This book was recommended by my tutor and partway through my first reading, I didn’t get much from it till I had to answer project 2 Barbarous taste. This seemed to resonate with the book and everything became clearer. These observations and notes represent the incredibly long winded second read through.
The time period discussed in the book is very brief, a lot of views on how we see changed in a very short amount of time.
Current understanding of viewing is changing because the things with which we can view and understand are changing regularly also, ie mapping tools, cameras that detect different frequencies of light etc
Guy Debord ‘society of the spectacle’, power of society over medium used and content and who watches.
History has taken into account the different way the impressionists used to view the world, however the accounts miss the change in thought about how we actually see, the physical process, what affects it. this in turn changes how modern art comes about as a way of looking externally from the self with a regard to the normal still prevalent, which makes it all a bit less surprising.
this period in time was a starting point of cataloging sight, the studies used in these chapters are linked.
it also heralded a break down of class that meant symbology of content became more watered down as everyone could create it (photos) see it Obscura recreate etc.
whilst the camera photos a landscape we recognise, its in a form so vastly different, it has different meaning.
the new technologies created, ostensibly for research (ended up in the realm of entertainment) were made before photography and mass construction.
Debord relates to 20th century however this is relevant as a starting point for the spectacle.
flaneur – an excess of stimuli and an inability to take it in and act. the process of reacting to what happens because there is so much happening rather than acting before to deal with it.
we look at seeing through western culture and our history back through to the greeks, renaissance art leads through to the cinema as a link to a natural view of the world.
so the camera obscura is then linked to cinematography as a way of a controlling force by the elite.
the concept of the obscura was known since the Greeks, and was largely used as a piece of entertainment, however, Marx, Bergson, Freud et al thought about it more in terms of what was hidden and what was real.
it was talked about as much as it was used? Deluze “Machines are social before they re technical” [p31]
Used to create paintings, so art historians think of it within that confine.
Thought of by the users as producing a moving image that was more real than the real
Giovanni Battista Porta 1558 mentions obscura. Thought it would be a way to view specifics of nature and then use this knowledge to harness nature. Cassir thought he was referring to a type of magic, the knower and the know.
obscura becomes the way to define observing, as ‘isolated, autonomous’ [p39] sight is removed from the observer and done by the obscura. the experience replaced by machine and this version of the ‘truth’. which was a good thing to nietzche as ‘it is from senses that most misfortunes come’.
Newton and Locke wrote about a version of obscura, both describe a way for an enclosed space with the real coming in a small aperture one side displaying an element of the real on the opposite side and individuals being between the two planes. ‘free-flowing’.
Locke distances us from mechanism by hiding in the dark. this leads to theories on where thought happens, is it linked to sight?
is Vermeer implying the camera obscura in pictures? [p44-45] because they are inside looking at things relevant to the title of the work?
Descartes suggests using a dead eye as a lens, so sight is again separate from the individual, then how do 2 eyes create 1 vision?
Leibniz theorising that obscura was to localised a point to be anything other than fragmented and de-centralised.
flattening the landscape with a single point of view, a cone.
it doesn’t matter which external experience of the view you refer to, its a neat understandable view you are presented with on a wall, the memory is of less importance than the act of looking.
Berekley categorises sight as different from the other senses, not sure his example works independent of touch or because of it? [p58]
however, sight is linked to touch in many of these theories, Dierot theory on touch based on a blindfolded man over someone without sight, so reference to touch or seeing through touch?
end of the chapter is about how touch was bound up in observation. later artists could only have the view they had because of the work earlier in the century to define observation.
Goethe observed the left vision after the light was taken away, ‘As the eye, such the object’ (p70) meaning we see what we can understand we see potentially over what is actually in front of us.
Now we have investigation into observing and sight, Goethe calls for a dark room or closed eye to help gain knowledge of how the individual being experimented upon perceives light and colour.
Maine de Biran proposed that as we get tired we perceive colours differently, that observing was not the passive act it had previously been thought to be.
Schopenhauer went on to state colour was physical and chemical perception he and Goethe thought secondary (based on how we sense something, see, smell, taste, touch, hear) qualities were more important than primary (things that are actual, the object is a pyramid). Schopenhauer said that given colour was something we perceived when our eyes where shut, that ‘”what occurs on the brain’ is wrongly attributed to what is happening outside of it.
1800-50 saw the cataloging of our physiology that became the backbone of our understanding of us. 5 senses, separation of sensory/motor nerves, different functions areas of the brain
elitist comment on artists and genii finding sight most important because of its “indifference in regards to the will”
Wave theory on light (p86) Fresnel
Muller (p89) nerves were different and could only process 1 type of sensation eg electricity created a different sensation based on were it was applied, to the eye gave light, you could feel it through skin etc.
“experience of light has no necessary connection with any actual light”.
so, we really can’t trust what we see.
Ruskin gets involved here with the “innocence of the eye” Which I understand, creating pictures for me is about a fascination with the accurate recreation, its a joy and an obsession.
On dealing with the afterimage, Goethe studied ‘subjective visual phenomena such as afterimages no optical illusion, now optical truth.
sensory perception separate from external referent (smell separate from a real odour?)
Our own personal experience of everything cancels out the objectivity of ‘just’ being an observer.
Ampere stated that any perception/understanding blends with one we’ve already had/remembered.
perception is “un suite de differences successives.”
Herbart we don’t intrinsically get the truth of something, we ‘extracts it from an ongoing process involving the collision and merging of ideas.'(p100-101) He also thought this was all bound up in a way of displaying info into young minds to instil discipline and attentiveness.
Dr John Paris thaumatropes. spinning disk relies on afterimage for effect.
Zootropes, phenakistiscopes, all brought about as studying tools based around the observer, not as ideas to look at actual motion. This changes there value.
Because of this innovation and experimentation, the observer moved on from the restricted view of the camera obscura in a darkened room to a mechanical movement that became acceptable and paved the way for the next
Part of the reason the kaleidoscope was invented as a means to produce art in a mechanical fashion creating a symmetry of pattern and colour that humans could not create as quickly, this was argued by Marx as a trick with mirrors.
Stereoscope. Wheatstone and Brewster wrote extensively on optical afterimages and subjectivity. Stereoscope was also involved in discussions on space, when we start to perceive space etc. study into binocular vision accurately started at this point. How does split image merge? “An effect of the observer’s experience of the differential between two other images.”
stereoscope pictures, Diderot surmised where enough information to recognise the object/place in real life and not gain anything extra from seeing them in the real.
Brewster believed he was disseminating the techniques of illusions to the common man by creating the kaleidoscope and the stereoscope.
by 1840, it wasn’t a study of vision, but a study of perception.
Turner as an artist stopped using a single point of light to illuminate his pictures. The camera obscura helped with the study of the sun but Turners paintings still put it at the forefront of some of his pictures as an experience that wasn’t possible with the camera.
Turners painting The Angel standing with the sun. which includes a form that isn’t of this word and is as a result not possible to create with the other form , the camera obscura.
Fechner studied sensation and stimulation deciding that there was an odd relation between them and external causes of them.
vision became relocated in the subjectivity of the observer.
Crary, J(1990)Techniques of the observer. First Edition. MIT Press. Massachusetts.