First thing I will say about this book (Berger and al, 1973) is that it definitely opened my eyes. (literally the point of the book so I was off to a good start!) At first I plodded along, getting through a couple of the chapters a few days at a time, until I got to the final chapter, chapter seven. John opens by referring to advertising as "publicity" which did throw me off at first but I got what he ment after pairing it with the pictures. None the less this chapter changed a lot of what I knew of the modern illustration and photography world, especially when it comes to the world of advertising. it is fair to say it blew my mind.
All the information in the rest of the book, about how we look at oil paintings from history and what their purpose was, builds up to the final chapter to tell us we use the same rules for advertising. My favourite quote from the 'Ways of Seeing' television program (tw1975, 2012) is...
"We change our lives, or ourselves, by buying something more, this more, will make us richer, even though we will be poorer by having spent our money. We are persuaded by this transformation by showing us people who have been transformed. So as a result they are enviable, the state of being envied is what constitutes glamour, and publicity is the process of manufacturing glamour. Glamour is suppose to go deeper than looks, but it depends upon them utterly."
This sentence alone has informed me more than anything else I have ever read about advertising, it seems silly to say but I just assumed that the only theory behind advertising was about making pretty pictures, slap that on your product and it will sell. That is really just not the case. John clearly explains that the same rules of allure and fantasy that are at play in oil painting from the renaissance era are the same rules that build the foundations of advertising.
After reading the book once I will go back and reread the final chapter and watch the final episode of the program as well to make sure I have taken everything from it I can.
Berger, J. and al, et (1973) Ways of seeing based on the BBC television series. London, Eng.: British Broadcasting Corporation [u.a.].
tw1975 (2012) John Berger / ways of seeing , episode 4 (1972). Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5jTUebm73IY (Accessed: 21 November 2016).