Abstract Edit

Ways of Seeing is a four part BBC video series, created by John Berger and producer Mike Dibb in 1972. The videos "question the assumptions usually made about the tradition of European paintings" (1) The first episode in the series draws on Walter Benjamin's The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, and the idea that the reproduction of art such as paintings separates the piece's modern context from the context of which the piece was created. Berger touches on the idea that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and this makes the eye the center of the visible world. The invention of the camera changed perception of the world- it changed not only what we see but how we see it. He also talks a lot about how most original paintings have been recreated, copied, and distributed across the globe. This messes with the "value" of the painting. Berger also touches on the fact that paintings can be easily manipulated- a few reasons why is that there is no unfolding of time in paintings, just the one frame; a painting's interpretation can be changed if it is accompanied by music and rhythm; and the meaning of an image can be changed depending on what you view after or beside it.

Key Concepts Edit

Because of the camera and the fact that any original piece of work can be photographed, copied, and placed virtually anywhere in the world, paintings have lost something. There is no longer the feeling of impressiveness because you know it's the only one of it's kind- yes, there is the original still which holds the value, but since most valued paintings have copies and remakes because of the camera, it loses some of it's sense of worth. Berger talks about the fact that in original paintings, this loss of worth is often replaced by market value for being an original painting "It's acquired a new kind of impressiveness, but not because of what it shows, not because of the meaning of its image. It's become mysterious again because of it's market value. This market value depends on it being genuine." (1) This shows that while the invention of the camera and the ability to copy anything took its toll on the value of a painting, something- money and market value of an original- somewhat replaced this.

Examples Edit


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An example of a painting that the camera and the possibility of recreating and copying the image made very popular is Van Gogh's starry night. It is debatably one of the world's most widely-known painting- even though only a select people have been to the museum in New York to see the original. This painting has become so popular that people try to recreate it, add their own touches to it, and even do things like design clothes with the painting on it.

In this case, the camera and remediation of the painting, made the painting extrememly popular, as well as the original. The original piece, because it is so widely known, loses some of that "mysteriousness" that Berger talked about- but the market value of the painting, because it is so popular, is extremely high.

Keywords Edit


Original works


Sources Edit


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