Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 95: Wednesday Apr 4

Ways of Seeing (Dibb, 1972): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 6pm

This seminal work on art and culture had an enormous impact on me when I first saw it in the early 1980s. The series was shown at Tate Britain back then and is still only available to see in rare screenings such as this with the DVD release of the series blocked. You can read a modern-day take on the series via this BFI article by Jonathan Conlin here.

Here's the Wikipedia introduction to the series: Ways of Seeing is a 1972 BBC four-part television series of 30-minute films created chiefly by writer  John Berger and producer Mike Dibb. Berger's scripts were adapted into a book of the same name. The series and book criticise traditional Western cultural aesthetics by raising questions about hidden ideologies in visual images. The series is partially a response to Kenneth Clark's Civilisation series, which represents a more traditionalist view of the Western artistic and cultural canon.

Copyright restrictions surrounding the hundreds of paintings and advertising images quoted in Ways of Seeing have rendered it impossible to release the series on DVD. Though Berger would, perhaps, appreciate the irony, this has caused the original television series to be overshadowed by the tie-in book, with the former enjoyable only in grainy bootleg copies. Here the BFI show all four episodes, back to back. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with the director Michael Dibb, who remains one of Berger's collaborators, and will be chaired by broadcaster and art historian, Tim Marlow.

Here is an extract from episode three.

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