Welcome everybody,

we are glad that you have tuned into our online lecture series, organized by the Shared Campus’ theme group “Global Pop Cultures”. As initiators, organizers and curators, we are pleased to give you a brief introduction into our topic – the “self”. And since the self never exists on its own, we are reading this jointly, as a slightly distorted global pop cultures choire.

In times of accelerated globalization, technology-driven hybridization and digital connectivity, the self, which in fact has never been self-evident, appears less self-evident than ever before. Accordingly, we experience a plethora of discourses, debates, cultural, social, political, and commercial practices revolving around the notion of “the self”.

From selfies to drag, superheroes to villainous politicians and beyond, never have issues around the creative engagement with self-image, disruptions of personal identity and liquid bodily configurations been so pressing, so public. Our global playground is a place where Instagram pictures lie and rhythms from various heritage cultures mash-up with technological modes to create utterly contemporary cultural forms. The self, and its mediation through the various platforms for imaging, sounding, speaking or feeling, is an important but by no means uncontested construct. In fact, it can be considered as a productive paradox. Caught between the quest for unmistakable individuality and ever evolving social obligations in transcultural contexts, it oscillates between obstinacy and adaptation. The search for sameness in diversity plays a central role in both scientific and creative discourse. The authentic self is marketed as an ideal and aspirational image, demanding a high convergence of subjective “inside” and social “outside.” But increasingly half-baked, fickle, and ambiguous identity concepts are disrupting the modernist ideal of “being whole within oneself.” Pop culture offers an ideal breeding ground for this.

Todays global web of interlinked pop cultures is characterized by a high degree of variability, plasticity, connectivity, and transculturality. Pop has long transcended its Western boundaries and the conceptual origins of the 1950s, when pop was considered as the cultural expression of the freedom-loving Western individual. Today, pop is genuinely global and hybrid. Pop exists only in plural. It perpetually transcends entertainment, youth and event culture, and has long become an integral part of the academia, activist movements, and both progressive and reactionary politics. With that said, pop can be considered as one of the most salient driving forces in the globalization, hybridization and innovation of cultures and understandings of the self. Pop is a sphere where not only politics, identities, economies, and social questions are negotiated, but also where pop itself is discussed, criticized, contextualized. The theorizing and critical artistic reflection of pop is part of global pop cultures themselves. In the course thereof, the evolution of pop has moved from pop art to art pop and avant-pop.

With that said, we have asked international scholars and artists to provide insights into their research about “self-imaging” in various fields of pop global cultures. In six sections, our presenters will shed light on “Designing the Self”, “Creative Identities across Art and Science”, Staging the Self”, “Picturing the Self”, “Hearing the Self”, and “Writing the Self”. The respective podcasts, vlogs and texts will be uploaded every Thursday, 7 pm, Central European Time, starting in October 2020, ending in December.

We hope you will tune in again on October 1st, when the first contributions for “Designing the Self” will be uploaded. The schedule below shows you what happens when. See you soon!

Joseph Imorde, Jörg Scheller, Judith Mair, Masahiro Yasuda, Daniel Späti, Takuro Mizuta, Richard Reynolds.