Something is really bugging me about Berger

I have something to say that is really bugging me about Berger… I am currently writing on his pictorial essays, where he states that he wants to make the act of raising questions one that is absolutely natural. He wants questions being raised without any sort of unnecessary information getting in the way or infleunging our interpretation and judgement –  “sometimes in the pictorial essays no information at all is given about the images reproduced because it seems to us that such information might distract from the points being made”. Ok, that is fair. The thing is John, that we cant actually see them! The way these are printed in black and white! And something about how they are printed makes them lose detail! This obviously makes the act of raising questions not as natural as you seem to want it to beping.

Look Penguin Books, ( or…whomever had the brilliant idea to publish the book like this) at first this was not that big of a problem, I was like: “its kinda weird that they are in black and white, but I can deal with it”.  But as soon as you embark on the journey of writing a 2000 word essay on an extract of a book that is solely pictures, things start to get a tad difficult when you cant see the images properly. Just sayin’.

People might argue: “but Bruno, you can simply google the images, there’s a ‘List of Images Reproduced’ and in the internet you can see them in super-ultra HD if you want to”. To them I would say: “oh gee, thanks, insightful passerby, I was just trying to look at the images as the author actually intended me to. You know, without any sort of “mystifaction” or context influencing my judgement in the questions I am raising from this essay. Guess what looking in the ‘List of Images Reproduced” would do? Give me information that the author did not intend me to see when interpreting these pictorial essays. And that thing about googling them, well, I don’t know if you know this but google has a lot of information. So yeah, thanks a ton for your insightful comments”. ß This is true. Knowing the timeframe when certain paintings were done, and by whom, gives us a lot of information about them. We inevitably stop seeing the painting just for what it is…something that Berger talks about when he comments about Hals’ paintings.

I am really angry at this because I’ve actually had to google the images because when looking at some of them, the details become so incomprehensible that the whole experience of looking is ruined. This is my personal experience, at least.

Ok, look at the bottom picture in page 74, what is that in the left top corner?! Dammit I cant see! Looks like a goat, or is this the person pouring something, but from what? I ask you… Or… Look at the top picture of page 75…WHAT ARE THEY SITTING ON? Is that grass or blankets it sure looks like the big man that is attacking is pushing away some flowers or splashing some water. I don’t know. Inevitably I’ve had to google these images, thankgod I didn’t learn a new piece of information that might ruin my interpretation fo this essay. Or at least I’ve forgot it.  And now I know that painting in page 75 takes place in a garden, near a river, where the man and woman seem to benked sitting on the blankets having a sort of picinic. This detail shows me that the man that is attacking is more connected to nature than what I originally thought, or at least that the sort of vibe it gives me. And this is EXACTLY what we should be able to experience full freedom to let my eyes wander to come up with as many questions and connections I can of these images.

However I cant search for all of these images. I am ESPECIALLY afraid of googling the bottom picture in page 71, which is also clearly losing a lot of detail by being in black and white.  I am afraid because I am not given here the timeframe when these were made for a reason, I do belive this. This is such a big part of the interpretation of this essay, knowing any extra piece of information might prove my feelings of: timelessnesss and no apparent connection of time between each other, ruined. Knowing when the paintings were made might prove my feelings wrong, and I don’t want that. That would certainly affect my writing. I wouldn’t be able to approach these images as closely as a child would approach them, see them as they are, avoid their mystification. And currently I have not googled them, in the fear that any extra piece of information that is given to me might ruin my interpretation.

I don’t know what is his intention, but trying to obtain information from the pictorial essay like this, is like reading from foggy glasses: I’m not really seeing. In paintings, details are relevant, also is colour; we see in colour, it is a big part of our vision and it is for this reason why I wonder why John Berger would print his book in black and white and so small? He could have printed bigger images and had a bigger book, y’know. If it is because of cost I would be very dissappointed….or is this just the version the university ordered, if so…I would also be very dissapointed. Either way it seems like I would end up disappointed *sight*

Ill do what I can with what I got.


Sorry for the super extra late blog post on hypertext’s, I’ve been wanting to write on this topic ever since we finished the reading on Strickland’s Ballad. Deconstructing this text and looking at its ambiguous nature as a form of interaction with the reader was very interesting. However, whilst writing my essay on this topic, I felt that justifying the effect the poem created by the absence or ambiguity of another element made me sometimes skeptical of what I was writing. In the end I think that I managed to pull it off alright (lol); however, I still wanted to investigate what other hypertexts had explored in terms of reader involvement and navigation that differentiates them from other pieces of literature in other media.

Furthermore, I went ahead and investigated hypertexts that actually use the technology at their disposal to enhance the interactive aspect of the text, and how sometimes this technology intensifies the theme communicated, just as Strickland’s ambiguity does with its text. This was to see if hypertexts can actually be interactive, interactive as we conventially think of the word in this day and age, where the boundaries between reality and digital are being blurred to the absolute minimal. In terms of experimentation with technology regarding reader involvement, Strickland’s text doesn’t do much, I believe that a hypertext could do way more than having words highlighted that allow you to move from page to page. So I went ahead, and investigated other hypertexts.

I found out that the main source of the interactivity in most of the hypertexts were very similar to the one presented in The Ballad. Most of them truly relied on the reader clicking the highlighted words to construct the text. The very first hypertext, Sunshine ’69 is a hypertext novel with intertwining character stories. In the main page they give you the option of different forms of  navigation, you can choose to navigate chronologically or non-chronologically by choosing the dates of the events in the novel. There’s another option, where you can navigate by choosing the character you want to follow, or geographic naviagtion through a map where the events of the story take place. It is fair to mention that it does not elaborate interactivity further than Strickland’s work, where we navigate by clicking on the highlighted words, but it is interesting to see how the author’s decomposed the different categories and elements the reader can use to navigate the story. However, this form of navigation does enhance the reading of the story, as it is a mystery-thriller, you have to build the events from how you choose to navigate the story. Reading each of the character’s perspective in a particular order will give you a certain bias of one character over the other, this bias will develop, but it will do so differently if you had read the story geographically or “birds-eye view” which is the all-seeing perspective of the text.sun

Another colossal hypertext released around the same time, named the Grammatron, explores different narratives as well. This text is massive, it contains around “2000 hyperlinks” and “40+minutes of original soundtrack”. According to its “about” page it is a story about cyberspace, the evolution of virtual sex and it also explores digital narratives. Although most of it narrative exploration is the same as Sunshine ’69 and The Ballad –  if you choose the “High Bandwidth Version” named “Interfacing” it opens up an interesting introduction to the regular version. The about page does not explain the reasoning behind having the two versions, and the hypertext is massive for me to read all of it to understand such reasoning, but this introduction opens up other possibilities for the interactivity in texts. When you begin with this option a new window pops open and automatically starts playing a sinister recording of a voice slowed down, alongside is a synth playing minor chords. This song is accompanied by a text that plays automatically, accompanied by abstract animated gifs, every 4 seconds or more the text displayed changes. The very fact that the reading ambients itself and obligates the reader to go at a certain speed accentuates the theme of digital evolution and consciousness. It seems the text is playing itself or rather thinking for itself, and this message is presented from the very home page, where one of the hyperlinks displayed says the following:  “you are about to enter The Grammatron, please wait while the machine reads you”. Also, the use of glitchy animated gifs add life to the text and a certain sinister aura to it, almost taking over your computer through automatic, and to a certain extent, unstoppable storytelling. This is a clear example where the coders of this text explored forms of interactive storytelling to emphasize on a certain theme and create a bigger impact on the reader through it.gram

Other hypertexts, like the work that is presented in, collects dynamic and interactive digital poetry that speak about the human condition of loneliness. Although most of the the texts are fairly simple they present a new way in which we view poetry as they use the automatic digital display significantly to alter the way we read the poetry. The text “All Alone” is a clear example of this: when the text opens a barrage of pop-up windows displaying the words “All. Alone. All One.”  – in that order. Alternating between colours, these windows close as soon as they have displayed these words. Finally leaving the reader with a single word displayed: “you”. The loss of control through the barrage of pop-ups and the intense display of colours, impacts you and gives you a certain impression which finally adds power to the word “you”. An extremely simple form of poetry it is complemented through its use of coding to get emphasize on the word “you” which further adds to the theme of loneliness point that is to supposed to be communicated in this collection.alone