Art as manipulation in Berger's "Ways of Seeing"

Essay by honeykitty7College, UndergraduateA+, March 2004

download word file, 5 pages 4.6

Downloaded 123 times

Art as manipulation in Berger's "Ways of Seeing"

"To see only what is there is to be as blind as the night."

Annalyn Joie Tran

"Ways of Seeing" closely analyses the way we think about art. Indeed, perspectives on aesthetic production have a history, as John Berger states in the following phrases: "Today we see the art of the past as nobody saw it before. We actually perceive it in a different way." "Seeing comes before words," that is to say, the world is perceived in different ways, based on the preverbal, unreal experience. What one sees is what he believes he sees. People add meaning to images based on their previous experience.

Berger's essay, "Ways of Seeing" offers a view of our culture and emphasizes in particular the way that, nowadays, culture reproduces and makes use of images of the past. Placed in museums, on bulletin boards, on T-shirts and in advertisements, the images tell a story of us, seen from a historic perspective.

Berger says, " The past is never there waiting to be discovered, to be recognized for exactly what it is. History always constitutes the relation between a present and its past." Berger also claims: "The entire art of the past has now become a political issue" and that were people to understand history in art "the new language of images" would confer them "a new kind of power." He goes further and challenges us to act responsibly and to take awareness of the connections that underlie within the concept of museum. He describes the art museum as an instrument of the state, being its function to manipulate our view over the past. By means of the propaganda we are experiencing nowadays, museums have acquired besides the cultural, educational and...