12th out of 35 books — 21 voters
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Techniques of the Observer: On Vision and Modernity in the 19th Century: On Vision and Modernity in the Nineteenth Century (October Books)
Techniques of the Observer dramatically new perspective on the visual culture of the nineteenth century, reassessing problems of both visual modernism and social modernity Full description
Paperback, 183 pages
Published February 25th 1992 by MIT Press
(first published December 3rd 1990)
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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
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.
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).
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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?”More quotes…