Ways of Seeing, John Berger / 1972
A still from the BBC program, Ways of Seeing featuring John Berger

In his seminal 1972 work, Ways of Seeing, John Berger lamented the inadequacy of aesthetic discourses of the time in capturing the world as it really was. Dissecting a specific piece of criticism, a two-volume study on the work of the Dutch painter Frans Hals, Berger draws our attention to the critical wastefulness of speaking about paintings in purely formalistic terms.
        To Berger, conversations about art seemed to have ossified into a schema where only commentary on beauty, truth, genius, civilization, status, and taste prevailed, marginalizing the specters of labor and power that loomed large over the whole enterprise. This ossification to him, gave rise to a dangerous incompleteness as it negated the existence of a complex web of individuals, relationships, inequities of power, labor, and capital that made a painting a reality. In essence, any failure to speak to the politics of art was tantamount to mystification.
        The section of work that you are about to experience attempts to demystify and evoke the latencies of imagery that have become ubiquitous features of our lives; from Instagram images to visual tropes embedded in pharmaceutical commercials. This is my attempt at shining a light on the politics of vision.


1         Berger, John. 2012. Ways of seeing: based on the BBC television series with John Berger. London: British Broadcasting Corp.