John Berger: Ways of Seeing

John Berger: Ways of Seeing

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I was recommended by Joao to look into John Berger's documentary because it's somewhat related to my project. I watched all four episodes of this BBC documentary but thought that the first one is the most relevant. John's perspective towards photography and consumerism is much different than mine. I thought new technologies have allowed the public to 'get to know' or learn about the specific area like fine art, which in the old days could only be seen the originals in galleries. On the other hand, with the easier access from the wilder audience to European art, for example, there are also disadvantages as stated by John in this video. 

 

"Originally, paintings were an integral part of the building for which they were designed. The image is on the wall are records of the building’s interior life, together they make a memory of the building so much are they part of the life and individuality of the building everything around the image is part of its meaning (consolidates and confirms its meaning)"
 
Photography allows people to keep a moment of a history as a tangible image (or nowadays it's digital image), but it sometimes destroys the original aesthetic of the moment when it's recorded into another thing. For instance, in art history, an icon is used for religious purpose as it marks the place of the god where worshippers coverage upon it. Through photography though, icon belongs to nobody, the image comes to people, people don't go to worship it. Camera has made some of the original art pieces reproducible and that it's value is somehow lost. In my opinion, photography demolishes the textile element of everything whether it's the folding of a garment, the crack on an oil painting, or the roughness of a rock. At the same time, it allows something new to be created in the art world via manipulation. John Berger demonstrates how camera can manipulate oil painting, and I was surprised of how much music or just camera angle can change the audience's perception depending on what the photographer wants to show us. 
 
"Painting is still, silence, and uninterrupted silence, which can be very striking. When zooming into a woman in a painting, an allegorical figure becomes a pretty girl anywhere. From being part of a strange poetical word of metamorphosis, a dog can be turned into a pet, not a dog of his master’s voice."
 
Inspiration by this idea of manipulation, I think that for unit 7, I could be doing something with manipulation and perception with the audience by looking at the interaction between the traditional photography method verses digital or physical editing. 

 

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