In class, Nicola and Bijash gave an interesting talk about the early history of photography. They showed how the first man-made images were recorded on cave walls and this kind of drawn expression might relate to my research (in the timeline development of communication). Then the first manufactured reproductions of imagery were created by Roger Fenton to document war. Other photographers around at the time of 1861 included Paul Nadar who documented American civil war. Around this time halftone was developed which enabled print copying and thus the birth of documentary photography. They found early production of photo stories from Lewis Hine’s book published in 1890 depicting stories of poverty and perhaps things that needed to be addressed. The emergence of photography equipment empowered more photographers to become authors of photo stories such as Lothar Rubelt who captured emotion of subjects faces behind the front line of the war instead of typical action images.
From the talk I can see how the development of printing equipment enabled photographers to present their work with a little more control than before. Although still heavily edited by newspapers, some stories were reaching the intended audience of the public in the way that the photographers wanted them to.
Having read this book I have appreciated the ways of seeing images that John Berger presents in terms of history, gender and advertising. Looking at the history of portraiture I am able to see and understand the influence of history on the way we perceive things.
In the original painted portraiture artists were commissioned to paint subjects that were typically of an upper class in the style they requested and those images were primarily viewed by the upper classes. The introduction of photography meant that objective images could be created of more realistic subjects and copied plentifully reaching a wider audience. It also meant paintings could be photographed. Whilst the ability to reproduce images through copying allowed more people to access art, this also gave rise to the value of the original.
He discusses the influence of gender on the way portraiture is created and viewed, describing how men act and women appear in artwork. For example we are able to tell the gender of the photographer by the gaze of the female subject when we look for this in some portraits.
He also highlights how influential these images have been on the advertising industry. He proposes there are two types of spectator for the images produced by artists; the spectator owner (who can afford to own art i.e. oil paintings) and the spectator buyer (who sees the things they think they need within the images presented to us through advertising). Here he is describing the divide of capitalism.
I feel this book would be beneficial to read a couple of times so I have ordered the book so that I can make key notes inside it and I do feel it will be applicable and relevant to the rest of the modules on this course.
After reading Sarah’s article about girls video production and YouTube I have realised the power that the internet has given us to brand ourselves and that YouTube’s tool to broadcast yourself has become a way to brand yourself. The examples that Sarah brings our attention of the way young girls are doing this raises the questions; what are the limits and is this wrong.
In a medium where you can create a self-portrait or online identity of any sort, the fact that young girls seem to be using the internet to portray themselves and be praised inline with the extreme gender stereotypes we only see in celebrities or toy dolls is increasingly concerning. In the context of parents sharing their children’s talents for a bit of fun it is innocent but the people uploading these videos also have a responsibility to consider who is viewing these videos in a new media which we don’t yet know the future extensions of. Parents could ask themselves ‘would they let their child perform like this in-front of a paedophile?’ and how is YouTube with it’s online audience any different.
From reading this it has made me question things on YouTube and at the same time it made me think about the people that are uploading these videos. With the capabilities of video-phones what control do we have over who captures and uploads this kind of footage. This is changing the way we use videos for example some schools have stopped parents videoing their own child’s performances in schools because of the worry it could be shown in the wrong light or fall into the wrong hands.