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won’t be updating this anymore. contact/follow me thru:
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Giving tumblr a shot for a little bit to see if i want to make the switch. Come see me. http://brianvillalon.tumblr.com/
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first image via The Selby
And if you haven’t seen (it’s had the internet goin nuts for some time now) this check out his A Love Letter For You mural project, it’s great.
If you went to Art School like I did, then you’ve probably read Ways of Seeing by John Berger, which was based on the 1972 BBC series of the same name. This book was required reading in two or three different Design Fundamentals courses, and I got to know it fairly well (which is more than I can say for other required college texts mainly ones about Psychology and Zen Buddhism).
I still remember the when I first bought the book I was at the Borders on Broad and Gaskins and I picked it up and thought, “damn this is the ugliest book cover I’ve ever seen.” I flipped through it, and cringed at the screaming bold type, the super-wide indentations, and the centered images on the pages (see below). Being that it was required reading for a Design course I expected it to be a beautifully designed book that would look real proper on my bookshelf, but this things was total opposite. Yeah, you can say I was most definitely judging this book by its cover. You know how that go.
To speed things up, and to avoid the stress of trying to cleverly and coherently sum this book up myself, I’ll hit you, the one person reading this, with a very straight forward excerpt from Amazon.com written by the mysterious one called Pumpkin King:
WAYS OF SEEING is a collection of seven essays. Three are pictorial; four are textual. All are about art, how art is seen, how it is valued, how it is used, and what we can learn from looking at art.
Of the textual essays, the first is about the mystification of art and history by its associations with assumptions and values that are not necessarily inherent in the work itself, but in its rarity, uniqueness, and commercial demand. He discusses art as being seen as an almost religious icon, and how the reproduction of images has contributed to the mystification of the original image.
The second textual essay is a study of women and how they are seen, who sees them, and how they see themselves being seen by others. It is Berger’s critique of the Nude as an art form, and he argues that they place women as objects to be seen and desired and overpowered by men, the subject.
The third essay is about the tradition of oil paintings in Europe between 1500 and 1900. Berger explains the connections between the content of these paintings and the ownership of them as a symbol of affluence, as products of capitalism and the maintenance of the status quo.
The fourth essay has to do with publicity, or advertisement, and the reference that such images make to oil paintings, sexual attractiveness, and dissatisfaction with the current state of life (the promise of a better future, given that you buy something)….
See, I was going to try to write that in 2 sentences or less… All hail the Pumpkin King. ha!
Personally, I think really what I gained most from this book, aside from a new way of looking at oil paintings, was how to look at anything with a little more scrutiny and skepticism. And when I use those words, I dont necessarily mean in a negative context, but more in a way of having an open mind, and looking beyond what is in front of me. A lot of times when we look at things, we tend to not really see them for what they really are, or we miss the bigger picture completely. As an observational type, it’s always been in my nature to ask a lot of questions about things, and mix that with being a Designer, it’s grown into just part of who I am and what I do. Now I understand I can’t look at everything in that fashion, that would drive me crazy like Britney, but there are certain times where it’s very necessary. In the book, Berger uses works of art as the vehicle, but these ways of seeing can also be applied to a design problem, or scientific problem, when I’m watching a movie, or when I’m making a big purchase, or watching a commercial, or with politics, listening to a new band, when I’m ‘hating’ on you, or when I’m trying to judge the validity of a thought, idea, or statement.
Over time my original copy of Ways found its place on my shelf, all up until I let my friend (*cough* Shayne *cough*) borrow it, who coincidentally at the time had heard about the book through one of her Womens’ Studies classes. Shayne, if you’re reading this, you also still have my Scratch DVD, but I’m not sweating that, but I’m sayin’ tho. I hope you’re enjoying them both out there in sunny Thailand. It’s all good tho Shayne, you can keep em, the new copy I ordered last week arrived in the mail today, which is why I thought to write this post to begin with.
Thinking back I realize the irony of me standing there in Borders, cringing at the book’s cover and pages. Maybe next time I’m at the Borders at Broad and Gaskins, I just might See it a different Way.
Probably not tho, it’s still fucking UGLY, but the kind of ugly I’ve come to appreciate.
youtube links to the BBC documentary after the jump.
“SEE” you all later,
Been listening to a lot of Radiohead lately. Some timeless classics:
i’m gonna go cry now.