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The University of Southampton
Winchester School of Art
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Professor John Armitage BA, PhD

Professor of Media Arts, Co-Director of the Winchester Luxury Research Group

Professor John Armitage's photo

John Armitage is Professor of Media Arts within Winchester School of Art at the University of Southampton.

Dr John Armitage is Professor of Media Arts at Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton, United Kingdom. Previously, John was Associate Dean, Head of Department of Media, and Professor of Media in the Department of Media at Northumbria University, United Kingdom.

As well as founding and co-editing (with Ryan Bishop and Douglas Kellner) the journal Cultural Politics (Duke University Press), John is also an editorial board member of the following journals: Theory, Culture & Society, Journal of Visual Culture, and Culture & Organization.

Furthermore, John edits the book series Technicities for Edinburgh University Press, together with Ryan Bishop and Joanne Roberts.

John’s research interests are in the fields of:

Current Projects include:

Luxury and Visual Culture book cover

Luxury and Visual Culture (single authored, Bloomsbury)

This book addresses the important question of what appears as luxury in contemporary visual culture. It introduces the reader to the concept of visual culture to clarify the transformation of the private and public spheres of luxury in contemporary advanced cultures. Luxury in contemporary visual culture is contextualized by linking its precise sphere – abundance – to those of fashion and art, photography, cinema, television, and social media that configure the structures of contemporary visual culture. The visual representations of contemporary culture are considered as luxury-branded visual representations and the idea of visual culture as the portrayal of luxurious photographic, cinematic, and televisual selves. Examinations of the roles of contemporary fashion and art in visual culture are employed as conduits to later analyses of visual consumers, luxury-branded and other visual representations produced by twentieth-century and contemporary fashion photographers and filmmakers, television, and social media producers in everyday life. The ways in which luxury is utilized and operates in twentieth-century and contemporary cinema and television are investigated through the luxury lifestyles, lavish choices, luxurious values, and occasionally wayward inclinations sustaining the new voluptuousness and behaviors. The new role of the luster of the digital luxury fashion house is addressed before the conclusion. Luxury and Visual Culture presents a thoughtful, yet user-friendly explanation of how luxury is undergoing numerous shifts in visual culture. It is vital reading for all scholars and students in critical luxury studies and visual culture, fashion theory, contemporary art, photography, cinema, television, and social media studies.

The Third Realm of Luxury: Connecting Real Places and Imaginary Spaces book cover

The Third Realm of Luxury: Connecting Real Places and Imaginary Spaces (co-edited with Joanne Roberts, Bloomsbury)
We live increasingly in the third realm of luxury. The very idea of the real, how we make sense of place, the means by which we imagine, are all becoming invested in, and developed through, the third realm of luxury. In many ways, spaces of luxury are progressively contesting spaces of necessity as defining aspects of cultural reality, and simultaneously they are becoming part of the growing attempt to create a global cultural sense of place. The rapidly developing imaginary spaces of luxury are thus becoming a key area for studying the issues of luxury. Introducing the idea of the third realm of luxury as an outcome of the changing interplay between the real and imaginary realms of luxury, this book considers the most significant developments in the theories and practices of luxurious real places and imaginary spaces over the last fifty years. This includes issues and concepts from visual culture, design history, sociology, literary theory, architecture, cultural anthropology, cultural geography, and critical luxury studies. Hence, the book explores the significance of the third realm of luxury in the areas of fashion design, the domestic interior, the hotel, the dictators’ palace, real estate, architecture, freeports, fine art, and wine. It takes up a range of themes such as time and space, the exotic, emptiness, social hierarchy, collective living, secrecy, luxury commodities, and conspicuous consumption, and examines them within the context of these theoretical and practical developments. It also advances the idea that to fully understand a cultural realm one needs to understand its relationship to luxury

Critical Luxary Studies books cover

His most recent book, co-edited with Joanne Roberts, is Critical Luxury Studies: Art, Design, Media (Edinburgh University Press, 2016) .

Assembling the foremost scholars in this innovative, distinctive, and expanding subject, internationally well-known critical theorists John Armitage and Joanne Roberts present a ground-breaking aesthetic, design-led and media-related examination of the relations between historical and, crucially, contemporary ideas of luxury. Critical Luxury Studies offers a technoculturally inspired survey of the mediated arts and design, as well as a means of comprehending the socio-economic order with novel philosophical tools and critical methods of interrogation that are re-defining the concept of luxury in the twenty-first century. Case Studies Include: Hiroshi Sugimoto’s Silk Shiki for Hermès; The plain white t-shirt; and Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy (LMVH).

Recent Invited Talks include

  • Luxury Brands, Contemporary Art, Everyday Life
  • On the History of Luxury: From Real Places to Imaginary Spaces
  • The Glitter of a Diamond
  • The Image of Luxury
  • Luxury and Visual Culture
  • Critical Luxury Studies: Defining a Field
  • Luxury and Contemporary Art
  • Luxury New Media
  • The Semiotics of the Bedroom: Unboxing Reveals and Beyond
  • Luxury and Visual Culture: The Bubble Bath in Cinema

Winchester Luxury Research Group

Visit the Winchester Luxury Research Group website to find out about research that recognises the artistic and cultural aspects of luxury in the contemporary globalised world.

Research interests

John’s current research interests include luxury and visual culture; luxury and art; luxury and design; luxury and the media; new media art; continental aesthetics; critical theory of technology; architecture; cultural politics; modernism and postmodernism; vision and visuality; cultural studies; media studies; urbanism; and the phenomenology of perception.

John is presently involved in various research projects, including ones that examine:

  • the relationship between luxury and visual culture;
  • luxury brand management;
  • luxury and the senses (food, feasting, touch, music, vision, voluptuousness, taste, smell - perfume, drink- wine);
  • luxury and adornment (clothing/ fashion, splendour, jewellery);
  • luxury, space and time/history (place, the exotic, the Other, hotels, architecture, interior design, shelter, local, global, anticipation, contemplation, fast and slow luxury, yachts, planes, cars);
  • luxury and consumption (display, democratization, improvement, taste, subjectivity, journey, travel, pilgrimage, gender, race and class/identity);
  • luxury and the object (refinement, skill, creativity, invention, rarity, exclusivity, perfection, craftsmanship, design, intrinsic value);
  • luxury and production (manufacture, labour, technology, distribution, retail, sustainable and ethical production);
  • luxury and philosophy (morality, ethics, corruption, immorality, excess, regulation/sumptuary laws);
  • luxury and art (the beautiful, the sublime).

Research projects

Cultural Politics: Founder and co-editor with Ryan Bishop and Douglas Kellner for Duke University Press.

Technicities: Book series edited with Ryan Bishop and Joanne Roberts for Edinburgh University Press.

Victoria and Albert Museum: Since 2011, Winchester School of Art has worked in partnership with the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, the world’s largest museum of decorative arts and design. Together with Leanne Wierzba, Jonathan Faiers, and Joanne Roberts, John worked on the curation of the V&A’s

‘What is Luxury?’ exhibition (25 April – 27 September 2015)

Research group

Winchester Luxury Research Group

John is currently Co-Director of the Winchester Luxury Research Group .

John is always delighted to converse with potential PhD students wishing to suggest projects on concerns related to his research.

He is currently supervising numerous PhD students on topics including luxury and the airport and luxury and the post-global condition.

Professor John Armitage
Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton, Park Avenue, Winchester, Hampshire. SO23 8DL United Kingdom

Room Number : 63A/2027

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