Behind Open Art Images is John Berger: ideas and inspirations

Not all desires lead to freedom, but freedom is the experience of a desire being acknowledged, chosen and pursued. Desire never concerns the mere possession of something but the changing of something. Desire is a wanting. A wanting now. Freedom does not constitute the fulfilment of that wanting, but the acknowledgement of its supremacy.”

John Berger. “Wanting Now” Hold Everything Dear: Dispatches on Survival and Resistance. New York: Pantheon Books, 2007.

We live on images, we live in images, we are images

If this statement has always been true simply thanks to the sense of sight, nowadays, due to the high-tech society in which we live, the proliferation of screens and automated creation, we are perhaps being invaded and even taken hostage by images. Visual communication is powerfully taking over, at the expense of other forms, such as oral communication. One glance is often enough to capture an image’s content. Fast, effective, ephemeral. Often too fast for the image to be truly observed, scrutinized and understood in its layers of meaning; images are rendered disposable, we become accustomed to their disposability, and their value is reduced to the mere act of consuming.

Faced with this panorama, we turn to art and to images that have been looked at for decades and centuries; images that were created with the intention of conveying meaning, knowledge and beauty at the same time (docere et delectare). Passed down through history, charged with memory and emotions, today, these pieces of art are a priceless heritage, and a resource to be valued; a resource that we should call upon. They stimulate our analytical and critical capacities, our imagination and sense of fantasy. They tell us about themselves, about their era and culture. They confront us with other ways of seeing, living and believing. At the same time, they draw us into a dialogue between the now and then, helping us to interpret the world we live in.

The purpose of Open Art Images is thus to create a shared space, dedicated to these images and common heritage. Easily accessible to all, the platform showcases images that are of a sufficiently high-quality so as to be effectively observed, explored, and payed attention to. Opening the observer’s eyes to images and images to the eye.

Open Art Images also aims to develop a research platform dedicated to the image as such and to different ways of seeing. The idea is for reflections to be co-constructed, while free to take any possible and potential form of expression and drawing on different areas of knowledge. The image will be examined from the perspective of various disciplines and points of view, which will enable the researcher to discover new ways of observing, looking at and seeing images, and to analyze and integrate them into our history, our way of living and thinking.

“Seeing comes before words. The child looks and recognizes before it can speak.[…]Yes this seeing which comes before words, and can never be quite covered by them, is not a question of mechanically reacting to stimuli.


We only see what we look at. To look is an act of choice. As a result of this act, what we see is brought within our reach – though not necessarily within arm’s reach. To touch something in to situate oneself in relation to it. (Close your eyes, move round the room and notice how the faculty of touch is like static, limited form of sight.) We never look at just one thing; we are always looking at the relation between things and ourselves. Our vision is continually active, continually moving, continually holding things in a circle around itself, constituting what is present to us as we are.”

John Berger. Ways of Seeing. London: Penguin, 1972. (p. 7-9).

Author Details
Viviana is a graphic and web designer; she is passionate about designing and making of new forms of art and culture disclosure. She founded the Open Art Images project.
Viviana Mei
Viviana is a graphic and web designer; she is passionate about designing and making of new forms of art and culture disclosure. She founded the Open Art Images project.