Week 10 Reading Response

In the Practices of Looking, Sturken and Cartwright discuss in detail the differences between the gaze and the object. The object is the thing being observed, and the gaze is the thing that is doing the looking. This reading is referring to the power relationship between the object and the gaze, being that the gaze holds all the power. As the object, there is not really much that thing can do to protect itself in its situation. Throughout history, women have always been viewed as the object, always subjecting to the male gaze. Sturken and Cartwright bring up an interesting point, in that even when men are put in the position of the object, they are often not viewed as vulnerable as women are in the same situation. When women are placed in ads, the poses in which they are positioned in are always that of vulnerability- arched backs and exposed necks. However, when men are placed as the gaze, they are often posed in a dominant manner in stances that signify power. This ties in with their point about voyeurism, and obviously the gaze as the voyeuristic figure. The gaze has the ability to observe the object at any given moment without the knowledge of the object, therefore giving the gaze all the power. This idea is illustrated with a humorous depiction of a still life painting of fruits in which the artist composited eyes on the bowl of fruits. In many cases, fruits in paintings are the object, powerless to the interpretation of the gaze. However, in this painting, because they are given eyes, they have been given the power to be the observers in this case. By doing this, the artist is playing with the power relationship in this situation, in that the viewer, who should be the gaze, becomes the object. Their roles have been switched and the viewer is now the subject of interpretation to the bowl of fruits.