Friday, February 12, 2010

The Death of Postmodernism: PoMo Versus Po-Pomo

A Continuation of the journal entry dated February 7, 2010, itself a part of a larger discussion of the topic, “What Comes After the Postmodern?”



David Bate, himself a photographer, moves on to a discussion of the photography of Walker Evans, and Andreas Gursky. The two are removed from one another by several generations but nonetheless; David maintains the two use description to evoke a presence that is overwhelming but that “inhibits the communication of a specific message.*3  I ask, isn’t that a kind of sliding reference in that we are talking about sliding away from any particular communication. Additionally, linking the two (past and present) together and then attempting to project that onto a new Art and art critical reality bridges time and place, a characteristic of the postmodern.

Simultaneously, it would seem that whenever a paradigm shift occurs, the new must deprecate the past. I agree with David Bate that the “Po-Pomo” may be in part characterized by a turn toward a “newer kind of neo-realism,” one in which images are so certain in their representation that the viewer is struck, if not brutally, at least mercilessly with accuracy, whether constructed or not. At the same time, I wonder if that wasn’t what Photorealism (1970’s to early 1980’s) which has morphed into the Hyper-realism of the 2000’s wasn’t / isn’t about. The original Photorealists were interested in creating an illusion of the photograph, depth of field, reflections and other distortions, thus conformed to the postmodern sliding reference theme. However the extension into the possible Po-Pomo realm of Hyper-realism of the 2000’s includes the meticulous rendition of painful realities by Denis Peterson, Gotffried Helnwein, David Bate himself and others. I wonder if this last might be too narrow, and that an actual Po-Pomo must include a broader set of characteristics inclusive of much of Postmodernism deconstructive tendencies as well as the new “painful realities.” In either case, the Po-Pomo and the Postmodern must be linked in a fit of compulsive obsession, like a dog chasing its tale, and we would have change with not so much change.

A thoughtful world is so gray!

Of course, all this last is conjecture. We should know whether this particular change is actual sometime in the next decade.


1. Bate, David, “Bungled Memories,” David Bate Website at Viewed 10:21 AM EST, Friday, February, 12, 2010.

2. Andreas Gursky Photography, You Tube, Viewed 10:51 AM EST, Friday, February 12, 2010.

3. In an E-mail dated February 11, 2010, David defended the conflation as follows. “…Walker Evans and Gursky: these figures are drawn together by the exhibition - the first ever 'ohotography' exhibition - held at the Tate Modern, it is not me who collapses them together.” Tuesday, February 9, 2010 12:55:23 PM GMT -05:00 US/Canada Eastern, viewed 9:12 AM EST, Wednesday, February 10, 2010.


Bate, David, “After Postmodernism?” in Lens Culture,, © 2005. Viewed 10:35 EST, Friday, January 15, 2010.
-------------------“Re: Use of an image in my Web Journal,” Tuesday, February 9, 2010 12:55:23 PM GMT -05:00 US/Canada Eastern, viewed 9:12 AM EST, Wednesday, February 10, 2010.
-------------------“Bungled Memories,” David Bate Website at Viewed 10:21 AM EST, Friday, February, 12, 2010.

Derrida, Jacques. Of Grammatologie. Trans. with intro. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1976.
---. The Truth in Painting. Trans. Geoff Bennington and Ian McLeod. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987.
---. Writing and Difference. Trans./Intro. Alan Bass. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1978.

Frankel, Vera, The Body Missing Project. Toronto: 1995. On line. Available from http// (Jan. 21, 2000).

Holly, Michael Ann. Past Looking: Historical Imagination and the Rhetoric of the Image. New York and London: Cornell University Press, 1996.

Kirby, Alan, Digimodernism: How New Technologies Dismantle the Postmodern and Reconfigure our Culture. New York: Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd. (2009).
---------------- “The Death of Postmodernism and Beyond,” Philosophy Now, No. 58, 2006. Viewed on line 9:-- AM EST, Wednesday, January 6, 2010.

LeVautour, Bernard P. Provencher. “The Death of “Pseudo-Modernism” and Beyone; A Return From “Critical Realism.” In Le Vautour Chronique, Viewed 10:50 AM EST, Sunday, February 7, 2010.

Lyotard, Jean-Francois. “What is Postmodernism.” reprinted as an
appendix to the English edition of Lyotard, The Postmodern Condition, 71-82. Harrison and Wood, 1008-1017.

Schaffner, Ingrid and Matthias Winzen (eds.). Deep Storage: Collecting, Storing, and Archiving in Art. Munic: Prestel, 1998.

Williams, Val and Susan Bright, Curators, “How We Are Photographing Britain: 22 May – 2 September 2007,” Tate Modern, Viewed 10:00 AM EST, Friday, February 12, 2010.

Wilson, Fred, “What Comes After Post Modernism,” in A VC: Musings of a VC in NYC, Viewed 11:03 AM EST, Sunday, January 3, 2010.

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