ways of seeing

Topics: Art, John Berger, Visual arts Pages: 2 (522 words) Published: February 5, 2014
Perceiving something, from the moment that a view strikes our eyes to the interpretative process that proceeds in our minds following that initial perception, is definitely an elaborate procedure. Some may consider “seeing” as a privilege to humankind, because, although most animals are able to view something, only humans really have the ability to process and interpret what we see. Others, conversely, find “seeing” to be an overrated act of escaping reality via ones imagination.

John Berger is, perhaps, one of these pessimists. In Ways of Seeing, Berger does introduce “seeing” as a fundamental mechanism in interpreting our world. Often, according to Berger, dialect is incapable of describing what one is able to see. “Every image embodies a way of seeing” and those perceiving an image can also interpret it differently (Berger 142). Despite this seemingly open-minded view of seeing, Berger leads his readers in a different direction as he explains topics such as the mystification of art and the effects of reproducing works of art. In analyzing the contrast between paintings and photographs, Berger begins to express his view on mystification. He suggests that critiques often excessively interpret art by using far-fetched artistic jargon. This imposes a sort of “mystification” rather than direct judgments. Berger then instructs us how to “avoid mystifying the past.”(Berger 147). He switches the focus to the relationships that the paintings express rather than the techniques the artists used. This “mystified” analysis on artwork suggests a rather narrow-minded speculation. Although, to some extent, Berger’s implication that art critiques often venture too far into a land of imagination is valid, I also believe it to be limited to a specific type of critique. Berger’s argument provoked a bit of disappointment as I challenged his ethos and overall reliability. The historical reasoning behind art is definitely important. However, I think that one should be able to...
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