“A picture is worth a thousand words.” We’ve all heard this saying. Everyone has seen a painting or image that has made them feel a certain way. Art evokes emotion in us. But art has a specific definition. As does every word in the English dictionary. But what makes art special? What makes it unique? What makes it worthy and responsible for sparking renaissances and political discussion? Well, art is what you want it to be. That’s what makes it so beautiful.
“Ways of Seeing” by John Berger challenges an idea and belief about art. Berger argues that art loses it’s worth and power when it’s not seen at it’s origin. As if it has been diluted and watered down. In the article he uses words like perspective, convention, and mystification a numerous amount of times. To me, the vocabulary i’m seeing is very well thought out and colorful. But it comes across as repetitive, annoying, and overly complicated. But, since I’m reading this from a PDF it must be tainting my experience right? Writing IS a form of art after all. So me not having the original, physical copy is ruining his message and intended meaning right?
Our theme for the semester perfectly captures the true meaning of art, perception. Art is however you perceive it! The artist (whether it be a writer, musician, painter, sculptor, etc.) has absolutely no control over how, when, or where people see their art. Art is universal and when done correctly, acts like water. It’s able to adapt, and fit in with the times (be water my friend).
Berger says, ” History always constitutes between a present and it’s past.” That I agree with. Pictures a great tool into a deep dive of history. They are frozen moments in time. They can remind you of hard times, historic moments, or funny memories. What does the photo for you do? While reading the article, I remembered my grandma (who served in the military) had this historical photo hanging in her room. I also remembered her explaining to me it was from the battle of Iow Jima. A battle fought on a Japanese island during WWII. Me not having seen it in it’s original form doesn’t take away from it’s meaning or impact.
I’m aware Berger isn’t saying that photos not seen in it’s original form loses all intended meaning. I just feel that he is being a bit extreme. But that’s the way Berger is perceiving the evolution of art. Art changes with the times. All forms of art can naturally change overtime. That’s just the nature of art.
However, there is an interesting situation rising up. And what is that situation you ask? Well, it’s the modern twist on art. MEMES. Important videos and photos have been turned into memes (funny videos/images). In a way, memes can be seen as paradoys. In most cases when something becomes a meme, it can toss aside any serious meaning there was supposed to be behind that original of that piece of content. However, that’s not modern technologies fault, it’s just representative on how the times have changed and evolved. I can see the argument “memes are ruining pieces of important art”. A great example for this statement is Donald Glover’s latest music video “This is America”. Glover delivered a serious, beautiful, and articulate music video that contained many forms of imagery and symbolism. And what happened to this music video? Within 24hrs parts of it were turned into a meme. Does it take away from the video? In a way, yes. But no matter how a video, or picture is seen or heard, it doesn’t totally erase it’s original impact or meaning.
In the end, art changes over time. To say art is being viewed improperly is simply false. Art is allowed to be seen however the viewer wants to see it. Not seeing the piece in it’s original form doesn’t change anything.
Being able to see the constitution up close and personal is something special. A document hundreds of years old that carries so much history. If I were to google image a picture of it, would I get that same overwhelming feeling of excitement i’d receive if I was seeing it in person? No, and that’s fine. But again that’s just my opinion and my way of perceiving it. Someone may feel the complete opposite. Someone could even extract that same feeling of excitement from a google image.
Everyone is different. Everyone perceives art differently. Again, art conveys different emotions for everyone.