Just started watching Rembrandt's J'accuse, an interesting docu-essay on interpreting The Night Watch, a painting Greenaway describes as being the fourth most famous painting in the Western world (after the Mona Lisa, the Last Supper and the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel). Some thought-provoking lines from the documentary on what our education fails to teach us:
Most people are visually illiterate. Why should it be otherwise? We have a text-based culture. Our educational systems teach us to value text over image, which is one of the reasons why we have such an impoverished cinema. Just because you have eyes does not mean to say you can see. From childhood when we are persuaded to learn the alphabet to adolescence when we are taught to amass vocabulary and refine our word skills to adulthood when we never finish polishing our ability to communicate through words...proportionately in our culture, very few people spend as much time and patience and intelligence reading paintings as they do reading text. Our sophistications of communication are text-based in the spoken and written word and as a consequence, by comparison, the interpretation of the manufactured image in our culture is undernourished, ill-informed and impoverished.
Quite an indictment.