I stumbled upon this article last week and lo and behold it pertained exactly to our discussion of Bleak House. The article, by Maria Popova discusses John Berger’s 1972 TV-mini series on “Critique of Consumer Culture”. Berger began by talking about oil painting and “its formative role in the creation of consumer culture”. As we discussed in class, Bleak House illustrates (with Lady Dedlock’s image) the transition towards painted portraits as a celebration of private property to an object of public property no longer controlled by the individual. This evolution from private paintings to public portrait photography created our perception of portraiture and poses. Tagg mentions this in his example of the middle-classes imitating aristocratic poses in the beginnings of portrait photography. The idea of poses and posturing in photography made me think of our modern-day poses (often sexualized) that we put on in front of the camera for facebook or other social networking sites. A day doesn’t go by where I don’t see someone taking a picture with their iphone or asking a friend to record a moment. The question of who controls images is still relevant today and in particular with Berger’s “discussion on how media culture shapes gender politics and woman as an object.” Berger’s quote talks about how being born a woman, was to be born into a confined space controlled by men. Under this limited space women were constantly surveying or watching themselves being looked at and since that surveying was male, Berger argues that the surveyor of woman in herself is male. Who is the surveyor today and why do we continue to constantly watch ourselves or manipulate images to represent an idealized reality?
Posted by: annegab | October 12, 2012