By Malcolm Barnard
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Additional resources for Art, Design and Visual Culture: An Introduction
Conclusion This chapter set out to introduce and begin to define the notion of visual culture. It proposed to do this by looking first at different conceptions of the visual and second at different conceptions of the cultural, explaining the strengths and weaknesses of all these conceptions. It has proved to be the case that these conceptions cannot be simply accepted or rejected on the basis of their strengths and weaknesses as they are culturally specific. Different cultural and social groups will have different conceptions of the visual and the cultural, which are used to constitute those groups as groups in distinction from other groups.
There is the odd reference to things which are not what would usually be called 'fine art' - various etching and engraving techniques are represented, as are the Book of Kells and the Sutton Hoo ship burial material. Abbot Suger's porphyry jar and some fourteenth-century ivories are also to be found among the painting, sculpture and architecture, but the products of civilisation are predominantly oil-paintings, architecture and sculpture. Every once in a while Clark gives a clue as to what he is thinking of when he writes 'civilisation'.
The cultural groups which Clark ignores are well-documented in Polhemus's book. Black cultures are represented by Rastas, Zooties and rude boys, for example. Working-class cultures, whether they survived for long as working-class or not, are found in the styles and attitudes of Skinheads, Oil and Casuals, for example. And the place of women is filled by flygirls, cuties andriot-grrrls. These groups are not and would not be considered cultural groups in Clark's book; they are marginalised, patronised or simply ignored.