Notes on Berger (Jess)

Reading Berger, the section that struck me the most was the chart on page 24: “Of the places listed below which does a museum remind you of the most?” Most respondents chose church or library, and this makes sense to me. The inside of a museum – at least in my experience – is usually quiet and contemplative, a place to revere art/artifacts. Admittedly, I am often agitated in such spaces. While I appreciate and have deep respect for the artwork on display, the interactive human element is missing. A place to visit art/artifacts would be more welcoming with an atmosphere similar to a coffeehouse or public plaza. Conversation and discussion seem integral to being with art, allowing it to live with the modern population instead of hanging in a quiet room on its own because of market value (such as Berger mentions on page 23, re:The Virgin and Child with St. Anne and St. John the Baptist). That which gives value to art today may now be its publication. Reproduction and publication of artwork removes them from the environment for which they may have been intended… but a museum may do the very same thing. However, as Berger concludes this chapter, the politics and ethics of copyright and ownership add another layer of understanding and interpretation.

As a designer/artist, I’m creating work for an audience – not necessarily tied to single work in a specific place (i.e., cathedral or private estate) – and I attribute this to the culture in which I was raised. This provides opportunity for interpretation, influence, change… and, unavoidably, reproduction and reuse. In a time when printing and digital reproduction are almost taken for granted, these are things that I must expect to happen.

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