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Techniques of the Observer: On Vision and Modernity in the 19th Century (October Books) Reprint edition Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0262531078
ISBN-10: 0262531070
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Editorial Reviews

Review

Nimbly interweaving the histories of science, technology, philosophy, popular culture, and the visual arts, Jonathan Crary provides a stunning challenge to conventional wisdom about the epochal transformation of visual culture in the nineteenth century. Techniques of the Observer will be a vital resource for anyone concerned with the complex interaction of technological modernization and aesthetic modernism.

(Martin Jay, University of California at Berkeley)

From the Back Cover

Jonathan Crary's Techniques of the Observer provides a dramatically new perspective on the visual culture of the nineteenth century, reassessing problems of both visual modernism and social modernity. This analysis of the historical formation of the observer is a compelling account of the prehistory of 'the society of the spectacle.'
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Product Details

  • Series: October Books
  • Paperback: 183 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press; Reprint edition edition (February 25, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262531070
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262531078
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #179,874 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Audrey Kuenstler on March 30, 2005
Format: Paperback
HUGE thumbs up. Crary historicizes technological vision and illuminates an underrepresented point: things we're taught to think of as objective, such as cameras and vision, are in fact quite subjective and historical. They're ideas first, which means social/cultural ideas, from design to usage. Gradually these cultural ideas plus economic and technological possibility fuse into 'things'. The social aspects get invisibly embedded into these 'things' through myths of objectivity and modern people's desire to be taken care of by machines. When cultural values become things we are conditioned not to see the subjective part. Why? Our primary way of thinking is still the way of the Enlightenment -- from the 18th century -- which loves measuring and equating and separates 'myth' from 'science'. [Which is which? as Roger Waters asks, Do you think you can tell?] Western high culture privileges thinking and seeing over affect and body, imagining they are separate and valuing one over the other. Really it's just an excuse for laziness and cultural arrogance.

Read this book along with Eric Michaels' _Bad Aboriginal Art_ and Adorno and Horkheimer's _Dialectic of Enlightenment_ to begin to see glimpses of Western cultural values and narratives embedded in today's supposedly 'objective' media such as photography, video, TV, vision, etc. Do the work and eventually technology will be a mirror of your own social/historical context.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book is excellent, but the physical product is underwhelming—flimsy and poorly printed. Still totally worth it.
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Format: Paperback
Perfect for people who like to think about vision.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Crary presents some interesting views on the perception of art. I found that it took a while for his ideas to formulate - the writing tends to be a bit wordy. I would recommend the book with reservations - really only for the serious academic reader. Not a casual bedside book.
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Format: Paperback
lt tall me how to see,who to READ the wold.I get many important concept.
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