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The University of Southampton
Winchester Centre for Global Futures in Art Design & Media

Staff Seminar Series - John Armitage and Joanne Roberts Seminar

Winchester School of Art
16:00 - 18:00
19 March 2014
MA Common Room, Room Number 3023, Level 3, Eastside Building, WSA

For more information regarding this seminar, please email Dr Victoria Walters at .

Event details

Luxury New Media: Euphoria in Unhappiness

This seminar by Professor John Armitage and Professor Joanne Roberts is concerned with how the contemporary cultural-theoretical concept of luxury, an idea of deep-seated importance for Christopher J. Berry (1994), can be considered as a good or service that is effortlessly substitutable since the desire for it lacks passion. Against Berry, they argue that, in the present period, any deliberation on luxury must entail a multifaceted engagement with the intensification of our sense of alienation intertwined with our fervent sense of an existence governed by outside powers, which apparently establish new modes of social control together with new modes of inauthenticity that disaffect ‘us’ from ‘our’ ‘selves’. To theorize these outside powers, and reintroducing the somewhat neglected critical theory of the Marxian philosopher Herbert Marcuse (1964), they identify the ongoing cultural form of what they conceptualize as ‘luxury new media’. They argue that luxury new media is a novel type of luxury, one that is not interpersonally relative, as Berry proposes, but relationally dubious, which is creating innovative varieties of luxury new media goods and services. They subsequently investigate how the luxury new media of what they, extending Marcuse, call ‘euphoria in unhappiness’ nurtures the contemporary development of ‘false social needs’. Lastly, they question the growth in importance of luxury new media as a form of managed choice today when such luxurious choice is, counter to Berry, not simple or lacking in intensity but in fact problematic and steeped in economic desire.

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