Ways of Seeing

Question 1

John Berger- “Ways of Seeing” published in 1972 and based on BBC television program.  Berger points out what is involved in seeing, and how the way we see things is determined by what we know. The process of seeing painting or seeing anything else. It is less spontaneous and natural than we tend to believe. Berger touches on the idea that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and this makes the eye the center of the visible world. A large part of seeing is based on habit and convention. Today we see the art of the past as nobody saw it before. We perceive it in a different way. This difference can be illustrated in terms of what was thought of as perspective. Painting of the tradition used the convention of perspective. The convention of perspective is unique to European art and which was first established in early Renaissance. The conventions called those appearances reality. Perspective makes the single eye the center of the visible world. According to the convention of perspective there is no visual reciprocity. The painting on the wall like a human eye, can only be in one place at one time. Perspective makes the single eye the center of the visible world. One category of European oil painting women was the principle. Ever recurring subject. That category is the nude. In the nudes of European painting we can discover some of the criteria and conventions by which women have been seen and judged as sights. The modern interrogation of centuries old oil paintings was a milestone in cultural theory. He argues that the systemic objectification of women in visual art.


Question 2


According to Berger “Ways in Seeing” the invention of the camera changed perception of the world- it changed not only what we see but how we see it. The camera demonstrated that there was no center. The invention of cameras changed the way men saw. Berger touches on the idea that the human eye could only be in one place at a time. The images come to us, this meaning, like the news of an event. You do not go to them. People would travel to the image. The camera made it possible that appearances could travel across the world. The painting can only be in one place at one time, the camera reproduces it. He describes original paintings are unique, they look different on television screens . When the camera reproduces a painting change. Visit the national gallery and look at the original painting. It is not fake, it is authentic. We should feel this authenticity. For example, The Virgin of the Rocks by Leonardo DA Vince: it is authentic and therefore it is beautiful. The most important thing about painting is that their image does not speak, they are silent, he claims. Berger argues that I cannot demonstrate that the lines on your screen are never still, and in a sense, the pages of the book are never still. He says, Occasionally, this uninterrupted silence and the stillness of a painting can be very striking.


Question 3


Berger’s states that painting can become a form of information. Berger emphasized reproduction makes the meaning of works of art ambiguous. This is not negative, it is necessary. The production of works of art can be used by anybody for their own purposes. The art book depends upon reproductions. For instance, children or adults pin up reproductions alongside snapshots. The works of art are reproducible, theoretically be used by anybody in art books, magazines, films or within gift frames in living rooms. The means of reproduction are used politically and commercially to disguise or deny what their existence makes possible.

2 thoughts on “Ways of Seeing

  1. ambika lama

    Q2 The last 2 lines you have mentioned is very convincing. I actually had to watch the video again just to see where i missed those lines : )

  2. Scott Levine

    In Question 2 you explain the authenticity well. But I think it’s important to mention Berger’s concept of it’s authenticity being beautiful partially due to the monetary value. And how once stripped of that, its true beauty, stillness and silence can be truly be observed.

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