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Techniques of the Observer: On Vision and Modernity in the Nineteenth Century

4.06  ·  Rating Details ·  269 Ratings  ·  11 Reviews
In Techniques of the Observer Jonathan Crary provides a dramatically new perspective on the visual culture of the nineteenth century, reassessing problems of both visual modernism and social modernity.

Inverting conventional approaches, Crary considers the problem of visuality not through the study of art works and images, but by analyzing the historical construction of the
Paperback, 183 pages
Published February 25th 1992 by MIT Press (first published December 3rd 1990)
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Apr 03, 2012 Joy rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, orals
Techniques of the Observer is a brilliantly creative book with several fatal flaws. Surely, its status as a classic in the history of the senses is well deserved. Jonathan Crary’s important innovation rests with the idea that to understand the historical construction of vision, we need to look to the observer as opposed to technology or art objects. By attending to the experiences of the observer, we can move beyond “an account of shifts in representational practices” towards the observer as “th ...more
Dan Pugh
Mar 21, 2008 Dan Pugh rated it liked it
Bought in 1996 for an undergraduate class; I am still attempting to get through it.
Feb 12, 2008 Danielle rated it it was amazing
Hmmm.... a materialist art-historian's view of the different understandings of vision and the role of the observer over the 18th and 19th centuries (via the camera obscura and the stereoscope, along with other objects and writings in philosophy and science). He doesn't make the argument you might think. If I write any more, this will become an abstract, and that would be boring, but... this is a great book.
Apr 12, 2013 Jacob rated it really liked it
A convincing and cogent analysis and I'm NOT just saying that because Crary quotes a lot of theorists that I like...Of particular interest is the titular chapter that looks at devices for optical entertainment as they relate to theories of the time (in particular subjective vision).
Alison McMahan
Sep 30, 2014 Alison McMahan rated it it was amazing
I've read this before but I had to re-read it. I'm fascinated by the meditations on how new interfaces between humans and images change the way humans thing.
Jeff Eisenberg
Mar 11, 2008 Jeff Eisenberg rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-i-ve-read
really good book
John Edmond
Oct 12, 2012 John Edmond rated it it was ok
Classic example of a good speculative introduction weakened by the following chapters.
Benjamin Mitchell
Jul 17, 2015 Benjamin Mitchell rated it liked it
Shelves: sts-and-hps
While sometimes it gets bogged down in post modern name dropping, this text has a lot of valuable things to say about subjective vision. Chapter 3 was particularly rewarding.
Jul 03, 2009 W. added it
This book is the root when we will talk about vision in 21 century,but it isn't involve my interesting.
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Jonathan Crary, is an art critic and essayist, and is Meyer Schapiro Professor of Modern Art and Theory at Columbia University in New York. His first notable works were Techniques of the Observer: On Vision and Modernity in the 19th Century(1990), and Suspensions of Perception: Attention, Spectacle and Modern Culture (2000). He has published critical essays for over 30 Exhibition catalogues, mostl ...more
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“How is the body, including the observing body, becoming a component of new machines, economies, apparatuses, whether social, libidinal, or technological? In what way is subjectivity becoming a precarious condition of interface between rationalized systems of exchange and networks of information?” 0 likes
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