Tag Archives: camera obscura


Historians of visual culture generally agree that, with the nineteenth century, a new way of seeing and a new kind of observer were born. The conventional history of photography says that this technology is a part of a linear development tracing back to the Renaissance and camera obscura. We tend to believe that photography and – later – film belong to the continuous and increasingly dominant visual practice – realism. Together with the “modernist rupture” of painterly revolutions, they constitute the modernization of vision at the end of the 19th century – but is it really so? Jonathan Crary does not agree with this interpretation. His deeply ambiguously received book Techniques of the Observer: On Vision and Modernity in the 19th Century foregrounds the discontinuity between the camera obscura and photography and claims that the rupture between modern and classical vision took place at the beginning of the 19th century.

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