|Berger, John. Ways of Seeing. London: Penguin, 1972.
The way we see, has many shades of illumination, and many ways of colouring the world. The sense residing at the top of our bodies is not always linked directly to the brain, but quite often threaded to the lower extremities. Berger and his colleagues explore the way art societally exploits women, and there by continues to contaminate the fallacies of men. They also deal in depth with the broader aspect of social exploitation, through publicity. This book is a collection of seven essays, four using a mixture of images and words, and three using only images. Berger and his cohorts Sven Blomberg, Chris Fox, Michael Dibb, and Richard Hollis have collected innumerable images from many centuries, ranging from the vulgar to sublime, presented singly and in collages. We are assaulted and seduced without any hope of protection, by so many great and familiar works, that we can not hope, to not see, just one that has not touched us in the past. We remember that touch, and now Mr. Berger tells us why, we felt the way we did.
The camera changed the world of art, and brought art to the world in general, where as Art was for the most part the property of the rich. Photography came at a time when socialistic change was sweeping the autocratic cobwebs from the world, and brought illumination to the common men and women. Later, as the levels of property increased, in our corner of the world, colour photography blended into our life, through publicity and advertising.
|In Berger's view Art is a way to display possession, and in the rarer form, to
present a question of existance. Other than the most exceptional works, the patrons use
artists to catalogue their possessions, including their women. A subtle form of pornography
grew up around the premise, that the female body was an example, of the beauty of line and
form. The sexuality of the woman is robbed from her, and left to the pleasure of her owner.
Even in the presence of her lover, she looks over him to seek the owner. This exploded in the
world of advertising to full licked lips, and submissive posses, projecting the woman to the
whole world. In the modern world, we are tantalized and convinced that we need, and can get
what we can't have; and, never expand our sight past the limited horizons we drool over.
Glamour is a modern invention birthed by advertising. It revolves around the unattainable
future of what we could have, and is empowered by envy.
The repeated mistake of society, is to take the sensitizing opportunity of Art and reduce it to a cacophonous melange of beige mud, drowning the gasp of life, reducing our lucky break to a broken promise. So it is with our governments, we stop just short of utopia with all the rationalization we can muster. Thank you, Mr. Berger, you have turned my dimmer switch up a notch, I shall now see, when I look, and say "No, thank you," when I've had enough.