In this essay, John Berger writes about what makes photography a strange art. He discusses the history of the medium and its relationship to art, and argues that photography is a unique form of expression.
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Introduction: What is photography?
In “Introduction: What is photography?” John Berger explores the history and definition of photography. He looks at how the invention of photography has changed the way we see the world and ourselves.
What makes photography a strange art?
John Berger, the British novelist, essayist, and critic, wrote the now- classic Ways of Seeing in 1972. The book was based on a BBC television series of the same name and it quickly became a bestseller. In it, Berger argued that the act of seeing is always informed by culture and history and that we see things differently depending on our vantage point.
For Berger, photography is a particularly strange art form because it is simultaneously an individual practice and a mass medium. A photograph is both a private record and a public statement. It can be an intimate portrait or an objective document. It can capture a fleeting moment or be carefully staged. It can be true to life or distorted by manipulation.
This tension between the individual and the public, the personal and the universal, is what makes photography such a complex and fascinating art form. It is also what makes it such an important tool for understanding the world around us.
John Berger’s thoughts on photography
As a novelist, critic, and painter, John Berger was fascinated by photography and its potential as an art form. But he also saw it as a tool that could be used to control and manipulate the way we see the world.
In a 1972 essay called “What Makes Photography a Strange Art?,” he wrote:
“To photography, everything is useful that can be isolated and made visible in a fraction of a second: an activity, a gesture, an expression, an impact on the senses, anything at all so long as it is found in the right place at the right moment… And yet this apparent servility conceals something else: photography’s voice.”
Berger went on to say that what makes photography strange is that it can show us things we would never otherwise see, but it can also hide things from us. It is both an art and a tool, and it is up to us to decide how to use it.
The influence of photography on art
In an essay published in 1970, the writer and critic John Berger argued that photography had dealt a fatal blow to traditional art forms. Photography, he claimed, had destroyed painting’s unique selling point: its capacity to show the world in a way that no other art form could.
The impact of photography on society
In this 1973 essay, the late British critic John Berger examines the impact of photography on society, and in particular its ability to create “an atomized vision of the world.”
One of the defining characteristics of photography is its ability to isolate a single moment in time and space, to fix it in place and hold it there for our inspection. This is what allows us to see the world in a new way, to examine details we would otherwise never notice.
But this process of isolation also has a hidden effect, one that is only now becoming apparent. By constantly breaking up our view of the world into separate images, photography encourages us to see the world as a collection of unrelated objects. This encourages a kind of atomized vision of the world, in which everything is seen as separate and disconnected from everything else.
This atomized vision has had an profound impact on society. It has helped create a world where we see ourselves as isolated individuals, disconnected from each other and from the natural world around us. We have become used to thinking of ourselves as consumers, focused on acquiring ever more stuff, rather than citizens connected to a larger community.
And yet, despite all this, photography remains a strangely beautiful art form. It gives us new ways of seeing the world, and new ways of understanding our place in it.
The future of photography
In an essay written in 1980, the English art critic John Berger argued that photography is a strange kind of art. It’s an art that is based on mechanical reproduction, which makes it different from other arts such as painting or sculpture. And yet, it’s also an art that captures reality in a way that no other art can.
photography gives us the ability to document and preserve our memories in a way that no other medium can. It’s a powerful tool for communication and storytelling. And as technology continues to evolve, the future of photography looks even more exciting.
The business of photography
John Berger says that what makes photography a strange art is that “it is simultaneously business and art.” He argues that the business side of photography has led to the rise of “constructed images” which lack the personal, emotional quality of fine art photography.
The art of photography
John Berger’s 1972 book Ways of Seeing is one of the most influential books on art in the 20th century. In it, Berger argues that the history of art is a history of how different societies have used images to control the way people see the world.
The science of photography
Most people think of photography as a science, and it is in many ways. But it’s also an art, and one that often confounds even the most experienced photographers.
John Berger is a British writer, painter, andArray photographer best known for his 1972 book Ways of Seeing. In it, he argued that we see the world around us not just with our eyes but with our cultural conditioning. “Seeing comes before words,” he wrote. “The child looks and recognizes before it can speak.”
Berger’s thinking about photography was shaped by his experience as a painter. He saw photography as a strange art because it wasn’t just about capturing an image but also about managing the light, the darkroom chemicals, the shutter speed, and so on. “It transformsNumber: objects by means of light,” he wrote, “and it transforms light into beings.”
In this talk from 1982, Berger explains his thinking on photography in more detail. He starts by talking about how the camera sees things very differently from the human eye — it can see colors that we can’t see, for example, and it can record an image in far greater detail than we could ever hope to remember.
He goes on to discuss how different artists have used photography to create different effects. Some photographers use long exposures to capture ghostly images; others use multiple negatives to create composite images; still others use their cameras to document reality so that we can see things that we might otherwise miss.
Berger finishes by talking about how we use photographs to remember things — both personal memories and cultural memories. He argues that photos are often more powerful than words because they don’t just tell us what something looked like, they also tell us how we felt about it at the time.
Photography in the 21st century
In the 21st century, photography has become ubiquitous in our everyday lives. Unlike traditional art forms, which often require years of training and practice to perfect, anyone with a camera can now take a photo. This has led to a proliferation of images and, inevitably, to a certain amount of debate over what exactly qualifies as “art.”
John Berger, a British writer and critic, is one of the most vocal proponents of the idea that photography is a unique art form. In his essay “What Makes Photography a Strange Art?,” Berger argues that there are three things that separate photography from other art forms: its ubiquity, its link to reality, and its ability to reproduce reality.
First, Berger points out that photography is everywhere. In the past, if someone wanted to see a painting or sculpture, they would have to travel to a museum or gallery. Nowadays, thanks to the internet and smartphones, we have access to millions of photos at our fingertips. This ease of access has led to what Berger calls the “de-aestheticization” of photography; since we see so many images every day, we no longer view them with the same sense of awe and appreciation as we might a rare painting or sculpture.
Second, Berger argues that photography is unique in its ability to capture reality. A painter may interpret their subject matter in any number of ways, but a photographer can only record what they see in front of them. This link to reality gives photographs a certain power that other art forms lack.
Finally, Berger argues that photographs can be reproduced endlessly without losing their original meaning or power. A painting or sculpture may be reproduced in print or online, but it will never be identical to the original work; with each copy made, something is lost. Photographs can be reproduced with perfect fidelity, meaning they can be seen by far more people than any other type of artwork.
Berger’s essay provides an insightful look at why photography has become such a popular art form in the 21st century. His arguments about ubiquity, reality, and reproduction help us understand why photographs have such a unique place in our culture today.