John Berger

Ways of Seeing Film

This is a 4 part series that was shot in 1972 with John Berger as the narrator and writer. I decided to revisit this film. I believe it still has relevance and I have gotten some very useful information to use within my practice. I particularly found series 3 & 4 useful where he speaks first of the History of European painting then on the History of advertising. On painting what stood out is he mentioned the importance in the tradition of the development of oil paint. The men who actually commissioned portraits of themselves, their families or still lives with subjects of their wealth and all the fine objects they had acquired oil painting found it’s purpose. The artist used oil paint to describe in a very realistic way the physical texture, shine, gloss and tangibility of the objects it was representing. Unlike paints used before in capable hands the quality of the paint was so realistic it was as if you could grab it. There was mention of the focus and importance of early European painting to show what had been acquired.  The transition of the subjects of painting straying from religious, to secular and In modern times popularity of colour advertising has similar references and celebrate the quality of objects. However there is a fear perpetuated on the public. Instead of showing what has been acquired it is showing what the public should aspire to. If they just bought whatever product, object, clothing, that was being advertised their life would be so much better. I find this very interesting as I am looking at popular culture in my practice as a whole from fashion to the products we buy and the need to consume. 

Jacquelyn Hodges

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