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段馨君 Iris Hsin-chun Tuan Associate Professor Department of Humanities and Social Sciences NCTU
This chapter investigates ideological approaches to the analysis of visual culture. The traditional history of art can be a beguiling one. It is an approach that seems to employ such civilized values. An evangelist is about to emerge from the wilderness. His name is John Berger. John Berger
John Berger arrived with a mission to overturn the Way people looked at art. He came to prominence with a book and a television series that called for a completely new way of looking at ‘the entire art of the past.”
Ways of Seeing published in 1972 caused a furor at the time continues to be controversial today. Berger certainly took seeing seriously. Like us, he realized that we live in a visual World. He opened Ways of Seeing with the simple sentence: “Seeing comes before Words.” Link ： Ways of Seeing
According to Berger, however, this mystification of the past is not accidental. Berger’s Way of Seeing is an ideological one. Ideology is a complex, shifting and frequently misunderstood term which is often invested with negative connotations. Ideology questions not only how power is organized now, but also how it might be organized in the future.
John Berger’s ideological approach to the study of visual culture leans heavily towards the left. Politically, he subscribes to Marxian theories of struggle between the ruling and the working classes. We may also agree with Berger when he writes that many famous works of art have today achieved the cultural status of ‘holy relics.’ Marx
Those of us who have seen (or attempted to see) the Mona Lisa in the Louvre in Paris will understand something of what he means. Berger produces statistics to show that most people think that a museum reminds them more of a Church than anything else. We may have noticed, also, how much our traditional museums and galleries look like temples. Mona Lisa
By changing our approach, Berger wants to change ‘what we expect of art.’ Art, as it is currently interpreted, stands for a nostalgia for an age of inequalities and hierarchies. Again, it is possible to agree with much of what Berger has to say.
It was less easy to overlook Berger’s own controversial interpretation of Thomas Gainsborough’s 18th-century painting Mr. and Mrs. Andrews. Mr. and Mrs. Andrews Thomas Gainsborough
There are 2 ways in which we could challenge John Berger’s new way of seeing. First, we could simply question his politics. Holbein’s The Ambassadors Hals’s companion group portraits of the Regents and Regentesses of the old people’s almshouses at Haarlem. The Ambassadors
On the top shelf we see a Turkish rug, a celestial globe and various astronomical instruments. On the bottom there is a terrestrial globe, a book called Arithmetic for Merchants, a hymn book, a lute and a set of flutes. Berger writes The Ambassadors has been painted with great skill to show the tactile qualities of all the textures it represents, from fur to metal to marble. The Ambassadors
This is both powerful and - to an extent - persuasive. Who could deny, for example, the obvious Wealth and self-confidence of Selve and Dinteville? Holbein’s painting provides us with an iconographical feast. There is another symbol of which the two men seem unaware: the distorted image of a human skull at the bottom center of the painting. Holbein
The skull is, in fact, a recurring motif in the history of art. It serves as a memento mori, a Latin term which means ‘remember that you have to die.’ Entire paintings could be built up around this theme. Interpreted in this way, the meaning of The Ambassadors is exactly opposite to that which John Berger says it is. memento mori
Perhaps the most famous controversy surrounding Berger, though, is the one concerned with his interpretation of two paintings by the 17th-century Dutch painter Frans Hals. Frans Hals
the Regents of the Old Men’s Alms House and the Regenzesses of the Ola' Men’s Alms House, are among his most famous, and are still on show in Haarlem today in the Frans Hals Museum.
Berger claims that traditional art historians have mystified the obvious political meaning of these paintings, so that no such interpretation is found in the canonical books. Berger calls our particular attention to the man who is third from the right in the painting of the Regents.
The issues that matter, of course, are the obvious confrontation in Hals’s paintings and the fact that, in reality, we still live in a society with the same hierarchies and class tensions as existed in Haarlem in 1664. Fuller remained convinced of the ‘central argument’ of Ways of Seeing.
Rather than make any fundamental criticism of Ways of Seeing, Fuller started by chipping away at a few of Berger’s arguments and drew attention to some internal inconsistencies. Fuller’s original criticism of Ways of Seeing, then, was essentially one of degree rather than of essence.
Its arguments were ‘just and clear.’ Ways of Seeing had, after all, intentionally been ‘ partial and polemical.’ Perhaps the seeds had already been sown in Seeing Berger. Not surprisingly, it was not universally welcomed. New Society, Time Out and the New Statesman all published stories that Fuller described as “not only hostile but inaccurate.”
Fuller, on the other hand, wanted to get back to the beautiful and to concentrate on painting ‘as art.’ Hals’s Man in a Slouch Hat of exactly the same period (1660-6) shows a man in precisely such headgear. This brings us back, finally, to the dispute between Fuller and Berger. It seemed as though the exchange of hostile articles had come to a natural conclusion in 1988.
When Berger first published Ways of Seeing in 1972, it caused something of an outrage. Not all of Ways of Seeing, however, was concerned with painting and property. Berger’s 3rd chapter deals with something that has become a much more widely accepted part of visual culture today: the politics of gender.
Berger reminds us how many of the nudes so common in the history of art are women. Berger does not support his arguments on gender with focused case studies, as he does with painting and property. This is a game We can play not only in galleries and art-historical libraries, but also in advertisements and magazines.
If we want to take this point even further, it is instructive to compare the pictures and poses that can be found in ‘top-shelf’ magazines with some of those in the leading art galleries of the world.
The eighteenth-century French painter François Boucher presents stronger stuff. In L’Odalisque Brune of 1745
Gustave Courbet The Burial at Ornans The Artist’s Studio Gustave Courbet The Burial at Ornans The Artist’s Studio
It was also possible to commission somewhat more private paintings from Courbet, as did the wealthy diplomat Khalil Bey. The Sleepers The Origin of the World Khalil Bey The Origin of the World
The painting is on public View today at Paris’s prestigious Musée d’Orsay. It is interesting to note that it is nowadays very difficult to obtain images such as these in magazines from news-stands in and around colleges and universities. Debates such as this will be much more familiar to contemporary readers than are Berger’s discussions over class struggle and property.
Publishing three years after Berger, Laura Mulvey Wrote a now canonical essay, which investigated what she described as ‘Ways of seeing’ in the cinema. Whether or not we subscribe to Panofsky’s general or Goldmann’s more specific version of the ‘society/text’ model, we still have a very helpful concept. Laura Mulvey Panofsky
According to Roland Barthes, for example, once the text leaves the authors the author is essentially ‘dead’. Bourdicu’s thinking on this topic is most fully set out in The Field of Cultural Production, a collection of his essays first published together in 1993. Roland Barthes
According to Bourdieu, the field of cultural production contains three component fields: the literary and artistic field, the field of political power, and the field of economy and class relations. Although each of Bourdieu’s fields is indeed contained within the other, its relative position with the space of the larger field is not static.
An important effect of the way in which cultural texts are produced, argues Bourdieu, is that the field of cultural production is an inversion of the regular world of economic production. The Field of Cultural Production’ in his 1993 collection is subtitled: ‘The Economic World Reversed’. Bourdieu
Bourdieu’s thinking is valuable for us because it reminds us again that cultural texts are not produced in a cultural vacuum. Were a work not produced in a social context, it would not be able to articulate the ‘basic attitude’ of such a social context as Panofsky claims.
By giving priority to social context over visual text, we could expose ourselves to just the same criticisms that we earlier levelled at the likes of John Berger and Laura Mulvey. Ernst Gombrich, who actively opposed the sociological approach, wrote that he wanted to help to ‘open eyes’. Seymour Slive Ernst Gombrich Seymour Slive
This chapter has emphasized the way in which visual texts ‘embody’ ideology. Berger’s Ways of Seeing certainly made an articulate case for the links between ideology and visual culture. Image-maker, the made image and the socio- cultural context that regulates making practices, Expand our scope to include the image viewer, the viewed image and the socio-cultural context that regulates viewing practices.
Althusser rejects the idea that ideology manipulates and misguides human subjects, and so he accordingly distances himself from the presupposition that the subject is a given upon whom ideology acts. One of these questions surrounds the role of the visual in processes of social organization and social control.
The ‘visual subject’, defined by Nicholas Mirzoeff as ‘the person who is both constituted as an agent of sight and as the effect of a series of categories of visual subjectivity’. This notion that discipline is maintained through a system of visibility may seem a little abstract, but it gains tangible meaning if we think of the remarkable number of technical devices that permanently capture images of individuals as they move around the public space. Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV)
Although high-technology gadgets have created the realistic possibility of an environment of virtually total visibility, the role of the image in disciplinary processes was perceived a long time before such sophisticated cameras were invented. If we accept that something approaching total visibility is now a crucial feature of contemporary societies, we must acknowledge that something has changed.
By the ‘spectacular’ relationship between power and the visual, we mean the overt displays of power made visible to ordinary people.
The sociology of visual culture is a fast and still expanding field. It is impossible to recommend everything that should be read, but a few suggestions will help the reader with both groundings and hearings. With John Berger’s Ways of Seeing. It is, as we have seen, deliberately provocative and doubtless controversial.
Two further basic readings will help locate Berger. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels’ The Communist Manifesto provides a brief, readable and rhetorical introduction to the Marxism from which Berger’s way of seeing is drawn. This important essay can be found in Benjamin’s Illuminations, and is also reprinted in various other readers and compilations.
Laura Mulvey’s important ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema’ was originally published in the journal Screen, but has been widely reprinted since, including in Mulvey’s own Visual and Other Pleasures. Judith Butler, for example, goes beyond what some people refer to as ‘first-generation feminism’ in books such as Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. Linda Williams, meanwhile, has provided an excellent introduction to her edited volume Viewing Positions: Ways of Seeing Film.
Edward W. Said, for example, produced the now classic Orientalism, in which he argued that Western representations of the East said more about the West than they did about the places and cultures they purported to depict. His Ideology and Modern Culture : Critical Social Theory in the Era of Mass Communication and The Media and Modernity: A Social Theory of the Media take us well beyond the study of painting and into areas considered in later chapters of this book.
The connection between ideology and the visual is among the main issues addressed by Mirzoeff in An Introduction to Visual Culture, whose second edition, published in 2009, contains references to images such as the controversial photographs from the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, and a 2006 poster from Al Gore’s film An Inconvenient Truth. Link ： An Inconvenient Truth.
Elizabeth Chaplin’s Sociology and Visual Representation. The scope of the social analysis of visual culture is indeed broad. However, nearly all the works suggested for further study here are united in the common assumption that visual culture is not produced in a social vacuum.
THE AGE OF PHOTOGRAPHY 段馨君 Iris Hsin-chun Tuan Associate Professor Department of Humanities and Social Sciences NCTU
The traditional Classifications of arts and crafts precisely because of its modernity. As various means of “Writing light” - the literal meaning of Photography - Were invented in Europe from the 1820s on, it was at once Clear to everyone who saw them that a new age had dawned (Batchen 1997). Photography will Continue to be used every day in vast quantities but its Claim to mirror reality can no longer be upheld.
THE DEATH OF PAFNTING In 1839 the French painter Paul Delaroche saw a daguerreotype, the first Process that we would now call Photography and famously exclaimed. When Delaroche spoke of the death of painting, he was not speaking of all painting so much as the particular style of painting that he practised and which had been dominant in France for fifty years. Delaroche
At the other end of the social scale, the artist Carle Van Loo depicted a French Prince Playing With a Camera obscura in his Portrait of the Dauphin (C.1762)- the future Louis XVI. Photography did not come to such results by accident. Carle Van Loo
Researchers sought to Produce effects similar to those valorized by fine art and dismissed alternative means of representation. Nicéphore Niepce In 1826, he and Louis Daguerre (1789-1851) Nicéphore Niepce Louis Daguerre
Photography’s ambivalent status as both scientific record and a new art form generated an uncertainty as to what constituted “legitimate photography”, and equally important, who had the right to practice it. However much photography owed to its predecessors in terms of style, it was immediately seen as a dramatic departure from past media.
Adam-Salomon’s portrait of Alphonse Karr. The newness and importance of photography stem from its most obvious capability: its rendering of a precise moment in time. By the 1880s, exposure times were measured in fractions of a second as they are today.
Photography Created a new relationship to the experience of time that Was thoroughly modern. Time became modern in three central aspects. First, the development of railways and other mass communications led to the adoption of standardized time zones and national time.
The classic example was the rebuilding of Paris in the 1850s and 1860s by Baron Haussmann, who drove broad new boulevards through the narrow maze of early modern streets in the center of the city. Baron Haussmann
Europeans presumed that the indigenous peoples they encountered were “living fossils,” to use Charles Darwin’s phrase, examples of what was now the Past in Europe. Oliver Wendell Holmes commented ironically on the transformation of memory and record Caused by Photography. Oliver Wendell Holmes
Photography, in this scheme, is to form as art is to matter. In this fashion, the French Photographer Blanquart-Evrard made a daguerrotype of a Renaissance house in Lille that was about to be demolished in 1850. Blanquart-Evrard
Further, photography made Possible Ways of seeing that were previously unimaginable. The early Soviet director Dziga Vertov so identified with this process that he claimed. Visuality was now photographic. Dziga Vertov
THE BIRTH 0F THE DEMOCRATIC IMAGE Despite the attempts of Daguerre and Fox Talbot to claim élite status for their devices, Photography was quickly claimed as the People’s medium. In 1991, 41 million photographs were taken every day in the United States alone. In a very real sense, time past became available as a mass commodity. Fox Talbot
Yet We can" distinguish between the different types of photography that were practised. Just as the Parisian apartment block was differentiated by class, with the wealthy taking the mansion apartment on the first floor and the impoverished living in the garrets, so did photography travel from class to class, taking a different form at each level of the social ladder.
This attempt to give photography what Rosalind Krauss has called “singularity” cut across what was to be its most revolutionary feature, namely mass reproducibility. Walter Benjamin Ernest Lacan Walter Benjamin
DEATH AND PHOTOGRAPHY All photographs are memento mori. To take a Photograph is to participate in another Person (or things) mortality, vulnerabliity, mutability. In his meditation on photography, Roland Barthes described it as “ the impossible science of the unique being ”.
The same can be said of cinema. For the silent film director Jean Cocteau, the Camera “filmed death at Work”. In Barthes’ analysis, the specificity of time and Place sought by early photographers was attainable only insofar as it evokes a response in the viewer. Jean Cocteau
A photograph looks like its subject by definition. What We refer to is that “impossible science” of resemblance to character, personality or ego. Photography came into being at a time of profound social change in attitudes to the dead and to death. Gustave Courbet’s ： A Burial At Ornans, first shown at the Salon of 1851, it Caused a scandal.
Death Was a part of nineteenth century everyday life in a Way that is now difficult for Westerners to conceive. The celebrated early French Photographer Nadar claimed a Coup in 1861 with his Photographs of the Paris Catacombs. Ten years later, the photography of death took Center stage in French politics. Nadar
On the one hand, Eugène Appart published a series of sensational photographs depicting the outrages of the Commune, centering on the execution of Generals Clément-Thomas and Lecomte by the Communards.
In short, photography could provide evidence but did not in -and of itself convict. In the early twentieth century, Eugène Atget (1857-1927) set out to record Old Paris, the Paris that the renovations of the nineteenth century had brought to the verge of disappearance.
His Photograph of Au Tambour, 63 quai de la Tournelle (1908) allows us to see two men standing in the doorway of the restaurant as Well as the reflection of the banks of the Seine and Atget’s photographic apparatus. Au Tambour, 63 quai de la Tournelle
Atget’s Work marked the coming-of-age of photography, which had finally separated itself from the traditional visual media. Around 1910, a photographer of the Mexican revolution took a picture of a man standing at ease in his shirtsleeves, foot poised on a rock, smoking a cigarette.
Look at the famous Robert Capa photograph, Near Cerro Mariano ( Córdoba front ) September 5, 1936. The victims sister was still alive and Claimed Capa’s Photo did indeed show her brother. At sixty years distance who can say if her memory was accurate?
FROM PHOTO NOIR T0 POST-PHOTOGRAPHY The Work of two American-Jewish Photographers, Weegee and Nan Goldin. Both made their names with photo-essay books-his Naked City (1945), hers The Ballad of Sexual Dependency (1986) - and Went on to success in the art and fashion worlds.
Weegee (1899-1968) was born Arthur Felling in Zlothev, Austria and grew up in New York, the son of a failed peddlar who later became a rabbi. In his 1940 picture, On the Spot,
This cultivated hard-boiled personality came straight out of the Film noir with which it Was contemporary. The Big Sleep The Sweet Smell Success The Big Sleep The Sweet Smell Success
A Pair of photographs entitled Lovers at the Movies (1940) evokes the full range of modern Visual media. Here the Voyeurism of Weegee’s photography, its desire to see What ordinarily Cannot be seen, and its very masculine sexual politics all seem strongly apparent.
The Photography of Nan Goldin (b.1953), by contrast, is marked by a unique degree of personal intimacy. Iher 1996 exhibition Children, Goldin showed a reprinted family snapshot of her mother, taken when she Was Pregnant With her older sister.
This belief in the uniqueness of a certain social group is in fact Common to most groups of friends in their twenties, as movies like Diner, St Elmo’s Fire, The Big Chill and even Trainspotting attest.
In her portrait of Ivy with Marilyn, Boston (1973), Goldin captures one of her friends from the Cross-dressing scene at the Boston night Club The Other Side, dressed and ready to go out.
Since 1973, much of her work has been in color. Memory needs color in order to be vivid. For example, Vivienne in the green dress, New York 1980.
These pictures have achieved a far wider audience than any snapshot and Goldin’s style has become iconic for life in postmodern plague-ridden America. By erasing the public/private distinction in her work, Goldin creates a narrative that is as compelling as a television soap opera.
The key photograph in Goldin’s Ballad of Sexual Dependency is the traumatic Self- Portrait One Month after being Battered. Goldin’s lace fills the frame, with the bruises and cuts caused by her attack painfully evident.
One photograph captures Ethel, Queen of the Bowery Goldin was one of the artists involved in an exhibition protesting the toll caused by AIDS in the artistic community, entitled Witnesses: Against Our Vanishing.
In an afterword to the 1996 edition of the Ballad of Sexual Dependency, Goldin reflected: “photography doesn’t preserve memory as effectively as I had thought it would. Further, like so many modern Bohemians she believed that this change would come from the marginal groups in society whose very marginality enabled them to go farther than the mainstream culture could even imagine.
After a century and a half of recording and memorializing death, photography met its own death some time in the I 980s at the hands of computer imaging. When Rodney King was beaten by Los Angeles police in 1990, the event was recorded by amateur cameraman George Halliday.
This suspicion has now become part of the everyday use of photography. Kodak and other film companies now sell digital cameras, specifically designed to allow computer manipulation of the image.
The 1996 American elections provided a graphic example of this process in action. Senator John Warner of Virginia was running in a close race against a Democratic opponent, Mark Warner. Governor Douglas Wilder in order to back up the Republican claim that he was a “liberal.” Senator John Warner Governor Douglas