Sep 052013

Sammlung englischer abstracts zu den deutschsprachigen Forschungsbeiträgen der Zeitschrift »Pop. Kultur und Kritik«

Konstantin Butz
»›Coolonialismus‹. Wie das Skateboard nach Schleswig-Holstein kam«
In: Pop. Kultur und Kritik, Heft 5, Herbst 2014, S. 162-173

Referencing fictional, historic, and academic resources, this article establishes an argument about the rebellious significance of the skateboard. Departing from the German movie adaptation of Hamburg author Rocko Schamoni’s novel »Dorfpunks«, it sketches a possible itinerary of skateboarding as a cultural practice that ranges from ancient Hawaii and roots in surfing culture to music scenes and subcultures in California and finally to provincial appropriations of teenage punk kids in rural Germany. The appropriating momentum thereby is linked to the colonial developments that pervade the cultural transitions and transfers that occurred in the aftermath of James Cook’s arrival on the Hawaiian archipelago. The article argues that traces of an imperialist or colonial past still reverberate in the rebellious stylizations of young skateboarding punk kids who discover the medializations of suppressed and marginalized cultures as attractive resources for rebellious coolness. Trying to analytically condense and summarize this phenomenon in a neologistic term, the article introduces the conception of ›coolonialism‹.


Christian Huck
»Coverversionen. Zum populären Kern der Popmusik«
In: Pop. Kultur und Kritik, Heft 4, Frühling 2014, S. 154-173.

Cover versions have been a central element of pop and rock music ever since Elvis and the Beatles re-recorded popular R&B hits of their time; today, up to a fifth of all successful songs are indeed new releases of old songs, and there is hardly an artist or a genre that has not produced its fair share of cover versions. Rock critics, however, seem to have a far less benevolent stance towards such productions. Alternatively condemning them as a form of cultural theft or an expression of creative bankruptcy, cover versions have been stigmatized as an economic concession to the art of pop music: indeed, cover versions seem to epitomize everything that is bad about pop. The essay proposes to understand cover versions not as an anomaly, but as the default case of pop musical practice. In order to do so, pop music has to be freed from the shackles of an essentially Romantic aesthetics on which most criticism is based. While this means to abandon demands for innovation, progress and individual artistry, a reevaluation of the cover version can open up pop music to analytic categories that escape the framework of a traditional Romantic aesthetics: affect, sound, adaptation. By doing so, pop music, finally, becomes less of a work-based form of art, but rather a specific, listener-oriented practice within the wider field of popular culture, for good or bad.


Torsten Hahn:
»›Wallpaper Art‹. Zur Ästhetik seriell gestalteter Oberflächen«
In: Pop. Kultur und Kritik, Heft 3, September 2013, S. 156-173.

This paper attempts an aesthetic positioning of the superficial medium ›wallpaper‹. The first part argues that the design of wallpapers in 1960’s Pop Art is no marginal phenomenon, this medium indeed accomplishes the demands and standards of art pop prior to all other mediums. This includes the question why the design of wallpapers has been a provocation and even still is, if a genuine aesthetic aspiration is pronounced. The mechanisms of exclusion are therefore, in the second part, located in the late eighteenth century, exactly the time when both aesthetics and wallpapers went into serial production. An examination of the aesthetic of pure form and Kant’s remarks on the artistic qualities of wall decoration makes clear that the exclusion of wallpaper from the sphere of art in the narrow sense (and thus the establishing of the dichotomy between auratic art and popular design) get caused by the following discursive guidelines: substance, originality, and invisibilisation of production. They prevent that mechanically reproduced forms on wallpapers can come into focus of aesthetic reflection even after the »Critique of Judgement«. Conversely, they are the reason for the fact that wallpapers become a (too often undervalued) leading medium of popular culture. This exclusion or rather the separation between pure form with aesthetic dignity and popular ornament will be exemplarily illustrated by Schiller’s letters and works.


Ling Yang:
Pop Convergence: Transnational Cultural Flows, State Control, and Cultural diversity in Contemporary China
In: Pop. Kultur und Kritik, Heft 3, Herbst 2013, S. 132-155.

Since the reform and open policy was carried out in late 1970s, transnational cultural forms and products have constituted the most diverse and dynamic area of Chinese popular culture. This article offers an overview of contemporary Chinese reception of Japanese, Korean, and American popular cultures in an attempt to give readers a glimpse of the constantly evolving popular cultural trends, sensibilities, and products in China, as well as the underlying interplay between state regulation, corporate push, and grassroots agency. In addition to sketching a general pattern of reception and diffusion of cultural imports in China, the paper also reveals the potential conflict in values between East Asian pop culture and Western pop culture, and highlights the significance of Chinese popular culture as the site of an emerging global cultural commons.


Jens Gerrit Papenburg:
Soundfile. Kultur und Ästhetik einer Hörtechnologie
In: Pop. Kultur und Kritik, Heft 2, Herbst 2013, S. 140-155.

In the last years the practices of listening to popular music as well as its modes of production and distribution transformed in relation to apps, online services and gadgets. In the article I explore the concept »soundfile“ as an aesthetic and cultural form which correlates with specific practices and techniques of music listening. The dynamics which constitute soundfile listening I describe in four parts: I start with a conceptual description of the plenitude of recorded and produced music which the soundfile listener can access (I. The Standing Reserve of Music). Afterwards I present techniques of combining through which the soundfile listener can select particular pieces of music and connect them with each other (II. Playlists). Therefore I present modulations of the sound of music by the listener as well as by listening technologies (III. Compression and Tuning). Finally I explain selected aspects of the relationship between so-called »social media« and the soundfile listener (IV. Music as »Social« Event). I show in the article that soundfile listening can be defined as follows: Soundfile listening is rather accessing the standing reserve of music which becomes available through the internet than individual collections of music. Soundfile listening is organized rather by playlists than by extensive musical dramaturgies – like they are offered by »concept albums« or »musical masterworks«. Soundfile listening enhances and transforms the sound of music and constitutes technized music listening as a »social« event. In the article I use popular music – a form of music whose development is bound to media technologies – as a subject to make soundfile listening distinguishable at a theoretical and terminological level from other forms of technized listening like record listening or CD listening.


Fernand Hörner:
Dandyismus und Popkultur
In: Pop. Kultur und Kritik,  Heft 2, Frühling 2013, S. 156-172.

This article examines the figure of the dandy as a mixture of a literary, historic and idealized figure and traces the roots back to the 19th century to underline and understand the paradoxes and ambivalences of dandyism in popular culture today. The four characteristics are oscillation between being and seeming/fiction and reality, the body as an object of fascination and self-fashioning, coolness and wit and finally the power to fascinate and provoke at the same time, showing an eccentric behaviour and staying in the centre of interest at the same time. The ambivalences of dandyism start with the first dandy of all time, George Brummell, who, at the same time, reclined to be called a dandy and was therefore, according to the elaborations of this figure in anecdotes, essays, caricatures etc., not only the first but also the last dandy, an original never to be achieved again. The dandy manages to make itself a work of art, not only in the classical sense, but also in the sense of performance art or even pop art. Thus, he takes his own body as a work of art, from the pornographic photos of Jeff Koons aka Gym Dandy to the chirurgical artificiality of Michael Jackson. Dandies like Jackson, Prince or Miles Davis refer directly to the tradition of the black dandy, once a symbol of the black slaves trying to be as elegant as his white oppressors, but then reconsidered as a positive sign of black elegance mixed with provoking if not frightening virility. All this is combined with the dandy’s typical coolness and his ability to use his words as a weapon for which Brummell remains the prototype. Dandyism is the art of juggling with these elements but not from the position of an outsider, but from inside a bored society that at once repel these figures and is attracted to them. The article wants to underline that the relation of dandyism and popular culture must be reconsidered in relation to the often forgotten figure of the black dandy.


Ruth Mayer:
Die Logik der Serie. Fu Manchu, Fantômas und die serielle Produktion ideologischen Wissens.
In: Pop. Kultur und Kritik, Heft 1, September 2012, S. 136-154.

This paper explores the logic and aesthetics of seriality in its close conjunction with the structures of media modernity. It starts from the observation that to a substantial extent modern popular culture is serial culture. Its contention is that an investigation of the operative principles of popular seriality and their larger ideological parameters requires a set of instruments which are missing from the toolbox of popular culture studies. In consequence, it draws on theories of seriality which were formulated in the realm of political philosophy and social theory, by critics as diverse as Benedict Anderson or Jean-Paul Sartre, in order to discuss processes of ideological meaning-making and community formation in their serial dimension. The paper takes note of the fact that the expansive momentum of serial fiction is fueled by the resources of political, economic, and medial expansion, which were first developed in the nineteenth and then ramped up in the twentieth century. This interlinkage is not conceptualized in terms of a mere analogy, however, but rather understood as a relation of mutual mapping: a relation of reciprocity and cross-fertilization. Taking the eminently popular narratives around the serial figures Fu Manchu and Fantômas as case studies, the paper argues that the projects of popular serial narration do not only aim at a representation of the abstract processes of industrialization and global capitalism rooted in nineteenth century imperialism. They rather need to be seen as engines, as driving forces of the cycles of production and dissemination which inform the (late) capitalist ideologies of the modern industrial and media societies.


Christian Metz:
Lady Gaga’s Digital Intimacy.
In: Pop. Kultur und Kritik, Heft 1, September 2012, S. 155-170.

What’s Lady Gaga’s pop-aesthetic innovation? It is a newly established way of communication between star and recipient. Lady Gaga put her main focus on promoting her music and her staged self through the internet and Twitter as well as via PCs and smartphones. By using these technological means she involves her recipients in a communication of love. She stages an imaginary and intimate relationship with her fans. This is a shared goal of all her publications starting with her debut up to her album »Born This Way«. What form does this virtual intimacy take on? Lady Gaga together with her communication partners agree on having to overcome the (pop-cultural) idealisation of the romantic concept of love. In her videos she alludes to patterns and stereotypes of romantic love just to radically criticize this concept of love and its traditional ways of representing itself. Lady Gaga’s staging may look like Madonna’s, but she goes a step further. Whilst with Madonna love and sexuality are beyond criticism, Lady Gaga questions the very essence of these concepts. The common ground of the communication between star and fan is found in the abolishment of the fake promises of an individualized love. They agree on an imaginary pact to bypass the dangers of idealization and to develop their relationship beyond the pop-cultural agenda of love. This union has extensive consequences. Since the real communication of love in the shape of networks and forums has moved to the virtual space Lady Gaga’s self-staging is just as fictitious as the real relationships that start on the internet. The pop star exhausts the medium specific ways of orchestrating oneself and techniques of communication to an eccentric maximum. At the same time she defines the rules of communicating intimacy and love in the virtual space. Added on to this is a finding of sociologist Eva Illouz who demonstrated that fictitious emotions expressed in a virtual communication can have a more intensive impact than real emotions. In an extreme case the intimate communication with Lady Gaga would substitute for a loving relationship with a real partner.