Complexities: culture and commerce part 1

Model shop cars

Model (or toy) cars in the window of a shop. Photograph copyright: Janet E Davis, 2010.

Imagine a world without culture.

So, what are you imagining? A world without what?

Opera?

Yup. That seems very ‘cultured.’ They sing in Italian half the time, don’t they? So it must be culture.

Classical music?

Definitely. Culture with a capital ‘C,’ surely?

‘Old masters’ paintings?

Undeniably part of visual culture. And do we really need high-maintenance work by dead painters?

Architecture?

Buildings (some of these are complexes or streets) such as St Paul’s Cathedral, the Houses of Parliament, Durham Cathedral, Alnwick Castle, the Bullring in Birmingham, the Scottish Parliament Building, the Eden Centre in Cornwall, the Royal Crescent in Bath, the Senedd in Cardiff… They must be part of our visual culture, surely?

Films?

They are culture (what kind might be debatable in the case of some).

Rock music?

That’s culture.

Television programmes?

It joined visual culture in the mid 20th century. (Trust me, I’m an art historian – television, along with film studies was part of my first degree).

Dancing?

Yes, dancing is a performance art at one level, and remains a cultural activity at other levels…mostly…

Toy cars?

Such as the ones above. Yes, they are cultural artefacts.

Burger and chips?

Think of how many styles of cooking are represented just in UK cities today. That is culture expressed in the medium of food.

Speech?

No, not the grand speeches like Churchill’s ‘Never despair’ speech, but the general act of communicating using language, chatting at the bus stop, over a pint in the pub, pillow talk… Language (auditory or visual) is an essential part of culture…isn’t it?

Can you imagine a world without culture?

Personally, I am really struggling to try…


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