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Tuesday, October 31

Ways of Seeing

The name of an excellent book by the art critic, novelist, painter, author John Berger. The book had been sitting on my book-shelf for a while. Suman's post yesterday got me thinking on the words vs visual space!

Some very interesting thoughts, quotes and comments from the book + few observations of mine.

1. In no other form of society in history has there been such a concentration of images, such a density of visual messages!(WoS)

And the pace of visual interaction is accelerating every day! In my case, from childhood till age 32, I would not have taken more than 1000 snaps. But since my son Neo's birth(he is 3 years old now), I would have clicked more than 2000 pictures!!

2. Advertising images might belong to the present. But they often refer to the past or to the future.(WoS)
Sometimes, they might even refer to imaginary landscapes like Marlboro Country!

3. Advertising is not merely an assembly of competing images, it is a language in itself which is always used to make the same general proposal - 'we transform our lives by buying something more'!(WoS)
At least that was the singular, dominant theme in the image era(read John Grant's book, After Image Marketing for a deeper understanding). You might also find my Oct 10 post on the Nu Lngvg of Brndg interesting!

4. Being envied is a solitary form of reassurance. It depends precisely upon not sharing your experience with those who envy you. You are observed with interest but you do not observe with interest - if you do, you will become less enviable.(WoS)

Try being friendly with the 'Gurkha/ Bahadur' at your society and watch your envy quotient plummet:-)

5. Advertising does not manufacture the dream. All that it does is to propose to each one of us that we are not yet enviable - yet could be.(WoS)
The very inaccessibility of luxury brands makes them so desirable.

6. Advertising's offer is as narrow as its references are wide. It recognises nothing except the power to acquire. All other human faculties or needs are made subsidiary to this power. All hopes are gathered together, made homogenous, simplified, so that they become the intense yet vague, magical yet repeatable promise offered in every purchase. No other kind of hope or satisfaction or pleasure can any longer be envisaged within the culture of capitalism.(WoS)
The many hundreds of hours of FMCG advertsing flit across the mind radar...Rin, Vim, Surf, Nirma...advertsings' ode to soaps and detergents!!

Another writer who has an incredibly sharp visual sense is Susan Sontag. She had a particular interest in photography and its uses. She produced two volumes of essays -- On Photography in 1977( I have an unread copy) and almost 30 years later, Regarding the Pain of Others, an extraordinarily timely analysis of our response to images of horror, suffering and war.

Any other interesting books, articles on the study of pictures, motifs, visuals...Keep them sending!


meraj said...

you must study the movies of masters like bergman, wajda, kurosawa etc to venture further into the world of visual imagery. these masters have created a language of their own like joyce and burgess in literature.


Manish said...

thanks meraj...your erudition in these matters is always a help to me...do u know of any book as well, a sort of work book to go with the movies of these masters! lemme know.

meraj said...

our films, their films by our very own satyajit ray...excellent stuff!

Manish said...

excellent one ... i have it in my library...but haven't browsed it in some time...it had a brilliant description of a Benaras morning by Ray in one of the chapters...

i must do a number on it! or does it fall in your blog territory :-)

meraj said...

the world of blog has no territorries...its just a borderless habitat of thoughts...couldnt resist being a little poetic :)

Manish said...

what a beautiful thot! the best copy you have written since i have known you :-)
sangati prabhava...( my lame attempt at sanskrit:-)