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Lecture Series

13, 15, 20, 22, 27 February, and 1 March 2007
Image of the Lecture

The participants summarise their talks

  • The pop culture society
    Vicente Verdú

    This conference will draft a general, introductory, landscape for this series of conferences by analyzing the social and economical conditions favoring the birth the pop culture in these years, and in which way its manifestations correspond to the yearnings and mythologies present at the time. The pop art (coming from the English term "Popular Art") was an artistic movement that appeared at the end of the 1950's in England and United States, whose characteristics are the use of images and themes taken from the mass communication world and applying them to visual art. It is the result of a way of life, the plastic manifestation of a (pop) culture where objects cease to be unique and are began to be considered as serial productions. In this kind of culture, also art ceases to have "aura" and is transformed into an object of consume.

  • Pop art: themes, objects and processes
    Juan Antonio Ramírez
    The beginnings of Pop art in England along the early 1950's already show the main thematic vein of this artistic trend, based on the new media of the society of masses and the multiplied products of consume. An aspect that has been less addressed by the critic are the tridimensional creations: we can distinguish here different modalities of object "presentation" ( in the Duchampian tradition of ready-made) and some others of "representation" (closer to the traditional sculpture). The literal copy in limited series (in the style of Warhol's Soap Pads) triggers the issue of originality and reproduction, which is key for understanding the phenomenon. All of this, finally explains why art, ancient or contemporary, is one of the prefered topics of pop art, which can be also understood as an auto-referential movement of the "art system", not so distant in this sense from some of the variations of the linguistic conceptualism as it may seem in a first glance.
  • When we were "Pop". Travel through the happy 60s Europe
    Vicente Molina Foix
    We will discuss the reflection of Pop in the 60's through the direct testimony of a person, the conference speaker himself, who experienced firsthand the evolution of Pop in the European framework.
  • Pop iconosphere
    Román Gubern
    The work of Roy Lichtenstein, and of pop painting in general, cannot be isolated from the vitality of the figurative culture of the sixties, manifested in comics which inspired some of his most characteristic works, of the popular cinema, of photography, and of fashion, manifestations with which they interacted in phenomena of pollution or stylistic loan, creating fruitful feedback flows.
  • The day that Billie Holiday died (and James Dean definitely entered in literature)
    María Lozano
    This title refers to an explicit title of a famous poem by Frank O'Hara, The Day Lady Died, who inaugurated in the novel, together with Salinger and others, the incorporation of shapes and myths of the popular culture in the US literary syntax. Although the relationship between popular culture and wise culture has proceeded always in America through curious paths, very different from the European practices -just think about the Western, for example-, I will try to examine the different contemporary examples of how cinema, television, jazz, rock, animated cartoons, and painting have contributed to both, the frontalization of the literary discourse and the generation of new energies based on a trivial and devaluated universe, the "trash phenomenon" in word of Donald Barthelme.The trajectory will pass the authors previously mentioned, with an inexcusable reference to the Capote of Warhol and the Marylin of Mailer, but also the Cabinet of Dr. Caligari by Barthelme, the cinephile James Purdy, and all the way to the crazy California of Thomas Pynchon's "Mucho Maas", and the use of the media discourse by Don DeLillo, until reaching the contemporary pseudo-minimalism and their use of the popular culture's "surplus value". A literary trajectory from the end of the 50's until our day, from the orality of Salinger, including a certain re-barbarization of the narrative language with a clear objective of transgression, up to the rupture that the visuals introduce in the texts that, in words of William Gass, obliges us to "seal our lips so we can listen with our eyes".
  • A musicological approach to pop
    Ana Vega

    Music is the most common artistic manifestation of the pop phenomenon, referring to its meaning as all the culture related to the modern concept of consumption and dissemination through mass media. In opposition to the pop-art in the visual arts, where we find an artistic movement that uses everyday urban life and consumption images and objects, but with an elite orientation, we have pop music, which is in itself an object for consumption and does not represent a movement within the contemporary musical creation.

    Thus, this makes a significant difference when approaching the musical realm that needs, first of all, an attempt to find a definition that could explain the term itself. A term that appeared in a rather imprecise way in the decade of the 50's and beginning of the 60's of the past century. Originally it was applied to the purely commercial music aimed mainly at the younger ages in the English-speaking world, with a style disseminated, strictly speaking, across a number of musical groups and soloists very specific to those years.

    In the most ample and general approach, we could include under this designation most of the movements and styles within the light musical realm of the time, which disseminated through commercial means. Although specialists and good fans differentiate a good number of style variations that in many occasions assert with conviction that they do not belong to this particular category. Pop music appears within the framework of popular urban music, which had flourished in the industry in parallel to the new dissemination medias and the new social scenario. Through its two main genres, song and dance, the repertory of pop music grew in Europe and America with the contributions from other countries, even generating aesthetics of significant technical difficulty as its professionalism increased (jazz, flamenco, tango, etc.). Nevertheless, popular music in the strict sense still remained as a less-demanding lower level music. A level that even decreased in the last years of the 1950's, where following the commercial example of rock and roll, the phenomenon of pop music really takes off. It is characterized by being easy to understand and consume, and by joining the tactics of market expansion of the record companies using the mass media. We find then a predomination of simple melodies, accompanied by clear harmonic supports, and the inclusion of the possibilities that along the years the field of electroacoustics had developed and offered.

    The use of certain musical characteristics common in this type of repertory have been lacking or non-existent in the contemporary creation of "serious" or "classical" music, although there have been some interesting fields of conjunction between both worlds that are worth pointing out and analyzing, which will close this musicological approach we intend to do to pop music.       

Fundación Juan March
Castelló, 77 – 28006 MADRID – Spain
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