Topic 2

Ways of Seeing:  Looking and the gaze

Schirmer, Lothar (Ed.), Rosenblum, Naomi, (introduction), Women seeing Women: A pictorial history of Women’s Photography from Julia Cameron to Annie Liebovitz, 2001, W.W. Norton & Company, New York

Introduction (11-17) – Naomi Rosenblum

  • Women were using photography from very early in its history – e.g. Constance Talbot (wife of William Henry Fox Talbot), Anna Atkins (photogram cyanotypes of plants and algae) 1840s, many others unnamed.
  • Julia Margaret Cameron’s work is unique among women photographers – shows ‘that the medium might attain an unusual level of artistry through the management of pose and lighting and the investment of a considerable quantity of ardent feeling.’ 12 – but portrayed the trad. 19th century Victorian attitudes to women
  • Clementina, Lady Hawarden – posed, make-believe pictures – ‘interest in creating mood through pose, clothing and decor’. 12
  • Reaction to the exactness of photography led to a movement of pictorialism – with post-shot manipulation – developing, special paper, use of monogrammed mats, colouring etc. And setting manipulation pre-shot.
  • Women photographers may have been more acceptable to some women than men – especially for intimate home-based images. –also child photography.
  • Nude photography – women taking nude images in similar poses as their male counterparts in all areas of visual arts and photography, but also with commentary – e.g. of pregnant female, self portraits etc.
  • Portraits may be used for social revelation – e.g. Dorothea Lange – images of poverty in depression times and dispossession of the mid-western poor from their farms. – (also, in my opinion, the definitive work of Carole Gallagher documenting images of people affected by the Nevada nuclear tests of the 1950s to 1990s. ])
  • Lisette Model and Helen Levitt – portraits of gamblers in Cannes, and people in working class neighbourhoods.

The images

All women portrayed by women photographers – heavily editing, in my opinion, towards the male gaze – e.g. the nudes selected are very much from the male perspective (need for more research by me on this). (The editor of this volume is male – would the images have differed if the editor were female?) Why is, e.g. Cindy Shermann not represented?

Reading from Cloud http://visual-memory.co.uk/daniel/Documents/gaze/gaze.html

Daniel Chandler, Notes on the Gaze, website, 2014, retrieved 30/07/15, http://visual-memory.co.uk/daniel/Documents/gaze/gaze.html

Except for ‘face to face’ encounters (which may also be via e.g. webcam and Skype) the gaze is one sided – the viewer and the viewed.  Therefore, Chandler states, there is always a voyeuristic element.

Jonathan Schroeder notes, ‘to gaze implies more than to look at – it signifies a psychological relationship of power, in which the gazer is superior to the object of the gaze’ (Schroeder 1998, 208).

The gaze can be categorised

the spectator’s gaze: the gaze of the viewer at an image of a person (or animal, or object) in the text;

the intra-diegetic gaze: a gaze of one depicted person at another (or at an animal or an object) within the world of the text (typically depicted in filmic and televisual media by a subjective ‘point-of-view shot’);

    • the spectator’s gaze: the gaze of the viewer at an image of a person (or animal, or object) in the text;
    • the intra-diegetic gaze: a gaze of one depicted person at another (or at an animal or an object) within the world of the text (typically depicted in filmic and televisual media by a subjective ‘point-of-view shot’);
    • the direct [or extra-diegetic] address to the viewer: the gaze of a person (or quasi-human being) depicted in the text looking ‘out of the frame’ as if at the viewer, with associated gestures and postures (in some genres, direct address is studiously avoided);
    • the look of the camera – the way that the camera itself appears to look at the people (or animals or objects) depicted; less metaphorically, the gaze of the film-maker or photographer.

and less often mentioned types of gaze

  • the gaze of a bystander – outside the world of the text, the gaze of another individual in the viewer’s social world catching the latter in the act of viewing – this can be highly charged, e.g. where the text is erotic (Willemen 1992); – watching the watcher
  • the averted gaze – a depicted person’s noticeable avoidance of the gaze of another, or of the camera lens or artist (and thus of the viewer) – this may involve looking up, looking down or looking away (Dyer 1982); – avoiding eye contact
  • the gaze of an audience within the text – certain kinds of popular televisual texts (such as game shows) often include shots of an audience watching those performing in the ‘text within a text’;
  • the editorial gaze – ‘the whole institutional process by which some portion of the photographer’s gaze is chosen for use and emphasis’ (Lutz & Collins 1994, 368).

Cites James Elkins ‘ten different ways of looking at a painting in a gallery’. http://visual-memory.co.uk/daniel/Documents/gaze/gaze02.html

Also suggests two types of viewer/text relationships (citing Gunther Kress and Theo van Leeuwen)- viewing an unaware image – e.g. looking at a painting – ‘an offer’ – indirect address and where the viewed person demands to be viewed – e.g. newsreader, some ads,many portraits and posed photographs.

for some there is a distinction between ‘look’ and ‘gaze’ – the latter having gender connotations (rather like Berger’s perception of gaze).

 

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