Crary, Jonathan - Techniques of the Observer: On Vision and Modernity in the 19th Century (October Books)

Notes - Garnet Hertz
Updated 04 June 2006

General Thoughts

"Techniques of the Observer" has no notes written on it yet, although I thought it was a damn fine book. Thanks to Crary, there is hope within Art History, perhaps...


[1] {archaeology, vision, virilio, media archaeology} The field of vision has always seemed to me comparable to the ground of an archeological excavation. -Paul Virilio [Paul Virilio. L'horizon négatif, Galilée, Paris, 1984. Quoted in Jonathan Crary, Techniques of the Observer: On Vision and Modernity in the Nineteenth Century, MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1995 (1990), p. 1.]

[2] {vision, visuality, break} If there is in fact on ongoing mutation in the nature of visuality, what forms or modes are being left behind? What kind of break is it? At the same time, what are the elements of continuity that link contemporary imagery with older organizations of the visual?

[3] {summary, 19th century, early 19th century, 1800s} Much of this book will examine how, beginning early in the nineteenth century, a new set of relations between the body on one hand and forms of institutional and discursive power on the other redefined the status of an observing subject.

[3] {19th century, historiography, media archaeology, genealogy, modernism, artifact, 1870s, 1880s} In this study I present a relatively unfamiliar configuration of nineteenth-century objects and events, that is, proper names, bodies of knowledge, and technological inventions that rarely appear in histories of are or of modernism. One reason for doing this is to escape from the limitations of many of the dominant histories of visuality in this period, to bypass the many accounts of modernism and modernity that depend on a more or less similar evaluation of the origins of modernist visual art and culture in the 1870s and 1880s.

[6] {foucault, genealogy, power/knowledge, history, historiography} [FOOTNOTE] In one sense, my aims in this study are "genealogical," following Michel Foucault: "I don't believe the problem can solve by historicizing the subject as posited by the phenomenologists, fabricating a subject that evolves through the course of history. One has to dispense with the constituent subject, to get rid of the subject itself, that's to say, to arrive at an analysis which can account for the constitution of the subject within a historical framework. And this is what I would call genealogy, that is, a form of history which can account for the constitution of knowledges, discourses, domains of objects, etc. without having to make reference to a subject which is either transcendental in relation to a field of events or runs in its empty sameness throughout the course of history." Power/Knowledge (New York, 1980), p. 117.

[7] {margin, vision, history, historiography} What is not addressed in this study are the marginal and local forms by which dominant practices of vision were resisted, deflected, or imperfectly constituted. The history of such oppositional moments needs to be written, but it only becomes legible against the more hegemonic set of discourses and practices in which vision took shape.

[7-8] {camera obscura, paradigm, stereoscope, observer, knowledge, power, philosophy, science, aesthetics, mechanism, institution, social, economic, technology} In the early nineteenth century there was a sweeping transformation in the way in which an observer was figured in a wide range of social practices and domains of knowledge. A main path along which I present these developments is by examining the significance of certain optical devices. I discuss them not for the models of representation they imply, but as site of both knowledge and power that operate directly on the body of the individual. Specifically, I pose the camera obscura as paradigmatic of the dominant status the observer in 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. The philosophical, scientific, and aesthetic discourses overlap with mechanical techniques, institutional requirements, and socioeconomic forces. Each of them is understandable not simply as a material object in question, or as a part of history of technology, but for the way in which it is embedded in a much larger assemblage of events and powers. [This is somewhat Foucauldian.]

[8] {deleuze, tools, society, technical, mechanical} is always a concomitant or subordinate part of other forces. For Gilles Deleuze, "A society is defined by its amalgamations, not by its tools exist only in relation to the interminglings they make possible or that make them possible." The point is that history of the observer is reducibly of changing technical and mechanical practices any more than to the changing forms of artworks and visual representation.

[15] {foucault, 19th century, modern, moderism, modernity, power, subjectivity, docile, subject, object} For Foucault, nineteenth-century modernity is inseparable from the way in which dispersed mechanisms of power coincide with new modes of subjectivity, and he thus details a range of pervasive and local techniques for controlling, maintaining, and making useful new multiplicities of individuals. Modernization consists in this production of manageable subjects through what he calls "a certain policy of the body, a certain way of rendering a group of men docile and useful. This policy required the involvement of definite relations of power; it called for a technique of overlapping subjection and objectification; it brought with it new procedures of individualization." [compare to Foucault's Archaeology of Knowledge or media archaeology]

[16-17] {vision, visual, optic, 19th century, phenakistiscope, afterimage, stereoscope, binocular, technology, apparatus} ...a number of optical devices were invented that later became elements in the mass visual culture of the nineteenth century. The phenakistiscope, one of the many machines designed for the illusory stimulation of movement, was produced in the midst of the empirical study of retinal afterimages; the stereoscope, a dominant form for the consumption of the photographic imagery for over a half a century, was first developed within the effort to quantify and formalize the physiological operation of binocular vision. What is important, then, is that these central components of nineteenth-century "realism," of mass visual culture, preceded the invention of photography and in no way required photographic procedures or even the development of mass production techniques. Rather they are inextricably dependent on a new arrangement of knowledge about the body and the constitutive relation of that knowledge to social power. 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.

[17-18] {panopticon, foucault, bentham}

[20] {benjamin, reflections} [FOOTNOTE] See, for example, Benjamin, Reflections trans. Edmund Jephcott (New York, 1978), p.151: "With the increasing scope of communications systems, the significance of painting in imparting information is reduced."

[27] {camera obscura, paradim, model, 1820s, 1830s, observer, 19th century, photography, } What I hope to do in this chapter is briefly to articulate the camera obscura model of vision in terms of its historical specificity, in order subsequently to suggest how this model collapsed in the 1820s and 1830s, when it was displaced by radically different notions of what an observer was, and of what constituted vision. If, later in the nineteenth century, cinema or photography seem to invite formal comparisons with the camera obscura, it is within a social, cultural, and scientific milieu where there had already been a profound break with the conditions of vision presupposed by this device.

[27] {1500s, late 1500s, late 1700s, 1700s, camera obscura, observer} Historically speaking, we must recognize how for nearly two hundred years, from the late 1500s to the end of the 1700s, the structural and optical principles of the camera obscura coalesced into a dominant paradigm though which was described the status and possibilities of an observer.

[28] {camera obscura, metaphor, paradigm, model, science, truth, art} For over two hundred years it subsisted as a philosophical metaphor, a model in the science of physical optics, and was also a technical apparatus used in a large range of cultural activities. For two centuries it stood as model, in both rationalist and empiricist thought, of how observation leads to truthful inferences about the world; at the same time the physical incarnation of that model was a widely used means of observing the visible world, an instrument of popular entertainment, of scientific inquiry, and of artistic practice. The formal operation of a camera obscura as an abstract diagram may remain constant, but the function of the device or metaphor within an actual social or discursive field has fluctuated decisively.

[30] {} [FOOTNOTE] For details on various models during this period, see, for example, Gioseffi, Candletto pp.13-22.

[30] {benjamin, baudelaire} [FOOTNOTE] "The distinctions with which the materialist method, discriminative from the outset, starts are distinctions within this highly mixed object, and it cannot present this object, and it cannot present this object as mixed or uncritical enough." Walter Benjamin, Charles Baudelaire: A Lyric Poet in the Era of High Capitalism, trans. Harry Zohn (London, 1973), p. 103.

[31] {deleuze, guattari} [FOOTNOTE] Gilles and Deleuze and Felix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, trans. Brian Massumi (Minneapolis, 1987), p. 504.

[31] {deleuze, foucault} [FOOTNOTE] Gilles Deleuze, Foucault, trans. Sean Hand (Minneapolis, 1988), p. 13.

[37] {foucault} [FOOTNOTE] Michel Foucault, The Order of Things, pp. 18-19.

[47] {descartes, disembodiment, camera obscura, eye} ...For Descartes the images observed within the camera obscura are formed by means of a disembodied cyclopean eye, detached from the observer, possibly not even a human eye. Additionally, Descartes specifies that one, "cut away the three surrounding membranes at the back so as to expose a large part of the humour without spilling any ... No light must enter this room except what comes through this eye, all of whose parts you know to be entirely transparent. Having done this, if you look at the white sheet you will see there, not perhaps without pleasure and wonder, a picture representing in natural perspective all the objects outside." [Descartes' Disembodied Camera Obscura Eye]

[59] {stereoscope, berkeley, 19th century, 18th century} Nothing could be more removed from Berkeley's theory of how distance is perceived than the science of the stereoscope. This quintessentially nineteenth-century device, with which tangibility (or relief) is constructed solely through an organization of optical cues (and the amalgamation of the observer into a component of the apparatus), eradicates the very field on which eighteenth-century knowledge arranged itself.

[59] {touch, vision, synestheasia, descartes, berkeley, diderot} From Descartes to Berkeley to Diderot, vision is conceived in terms of analogies to the sense of touch.

[62] {stereoscope, touch, 19th century, vision, optic, optical, tactile} The notion of vision as touch is adequate to a field of knowledge whose contents are organized as stable positions within an extensive terrain. But in the nineteenth century such a notion became incompatible with a field organized around eschange and flux, in which a knowledge bound up in touch would have been irreconcilable with the centrality of mobile signs and commodities whose identity is exclusively optical. The stereoscope, as I will show, became a crucial indication of the remapping and subsumption of the tactile within the optical.

[67] {camera obscura, origin, mechanics, mechanism, goethe} "Let a room be made as dark as possible; let there be a circular opening in the window shutter about three inches in diameter, which may be closed or not at pleasure. The sun being suffered to shine through this on a white surface, let the spectator from some little distance fix his eyes on this bright circle thus admitted." -Goethe's Farbenlehre (1810)

[68] {goethe, camera obscura, obsolete, change, dead, model, paradigm, paradigm shift} Goethe continues his recitation, however, he abruptly and stunningly abandons the order of the camera obscura: "The hole being then closed, let him look towards the darkest part of the room; a circular image will now be seen to float before him. The middle of the circle will appear bright, colourless, or somewhat yellow, but the border will appear red. After a time this red, increasing towards the centre, covers the whole circle, and at last the bright central point. No sooner, however, is the whole circle red than the edge begins to be blue, and the blue gradually encroaches inwards on the red. When the whole is blue the edge becomes dark and colourless. The darker edge again slowly encroaches on the blue til the whole circle appears colourless..." Goethe's instruction to seal the hole, "Man schliesse daruf die Offnung," announces a disordering and negation of the camera obscura as both an optical system and epistemological figure.

[70] {natural history, 18th century, foucault, kant} "Natural history [in the 18th century] is nothing more than the nomination of the visible. Hence its apparent simplicity, and that air of naivete it has from a distance, so simple does not appear and so obviously imposed by things themselves." -Foucault on Kant

[78] {1819, 1844, europe, body, apparatus, optical apparatus, change} ...between 1819 to 1844, a period in Europe when the idea of both the optical apparatus and the human body underwent profound transformation.

[79] {goethe, schopenhauer, vision, perception, observer, subject, power} The subjective vision affirmed by Goethe and Schopenhauer that endowed the observer with a new perceptual autonomy also coincided with the making of the observer into a subject of new knowledge and new techniques of power.

[93] {nerves, communication, telecommunication, helmholtz, telegraph, electric} "Nerves have been often and not unsuitable compared to telegraph wires. Such a wire conducts one kind of electric current and no other; it may be stronger, it may be weaker, it may move in either direction; it has no other qualitative differences. 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 magnets, magnetize iron, develop light, and so on. So with the nerves. The condition of excitement which can be produced in them, and is conducted by them, is ...everywhere the same." -Helmholtz

[98] {afterimage} ...the privileging of the afterimage allowed one to conceive of sensory perception as cut from any neccesary link with an external referent. The afterimage -- the presence of sensation in the absence of stimulus -- and its subsequent modulations posed a theoretical and empirical demonstration of autonomous vision, of an optical experience that was produced by and within the subject. Second, and equally important, is the introduction of temporality as an inescapable component of observation. [This is a good summary of last chapter of this book.]

[100] {zootrope}

[104-105] {1820s, 1825, afterimage, science, entertainment, perception, thaumatrope, john paris, london, england} Beginning in the mid-1820s, the experimental study of afterimages led to the invention of a number of related optical devices and techniques. Initially they were for purposes of scientific observation but were quickly converted into forms of popular entertainment. Linking them all was the notion that perception was not instantaneous, and the notion of a disjunction between eye and object. Research on afterimages had suggested that some form of blending or fusion occurred when sensations were perceived in quick succession, and thus the duration involved in seeing allowed its modification and control. One of the earliest was the thaumatrope (literally, "wonder-turner"), first popularized in London by Dr. John Paris in 1825. It was a small circular disc with a drawing on either side and strings attached so that it could be twirled with a spin of the hand. The drawing, for example, of a bird on one side and a cage on the other would, when spun, produce the appearance of the bird in the cage. Another had a portrait of a bald-headed man on one side, a hairpiece on the other.

[105-106] {thaumatrope}

[109-110] {phenakistiscope, plateau, zootrope, horner, stroboscope, stampfer, perception, speed, 1830s, 1834, roget, faraday, germany} In the early 1830s Plateau constructed the phenakistiscope (literally, "deceptive view"), which incorporated his own research and that of Roget, Faraday, and others. At its simplest it consisted of a single disc, divided into eight or sixteen equal segments, each of which contained a small slitted opening and a figure, representing one position in a sequence of movement. The side with figures drawn on it was faced toward a mirror while the viewer stayed immobile as the disc turned. When an opening passed in front of the eye, it allowed one to see the figure on the disc very briefly. The same effect occurs with each of the slits. Because of retinal persistence, a series of images results that appear to be in continuous motion before the eye. By 1833, commercial models were being sold in London. By 1834 two similar devices appeared: the stroboscope, invented by the German mathematician Stampfer, and the zootrope or "wheel of life" of William G. Horner. The latter was a turning cylinder around which several spectators could view simultaneously a simulated action, often sequences of dancers, juggles, boxers, or acrobats.

[110] {media archaeology, cinema, 1830s} The details and background of these devices and inventors have been well documented elsewhere, but almost exclusively in the service of a history of cinema. Film studies position them as the initial forms in an evolutionary technological development leading to the emergence of a single dominant form at the end of the century. Their fundamental characteristic is that they are not yet cinema, thus nascent, imperfectly designed forms. Obviously there is a connection between cinema and these machines of the 1830s, but it is often a dialectical relation of inversion and opposition, in which features of these earlier devices were negated or concealed. 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. Such an approach often ignores the conceptual and historical singularities of each device. [Compare this to media archaeology]

[110] {ceram, comolli, mitry, sadoul, neale, sauvage, deleuze, genealogy} [FOOTNOTE] See, for example, works as diverse as the following: C.W. Ceram, Archaeology of the Cinema (New York, 1965); Michael Chanan, The Dream that Kicks: The Prehistory and Early Years of Cinema in Britain (London, 1980), esp. pp. 54-65; Jean-Louis Comolli, "Technique et ideologie." Cahiers du cinema no. 229 (May-June 1971), pp. 4-21; Jean Mitry, Histoire du cinema, vol. 1 (Paris, 1967), pp. 21-27; Georges Sadoul, Histoire generale du cinema, vol. 1, pp. 15-43; Steve Neale, Cinema and Technology: Image, Sound, Colour (Bloomington, 1985), pp. 9-32; and Leo Sauvage, L'affaire Lumiere: Enquete sur les origines du cinema (Paris, 1985), pp. 29-48. For another genealogical model, see Gilles Deleuze, Cinema 1: The Movement-Image (Minneapolis, 1986), pp.4-5.

[111] {zootrope}

[112-113] {diorama, daguerre, 1820s, 1790s, perception, speed, phenakistiscope, panorama} Another phenomenon that corroborates this change in the position of the observer is the diorama, given its definitive form by Louis J.M. Daguerre in the early 1820s. Unlike the static panorama painting that first appeared in the 1790s, the diorama is based on the incorporation of an immobile observer into a mechanical apparatus and a subjection to a predesigned temporal unfolding of optical experience. The circular or semicircular panorama painting is clearly broke with the localized point of view of perspective painting of the camera obscura, allowing the spectator an ambulatory ubiquity. One was compelled at the least to turn one's head (and eyes) to see the entire work. The multimedia diorama removed that autonomy from the observer, often situating the audience on a circular platform that was slowly moved, permitting views of different scenes and shifting light effects. Like the phenakistiscope or the zootrope, the diorama was a machine of wheels in motion, one in which the observer was a component.

[113] {zootrope}

[113-114] {Kaleidoscope, Baudelaire, 1840s, 1840, marx, engels, Marx/Engels Critique of Kaleidoscope} Consider also the kaleidoscope, invented in 1815 by Sir David Brewster. With all the luminous possibilities suggested by Baudelaire and later Proust, the kaleidoscope seems radically unlike the rigid and disciplinary structure of the phenakistiscope, with its sequential repetition of regulated representations. For Baudelaire the kaleidoscope coincided with modernity itself; to become a "kaleidoscope gifted with consciousness" was the goal of "the lover of universal life." In his text it figured as a machine for the disintegration of a unitary subjectivity and for he scattering of desire into new shifting and labile arrangements, by fragmenting any point of iconicity and disrupting stasis. But for Marx and Engels, writing in the 1840s, the kaleidoscope had a very different function. The multiplicity that so seduced Baudelaire was for them a sham, a trick literally done with mirrors. Rather than producing something new the kaleidoscope simple repeated a single image.

[116] {brewster, kaleidoscope, invention, creation, development, art, industry, industrial, mechanical, beauty, nature} For Sir David Brewster, the justification for making the kaleidoscope was productivity and efficiency. He saw it as a mechanical means for the reformation of art according to an industrial paradigm. 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."

[116-135] {stereoscope} [Brilliant description and analysis of the steroscope.]

[116-117] {stereoscope} The most significant form of visual imagery in the nineteenth century, with the exception of the photographs, was the steroscope. It is easily forgotten now how pervasive was teh experience of the stereoscope and how for decades it defined a major mode of experiencing photographically produced images. This too is a form whose history has thus far been confounded with that of another phenomenon, in this case photography. Yet as I indicated in my introduction, its conceptual structure and the historical circumstances of its invention are thoroughly independent of photography. Although distinct from the optical devices that represented the illusion of mevement, the stereoscope is nonetheless part of the same reorganization of the observer, the same relations of knowledge and power, that those devices implied.

[117] {steroscope, century, 19th century, 1800s, 1800, early 19th century, space, perception, space} The stereoscope is also inseparable from early nineteenth-century debates about the perception of space, which were to continue unresolved indefinitely.

[119] {stereoscope, vision, binocularism, binocular}

[120] {phenakistiscope, stereoscope}

[122-124] {steroscope and touch, stereoscope, touch, sight, vision, wheatstone, diorama, painting} He [Wheatstone] declares that up to this point in history it is impossible for an artist to give a faithful representation of any near solid object... [w]hat he seeks, ten, is a complete equivalence of stereoscopic image and object. Not only will the invention of the stereoscope overcome the deficiencies of painting but also those of the diorama, he believed, was too bound up in the techniques of painting, which depended for their illusory effects on the depiction of distant subjects. The stereoscope, on the contrary, provided a form in which "vividness" of effect increased with the apparent proximity of the object to the viewer, and the impression of three-dimensional solidity became greater as the optic axes of each diverged. Thus the desired effect of the stereoscope was not simply likeness, but immediate, apparent tangibility... [n]o other form of representation in teh nineteenth century had so conflated the real with the optical. [For more on this, see Sir David Brewster, The Stereoscope: Its History, Theory, and Construction (London, 1856), p. 53.]

[124] {metadata, reality effect}

[125] {metadata, the effect effect, effect effect, effect}

[126] {cezanne, stereoscope, painting, observer, optic, space} I am suggesting that both the "realism" of the stereoscope and the "experiments" of certain painters were equally bound up in a much broader transformation of the observer that allowed the emergence of this new optically constructed space. The stereoscope and Cézanne have far more in common than one might assume.

[127] {stereoscope, porn, pornography, erotica, touch, death, change, transition, demise, dead, dead media, 19th century, century, 1800s} It is no coincidence that the stereoscope became increasingly synonymous with erotic and pornographic imagery in the course of the nineteenth century. The very effects and tangibility that Wheatstone had sought from teh beginning were quickly turned into a mass form of ocular posession. Some have speculated that the very close association of the stereoscope with pornography was in part responsible for its social demise as a mode of visual consumption.

[128] {wheatstone stereoscope} [Includes an illustraton of the Wheatstone stereoscope

[128] {stereoscope, point of view, pov, vision, image, space, observer} The stereoscope signals an eradication of "the point of view" around which, for several centuries, meanings had been assigned reciprocally to an observer and the object of his or her vision. There is no longer the possiblity of perspective under such a technique of beholding. The relation of observer to image is no longer to an object quantified in relation to a position in space, but rather to two dissimilar images whose position simulates the anatomical structure of the observer's body.

[128-129] {effect effect, the effect effect, effect, reality effect, wheatstone, stereoscope, wheatstone stereoscope, referential illusion, barthes, lozano-hemmer, holmes, brewster, 1840s, 1860s, 1861} To fully appreciate the rupture signified by the stereoscope it is important to consider the original device, the so-called Wheatstone stereoscope. In order to view the images with this device, an observer placed his eyes directly in front of two plane mirrors set ninety degrees to one another. The images to be viewed were held in slots on either side of the observer, and thus were spatially completely separated from each other. Unlike the Brewster stereoscope, invented in the late 1840s, or the familiar Holmes viewer, invented in 1861, the Wheatstone model made clear the atopic nature of the perceived stereoscopic image, the disjunction between experience and its cause. The later models allowed the viewer to believe that he or she was looking forward at something "out there." But the Wheatstone model left the hallucinatory and fabricated nature of the experience undisguised. It did not support what Roland Barthes called "the referential illusion." There simply was nothing "out there." The illusion of relief or depth was thus a subjective event and the observer coupled with the apparatus was the agent of synthesis or fusion. [Footnote #46 reads: See Roland Barthes, "The Reality Effect," in The Rustle of Language, trans. Richard Howard (New York, 1986), pp. 141-148.] [COMPARE "The Reality Effect" to "The Effect Effect".]

[129] {mobility, embodiment, phenakisticope, stereoscope] Like the phenakisticope and other nonprojective optical devices, the stereoscope also required the corporeal adjacency and immobility of the observer.

[129-131] {eye, optic, vision, technology, apparatus, device, mechanism, implement, tool, marx, capital, 1800, century, 19th century} Beginning in the nineteenth century, the relation between eye and optical apparatus becomes one of metonymy: both were now contiguous instruments on the same plane of operation, with varying capabilities and features. The limits and deficiencies of one will be complemented by the capacities of the other and vice versa. The optical apparatus undergoes a shift comparable to that of the tool as described by Marx: "From the moment that the tool proper is taken from man, and fitted into a mechanism, a machine takes the place of a mere implement." [Footnote #49 reads: Karl Marx, Capital, vol. 1, trans. Samuel Moore and Edward Aveling (New York, 1967), p. 374.]

[131] {claude glasses}

[132] {benjamin, phenakistiscope, magic lantern, phantasmagoria, stereoscope, machine vision, adorno, change, obsolete, effect effect, the effect effect}

[132] {effect effect, the effect effect, stereoscope} The content of the images is far less important than the inexhaustible routine of moving from one card to the next and producing the same effect, repeatedly, mechanically.

[132] {1830s, 1830, 1840s, 1840, effect effect, the effect effect, effect, real, device, mechanism, vision, vivid, illusion, obsolete, phenakistiscope, stereoscope, invention, improvement, paradigm, change} A crucial feature of these optical devices of the 1830s and 1840s is the undisguised nature of their operational structure and the form of subjection they entail. Even though they provide access to "the real," they make no claim that the real is anything other than a mechanical production. The optical experiences they manufacture are clearly disjunct from the images used in the device. 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. So when the phenakistiscope and the stereoscope eventually disappeared, it was not as part of a smooth process of invention and improvement, but rather because these earlier forms were no longer adequate to current needs and uses.

[132] {phantasmagoria, phantasmagoric, magic lantern, adorno, benjamin, obsolete, shock, 1790, 1790s, 1800, 1800s, 1850, mismatch, dead media, dead, death, projection, huyssen, tiedmann, gary smith, terry castle, barnouw, quigley} One reason for their obsolescence was that they were insufficiently "phantasmagoric," a word that Adorno, Benjamin, and others have used to describe forms of representation after 1850. Phantasmagoria was a name for a specific type of magic-lantern performance in the 1790s and early 1800s, one that used back projection to keep an audience anaware of the lanterns. Adorno takes the word to indicate "the occultation of production by means of the outward appearance of the product . . . this outer appearance can lay claim to the status of being. Its perfection is at the same time the perfection of the illusion that the work of art is a reality sui generis that constitutes itself in the realm of the absolute without having to renounce its claim to image the world."[53] [Footnote #53: Theodor Adorno, In Search of Wagner, trans. Rodney Livingstone (London, 1981), p. 85. On Adorno and the phantasmagoria, see Andreas Huyssen, After the Great Divide: Modernism, Mass Culture, Postmodernism (Bloomington, 1986), pp. 34-42. See also Rolf Tiedmann, "Dialectics at a Standstill: Approaches to the Passagen-Werk," in On Walter Benjamin: Critical Essays and Recollections, ed. Gary Smith (Cambridge, Mass., 1988), pp. 276-279. For the technical and cultural history of the original phantasmagoria, see Terry Castle, "Phantasmagoria: Spectral Technology and the Metaphorics of Modern Reverie," Critical Inquiry 15 (Autumn 1988), pp. 26-61; Erik Barnouw, The Magician and the Cinema (Oxford, 1981); and Martin Quigley, Jr., Magic Shadows: The Story of the Origin of Motion Pictures, pp. 75-79.]

[133] {stereoscope, the effect effect, effect effect, effect} Clearly the stereoscope was dependent on a physical engagement with the apparatus that became increasingly unacceptable, and the composite, synthetic nature of the stereoscopic image could never be fully effaced.

[133] {photography, photographs, picture, pictoral codes} Photographs seemed to be a continuation of older "naturalistic" pictoral codes, but only because their dominanat conventions were restricted to a narrow range of technical possibilities...

[137] {camera obscura, obsolete, death, dead media, observer, 17th century, 1700s, 18th century, 19th century, 1800s, early 1800s, century, mobility, art, artists, eye, vision, real, reality, image} The collapse of the camera obscura as a model for the condition of an observer was part of a process of modernization, even as the camera itself had been an element of an earlier modernity, helping define a "free," private, and individualized subject in the seventeenth century. By the early 1800s, 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. 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. It is only in the early nineteenth century that the juridical model of the camera loses its preeminent authority. Vision is no longer subordinated to an exterior image of the true or the right. The eye is no longer what predicates a "real world."

[150] {body, vision, sujectivity, observer, modernism, social} The body that had been a neutral or invisible term in vision was now the thickness from which a knowledge of the observer was obtained. This palpable opacity and carnal density of vision loomed so suddenly into view that its full consequences and effects could not be immediately realized. But once vision became relocated in teh subjectivity of the observer, two intertwined paths opened up. One led out toward all the multiple affirmations of the sovereignty and autonomy of vision derived from this newly empowered body, in modernism and elsewhere. The other path was toward the increasing standardization and regulation of the observer that issued from knowledge of visionary body, toward forms of power that depended on the abstraction and formalization of vision. What is important is how these paths continually intersect and often overlap on the same social terrain, amid the countless localities in which the diversity of concrete acts of vision occur.

But the effecement or mystification of a machine's operation was precisely


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