Response Essay on Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees

Lawrence Weschler’s analysis of Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees by Robert Irwin and Barbara Kruger’s Taking’ Pictures, provides information on the process of making art. Artists go through certain processes in their quest to produce excellent pieces of art. The two authors explain some of the stages that influence the type of work that an artist produces. They seek to explain the different perspectives that artists take in the process of coming up their art. This essay responds to some of the messages the authors write.

Weschler’s themes provoke the thoughts of the audience. The artist seeks to clarify the understanding of the abstract versus the concrete. According to him, perception is a major influence on the way people experience the world. What one perceives becomes a reality in the daily interactions. It seems that Irwin’s method of creating art was influenced by curiosity instead of ambition. Therefore, the way an artist sees an idea becomes the beginning point of creating excellent artwork. Weschler believes that “Art exists not in objects but in a way of seeing.” (190). Every artist must be able to create own perceptions of the things without using objects to begin the creation of art. Artists who use objects when coming up with their work fail the test of originality when producing their work.

Barbara Kruger’s Taking’ Pictures protests some of the contemporary means of coming up with artwork. Just like Irwin, she advocates for the original work by the artists. According to her, most of the contemporary artists reproduce their work from the existing work. Kruger expresses herself to the audience as she expresses her feminist views to encourage originality. She uses “we” in her work to describe women and “you” to mean the males (Kruger 1042). For instance, taking a photo of existing work is a reproduction that alters the originality of the work. Most of the contemporary artists crop captions and redo pictures that have been on the public domain. According to her, photographs should challenge people’s ideas of the world.

Originality common among the two authors as each of them works towards encouraging artists to produce own work. Weschler advocates for the use of perception to produce works of art that can challenge peoples’ understanding. Historically, Irwin did not allow people to photograph his work for the fear to lose originality. In his work, he takes the reader through his growth process. His curiosity allowed him to build his thought, life, and perception. He discourages the use of existing objects to create paintings. Kruger also discourages distortion of the original work because it affects the art industry.

The two readings are important in the contemporary world. Today, most artists adopt the pop culture that promotes the reproduction of the existing work. The modern technological advancements have worsened the situation because they have allowed people to use instruments that alter original work. The writings are a challenge to modern artists who are lazy to use their perception to create original work. Artwork should come from a process of seeing, forgetting, and perceiving a concept. Additionally, originality, which comes from a process of trial and error before finding the right image, should be observed. It is apparent that most modern artist produces their pieces from the existing ideas, which discourages originality.




Works Cited

Kruger, Barbara. Taking’ Pictures. New York Publishers, 1982.

Weschler, Lawrence. Seeing Is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees: A Life of

Contemporary Artist Robert Irwin, University of California Press, 1982.