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panoptikum nr.14

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Panoptikum nr 15 (22) 2016
Szok transformacji.

Transformation chic. Contribution to semiotics of fashion
in the era of transition

The subject of reflection in present article was Polish fashion in the era of transformation, examined as testimony to cultural and social changes as well as a proof of crystallization of new social, class and gender transformations. The first characteristic figure is “ the modern woman of the 90s” – thus defined by economic advancement and also emancipatory attitude expressed among others in the formula of the era’s guidebooks. Media created another ideal: a model reader of “Burda” magazine; she was able to combine pining for European chic with economic thrift. Jolanta Kwaśniewska is confronted with these ideals herein.
Clothes, that were chosen by the changing society, were divided into two groups: “elitist” and “plebeian”. “Burda” belonged to the former. The “plebeian” current is represented in the transition period by the king of bazaar and the chav. The former exemplifies the carnival spirit and eclecticism of the `90s; the latter, the most characteristic class habitus of the decade within the meaning of Pierre Bourdieu. Equally crucial is combining the new inspirations with national traditions – most of all: longing for fantasy, independence and sumptuousness of the Sarmatians with longing for mythical America. The paper is concluded with a reflection on sartorial minimalism as a way to counter esthetic chaos of the transition period.
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Boxes, dishes and the country’s transformation.
The early days of satellite television in Poland

This article describes the expansion of satellite television within the context of the socialist system. In the first part of the study, the broader technical and political background of the process have been characterized. In the second part, which is mainly based on interviews conducted with satellite TV equipment dealers and satellite dish manufacturers, the author explores the ways in which the medium was adopted by Poles in the 1980s.

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Young TV viewers in Poland after 1989 and their participation
in the audiovisual media culture

This article is an attempt to capture the reality of young TV viewers and the complexity of their participation in audiovisual media culture during the political transformation in Poland after 1989. Qualitative research (interviews and spoken stories) conducted on a group of thirty-year-old men whose period of early adolescence occurred in the nineties is the base for these deliberations. Respondents asked about their participation in the audiovisual media culture in the first half of the nineties talked about their first experiences with VHS cassettes, cinema and the so-called culture fansite. The aim is to identify what impact the aesthetics of the nineties – as well as an attempt to “catch up with the world” after 1989 – had on the daily lives of the subjects.

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Elgaz and the Polish VHS market

Elgaz was one of the biggest companies that distributed films in the times of Polish transformation and its boss – Janusz Leksztoń – was one of the richest Polish businessmen of the period. For several years Elgaz was the synonym of success, but the history of the company is complex and reflects all paradoxes of the Polish market of early 1990s. The article is an attempt to use Elgaz as a synecdoche of the Polish VHS market. The author tries to achieve that goal by identifying movies distributed by the company, describing esthetics of VHS covers and Elgaz commercials and constructing a portrait of Janusz Leksztoń on the background of the Polish VHS market and culture..

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Dry, crush, grind, weigh.
Film genres in the movie adaptations of Mr. Kleks adventures.

Polish genre cinema in the time of Polish People’s Republic was in stagnation due to the sociopolitical situation. Limited access to the thriving foreign film industry suppressed a natural evolution within the genre cinema. However, the liberalization of stagnant and overly politicized rules in the communist film industry brought change in the 1980s.
The government used to saw movies as a way to sell propaganda in the country. This cultural revolution was marked by the appearance of a new generation of directors, similar in some ways to American New Hollywood; rise of a VCR market and laxity of political restrictions.
One of the best representatives of this progression is the Mr. Kleks movie trilogy. Adaptations of Jan Brzechwa’s cult book series: Academy of Mr. Kleks (1983), The Travels of Mr. Kleks (1985), Mr. Kleks in Space (1988). All of theme were directed by Krzysztof Gradowski. The series is a perfect example of a genre-melting pot. Something unprecedented in the Polish cinema.
Although there are many radically different conventions in the story, the narrative is very coherent. The release of the first installment clearly marks the beginning of the transformation in the Polish film industry.
In the article, I will present the ways in which the film genres are functioning in the Mr. Kleks movies and analyze how these highly original productions were part of a turbulent period of transformational change in communist Poland.

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Agata’s Pontiac. Political-fiction as a distorting
mirror for the early transformation years in Poland

The first years of the Polish cinema after 1989 were marked by directors’ attempts to show the new reality on-screen. Those attempts were doubtful at best, closer to satire or naive sentimentality than gritty realism. Three films, belonging to the political-fiction genre, premiered between 1993 and 1996: Abduction of Agata (Uprowadzenie Agaty, dir. M. Piwowski, 1993), Players (Gracze, dir. R. Bugajski, 1995) and Street Games (Gry uliczne, dir. K. Krauze, 1996). All three of them were heavily influenced by the political events, which are the subject of historians’ speculations to this day: the scandalous affair of an influential politician’s daughter, Monika Kern, the first free presidential elections in Poland in 1990 and the mysterious killing of Stanisław Pyjas by the communist secret police (Security Services) in 1977. Through these stories, it’s easy to see the benefits and disadvantages of the post-1989 changes in Poland: the sense of freedom was compromised by the fear of former Security Service officers, many quick careers were accompanied by social and economic gaps in society, the beginning of commercial media undermined by the general distrust in television. After over twenty years, the films of Piwowski, Bugajski and Krauze still can be read as a fascinating testimony of that time.

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My Pasikowski. Notes on mise-en-scène in Kroll, Psy, Psy 2.

This essay is an attempt to give an account of the immensely personal – because of its generational aspects – “reading” of the films directed by Władysław Pasikowski.
The way the essay’s author “sees” these films was also influenced by her well-grounded fascination of their cinematography done by Paweł Edelman, thanks to which the first three films of Kroll’s director may be interpreted as something much more than simply examples of popular cinema.

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Disco Polo on the Screen. The Cinephilia’s Fantasy

There are only a few movies devoted to the significant of the polish mass culture topic of „disco polo”: two feature films (Kochaj i rób co chcesz, 1998 i Disco polo, 2015) and two documentaries (Bara, bara, 1996 oraz Miliard szczęśliwych ludzi, 2011). They are an illustration of the two different streams of phenomenon: the first is from the first half of the 90’s (with the peak in 1996) and the second is after the years 2007/2008 up to today.
Generally speaking in those movies we can see more of the author’s imagination than the description of the topic itself. The most interesting of those movies is the documentary Bara bara, as it attempts to show this phenomenon sine ira et studio – in its cultural and economical complexity. You can still, however, find in this movie ironic scenes, which aim to laugh what was considered in 90’s culture as „lame”.
The two feature films are love stories (the authors thought that since disco polo songs are about love, movies may as well be like romantic comedies). Both movies are full of references to the other films, especially Disco polo, in which we can see so many citations from American cinema that it becomes the ‘transnational movie”. The phenomenon of disco polo itself is only a ‘trigger” to create the cinephilia’s fantasy. It is true, however, that young artists born in the 80’s are not ashamed of disco polo and tend to treat it as camp fun.

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O, Małgorzato, będzie na bogato
(Oh, Meggy, it’s gonna be opulently)

The dynamics of familiarity and wordliness
in iconography of disco polo videoclips

The author traces the phenomenon of disco polo music and analyses the video clips of popular musicians from the 90’s (Shazza and Boys), comparing them with modern visual representations (Mig and Niecik), following the idea that what made and still makes this music genre popular is the specific tension between familiarity and wordliness.

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In search of a breakthrough.
The role of the Gala Piosenki Popularnej i Chodnikowej
in the history of disco polo

The history of almost every musical genre is based on certain turning points, decisive moments or albums changing rock, pop or jazz. In the history of disco polo that kind of turning point may be the Gala of Popular and Pavement Song (Gala Piosenki Popularnej i Chodnikowej) of 29 February 1992, when this type of music somehow established itself. Unknown music bands played to a full Congress Hall concert recorded by Polish Television, providing maybe millions of viewers. Soon after, the heroes of the gala enjoyed fame throughout the country.
The problem of meaning this event seems to be important, because in later years much greater contribution to the popularization of disco polo was a commercial TV station, Polsat, broadcasting special programs – since 1994 Disco Relax, and since 1996 – Disco Polo Live. This article attempts to answer the question of the scale of the reception of the event and to evaluate its actual role in the development of disco polo in the early 90s. The article is based on press materials from the 90s, recording of the concert, later sources, press releases, websites and interviews with participants of the concert.

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Pole is a Wolf to a Mazur.
Is Róża by Wojciech Smarzowski an Anti-Polish Film?

The author of this article tries to explain why the controversial film Róża by Wojciech Smarzowski was well received by the wright-wing media which recognized other historical films from this period, such as Ida by Pawel Pawlikowski and Aftermath by Wladyslaw Pasikowski, as anti-Polish and even harmful. The author examines three aspects of the film: whether it is actually anti-Polish, anti-Soviet or maybe pro-German. At the end she reveals the director’s strategy which allowed to avoid the dispute over the misinterpretation of historical events.

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Post-? Notes on Ars Electronica 2015

This article discusses selected threads that were taken into consideration during 2015 edition of Ars Electronica Festival. The initiating point of the event was Post City. Habitats for the 21st Century. It was reflected in problems raised by collected productions that oscillated between following issues: mobility of people, things, data, work, inhabitants, the possibility of resistance, dissilusion with ever expanding technology and the unobvious political aspect of civic technologies. The works that were presented within the remaining exhibitions enriched issues around questions such as the complex between art and science. The intersection of these two disciplines brought into existence works in the range of hybrid art. Constantly prevalent are questions around the body, identity, memory and narration, tensions arising from the reworking of the history of art and history of media in the contemporary, post-media landscape and many others important issues concerning current art.