Spencer Murphy – “The willing suspension of critical engagement: the four looks of photography”.

As a small task I listened to Spencer Murphy’s exploring the four looks of photography/film.

  • Way of thinking about visual pleasure and film.
  • Visual pleasure is critical.
  • Going to watch a film is central of our social spheres.
  • One thing photography and film share is a problem – legitimacy. A long struggle for film and photography to gain legitimacy as a form of ‘art’.
  • Photography and film are a recent phenomonom of the 21st century, is this an art form?
  • Can art be a photograph or a film? For long, people thought no. A long struggle of people trying to legitimise these past times.
  • Also share the idea of ‘the look’.
  • 3 looks: your look, the photographer, the subject.
  • The spectator viewing plays a part in how photos operate. The picture makes a statement by presuming the viewer knows who the subject is.
  • The photographer – the photographer gets paid, meaning they may of had certain conditions to work under.
  • The subject – viewers interpret their own opinions of the subject they see and how it is portrayed.
  • Think about the look in levels.
  • Laura Mulvey – “Visual pleasure and narrative cinema”.
  • Wrote about classical hollywood cinema in the 1940s/50s, interested in the dominant form of making films, representing films, filming and shooting, framing. Very successful. Refers to ‘the look’ as ‘the gaze’ – the gaze of a camera. ‘The male gaze’.
  • Her proposition is that the camera (film or photography) is always from a male perspective and for the visual pleasure for men.
  • Looks at how women are photographed and filmed. Any woman who wants to work in the field has to adopt ‘the male gaze’.  Women had to identify with the image from a male perspective, taught by the mediums to do so.
  • Gives us the grounding for the ‘fourth look’. Something we have to experience.
  • ‘Carrie’ opening extract – something going on, intentional and explicit with an implicit message. Made in 1976, Laura Mulvey wrote her piece before this. Everything this film is about is laid out it the opening scene.
  • The fourth look – breaking down certain ways in which we obtain visual pleasure and things we are used to.
  • The first look is usually where people will stop, your view, your experience of watching it.
  • If we think about the different looks in operation in detail, it ruins the visual pleasure – we aren’t supposed to break it down. This is the power of visual culture. A passive experience.
  • Looking through the extract again, we have the male gaze.
  • When something can suddenly reflect back at the spectator, makes them think about their own prejudice, position, ideological way of thinking about the world and challenging it.
  • This extract draws you in with everything you feel comfortable with. Depends where you see something or who you are with – all create different viewings. Sexual in nature, very specific male gaze.
  • Conscious decision by the film maker, knew the audience would take in what they see without questioning it. The first look, second look and third look.
  • The fourth look comes in by being reflected back – critical. When a film, a photograph, an art can reflect back. Engage with it at a different vale. Can reveal things about yourself = power.
  • Need a firm understanding of the three looks in order to create something powerful.



~ by victoriasimkissphotography on May 25, 2013.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Yasmin Taylor Photography

Making your memories last...

Gemma Rose Jarvis

FInal Year Photography

Katherine Michelle

Coventry University Student Blog

Aaron Sehmar University Blog

A topnotch WordPress.com site


Emma Shea: Currently Studying Photography at Coventry University

Lucy Bartlett Photography

Third year Photography student at Coventry University


Spark your imagination. Capture it.

Metal Mondays

With Charlotte, Mo and Quincy, every Monday from 8pm-10pm


Framing The World Through My Photographs

%d bloggers like this: