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Chiang 1 Edward Chiang Professor Shaffer ENC1102 28 September 2011 Benefits of Modern Technology in Art In Ways of Seeing, John

Berger, a controversial art critic whose book began as a series on BBC television in order to help viewers focus on different approaches when observing images rather than looking at an isolated painting, comments on how the perception of art changed through time between different cultural classes and how technology ultimately provoked this shift in perception. Although difficult concepts to grasp at first glance, Bergers arguments are made sound by his use of specific examples and pictures. He asserts the idea paintings were valued for their ability to capture a timeless image; however with the technology of the camera, the value of art shifted to the reproduction aspect, distributing images by the thousands and depersonalizing art to a lower aesthetic and momentary level. Although Bergers main idea holds some truth, without the mass distribution of these artworks into textbooks, books, and common life, these works of art never would have been as widely viewed, appreciated, and acclaimed resulting in its current national stature. He asserts that viewing an artwork in the comfort of home manipulates the way we look at art today, conveying a skewed message from the artists intended message. Berger depicts a scenario in which the painting enters each viewers house. There it is surrounded by his wallpaper, his furniture, his mementos. It enters the atmosphere of his family (149). Within this new generation of tech savvy individuals, it is true that the painting would come to the viewer through a computer screen rather than having the viewer physically go to a museum; however

Chiang 2 the internet, being accessible to over millions of users, provides the chance for schools in Asia to teach and appreciate art from halfway across the world. With the development of the internet, television, and newspapers, the amount of information made accessible to the public have increased exponentially. Berger uses Leonardo Da Vincis Virgin of the Rocks to show how this original painting was once unique and the effect technology has taken by stripping art of its power as millions of people have it on the television, in books, and in pictures. He asserts that it is through this reproduction that art loses its power and its meaning, ultimately destroying the authority of art and to remove it from any preserve (159). This concept of preferring an original work that retains more power rather than a pale reproduction is not necessarily true. For example, one might struggle to even catch a glimpse of Da Vincis original 77 cm 53 cm Mona Lisa behind a bullet proof glass, surrounded by guards, and amongst a crowd of 25 other like-minded tourists. Conveniently though, with the press of a button, we can have an enlarged photo of the same work of art ready at our fingertips. Technology has given amateur artists the opportunity to circulate their creations to the public in a cheap and effective way. This type of art is accessible to anybody and everybody from all different social classes. The arts of the past have always been a prejudice for social stature and class, restricted to only those of the highest education. Perhaps laborers did not have enough time and money to spend driving to a museum to appreciate art. Instead he notices a beautiful painting on poster board or a lovely drawing on a postcard. Through the examples Virgin of the Rocks as well as other images and paintings, Berger convincingly and logically projects his beliefs of the negative effects of technology on interpreting art as a whole. He concludes by emphasizing the gravity of what is at stake: the

Chiang 3 power of the language of images and how it could define our experiences in an unprecedented way; however, it is important to take into consideration the current generation we are living in, where technology plays an integral part in everyday life. Technology has improved the quality of the artwork in the past, reproduced and distributed this artwork to the public, and has the potential to aid prospective artists in gaining the publicity they need to become successful.

Chiang 4 Works Cited


Berger, John. "Ways of Seeing." Ways of Reading. David Bartholomae, Anthony Petrosky. Ninth ed. Boston: Bedford/St.Martin, 2011. Print.