Importance of Understanding the Art Periods of Postmodernism and Postpostmodernism/Metamodernism/Pseudomodernism etc.

“Modernism/Modernity” and “Postmodernism” are all caught up in a web of discourses with assumptions and ideologies that need a self-reflexive technique…” (Irvine).

Below is a table to help define the common differences between modernism and postmodernism.  Although these two art eras are generally accepted with the fine arts community, it is what comes after,what is going on right now, that is confusing.  Whatever era we are in now; whether it be post-postmodernism, pseudo-modernism, or meta-modernism one thing is clear, it is confusing.

Master Narratives and metanarratives of history, culture and national identity as accepted before WWII (American-European myths of progress). Myths of cultural and ethnic origin accepted as received.
Progress accepted as driving force behind history.
Suspicion and rejection of Master Narratives for history and culture; local narratives, ironic deconstruction of master narratives: counter-myths of origin.
“Progress” seen as a failed Master Narrative.
Faith in “Grand Theory” (totalizing explanations in history, science and culture) to represent all knowledge and explain everything. Rejection of totalizing theories; pursuit of localizing and contingent theories.
Faith in, and myths of, social and cultural unity, hierarchies of social-class and ethnic/national values, seemingly clear bases for unity. Social and cultural pluralism, disunity, unclear bases for social/national/ ethnic unity.
Master narrative of progress through science and technology. Skepticism of idea of progress, anti-technology reactions, neo-Luddism; new age religions.
Sense of unified, centered self; “individualism,” unified identity. Sense of fragmentation and decentered self; multiple, conflicting identities.
Idea of “the family” as central unit of social order: model of the middle-class, nuclear family. Heterosexual norms. Alternative family units, alternatives to middle-class marriage model, multiple identities for couplings and childraising. Polysexuality, exposure of repressed homosexual and homosocial realities in cultures.
Hierarchy, order, centralized control. Subverted order, loss of centralized control, fragmentation.
Faith and personal investment in big politics (Nation-State, party). Trust and investment in micropolitics, identity politics, local politics, institutional power struggles.
Root/Depth tropes.
Faith in “Depth” (meaning, value, content, the signified) over “Surface” (appearances, the superficial, the signifier).
Rhizome/surface tropes.
Attention to play of surfaces, images, signifiers without concern for “Depth”. Relational and horizontal differences, differentiations.
Crisis in representation and status of the image after photography and mass media. Culture adapting to simulation, visual media becoming undifferentiated equivalent forms, simulation and real-time media substituting for the real.
Faith in the “real” beyond media, language, symbols, and representations; authenticity of “originals.” Hyper-reality, image saturation, simulacra seem more powerful than the “real”; images and texts with no prior “original”.
“As seen on TV” and “as seen on MTV” are more powerful than unmediated experience.
Dichotomy of high and low culture (official vs. popular culture).
Imposed consensus that high or official culture is normative and authoritative, the ground of value and discrimination.
Disruption of the dominance of high culture by popular culture.
Mixing of popular and high cultures, new valuation of pop culture, hybrid cultural forms cancel “high”/”low” categories.
Mass culture, mass consumption, mass marketing. Demassified culture; niche products and marketing, smaller group identities.
Art as unique object and finished work authenticated by artist and validated by agreed upon standards. Art as process, performance, production, intertextuality.
Art as recycling of culture authenticated by audience and validated in subcultures sharing identity with the artist.
Knowledge mastery, attempts to embrace a totality. Quest for interdisciplinary harmony.
Paradigms: The Library and The Encyclopedia.
Navigation through information overload, information management; fragmented, partial knowledge; just-in-time knowledge.
Paradigms: The Web.
Broadcast media, centralized one-to-many communications. Paradigms: broadcast networks and TV. Digital, interactive, client-server, distributed, user-motivated, individualized, many-to-many media. Paradigms: Internet file sharing, the Web and Web 2.0.
Centering/centeredness, centralized knowledge and authority. Dispersal, dissemination, networked, distributed knowledge.
Determinacy, dependence, hierarchy. Indeterminacy, contingency, polycentric power sources.
Seriousness of intention and purpose, middle-class earnestness. Play, irony, challenge to official seriousness, subversion of earnestness.
Sense of clear generic boundaries and wholeness (art, music, and literature). Hybridity, promiscuous genres, recombinant culture, intertextuality, pastiche.
Design and architecture of New York and Berlin. Design and architecture of LA and Las Vegas
Clear dichotomy between organic and inorganic, human and machine. Cyborgian mixing of organic and inorganic, human and machine and electronic.
Phallic ordering of sexual difference, unified sexualities, exclusion/bracketing of pornography. Androgyny, queer sexual identities, polymorphous sexuality, mass marketing of pornography, porn style mixing with mainstream images.
The book as sufficient bearer of the word.
The library as complete and total system for printed knowledge.
Hypermedia as transcendence of the physical limits of print media.
The Web as infinitely expandable, centerless, inter-connected information system.


Fredric Jameson, an American philosopher, identified himself as a Marxist and was viewed by some as a master of communication. He viewed postmodernism “not as a style but rather a cultural dominant: a conception which allows for the presence and coexistence of a range of very different, yet subordinate features.”  I take this to mean that the art world is also forming several discourse groups that may or may not have certain things in common.  Post-modernism suggests that what were once the “norms” of our culture are obviously not the same as they used to be.

“As for the postmodern revolt against all that, however, it must equally be stressed that its own offensive features – from obscurity and sexually explicit material to psychological squalor and overt expressions of social and political defiance, which transcend anything that might have been imagined at the most extreme moments of high modernism – no longer scandalize anyone and are not only received with the greatest complacency but have themselves become institutionalized and are at one with the official or public culture of Western society  (Jameson).  Hence, postmodernism Discourses are now giving way to a new Discourse community that is so new, it hasn’t even come up with one name to identify itself.  All that is known is that post-modernism in and of itself is dead.  There had might be feature of modernism or postmodernism in a work of art but it can no longer be purely from that era because of the added elements.  When researching this topic of art periods I found it to have many analogous definitions comparable to genre based pedagogy.  After reading many articles on this topic I found what I believe to be my conclusion to my thesis statement.  The original Discourse group you were involved with may not necessarily dissipate it will change.  It will change just as ones’ identity is changed over a period of time.  Just as postmodernism is giving way to a new art era, the movements of graffiti and street art are creating all together new discourses through the element of communication.

On Pseudomodernism: Explanations of art movements that are leading towards a culture that has no memory: “Let me explain. Postmodernism conceived of contemporary culture as a spectacle before which the individual sat powerless, and within which questions of the real were problematized. It therefore emphasized the television or the cinema screen. Its successor, which I will call pseudo-modernism, makes the individual’s action the necessary condition of the cultural product…This pseudo-modern world, so frightening and seemingly uncontrollable, inevitably feeds a desire to return to the infantile playing with toys which also characterises the pseudo-modern cultural world. Here, the typical emotional state, radically superseding the hyper-consciousness of irony, is the trance – the state of being swallowed up by your activity. In place of the neurosis of modernism and the narcissism of postmodernism, pseudo-modernism takes the world away, by creating a new weightless nowhere of silent autism” (Alan).

Many oppose this theory of pseudomodernism and instead clutch to the idea of what has been labeled metamodernism. “The threefold ‘‘threat’’ of the credit crunch, a collapsed center, and climate change has the opposite effect, as it infuses doubt, inspires reflection, and incites a move forward out of the postmodern and into the metamodern,” and “ Inspired by a modern naı¨vete´ yet informed by postmodern skepticism the metamodern discourse consciously commits itself to an impossible possibility” (Vermelen). Metamodernism theorizes that there is an ever changing switch between modernism and postmodernism.

And since around 2000, a new debate on the “post-postmodern” has opened up. There is a shared sense in many areas of cultural practice and university research that many of the issues in postmodernism are over or assumed, and the we are now in a different global moment, however that it to define.

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