiontourismvirtual • Williams
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