I am currently studying different texts and examples of artists/art enthusiasts getting their ideas across from paper into your head. I recently read a few chapters of John Berger’s ‘Ways of Seeing’ book and also his TV series of the same name. I found it extremely hard to get through both; however, have found them to be valuable resources to help me answer the title question.
In Berger’s book ‘Ways of Seeing’ he starts by commenting on the way we see. He states that ‘Seeing comes before words. The child looks and recognises before it can speak’. What he means is that we see totally before we know what is happening. He talks about the fact that we see the sunset however know the world is turning even though those ideas never really match up. As humans we can’t comprehend the two happening at the same time. This is seeing and knowing. He talks about perspective and how we are continually seeing what is in front of us as if our eyes are the perspective point. That verbal dialogue is how we attempt to explain how we see things.
Berger uses fine oil paintings for to explain his thinking and uses this as a precedent for the standard of work he believes is an image. He believes that these images can outlast what they initially represent and then once reproduced in other ways for example in photography or television, they loose their meaning when surrounded by context. These images go on to inspire many other artists ideas of what they wish the image to represent.
By using these skills Berger leads you to believe that you can characterise an image so well that you start to think you know the subject. It is not written however, it is clear Berger fine oil paintings are the only way to produce a unique meaningful image. He uses the artist Hals’ ‘Regents of the Old Men’s Alm’s House’ and a ‘Regentesses’ equivalent to convey this deep characterisation through oil painting.
I disagree with Berger’s Idea that your craft has to be that fine to master meaning out of an image. To be a good designer there are far more modern ways of having your perspective realised in an image.