Images are for dummies

It is said that our culture today is about images: instagram, pinterest etc.
As an art historian I’m interested in images, of course, but I’m barely interested in media mentioned above.
How come? A painting or sculpture for example can not be caught on a mobile device. The real thing, I think, is impossible to experience on any screentechnology and should be experienced in real life.

It’s useless to take pictures in museums since most of them provide high res pictures (for free!) on their websites. I hope museums will follow the recent policy of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, where photography by visitors is prohibited. Reproductions never equal the real thing so have a look with your own bare eyes instead of with the lense of your camera -those lenses are only distracting you and your covisitors as well-.

Reading/understanding images or photographs is not as easy as most people think. Remember that picture of the Ukraïnian guy with a black and white cuddly toy amidst the wreckages of MH17 who was first thought to be a criminal and only a few hours later declared a hero? What changed the view?

Strange to notice that in this image oriented culture most visitors of museums first turn their eyes to read (or photograh) the text aside the object (painting, sculpture, drawing, photograph, print or whatsoever) and than have a quick glance at the object itself to check if they can see what they just read; spending more time on the text than on the image. Do we live in an image-oriented world but not in the museum? How come the image-oriented public (check the activity of their camera’s) doesn’t trust or rely on their own eyes? What went wrong? Who tells us what to see?


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