Monday, February 6, 2017

John Berger: Ways of Seeing, Episode 1

The impact from watching this video was quite monumental.  Although everything said made complete sense, I had never thought about the reproduction of original art in the way that it was discussed.

John Berger's opening statement about how the process of seeing paintings or seeing anything at all is less spontaneous and natural than we believe was interesting.  It made me think about how I usually see things, and normally, it's a very natural process for me; most of the time it's second nature and I don't think too deeply into it.  But the emphasis on how a large part of seeing is dependent upon habit and convention, along with the explanation of how perspective is key, made me think that some things (like seeing) we definitely take for granted.

The second installment about how the invention of the camera has changed how we see things and exactly what we see..well, that's common sense.  I believe the camera was invented not only to capture images we see fleetingly, or are unable to investigate in depth, but also to be able to manipulate those images either to our liking or not.  It makes sense that the camera has now added a new dimension between the viewer and the image procured.

Although John Berger attempted to point out the good and bad aspects of the creation of the camera in the face of ancient paintings and drawings, I honestly could only stick with the "bad" aspects.  These being that the originality of a painting is almost completely lost when a camera attempts to recreate and capture its essence.  But, this can also translate to the fact that meanings that arise from original paintings remain with the authentic image, and cannot be made mobile like the camera has done to the image itself.

Additionally, the final segment on surroundings and how they impact an individual's opinion on a painting was especially intriguing.  Surroundings can be anything that can alter one's perspective on a given image once they are placed, before, during, or even after you've viewed an image.  For instance, with music, if a certain tune or song is played simultaneously while viewing an image, it allows for different interpretations, feelings, and perspectives attached to that image at that given moment.  It's similar with what a person experiences or sees before or after the focal image is placed in front of them.  The example used in the show was the image Van Gogh painted before he committed suicide.  More often than not, the viewer would not know this information beforehand, and the only information shared about the image was its description.  People tend to look at things differently once they are told different types of details about what they are looking at.

In summary, it was interesting to learn that the invention of the camera not only made images mobile, but then created different meanings for the image captured other than its original one(s).  In other words, the reproduction of art makes the meaning of works ambiguous.

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