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Ways of seeing, ep 1

 

John Berger argues that the process of seeing is not as natural as we tend to believe, all the images we see are arranged by the artists or even for the context in which we see them, he gives the example of perspective when the eye feels the center of what you’re looking at. What you see it’s always influenced by the characteristics of the environment (music, place, things around it) in which you are, and by our background (culture, level of education, experiences); we may not realize it but that can change for complete how we see a painting, for example a kid will not see a painting in the same way an adult see it, the kid might point at physical details of the painting while the adult might try to analyze the painting.

With the invention of the camera the human eye stopped being the only center of the visual world, the paintings that used to be in just one place could be now available for anyone across the world, anytime. People no longer have to go to specific places museums, chapels­) to see artworks. He gives the example of when you are in a church, the paintings are part of the building, they were designed for the building, so ‘everything around the image is part of its meaning’, the things around it confirms its meaning; however, when you’re seeing this images in the commodity of your home, surrounded by things you see every day they lost symbolism. According to Berger the most important thing about paintings is that are silent and still, I think he meant that when you go to a place that is focus in artworks that place is set in a way that you could connect with the painting and try to see beyond it. Seeing a painting on a screen could change radically its meaning because we can do different things to alter the image like zooming in on a part of the painting that is supposed to be seen whole, add some music, etc.

Images have become a form of information because they are transmittable, like the news; then he says that the faces of paintings become messages (message being an element of information) and many people try to understand the expressions on these faces. Berger emphasizes that ‘talking with reproductions’ has its pros and cons, the artwork stops being unique to have a lot of meanings based on the mean of communication in which it is put, but also this information about paintings could attract many people who like art to learn more, basically nowadays art is at everyone’s hand.

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