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Mixed Forms of Visual Culture: Marxism and Protest from the Scrapbook to the Digital
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Mixed Forms of Visual Culture: Marxism and Protest from the Scrapbook to the Digital (Hardback)

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Notions of consistency, unity and harmony have long been ideals in Western culture. These values persisted throughout the Renaissance and Neo-Classical period (the seventeenth century), even with the emergence of the cult of individualism. Today, as much as they continue to be prescriptions for art, they also inform judgements made about everything from behaviour to the output of production lines and require these things to be consistent. With the emergence of Western empires and industrialisation however, we conversely see a set of cultural practices emerge that are informed by a very different value; that of the traditionally dismissed heterogeneous. This book looks at key instances throughout visual culture where this structure has been used and coins the term 'mixed-form' for them. Addressing the other side of formal unity it looks at phenomenona like the miscellany, the collage and the anthology and archival structures such as the cabinet of curiosities and the scrapbook and compares them to their digital descendants such as the weblog and platforms such as Pinterest. By doing so, the book explores an under researched area of visual culture, that of the mixed form.

Mixed Forms of Visual Culture also discusses the reasons for the appearance of the mixed form and traces it back to the Marxist understanding of the 'division of labour' in industrial society and to Marxist accounts of post-industrial production. The book's underlying theme is the value of critically reviewing received wisdom. Presenting a history of its key term that starts with the inception of commodity culture in the sixteenth century, the book proposes that, as working life becomes increasingly defined by qualities such as singularity and uniformity, the need for the opposite finds expression in cultural form.

Mary Anne Francis is Principal Lecturer in the School of Art at the University of Brighton, UK.

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