Visual Culture By John Berger Essay

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With regard to the crucial insight which led to the concept of 'visual culture’, John Berger defined the image as 'a sight which has been recreated or reproduced’. Nicholas Mirzoeff explains, 'flattened the hierarchy of the arts by making a painting or sculpture equivalent in this sense to a photograph or an advertisement. ' In the contemporary era, images have not only been the privileged subject of art history for some time now, but several other disciplines have also been striving for a “pictorial” or “iconic turn”. It has become an increasingly accepted idea that images, just like any other form of media, whether they are paintings, drawings or photographs, cannot be used as mere documents or sources to illustrate history, but need to be analysed in terms of their own power and effect. The idea that visualisations have the power to create “evidence” is the subject of much critical reflection. Nicholas Mirzoeff traces the true impact of the images that surround us, hence the paper aims at justifying the study of visual culture by describing, accessibly, how strange our visual world has become. The “need for a global critique of visual culture seems inescapable” (Mitchell 1994: 167). With this in mind, the issue at hand is not only how we might conceive of the relationship between image/visuality and language/textuality, but how it is tied up with power and desire.
What remains unseen in our visually fixated world – and how we can learn to see the unseen – is one of…

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