Notes and essay in the making
Synopsis on Ways of Seeing by John Berger And Techniques of the Observer by Johathan Crary
Inttoduction In this essay I´ll be comparing Bergers opinion on the way we see things and Crary´s opinions on the observers techniques. I want to see what we can take from their studies to bring into the present time and ask how we are seeing things now.
Ways of Seeing by John Berger Berger starts by talking about how seeing things is a lot stronger than what words can describe, for example the sunset or looking at the beloved. Looking is always in relation to ourselves and is affected by what we know and believe. Images are more precise and richer than literature. Images best represent a testimony of the world which surrounded people at other times, the way no writing can do. The more imaginative the work of art is the more profoundly it allows us to share the artists experience of the visible. History always constitutes of the relationship between the present and the past. When we see a landscape painting we automatically see ourselves in it. If wee saw art of the past we would place ourselves in history. With art being remote or inaccessible we are being denied from history that belongs to us. The art of the past is being mystified by the elite few that can see it, and then describe it to the world thus poluting the way we see the image. Mystification has little to do with the vocabulary used. Mystification is the process of explaining away what might otherwise be evident. In the early Renaissaince when perspective came about it centered everything on the eye of the beholder, they called it reality. The problem with perspective is that it had only one viewing angle. The invention of the camera changed that. It demonstrated that there was no centre and many viewing angles. It changed the way men saw and it immediately reflected in painting. For the impressionists, the visible disappeared from the painting and the cubists started painting from multiple views. The invention also changed the way we saw paintings that were painted long before the camera was invented. The paintings used to be painted for designated buildings, and often depicted the life inside those building. Sometimes the paintings were transportable, but could only be seen in one place at a time. Now that paintings could be reproduced it could be shown in many places at the same time. A painting could be shown on TV all over the world but the experience would be different in every single living room, because of the surroundings and the people you see it with. Because of the reproductions, the uniqueness of the painting becomes only what it is, not what it says. You can see what it says on all the reproductions but you can only go to the National Gallery to see the original. The painting becomes defined by it´s rarity and it´s market price. Reproductions of a painting can also change the meaning of the image. For example a face might be cropped out of a larger painting to make a portrait or something is written next to it or an image that comes before it or straight after can aslo change the meaning of the image and draw conclusions for the spectator.
Vantar síðustu tvær bls.
Techniques of the Observer by Johathan Crary (the latter part of Crary´s summary is still in note format)
Crary begins to explain how he is primarily going to dress the events and development in the techniques of the observer before 1850. Although at the time he is writing major changes are happening in the image and the way it is represented and observed, namely the computer graphic techniques, which nulifies most of the the culturally estableshed meaning of the ters “observer and “representation. Visual spaces are being fabricated. Audio visual media is becoming globally acessible. To understand the visual we need to ask many questions. Is there infact an ongoing mutation in the way of seeing? If so which forms and modes are being left behind? What is the continuity with the old and the new? He says there were only a relatively small number of advanced artists who generated a radically new kind of seeing an importance, while more ordinary and the same general "realist" structures that had organixedd it since the fifteenth centurey. Classical space seemed changed, but on the other hand a big part of it remained the same. Modernism depens fundementally on realism vs. experimentation. The notion of modernism depends on a detached viewpoint. The observer remains the same although Modernism is the appearance of the new.
Modernixation of vision had begun decades earlier (from avant guard). He suggests that a brader and far more important transformation in the makeup of vision occurred in the early nineteenth century. Modernist painting in the 187´s and 1880s and the developement of photography after 1839 can be seen as later symtooms or consequences of a crucial systemic shift which had alrealdy begun by 1920.
He says he writes his book not judging by artworks but of the observer.
observare means "to conform one´s action, to comply with"
Nineteenth century observer, he wants to suggest some of the contitions and forces that defined or allowed the formation of a dominant model of what an abserver was in .. By scetching out related events that produced crucial ways in which vision was discussed, controlled and incarnated in cultural and scientific practices.. Also how the major terms and elements from the previous observers where not present anymore.
He says it is easy to take things into the forgereground or leave in the back when making assumptions about the past.
He says that though many people think it was photography and later cinema that changed the way we saw things, that technology is on the contrary always a concomitant ( naturally accompanying or associated) or subordinate (lower in rank or position) parts of other forces. He also talks about the camera obscure was a dominant status of the observer in the seventeen and eighteeth centuries while in the nineteeth the stereoscope as a means of detailing the observers transformed status ( He stresses that the camera obscura (of the 17th and 18th century) is not directly related to the otical techniqes of the nineteenth century.
Conclusion I have a great interest in the way we see things, why we see them the way we are and how it has changed through time. I believe there is an ongoing revelution in the way we see things at the moment. Images have both become more accessible and the creation of visuals cheaper and more user friendly. Which has allowed for anybody to make images and distribute them. Then there is also the question of the truth of information due to the possibility of astounding realism in the creation of images in the present day. The difference of my generation and my sons generation on how we see things is staggering. When my mother was insuring me that it was just a story or a trickery of the cinema, must look very different in my sons eyes than mine. The amount and array of fictional characters and enviroments and the realism of it is becoming so real that the line between fiction and information is hard to concieve. How will the child of today know what is real tomorrow? Also technology has made it possible for visual images to be interactive. 3D cinema and stereography… Not only that but how visuals have become interactive, accessible, and quick to “travel”, technology has changed how we make art, percieve it and how accesible it is. I have been working with moving image for 14 years and the amount of changes in the way I work with them are huge. Both of the texts I summarized are written a while ago. Do the same questions stand? Do we still use the same observation techniques? Crary suggest that when we change the technology or the way we produce images that it is the concomitant or subordinate of other forces. Is the technology leading us or are we leading the technology? Are we making art because we can? Am I following an old protocol when making images or am I making my own protocol? What is true? The new realism… Computer generated visuals have become so real, we don´t see the difference anymore. We don´t know if things we see on the screen excist or have been made. Sets vs. AE and Cinema 4D… Blurred lines between photography/cinema and art and design.
Will new technolgy create new movements within the visual field or are we following old movements and recreating them?