Sideways Looks 2012
It has never been more important to study the media. As Lord Leveson lifts the Fleet Street flagstones to glimpse the tangle of power, influence, secrecy, disdain and corruption writhing beneath them, as social media are accused of rewiring children’s brains, of destroying the very sociality they proclaim but also celebrated for toppling autocratic regimes, as popular magazines proliferate new forms of disgust for their readers’ bodies, and as photography, video, animation and the written word fuse, split and evolve in the new primal soup of the Web, the work on display in this exhibition offers a magnifying glass for the study of this rapidly mutating media ecosystem.
These student-producers are not replicating established media conventions and images, they are dismantling and remaking them through a critical engagement with media and cultural theory, and through a creative ambition for the technical, aesthetic and political possibilities of digital technologies and networks. They have an eye on the future, but - just as importantly - a critical and sideways eye on the everyday and here-and-now in all its banal strangeness.
This exhibition and screening (and the Media & Cultural Studies and Film Studies courses from which it has emerged) follows the call to arms raised by the notorious media theorist Marshall McLuhan, in whose centenary year these students began these projects:
'instead of scurrying into a corner and wailing about what the media are doing to us, we should charge straight ahead and kick them in the electrodes'.