The Pleasures of Visual Culture

The Pleasures Of Visual Culture.

In this essay I will be analysing the pleasures of visual culture, focusing on a paragraph concerning ‘Horror and suffering in art’ and using the 1994 Alex Proyas film ‘The Crow’ (see Appendix 1) to give examples of my points. Before I begin analysing the film I will first be looking at explanations of the terms ‘visual culture’, ‘aesthetic pleasure’ and ‘catharsis’. (Walker & Chaplin, 1997)

Visual culture refers to all forms of visual art. The word culture is difficult to define but on one level it refers to the beliefs and practices of groups and individuals within society. The medium of film has become heavily involved in many cultures. Pleasure can be taken both in the production and consumption of movies (along with other forms of art). Visual culture has grown, in part, around this premise. (Simpson & Pearson, 2001)

Aesthetic pleasure can be taken from visual culture and this is one of the paramount reasons why such a vast amount of art (in many forms) is produced. Aesthetics is a term that has been used to describe the critical evaluation of the attempt at understanding beauty. To derive aesthetic pleasure from art one assumes that the viewer has become involved in the beauty of that which they are viewing. This pleasure can take many forms. The pleasure taken from viewing a painting or sculpture is likely to be very different from the pleasure an audience will take from viewing a film. Whilst films please the senses of sight and sound they also engage the mind and the emotions of the audience. If a film does its job well it can be an intensely pleasurable experience, regardless of its subject matter. For example, whilst aesthetics is a term generally applied to beauty, ugliness can also produce a perverse aesthetic pleasure. (Walker & Chaplin, 1997)

Horror and violence are ugly subject matters. However, an audience can take pleasure from depictions of acts of violence and scenes of horror. This can be through the...