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Lecture Two - The Gaze and the Media

according to usage and conventions which are at last being questioned but have by no means been overcome - men act and women appear. Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at’ (Berger 1972)

The most misquoted and misunderstood quote. This do sent mean that women are vain but the images of women and bodies in contemporary culture means that its difficult for women to not think of themselves as being looked at. There is no equivalent to this for men.

Hans Memling

He looks into history right back to 1485. What we see here is a female nude with fully displayed body. She interestingly holds a mirror at an angle that is incorrectly rendered in the mirror. At the angle, the mirror should be reflecting the side of her face. We get a distorted double view of her face. The mirror, Berger says, is placed in her hand as a distracting device to justify the act of looking. It allows us to look at her without feeling guilty because she isn't looking back but at herself. 

This is the same idea repeated. The female body is arranged on a sofa which is drawn to the most sexual part of her body. We are allowed to look at this area because she is looking away, checking the mirror of herself. 

ALEXANDRE CABANEL ‘Birth Of Venus’ 1863

Berger also looks at the Birth of Venus. It's a very mythological representation of women. Goddess from the sea. She is being supported on a wave and looked over by cherubs. Theres a sentimental and virginal picture of the women. Whats interesting is the position she is lying in. She covers her eyes, and raises her hand to her brow. If you look at the balance from body to head, most of the picture is taken up by the naked body with only the last section being taken up by the head. Again, this allows us to look at the body. 

Sophie Dahl for Opium

We see this device again in the Opium advert. Three quarters of the image is taken up by her body. The legs are parted with the hands on the breast making it more contemporary sexual advertisment. The advert was deemed too sexual for presentation on billboards, so they turned it around vertical to make more concentration on the face, rather than the body.

Titian's Venus of Urbino,1538

Berger also looks at this traditional nude. He regards the women with head turned and eyes slightly upwards provides us with the idea that she knows that we are looking but she doesn't really care. She covers herself with her hand, but very casually. 

MANET - 'Olympia' 1863 

He compares this with Olympia. In this painting, the hand is quite defensive and Berger reads that as an assertive act by the women pictures. He also identifies her as a prostitute and links this to symbols in the painting such as the flower in the hair and the clothe that she lays on suggests that she is wealthy and the fact that she is being offered flowers. There is a more snapshot quality to MANET's painting, that we have just walked in on her and this is her reaction. 

Ingres  Le Grand Odalisque' 1814 
More c

Guerilla Girls use the Ingres image to help promote their womens rights in art, but they seen it as a sexual thing to be held in the hand but really it isn . 

We see a woman standing at the bar looking at us. The arms are open in the kind of position that someone waiting for the drink would be waiting for. The mirror image behind her gives us an impossible reflection of the back of her body. We get to see her back from the right which makes us see her from two positions. 

The gentlemen that speaks to her in the reflection is us in a way because we are clearly placed behind the bar.  What is interesting about this painting is that the women is not there to be looked at, she looks at us. 

He copies the figure of the women standing at the bar using the desk and also includes himself in the photograph on the far right of the image. he also shows us the photographers studio reflected in the mirror. We have the gaze of the women in the image and also the gaze of the camera that has taken the image we are looking at. We have the doubling of gaze. We have the repetition of divided mirrors into three sections and also the window frames and ceiling at the back. this draws us back into the studio which makes us visible spectators instead of invisible spectators. 

Coward, R 

The camera in contemporary media has been put to use as an extention of the male gaze at the women in the streets. 

We have  a semi naked figure which is unaware of the surroundings. The city carries on without taking notice of her in the foreground which proves that there is a normalisation of nudity in the streets. We don't even notice this.

The use of sunglasses means that the women cannot look back because she can't see us looking which has a similar motiv to the original paintings.

 Traffic stopping campaign which caused car crashes when it was on a billboard. e have the idea of a figure looking down on us and the normalisation of nudity in the street. The words 'HELLO BOYS' lightens the situation but the image is definalety for voyeristic purposes.

The idea also comes up in film and in thsi case 'Peeping Tom'. 1960. 

His Voyeurism leads him to seek the image of the women as he kills her, He films the death of the women for kicks. This is a classic film that a lot of theorists refer to. 

Here is an example of a male in a similar situation. The image came of the gender ads site which is interesting to look at. The man who constructs the site, notes that there are examples of males bodies in this way but it's more to do with the quantity. The number of naked females is far outnumbering the males. 

He says he 

Dolce & Gabbana 

Here is a more contemporary example with semi clothed males which are portrayed in an athletic mannor. If you notice, every single man is looking back at the camera which is saying "I know your looking at me, but I want you to".

Laura Mulvey did not undertake empirical studies of actual filmgoers, but declared her intention to make ‘political use’ of Freudian psychoanalytic theory (in a version influenced by Jacques Lacan) in a study of cinematic spectatorship in narrative Hollywood cinema.

She uses Freud's theories to look at the way the camera breaks the female body into pieces in film and also fashion and photography. in any shots where there is a nude body, it will be dismantled in a way. 

Mulvey notes that Freud had referred to (infantile) scopophilia - the pleasure involved in looking at other people’s bodies as (particularly, erotic) objects. In the darkness of the cinema auditorium it is notable that one may look without being seen either by those on screen by other members of the audience. Mulvey argues that various features of cinema viewing conditions facilitate for the viewer both the voyeuristic process of objectification of female characters and also the narcissistic process of identification with an ‘ideal ego’ seen on the screen. She declares that in patriarchal society ‘pleasure in looking has been split between active/male and passive/female’ (Mulvey 1992, 27). 

Lara Croft is an action character. So Mulvey is saying that men often lead the story and that women are an accessory to the story. People often say look at Lara Crof, she leads the story and she's a heroin. Theres no amount of 'ass kicking' that can hide that she is a visual sexualised object and spectacle for us to look at. At the same time that she's a powerful character, there is also a pleasure in fantasy looking at her 

Artemisia Gentileschi ‘Judith Beheading Holofernes’

to go back to painting, Pollock looks at examples in art history where women have been portrayed in the way that challenges the. This is a painting by a women which portrays them in an active role. 

Two women are trying to cut off a man's head on a bed. Artemisia Gentileschi's Judith Beheading Holofernes shows a famous Biblical assassination. The sword-woman is Judith, a Jewish lady. The other woman is her maid, Abra. Their victim is Holofernes, the Assyrian general.

Judith has got into his tent and got him deeply drunk. To judge from his naked body in the sheets and from her slipped dress, she's got him into bed too, before he passed out and they could get to work. Gentileschi pays attention to her story. 

Pollock, G (1981) 

Also looking at contemporary artists who are looking at theories of the gaze. Her Cindy Sherman insists that her work is not made with these theories in mind but still do connect to them. Sherman here in this image has turned the body around in a reclining position. This again, makes the emphasis on the face rather than the body which challenges the norm. She also includes a mirror in the hand, but this is turned away which means we haven't caught her in the act of looking at herself, so this isn't clear. Sherman's work interrupts the gaze which means we are not quite sure where to look. The hand is awkwardly touching her chin which proves that it's a moment that is staged and not captured naturally. 

Untitled film still #7 1977
Judith holofernes 1989/90 from History portraits

Kruger works with image and text using found imagery collaged. The women is turning away from the male gaze which implicates violence with the use of the word 'hits' and also feminism. 

Kruger well known for her combination of text and found imagery. 

Sarah Lucas photographs herself easting a banana which clearly implies a sexual act. But she is dipicting the self conciousnous of her eating a banana innocently without trying to look sexual. The look she gives us in this image is very confrontational. This theme runs through her work. 

Self Portrait with fried eggs. She makes a reference to small breasts. 

Tracy Emin makes a knowing reference to history. She is seen stuffing money inside of her which hits on the idea that it is somehow vulgar to make money from art. 

Gaze in the Media. 

young American women who was accused of killing a Leeds Uni student in Italy a couple of years ago. 
Joan Smith writes an article criticising the way that she's described in court. There is an implication that the young women is a witch. Which refers back to which trials of 1486.

She Says...

The idea that women are natural liars has a long pedigree. The key document in this centuries-long tradition is the notorious witch-hunter's manual, the Malleus Maleficarum or The Hammer of Witches, which was commissioned by Pope Innocent VIII. The book was written by two Dominican monks and published in 1486. It unleashed a flood of irrational beliefs about women's "dual" nature. "A woman is beautiful to look upon, contaminating to the touch, and deadly to keep," the authors warned. They also claimed that "all witchcraft comes from carnal lust, which is in women insatiable".

It's not difficult to see these myths lurking behind Pacelli's description of Knox: "She was a diabolical, satantic, demonic she-devil. She was muddy on the outside and dirty on the inside. She has two souls, the clean one you see before you and the other." The lawyer's claim that she was motivated by "lust" could have come straight from the Malleus, which insists that women are more "carnal" than men.

An interesting example of how the article was misrepresented in the media. The headline says she looks stunned but the picture doesn't really relate to this. 

This reveals one of the medias tricks to prepare two stories, one for each outcome and this has been published and it is incorrect. 

The Daily Mail has emerged as the major fall guy by mistakenly publishing the wrong online version of the Amanda Knox verdict.

Knox won her appeal, but the paper's website initially carried a story headlined "Guilty: Amanda Knox looks stunned as appeal against murder conviction is rejected.”
The Mail was not the only British news outlet to make the error. The Sun and Sky News did it too and yes - hands up here - so did The Guardian in its live blog.

It would appear that a false translation of the judge's summing up caused the problem, leading to papers jumping the gun.

So why has the Mail suffered the greatest flak? In time-honoured fashion, echoing the hot metal days of Fleet Street, it prepared a story lest the verdict go the other way.
But it over-egged the pudding by inventing "colour" that purported to reveal Knox's reaction along with the responses of people in the court room.

It even included quotes from prosecutors that were, self-evidently, totally fake.
In other words, by publishing its standby story, the Mail exposed itself as guilty of fabrication. 

Social Networking is used to perpetuate the male gaze/ the gaze of the media 

The body is broken into fragments-could be any female
Plays on teenagers body consciousness, potentially carrying those  perceptions into adult life

FaceBook normalises voyeurism
  Male or female posting doesn’t matter.
One hundred and 93 thousand young people ‘like’ or relate to this image
Media and male gaze are one , as Rosalind Coward says in ‘The Look’

We have the words 'Ugly', 'Not Flat' which really ticks boxes in teenagers with body conciseness at that age. 

Susan Sontag (1979) ‘On Photography’

'To photograph is to appropriate the thing photographed'

The act of photographing is more than passive observing. Like sexual voyeurism, it is a way of at least tacitly, often explicitly, encouraging what is going on to keep on happening'

paparazzi shot of Princess Diana 

This is the most obvious image of this in the public media. For us to see celebrities looking great or not great. In princess Diana's case, she was killed because her image was so valuable. There is a real impact to this obsessive voyeurism. This is reflected in Reality TV. 

Reality TV

 - Appears to offer us the position as the all-seeing eye- the power of the gaze
 - Allows us a voyeuristic passive consumption of a type of reality
 - Editing means that there is no reality
 - Contestants are aware of their representation (either as TV professionals or as people who have  watched the show)

The Truman Show (1988) Directed by Perer Weir 

An ivestigation into Truman is unaware that his whole life is a television show and everything that is happening is a staged event. 

In Big Brother, this almost becomes true. 

Male females to gaze upon.
Chair is designed for maximum exposure
Voyeurism becomes everyday
Original idea was that all would be exposed but ten years on we accept that the programme is edited.
Fantasy that they cannot see us but they are constantly picturing themselves, in mirrors etc and speculating about how the public wil percieve them (they are professionally aware of this)
They know the premise of the show and the viewing figures.
They effuse to be looked at ness.

Ultimate passive viewing experience.

Victor Burgin

Looking is not indifferent. There can never be any question of 'just looking'.

Further Reading 

John Berger (1972) Ways of Seeing, Chapter3
Victor Burgin (1982) Thinking Photography
Rosalind Coward (1984) The Look
Laura Mulvey (1973) Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema
Griselda Pollock (1982) Old Mistresses

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