The ways of seeing
No amount of language is more impressive than
the visual gaze of the image

In the field of art, the visual effects of artwork creation, what the artist explores and discusses, talks with the audience through vision. Although we use language to explain what we know and feel, the expression can never restore the facts. In other words, what we see, feel and sense. Images come to understand and be brought into context more efficiently and speedily than words.


For me, to reproduce and create visual effects on images, I explore photography and painting. However, how to express emotions and feelings through vision, take humanism as the starting point. To show my feelings, angle, and to communicate with the audience, which is what I want to explore.

Yet, photography changes the ways of seeing. The picture was taken at the moment of photography, and the vision presented in the range of the shot picture, the angle of view in that range is different from that outside the field (the camera lens plus the vision in the lens)


In modern times, photography is often discussed (focus, wide-angle, depth of field, adjust the aperture ). For me, in terms of painting, I use photography as reference material for painting creation, and I also refer to the perspectives explored by photography. The angle of photography is also from the standpoint of painting to create a visual aspect to shoot. From modern portrait photography or commercial advertising products, the correlation between the perspective of photography and painting will also be found. Therefore, the angle of painting is constantly ingested from photography.


At the same time, photography creation also draws a lot of inspiration from painting, especially in terms of framing and viewing.

Norwegian painter Munch, who is also a photography enthusiast, said: “I have no fear of photography as long as it cannot be used in heaven and in hell. … I am going to paint people who breathe, feel, love, and suffer.” Edvard Munch


Which means that a camera is not as good as a paintbrush and paint; it cannot show heaven and hell. The reason is that photography can only shoot things in front of the lens, and photography cannot be like a painter because a painter can express their thoughts and emotions according to their wishes. On the other hand, similarly, photographers have also begun to compose stories consciously and conceive pictures with thoughts and connotations, instead of just snapping snapshots; thus, making photography an art.


The development of the times is the change of art.


At the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, Western realistic paintings, which had been popular for 500 years, gradually faded. New technologies and inventions in the modern era have increased productivity and the emergence of relativity, quantum mechanics.


In fact, due to the development and changes of the times, the pace of lives has accelerated. Trendy painters have no patience to spend several years to create traditional paintings. Some artists collage painting and photos directly, called “Photo Montage.”


“The camera isolated momentary appearances and in so doing destroyed the idea that images were timeless. Or, to put it another way, the camera showed that the notion of time passing was the inseparable from the experience of the visual (except in paintings). “ (Berger, 1972, p. 18)

In these years, the photography of images in newspapers, periodicals, posters, advertisements and other social media have continuously appeared in daily life and different times, which has profoundly affected the creation and pursuit of artists. Some artists cut out “seeing” photographs from prints and reassembled them with other images and text to form a new themed artwork. However, some critics have downplayed such creations as “concentrated people.” Such inventions are full of personal fantasy and artistic talent.


Whether painting can show the power of seeing more deeply?


However, painting always has something that photography cannot replace. Although this is not the subject of this article, it is one of the purposes I want to read through the books (Ways of Seeing and Munch and photography).


Unfortunately, this answer is not evident in the book, and we can understand it from Munch’s diary. Munch wrote in his diary: (most likely after reading Van Gogh’s chair) He said, “The essence of painting is not the chair itself, but the reaction that people see when they see it.”


In my own opinion, I think that emotion and sub-consciousness are closest to the truth of reality.


The further question, why did I choose to draw it? What is the reason why I want to draw it out? Why I use this method and do it? Which seems to be close to my answer. In the process of painting creation, it can more deeply represent the “connection” of the artist’s emotional consciousness, which is the artist’s experience and feedback on this world. It also seems to include people why they are doing a painting.


At that time, all the “emotional consciousness” of the existing body in the process. Because of in the process of painting, the colors used by the artist, the use of color palette and color layer, the texture expression, the strokes and strength, the overlapping color and thickness, and even the various atmospheres in the picture management, which are all from continuous struggle with the artist’s hand-paintings.


This art form is not based on memory, but it eventually becomes a viewer’s memory in its unique way, that is the most basic standard of this art form. In other words, to make the painting itself a memory, what it brings to the viewer is not only the shape of the objects in the painting, but also a certain mood, emotion, or poetry.


On the other hand, we can’t deny that modern photography, especially digital photography, has already possessed extraordinary artistic expression and brand-new perception. It doesn’t seem to be challenging to reach this standard, but it is different from the two. The point is that photographic works are easily copied or remade into the same for a short period. And the process of painting, whether it is realism, impressionism, or unconscious action painting which are difficult to copy. Therefore,it still exists in meaning and value because photography and painting are the different starting point.


Finally, the “irreplaceability of painting” pointed out here is only for the artist himself and does not exist for the viewer. Therefore, it can be considered that painting as a practice method of art has more special significance for artists themselves.

Support reading:

1.John Berger (1972)Ways of seeing : based on the BBC television series with John Berger ., London:British Broadcasting Corporation

2.Arne Eggum, translated by Birgit Holm(1989)Munch and photography., New Haven:Yale University Press

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© 2020 copyright Yi Chiao Chen. All rights reserved. 


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