John Berger in the essay, ‘Ways of Seeing” (1972), argues that “a class cut off from its past is far less free to choose and to act as a people or class that has been able to situate itself in history.” Berger supports his argument by describing how hierarchies create lower classes through the mystification of history, especially the history of art. The author’s apparent purpose is to bring awareness to reproduction, to the regime and to art history that has been manipulated by the upper class through mystification. Berger’s intended audience is the majority who have no clue that they have been removed from the past by those in power.
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Hence, Andy Wachowski’s The Matrix run parallel with Berger’s “Ways of Seeing.” Agent Smith, the antagonist, represents the art historian whose job is to implement the design of the upper class or AI. In the first place, Agent Smith’s role was similar to the art historian, because their tasks were to keep the masses bling with the bill pill mentality. Secondly, by doing so, the masses were locked into the reproduction through the mystification that has/had them drunk with business as usual. Morpheus and Trinity continued the search for the One; who was Neo. Subsequently, he was the one who would follow the rabbit as Trinity suggested through an encrypted message. Eventually, Neo would fight to bring awareness to the masses that, AI or upper class, had created a system of reproduction, more importantly, keeping the masses cut off from the reality of their present conditions by the blue mentality and mystification.
Berger’s “ art historian.” is seen in many present-day institutions, above all, it is the representation of the capitalistic ruling class that dominates all levels of society, that being the case, Agent Smith appeared to be all-powerful, but in reality, he to was a subject of the powers to be. Hence, Berger’s art historian was and is under the control of the same forces. Therefore, he would explain away the true meaning that the artist intends to provoke. By denying the real purpose of the painting, the narrative is being changed to support the story the upper class or powers to be desires. Berger implied that the art historian perspective was a control mechanism of those in authority to change history to fit their agenda. Therefore, the true meaning of the painting has distortions. Meaning the art historian has also manipulated the tone and context. Agent Smith represents the art historian by managing the past to serve the present. In doing so, the massed continue living inside the web of deception. This deception is the fuel that keeps the upper class in power. Agent Smith is the primary antagonist of The Matrix and like the art historian a tool to manipulate present realities of the masses.
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