Language is a big aspect in examining information, particularly visual images. John Berger's now model article about Ways of Seeing (Berger), investigates the style in which persons are culturally represented, and the ensuing results these illustrations have on their behavior and mutual observation. Berger claims that the paintings of art in visual culture induce dissimilar perceptions, dependent on the language that is used in context (Berger 10). Our habits of observation are less impulsive than expected, influenced by visual language and rely on cultural agreements. Berger's text is not about the exact portraits that are presented in it. Nonetheless, they are about how we comprehend them now. In understanding art, the language in context changes our way of interpreting visual images.
Prototype art varies from reproducing art when it comes to interpretation. The variations arise due to the visual language used, especially captions. Berger confronts established assumptions about the denotation of paintings and associated ideas such as beauty and truth. His argument is that vivid methods for duplicating images have changed how the pictures of the past are seen. Pictures of art are caught up in the bigger stream of duplicated images which are rudimentary to the cultural life of wholly established capitalist civilizations. Berger recommends that replication of portraits with a caption separates art from its historical context, thus terminating the authority it once had. Berger gives an illustration of the Wheatfield with Crows by Van Gogh. He asks the reader to check it before going to the following page to perceive an identical image with a caption that says, "This is the last picture Van Gogh had painted before he killed himself." (qtd. In Berger 27). The caption changes our interpretation of the duplicated image, evoking different scenarios. It is, therefore, apparent that language modifies our interpretations of visual images.
When an artist creates art, their intentions dictate the result of their work. The statement means that an artist's choice of visual language plays a lot in understanding and interpreting their art. Berger gives an illustration of such cultural confusion in his evaluation of Slives examination of Hals's last two portraits (Slive, Hals, and Biesboer). Once the art historian, highlights Hals's personal vision as one that discloses a static human state, he calls this confusion. In distinction to Slive, Berger reasons that the first artist to portray the mutual relations formed by capitalism was Hal. The choice of visual language applied by the art historian, therefore, severs the images from their actual state, triggering misrepresentation in their analysis. One understands that language is vital in construing visual images. In Berger's view, this is an illustration of the incapability of modern people to appreciate the art from the past and therefore to position themselves in history.
In this digital era, technology has shaped the way we use language in communication. Art is shared on the internet with captions influencing how viewers interpret the visual images. Berger starts with an outline of the formation of the visual language. He extends into other parts about understanding visual data. He sets this development out in order by stating that Soon after we can see, we are aware that we can also be seen. (qtd. In Berger 9). He expands on the operations of visual interpretation, integrating the role of the observer and perception, regarding how a person perceives both about optical information and individualistic understanding of art. Moving past the part of an individual's capability to recognize, Berger then emphasizes the role in the expansion of technologies and their effect in interpreting visual images. An artist selection of a visual language alters the observers perception. Benjamin argues that authenticity is swapped and due to technological developments, the traditional meaning is replaced. His argument is that when visual images are duplicated, they dont have the existence of time and space (Benjamin 298). Berger claims that the era of graphic duplication, the meaning of images become transmittable. If art is put to use, its connotation gets altered (Berger 24). Furthermore, Ashton clarifies that art can get changed by the historical context, which is in particular through when technology is used (Frascina 151). The usage of technology has a dynamic role in how images are seen, and how interpretation is shifted between subject and audience.
Another concern is about the subjective nature of people and how we impact each others understandings by establishing shared sentiments through the use of language. Berger argues that we can see the art of the past like nobody has seen it before. One observes it in a different way (Berger 16). This notion is fundamentally right. During the Resurgence, exquisiteness in art was alleged as being that which is preferably fuzzy from real life. Nowadays, in the contemporary art world, realism is a somewhat small cluster of thought, and the exquisiteness of art is much more willingly expressed in the vast scope of pure art. Berger demonstrates this argument through the debate of oil paint and its role in depicting prosperity. Oil painting became known as a sophisticated art than earlier forms of sketching and painting, and subsequently, the artists who used oil were appreciated than the others. He clarifies that oil painting it needed to be able to establish the appeal of what currency could buy (Berger 87). The individuals who access its worth, even though we attempt to refute it, often view a painting as a product. The poster it is, the more we need it. This is one quality that never changes throughout the ages. There is a straight connection amid oil painting as a visual language and advertising images, that has been concealed by social status. Advertising images frequently make straight reference to ancient art. The captioning or quoting of the art accomplishes two things. Art is linked with prosperity and exquisiteness, and the promotional image benefits from this notion. An example can be drawn from Benjamin Wests portrait of Peter retrospectively in a fantastic interpretation of old elite dress (Beckford). He is carrying a map of his profitable sugar-producing plantations in Jamaica. The portrait was commissioned in London by Peters grandson to assist in constructing a decent lineage of the family. The visual language and historical context used therefore has totally influenced the way the portrait is interpreted.
In conclusion, the understanding and interpreting of visual images are subject to the individual skills, opinions, and language of each observer. Its these aspects that eventually give one interpretation of a picture. The terms used in the context helps one in understanding and analyzing art. Language truly changes our interpretations of visual images.
Berger, John. Ways of Seeing. 1st ed. London: British Broadcasting Corporation, 1972. Print.
Slive, Seymour, Frans Hals, and P Biesboer. Frans Hals. 1st ed. Munich: Prestel, 1989. Print.
Benjamin, Walter, and J. A. Underwood. The Work of Art in The Age of Mechanical Reproduction. 1st ed. London: Penguin, 2008. Print.
Frascina, Francis. Art, Politics, And Dissent. 1st ed. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1999. Print.
Beckford, Peter. Peter Beckford, 1797 Benjamin West. www.wikiart.org. N.p., 2016. Web. 30 Nov. 2016
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