Ways of Seeing Algorithmically
In 1972 a small book changed the way the public thought about visual culture. Ways of Seeing made ideas from fields like post-structuralism, feminism and Marxism accessible to a mass audience, and in the process changed popular discourse about art. In the half century since it has sold millions of copies, and is taught in universities and colleges around the world. However in this time a paradigmatic shift in seeing has occurred, and this is that humans no longer hold a monopoly on interpreting, understanding and acting on what they see. When Berger wrote his book the field of computer vision was in its infancy, but today is ubiquitous and spreading rapidly into almost every field of life, with very real consequences
In response to this I am reworking Berger’s Ways of Seeing to take account of this shift in seeing. Just as Berger’s book sought to educate audiences about the ways we perceive and interpret art, my book Ways of Seeing Algorithmically aims to help audiences understand how these technologies are made and work, in the process equipping viewers with the knowledge to better understand the risks and challenges that automated systems represent.
To do this, new text, imagery and video is overlaid on to the pages of Ways of Seeing in a way which creates contrasts and juxtapositions between Berger’s text and images and my own. The completed project will be available as an augmented reality application, which will be freely downloadable. When combined with a copy of Ways of Seeing, the app will detect the book’s pages and overlay this new content directly on to them, causing my new iteration of the book to inhabit the old one virtually. Anyone with access to a copy of Ways of Seeing will be able to freely, virtually update it into a copy of Ways of Seeing Algorithmically.