Monday, April 23, 2007

Light in the Scrapyard

“The uniqueness of every painting was once part of the uniqueness of the place where it resided. Sometimes, the painting was transportable. But it could never be seen in two places at the same time. When the camera reproduces a painting, it destroys the uniqueness of its image. As a result its meaning changes. Or, more exactly, its meaning multiplies and fragments into many meanings.”

- John Berger

In his book ‘Ways of Seeing’, John Berger went on to illustrate what happens when a painting is shown on a television screen and how this painting then enters each viewer’s house. Because of the camera, the painting now travels to the spectator rather than the spectator to the painting.

It is interesting to see what happens when something real is captured for that moment on a digital camera. It is a digitised image that is “loaded” onto your computer and that can appear simultaneously on a million computers when put into a blog or into a website. Now, you not only see this image as you did earlier on a television screen and begin to interpret it in your mind, each differently. But, you also begin to exchange these interpretations. You begin to exchange other images that remind you of this image, or meanings that generate other images.

Today, the camera has not only made something from the real world reproducible many times over, but it has allowed this reproduction and its original meaning to be discovered on “the net” or to be “googled”

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