A staple book on any self-respecting art school reading list, Ways of Seeing by John Berger continues to be a reliable source of inspiration for many creative practitioners. Within its pages Berger criticises traditional Western cultural aesthetics by raising important questions about hidden ideologies in visual images.
Reflecting on a visit to Chauvet, home of the oldest cave paintings in the world, he writes:
The truth is that anyone at any time who draws or has drawn, knows very well that some things are nearer and others further away. What changes is how this experience of observing some things coming forward and others receding, is pictorially articulated within the dominant view of what space means. This view changes from culture to culture. Perspective is not a science, but a hope. Traditional Chinese art looked at the earth from a Confucian mountain top; Japanese art looked closely around screens; Italian Renaissance art surveyed conquered nature through the window or door-frame of a palace. For the Cro-Magnons space is a metaphysical arena of continually intermittent appearances and disappearances.
Having passed away earlier this year, Berger’s ability to turn a situation on its head was born of the ability to 'see with other eyes' – that is to resist the easy interpretation, to play with language in its relation to the visual and to recognise that the cultural and political are inextricably bound up in our consumption of visual media. Moreover, he teaches us that If we question assumptions of why we view things the way we do within our context, we also discover something about ourselves and the situation in which we are living.
To explore this year's TEDxBrum theme of #Perspectives through a creative lens, we invite you to submit something to us using your perspective not as a science, but rather, in the words of Berger, a hope.
Driven by our passions for photography and DIY cultures, we're excited to present two new elements to TEDxBrum's creative offer this year that we simply can't wait to share with over 1800 attendees on the day:
"Perspective makes the eye the centre of the visible world, but the human eye can only be in one place at a time. It takes its visible world with it as it walks. With the invention of the camera, everything changed. We could see things that were not there in front of us." - John Berger.
TEDxBrum² builds on the work of Brum Squared, using an A-Z map as structure to build up a photographic record of Birmingham, square by square. Grab your camera phone and get exploring. We'll put it all together to create a living document of Birmingham built from different perspectives.
#Perspectives Zine Library
"Freed from the boundaries of time and space, I coordinate any and all points of the universe wherever I want them to be. My way leads towards the creation of a fresh perception of the world. Thus I explain in a new way, the world unknown to you."
- Dziga Vertov (ref by Berger in Ways of Seeing).
Illustrated Brum will also be curating a special Perspectives Zine Library; a place to discover personal artefacts and connect with the theme on the day through intimate moments of creative exploration into worlds unknown to you. Got a zine you'd like to include? We'd love to hear from you.
Thanks for reading, and we can't wait to see what you come up with. To stay connected with both projects, join Brum Squared on twitter, facebook and instagram and follow Illustrated Brum on twitter and facebook.