Ways of Seeing

Extract from Ways of Seeying, 1972, John Berger

We looked at an extract from a four-episode series, Ways of Seeing, by John Berger which is an extension of his book Ways of Seeing, 1972. He explores how “the social presence of a woman is different in kind from that of a man”(p. 45). While a man’s manifestation is reliant upon the capacity of power which he embodies, a woman’s “presence expresses her own attitude to herself” deciding “what can and cannot be done to her” (p. 46).  Berger makes it very clear that women are much more judged in society and restricted by social constructs where as men are much more free in what they can do, this is depicted in the Genesis, “woman is blamed and punished and make subservient to the man. In relation to the women the man becomes the agent of God.”

Tacking into account this documentary took part almost 45 years ago, the male role has changed especial throughout the past decade through, social media, Facebook, Instagram and how men have been more objectified. And I believe in a sense of identity and self image and self-worth that has shifted a lot in a sense that the gaze has affected men as well, even thought I still believe woman are more objectified, we cant run the fact that both genders are affected by modern social expectations.

Cindy Sherman’s photographs use art not to reveal the artist true selves, but to show the self as an imaginary construct. One of the things she has been looking is at portraiture and how revealing their true selves. Its a way of revealing their status and wealth but as well as their inner selves or their character; however, she was trying to challenge that, and that we are not necessarily one true selves. We are made up of many selves to our personality. In addition, the idea of self is a mental construct of how we choose to project outwards our appearance, through clothing, makeup, tattoos, body extensions, people we spend time with and all of these thing are the ways how we are perceived by society.

Nikki S. Lee on the series “Projects”, didn’t just simply have a picture taken in those clothes, what she did was completely integrated a sub-group of people and spent months with them, hanging around with them, changing her skin colour, her hair, her eyes, weight, clothing transforming and adapting into different sub cultures. It was a type of performance but also some sort of social anthropology, because she would record the details of their activities and their, in some sort tribal ways of living. But is this morally acceptable to do this? Looking at social media and how fictitious many people are by changing filters and trying to improve their image and connecting it with Sherman’s ideas of revealing their true selves in different ways in which we are not, and acting out a role to fit in with society.rs_560x415-141020155906-1024.kris-photoshopped-instagram-gordon-ramsey


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BA (Hons) Final Year Ceramics student at Cardiff Metropolitan University. Love experimenting with material and techniques and work on a range of medium.

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