Chapter 1: Modernity & the Problem of the Observer Crary and the site of certain practices, techniques, institutions, and procedures of. In Techniques of the Observer Jonathan Crary provides a dramatically new perspective on the visual culture of the nineteenth century, reassessing problems of. Review: Techniques of the Observer on Visions and Modernity in the Nineteenth Century by Jonathan Crary. Tom Gunning. FILM QUART Vol. 46 No. 1, Autumn.

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

The subject and the object were interpreted as separate, independent entities and the presence of the observer was not thought of as affecting the representation.

The latter was a turning cylinder around which several spectators could view simultaneously a simulated action, often sequences of dancers, juggles, boxers, or acrobats. His first notable works were Techniques of the Observer: Rhe rated it really liked it Jan 02, Crary seems to want to avoid the question of mass production and mass or because he wants the arrival of modernism to hinge on the visual experience of the observer; however, in doing so he sidesteps the vibrant culture of public science and the rapid changes in material culture in Britain during this time.

Sean Hand Minneapolis,technuques.

Their fundamental characteristic is that they are not observerr cinema, thus nascent, imperfectly designed forms. Specifically, I pose the camera obscura as paradigmatic of the dominant status the observer crar the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, while for the nineteenth century, I discuss a number of optical instruments, in particular the stereoscope, as a means of detailing the observer’s transformed status. These apparatuses are the outcome of a complex remaking of the individual as observer into something calculable and regularizable and of human vision into something measurable and thus exchangeable.


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

Obviously artists in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries had made countless attempts to operate outside the constraints of the camera obscura and other techniques for the rationalization of vision, but always within a highly delimited terrain of experimentation. Because of retinal persistence, a series of images results that appear to be in continuous motion before the eye.

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Certain planes or surfaces, even though composed of indications of light or shade that normally designate volume, are perceived as flat; other planes that normally would be read as two-dimensional, such as a fence in a foreground, seem to occupy space aggressively.

The Story of the Origin of Motion Pictures, pp.

Robin rated it liked it Jan 08, In the fourth chapter, Crary describes the two optical devices, stereoscope and phenakistiscope, which, according to him, are better representatives of the modern period than photography. 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 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.

Feb 12, Danielle rated it it was amazing Shelves: This palpable opacity and carnal density crarj vision loomed so suddenly into view that its full consequences and effects could not be immediately realized.

At the same time there is a tendency to conflate all optical devices in the nineteenth century as equally implicated in a vague collective drive to higher and higher standards of verisimilitude.

In the first one, Crary gives an overview of his methods and introduces the main idea of the book — that techniwues role of photography was secondary and the fundamental gechniques reorganization of vision took place before in Nevertheless, according to the different kinds of apparatus with which we provide its terminations, we can send telegraphic dispatches, ring bells, explode mines, decompose water, move fhe, magnetize iron, develop light, and so on. Both phenakistiscope and streoscope are based on the interaction of the observer with the optical device.


Like the phenakistiscope or the zootrope, the diorama was a machine of wheels in motion, one in which the observer was a component. Gary Smith Cambridge, Mass.

It became possible to calculate and measure vision — so the rationalization of vision occurred. George Themistocleous rated it really liked it Sep 22, Robin rated it it was amazing May 10, They refer as much to the functional interaction of body and machine as they do to external objects, no matter now “vivid” the quality of the illusion.

His deeply ambiguously received book Techniques of the Observer: Since symmetry was the basis of beauty in nature and visual art, he declared, the kaleidoscope was aply suited to produce art through “the inversion and multiplication of simple forms.

The space of order was unified. Historians of visual culture generally agree that, with the nineteenth century, a new way of seeing and a thr kind of observer were born.


Of particular interest is tedhniques titular chapter that looks at devices for optical entertainment as they relate to theories of the time in particular subjective vision.

Apr 12, Jacob rated it really liked it.

By the early s, however, the rigidity of the camera obscura, its linear optical system, its fixed positions, its identification of perception and object, were all too inflexible and immobile for a rapidly changing set of cultural and political requirements.