John Berger wrote ways of seeing based on his four part series on BBC in the 1970’s. It is as important today as it was back then. The series investigates what images we see actually mean and communicate to us. Many of the essays in the book are photographic essays which is quite interesting, as we interpret the essay differently based on our culture.

Looking at the old masters oil paintings at women, very few of the women were represented realistically but instead painted as a object of male desire. This tells us more about the culture and society of the old masters and little about the women and their lives. From here the age old concept of turning women into objects to be desired begins. This example is explained quiet well done in the series.

Pushed even further, these concepts look at advertising and what it means and communicates on a very basic level to us. Our minds are fantastic at picking up on the smallest of details and giving them meaning based on our culture.

The most striking and clear explanation of this is the colour white. To western eyes white signifies peace, cleanness, clarity and purity while in middle eastern cultures white signifies death, funerals, mourning and misfortune. So depending on the audience the meaning of the colour white varies.

To relate this concept to app development, the developer and designer have to know what they are communicating and how it is being communicated. What does it all mean? Chances are your designer will know. Colour and shapes have meaning, Don’t take them for granted!

Also published on Medium.