“We only see what we look at. To look is an act of choice.” This is an excerpt from John Berger’s book ‘Ways of Seeing.’
In a TV lecture in 1972, art critic John Berger said the way we see things is affected by what we know and what we believe. In other words, an image is the result of re-creation or reproduction. The argument was made 50 years ago, but it stresses that we should approach with diverse interpretations since there is not just one of seeing things when we see the world.
We always live life under heavy pressure of numerous images from wake-up to bedtime. Since we are constantly bombarded with a multitude of images, the expression ‘flood’ of images feels like an old cliché. Algorithm, which may know me more than myself, constantly collects the images that I see and how I respond and shows me new things to see continuously all the time. The sight is an important sense that receives more than 80 percent of information, but it is a wobbly sense that has lots of loopholes. We often believe things that we see with the eyes that are easily fooled by fake images as if they are the undoubtable truth.
Berger would emphasize that it is important for us to have the behavior of seeing artworks from the perspective of a proactive watcher. This is true not just about artworks. In today’s world where we live our life inundated with numerous images, we should constantly exert effort to stay vigilant when seeing our society and to look at our era in different ways. Just like not all the things that you see are the truth, things are not inexistent just because you cannot see them. Now more than ever before, we live in an era when we should struggle to see invisible things beyond visible things. If we see differently, we become different persons. We come to think of other things and live a different life. It is time that we answered Berger’s question with commitment and hope as to what we want to see and what perspective we will develop.