John Berger’s “Ways of Seeing” is primarily based on criticism of art and the way the societies interpret what it sees in artwork. It is a comparison between how people appreciate art in the modern day versus the ancient time. John Berger's Ways of Seeing gives a technical knockout to the way different societies interpret and criticize painting and art. This is due to technological advancement in modern art. Modern art has taken another step ahead, where even those with less talent of painting can modify their painting through technology. There is a lot that can be communicated through a single painting or picture.
Language of images
Berger argues that by sampling each painting, photographs and graphic art, the image concept our eyes are exposed to be not the only thing that happens. When we look at such images, two things happen. First, our eyes are exposed to the image, everyone sees the same image. John Berger says,” The way we see a thing is affected by what we know or what we believe.” This is influenced by the assumptions of civilization, class, and gender (John Berger & Corporation, 1976).
Second, we start to communicate with the image. They say a single picture can generate a million views. For that purpose, Berger takes the task of questioning our ability to generate accurate and relevant views from a picture. Though we can generate the million views from a single picture, some things cannot be explained fully through words alone. Pictures play large and decisive role of taking place and task of effectively explaining what cannot be explained in words. This maybe is due to the purpose of advertising and other actions that must be communicated to the whole society. People have different views based on their upbringing environment and intelligence. Intelligence to manipulate the picture and what we see is solely necessary to explain what cannot be said through words but pictures.
Relationship between what we perceive and what we know
The relationship between what our eyes comes across, and the picture already in our mind about that thing defines our vision. This enables a person to outline the relation between the things they see and themselves. It creates a dialogue within us. One starts to question each picture at a certain point of the picture then to the rest image. An example for this is vivid in a photographers’ work, where at some point the camera may seem to concentrate at one point. The concentration point determines the photographers’ interest in the environment he was capturing. A more direct example can be found in an artists’ painting. Looking closely one can notice that some areas in the painting are more vividly painted than the others.
Berger says, “and often dialogue is an attempt to verbalize this-an attempt to explain how, metaphorically or literally, ‘you see things’ and discover how he sees things’” (John Berger & Corporation, 1976). The photographer above communicates his personal interests in the photo through his concentration point. A person with similar interests as those of the photographer is likely to see the concentration point more quickly. The realization of a concentration point in an image, allows a person to accept and imagine being in such position in the picture. The person looks at the picture, sees an area of interest, and likes the area of interest and positions themselves being in the same spot and being viewed by another. This maybe the driving force of models and adverts.
Let us take a basic example of an ordinary person. The person buys a magazine and comes across a picture of maybe a well-dressed model in the latest fashion. The person attention will be caught at a particular point, the shoes, the jewellery or the clothing. Then the person starts to visualize them being in such a picture accompanied by what interest them most in the model. The final thing is for the person to imagine and visualize is people viewing them in such a photo.
Despite different upbringing of people in terms of religion, beliefs and customs and sex, inborn distinction and not heredity should power a person capability to explain the phenomena behind a picture or whatever images he comes across. There are those that are valid only in a certain field of criticism of what they see and are termed as haters or not optimistic enough. People that poses unique powers to at least have a manipulate images in every field and are termed as advisers. Thus, it is extremely true to say as it is said, every person is talented in a way or the other, but not every person is intelligent in terms of “seeing.”
John Berger clearly state that between the action of seeing and give definition with words, seeing will be the first action. Since everyone is born with no wisdom or knowledge in this world, then what the society exposes the person to is what become the character of the person. Seeing can be compared to exposure and character to the spoken words of what is seen. We do not necessarily have to speak out, but what and how we interpret what we see matters a lot.
Looking closer the seeing and interpreting is an exceedingly difficult task for the society due to the difference in cultural beliefs and religion. Let take an example where two people comes across an advert depicting a naked woman. If these people hold different religious views, the two persons in terms of religious views rather than in terms of artistic work will review the picture. Every religion is against immorality such as depicting women in nude adverts. The only difference in the religious view of such immorality is the empirical state of the church. When one is born, he comes into this world without any philosophical or religious view. Then what drives people to hold different views at alter stage of life? Is it the exposure that they are brought up in or is it their own intelligence?
Knowledge of seeing is a combination of several intellectual factors that contribute to wisdom. This is capacity to take quick and correct interpretation of a picture or problem coming with conclusive and reliable ideas within a short time account. This is increasingly becoming a bit difficult than the ancient times due to the extent of technology complexity of the specialized knowledge required of various kinds of fields in the world today. Technology makes it easier for a person to fit in multiple seeing positions. Suppose that a person is conducting a research in scientific medicine. The task is quite hard to accomplish, as it is likely to absorb the whole of his potential intelligence energy. Just as there, is a specialization in the world today seeing and interpreting may seem as a special branching in the field of wisdom. When allocated a task many people will at first look at whether you have knowledge of seeing the given task in relevant ways. After performing the task, they will try to understand your seeing power, whether you have the required wisdom to manipulate the task to achieve a better outcome than the required. If an individual posses a lot of personal seeing, and relative interpretation the person is qualified to adapt to any situation.
Taking a simpler and maybe common example, which is in everybody’s mind now? One should study the composition of a picture or image from a highly unlikely angle of desire for understanding. If one is successful to see what others cannot see, one becomes a public figure with exceptional talents. Right? What if the person incidentally places his ideas in the wrong hands that are interested in the misuse of knowledge and mainly composed of powerful political activists or haters, as we said? Then that mean destroying the content of the picture or image. In such a condition seek of picture manipulation knowledge become unhealthy unless it is accompanied with wisdom; wisdom in this case means righteous will to create and manipulate other people ideas for the benefit of the society.
Unique knowledge of seeing has the ability the entire picture by manipulation. Leonardo DA Vinci had this ability though not technologically equipped. He had the ability to even manipulate his own paintings even after completing his work. This was through repainting after getting the society views on the first painting. His work was always authentic and original which is outdated for today painter. Most painters rely on manipulating paintings of other artists.
How would one refer to naked women in any painting? Since there is no crime committed in such pictures, the only problem is the purpose of such a picture or painting to the painter, the one painted and the viewer. Get her naked image or view a naked image of a woman? Looking at these questions one by one the conclusive answer is that all the three parties are looked for a platform of the idea expression. This is in the sense that the person producing the naked images would like to try his hand at producing sensitive work that many have not ventured. While the viewer, and the person being painted are after a different approach of seeing things. Things here refer to the nudity.
Berger shows a crummy picture of traditional interpretation methods to the society. This is due to the fact the artwork promoted envy and was a way of promoting materialism. Materialism in the sense of men owning, painting and viewing nude women.