Online Custom «What Are Some of the Most Important Intellectual and Artistic Achievements of Our Period?» Essay Sample

What Are Some of the Most Important Intellectual and Artistic Achievements of Our Period?

The end of World War II marked a new period in the world history. Decolonization began in the colonial empires and produced a number of new sovereign states in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Europe had to pick itself up from the ruins, while the United States and the Soviet Union met head-on in the Cold War. Carrying on a number of social and economic reforms, both Europe and the United States began to regain their economic stability, which was characterized with an intensive development of science, technology, and art.

In the United States, a dismissive attitude still lingered in regards to black people and women. It gave rise to civil rights and feminist movements. After the respective laws were passed in the mid-1960s and a wave of riots went through American cities, the white population eventually accepted the “end of segregation and discrimination in the workplace and all public places” (Spielvogel, 2012, p. 898). Having received the right to vote after World War I, women still have to travel a long way to obtain a genuine equality with men in terms of payment, the choice of vocation, and the rejection of “the Status of the Other” (Spielvogel, 2012, p. 902).

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In art, the development of non-figurative art was the major achievement. A certain pull to abstraction was visible in many artistic movements, but still artists felt the necessity to stay within the existing artistic tradition and could not yet completely turn to total abstraction. The Cubism movement developed its own system for depicting perspective and volume, which was very visible in Picasso’s Guernica (Spielvogel, 2012, p. 741). The horrors of both World Wars transformed people, and artists felt they no longer were able to paint something beautiful – the world was too ugly for that. Artists began consciously rejecting the conventional rules of space, volume depiction, and notions of beauty to mirror the grim effects of war. For example, a style developed by Jean Dubuffet called “Art Brut” was an imitation of “primitive art” by children or psychologically distressed people (Spielvogel, 2012, p. 902). Such practices paved the way for abstract expressionists who painted energetic chaotic patterns (in case of Jackson Pollock) and color block fields (in case of Mark Rothko) on large-scale canvases (Spielvogel, 2012, p. 903). The continual rejection of object-based artworks resulted in blending different types of art, “creating works that include elements of film, performance, popular culture, sculpture, and architecture” (Spielvogel, 2012, p. 928).

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In science, Einstein’s discoveries revolutionized the understanding of the Universe and the nature of reality:

The universe was not a “collection of physical objects” but a complicated web of relations between “various parts of a unified whole.” Moreover, this web of relations that is the universe also included the human observer. Human beings could not be objective observers of objects detached from themselves because the very act of observation made them participants in the process. (Spielvogel, 2012, p. 926).

Subsequent discoveries were possible not in the least thanks to newest technology. Therefore, the biggest achievement of the human mind in the twentieth century is the development of technology. The fuse of science and technology that occurred during World War II had remarkable results. Among them are jet airplanes, spacecrafts, and computers (Spielvogel, 2012, p. 925). Beginning as large machines that occupied a whole room, computers morphed into stylish little gadgets that can be easily put into a woman’s purse. Computers were innovative and irreplaceabile, because they became “essential devices for communication, information, and entertainment” (Spielvogel, 2012, p. 958). It became especially evident with the introduction of electronic mail shortened to e-mail and the increase of the capacities of computers. A network of a computerized system called the Internet was created; from that time, it was regarded as a virtual space equally co-existing with newspapers, magazines, and books. However, with time, people began to use it in the stores, financial and educational institutions.

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The digital development led to the improvement in mobile phones which had existed since the 1970s but became truly portable only in the 1990s and really slim in the 2000s. Apart from making phone calls, mobile phones could send text messages. It was a new wave of technological revolution: “Text and instant messaging have revolutionized written language, as shorthand script has replaced complete sentences for the purposes of relaying brief messages” (Spielvogel, 2012, p. 958).

The Digital Age introduced changes into every industry. In music, iPod and iTunes revolutionized the way people listened to music and purchased it. The very sound of music changed; now, it is often recorded digitally. Musicians as well as artists began to use more digital effects in their shows. The blend of sculpture, music, cinema, and photography became a new feature of performance art. The Digital Age transformed and refined the movie industry. From now on, computer animation and special effects became ubiquitous in films (Spielvogel, 2012, p. 959).

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As usual, new discoveries bring not only positive effects but negative as well: “the era of virtual reality, or what French philosopher Jean Baudrillard has termed “hyperreality”, has displaced cultural uniqueness and bodily presence” (Spielvogel, 2012, p. 959). Many people are disturbed by their growing dependence on digital devices. Artists are concerned with the possible loss of identity in the multicultural society of globalized world and try their best to prevent alienation.

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