The Starry Night Seeing is believing. When we encounter various kinds of things in the world around us, our first response is to gauge their worth using our eyes. The first impression delivered by the eyes is often stronger than other forms of sense. Berger agrees with this perspective and states that “seeing and recognition” come before words…
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As Berger develops his ideas, he states that our prior knowledge or perception of things tends to affect the way in which we see those things. The use of words to explain things around us tends to influence how we see things in the first place. This relationship between seeing and believing tends to create a dynamic relationship where our past experience or knowledge heavily influences the way we see things and perceive them. In order to substantiate his claim, Berger relates fire that is seen differently today when compared to the Middle Ages when people believed in the “physical reality of hell”. An image is a unique method to preserve something so that people can view it later and “see” it with their own vision. As Berger puts it (Berger 9): “An image is a sight which has been recreated or reproduced ...which has been detached from the place and time in which it first made its appearance ...” Berger argues that the “detachment” varies from one image to the other including photographs. However, the contention in creating an image is to enable people to see things from the perspective of the creator. Yet when people generally view an image, they consider it from their perspectives only. The reason for the origination of images as per Berger was merely to “represent something that was not there”. As time wore on, increasing human intellect associated new functions to images. The image became a symbolic representation of an artist’s vision with which the artist could choose to document his personal experiences. When images from the past are “presented as works of art” the actual meaning behind them is “obscured” by personal assumptions such as truth, form, beauty etc. The ensuing mystification between the viewer and the image tends to remove the real historical perspectives attached to that particular piece of art. According to Berger, this is a deliberate move (Berger 11): “... because a privileged minority is striving to invent a history which can retrospectively justify the role of the ruling classes ...” He further argues that viewers could expect to understand the personality of the artist through his works because people evaluate these perceptions through their own vision. However, these ideas of personal understanding of the artist’s personality may not always be true. Berger states that this is actually mystification but we could have an understanding of these personalities (Berger 14): “... because it corresponds to our own observations of people ... [and] ...we still live in a society of comparable social relations and moral value” Berger’s ideas are fully applicable not just to paintings but to other forms of art as well because human perception is relative. This text will explore the application of Berger’s ideas to a piece by Vincent Van Gogh titled Starry Night. As such, Starry Night depicts a night full of stars with a partial moon depicted in the sky over some medieval town in Europe. A tree depicted on the left side of the painting tends to figure prominently and rises towards the painting’s top. In the distance to the right, a grove of trees is visible, beyond which a series of small hills dot the entire landscape till the horizon. The night sky is filled with multiple tones with the lowest edge (along the horizon) being the brightest
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(The Starry Night Essay Example | Topics and Well Written Essays - 1250 Words)
“The Starry Night Essay Example | Topics and Well Written Essays - 1250 Words”, n.d. https://studentshare.org/english/1443480-john-berger-ways-of-seeing-the-essay.
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