Márit’s Thoughts

Representation in art was once a very literal and linear portrayal. It wasn’t until the invention of the camera that painters began to branch out and expand ways of creating visual works of art that reflects on various perceptions and ways of seeing. Berger reflects on how the Cubists manipulated all possible views of an object or scene and combined them into one image for the viewer to take in. Perspective, a Renaissance idea still taught extensively today, creates an illustration for the viewer that is suggestive of how the universe is seen by God. However, Berger notes an apparent contradiction in this suggestion: the viewer of a perspective painting could only be in a single place at a time, while God is omnipresent. Perhaps the author is then suggesting that artists part of more recent movements such as Cubism are creating works that are closer to god-like imagery. Modern technology such as the digital camera can reproduce the visual world with an accuracy that no human can achieve, but it still reflects the single point of view of the photographer. Berger states that the photographer has selected a composition from an array of infinite options and the viewer of a photograph is aware of this on some level.

Berger continues on to discuss the “uniqueness” of a painting, and how that depends on the placement of a piece. Early Renaissance works of art were created for viewing in a specific location that makes up a “memory” of a location. Remove the context of a painting and the intentions of the artist and the imagery can become distorted or lost on the viewer, or not hold nearly as much significance in history. This is true in modern design and advertising; for example, billboards are often dependent on location. A campaign for fine jewelry may not have an impact in a lower-class area. Or an ad in a magazine advocating social change may not have a strong effect if the reader is primarily very wealthy. Mass reproduction of design in marketing also holds little uniqueness simply because it is widely distributed and therefore looses some impact value. Sadly, a piece can become infamous not because of it’s imagery, but because of it’s material or historical value as an art object. As a designer looking to stand out in a world of mass reproduction, this makes creating an iconic image increasingly more challenging.

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