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John Berger: Ways of Seeing - Essay Example

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Name 22 February 2012 Assignment ‘Ways of Seeing’ is a renowned book by John Berger, a collection of criticisms of Western cultural aesthetics that aims to raise questions regarding hidden ideologies in visual images. The book consists of several essays and their objective is to talk about images and words and how the same affects a human being at a psychological level…
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John Berger: Ways of Seeing
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Download file to see previous pages Furthermore, Berger talks about how colour photography has taken over the role of oil painting however; the context is reversed because the photograph is now made to look like an oil painting. The eyes of a human being are subjective to what they see; like Frank Jackson’s Mary leaves her black and white room for the first time to see a red tomato, a blue sky and other colours around her. Up till the time she remained within her confined black and white world, she was under the impression that she had all the physical knowledge in the world, however, since she enters the Technicolor world; she understands that the complete physical truth is not the whole truth. Thus, the physical world does not necessarily determine the complete truth about the world. This example has been taken in order to understand the tricks that one’s eyes may play on them and today, artists have exploited this very opportunity in order to create fresh and modern forms of art. Since the 60s, various forms of art including the cubist movement, three dimensional art, sculptures etc have taken precedence over plain canvas paintings because they bring to life what is being made instead of just depicting a drawing of the same. Berger’s third composition talks about using oil paints to reflect art. This may be used as a precedent to understanding famous works of oil paintings in the world, for example Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night’. Vincent Van Gogh was a famous Dutch post impressionist artist and one of his most renowned works includes ‘The Starry Night’. The Museum of Modern Art has made this painting a part of its permanent collection. The painting is a depiction of the artist’s memory of what he sees outside his window in the moonlight. It is a simple depiction of the Saint – Remy-de-Provence, during night time, rather romantic and made with strokes of precision. The painting shows a swirling sky clouding the village of Saint-Remy, viewed from the window of an asylum to the north of the picture. There are hills and cypress trees in the picture which seem to have derived their own shape and form into the composition. The painting has wonderful emotions that burst out through the myriad of colours that have been slapped onto the canvas in whirling shapes. The painting helps to depict the battling shapes that the artist as an anxiety stricken man was forced to face. His anger boils down to the interactions that he has with the people in and around the psychiatric ward at Saint-Remy and the strokes are an excuse to help people understand the trauma of bizarreness that he was undergoing at the time. Berger’s main argument is regarding how it is easier for people to look at something and understand the situation innately rather than being told about something which might get exaggerated in their mind’s eye. Thus, seeing, is truly believing according to the author and in the case of this painting as well, only those that have spent some time observing the various nooks and crannies, have been able to comprehend the destitute thoughts of the artist. Confusion is one of the main elements of the painting and the eyes are able to grasp this extremely quickly because of the shapes and sizes of the objects on the canvas. Each and every point and sharp within the image complements the other in order to come ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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