Jonathan Crary

Jonathan Crary is Meyer Schapiro Professor of Modern Art and Theory at Columbia University. A founding editor of Zone Books, he is the author of Techniques of the Observer (MIT Press, 1990) and coeditor of Incorporations (Zone Books, 1992). He has been the recipient of Guggenheim, Getty, Mellon, and National Endowment for the Arts fellowships and was a member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton.

  • Suspensions of Perception

    Suspensions of Perception

    Attention, Spectacle, and Modern Culture

    Jonathan Crary

    Suspensions of Perception decisively relocates the problem of aesthetic contemplation within a broader collective encounter with the unstable nature of perception—in psychology, philosophy, neurology, early cinema, and photography.

    Suspensions of Perception is a major historical study of human attention and its volatile role in modern Western culture. It argues that the ways in which we intently look at or listen to anything result from crucial changes in the nature of perception that can be traced back to the second half of the nineteenth century.

    Focusing on the period from about 1880 to 1905, Jonathan Crary examines the connections between the modernization of subjectivity and the dramatic expansion and industrialization of visual/auditory culture. At the core of his project is the paradoxical nature of modern attention, which was both a fundamental condition of individual freedom, creativity, and experience and a central element in the efficient functioning of economic and disciplinary institutions as well as the emerging spaces of mass consumption and spectacle.

    Crary approaches these issues through multiple analyses of single works by three key modernist painters—Manet, Seurat, and Cezanne—who each engaged in a singular confrontation with the disruptions, vacancies, and rifts within a perceptual field. Each in his own way discovered that sustained attentiveness, rather than fixing or securing the world, led to perceptual disintegration and loss of presence, and each used this discovery as the basis for a reinvention of representational practices.

    Suspensions of Perception decisively relocates the problem of aesthetic contemplation within a broader collective encounter with the unstable nature of perception—in psychology, philosophy, neurology, early cinema, and photography. In doing so, it provides a historical framework for understanding the current social crisis of attention amid the accelerating metamorphoses of our contemporary technological culture.

    • Hardcover $55.00 £45.00
    • Paperback $41.95 £35.00
  • Zone 6

    Zone 6

    Incorporations

    Jonathan Crary and Sanford Kwinter

    This volume of Zone presents a diverse group of reflections and interventions on the fate of the body and of subjectivity within twentieth-century modernity. Essays, image-text projects, photographic dossiers, and philosophical and scientific articles examine the multiple emergences over the last 100 years of new models of life based on technological and biological developments, whose roots go back to the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, but whose full expression is only beginning to emerge. These new transformations and modalities are discussed and figured in relation to an older set of models that long ago began to dissolve - the classical notions of unity, interiority, and organism. In its heterogeneous approach, Zone 6: Incorporations provides a rich cartographic description of the particular capacities and trajectories of the contemporary body drawing on the work of neurologists, anthropologists, filmmakers, architects, philosophers, historians, biologists, dancers, novelists, and artists.

    Contributors Paul Rabinow, Eve Sedgwick, François Dagognet, Peter Eisenman, J. G. Ballard, Donna Haraway, Gilles Deleuze, Klaus Theweleit, Elaine Scarry, Francisco Varela, Liz Diller, Ric Scofidio, John O'Neill, Manuel DeLanda, and Ana Barado

    • Hardcover $66.95
    • Paperback $38.95 £32.00
  • Techniques of the Observer

    Techniques of the Observer

    On Vision and Modernity in the Nineteenth Century

    Jonathan Crary

    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.

    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.

    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 observer. He insists that the problems of vision are inseparable from the operation of social power and examines how, beginning in the 1820s, the observer became the site of new discourses and practices that situated vision within the body as a physiological event. Alongside the sudden appearance of physiological optics, Crary points out, theories and models of "subjective vision" were developed that gave the observer a new autonomy and productivity while simultaneously allowing new forms of control and standardization of vision.

    Crary examines a range of diverse work in philosophy, in the empirical sciences, and in the elements of an emerging mass visual culture. He discusses at length the significance of optical apparatuses such as the stereoscope and of precinematic devices, detailing how they were the product of new physiological knowledge. He also shows how these forms of mass culture, usually labeled as "realist," were in fact based on abstract models of vision, and he suggests that mimetic or perspectival notions of vision and representation were initially abandoned in the first half of the nineteenth century within a variety of powerful institutions and discourses, well before the modernist painting of the 1870s and 1880s.

    • Hardcover $55.00 £45.00
    • Paperback $29.95 £25.00

Contributor

  • Sensible Politics

    Sensible Politics

    The Visual Culture of Nongovernmental Activism

    Meg McLagan and Yates McKee

    The interaction of politics and the visual in the activities of nongovernmental activists.

    Political acts are encoded in medial forms—punch holes on a card, images on a live stream, tweets about events unfolding in real time—that have force, shaping people as subjects and forming the contours of what is sensible, legible, and visible. In doing so they define the terms of political possibility and create terrain for political acts.

    Sensible Politics considers the constitutive role played by aesthetic and performative techniques in the staging of claims by nongovernmental activists. Attending to political aesthetics means focusing not on a disembodied image that travels under the concept of art or visual culture, nor on a preformed domain of the political that seeks subsequent expression in media form. Instead it requires bringing the two realms together into the same analytic frame.

    A diverse group of contributors, from art historians, anthropologists, and political theorists to artists, filmmakers, and architects, considers the interaction of politics and the visual in such topics as the political consequences of a photograph taken by an Israeli soldier in a Palestinian house in Ramallah; AIDS activism; images of social suffering in Iran; the “forensic architecture” of claims to truth; and the “Make Poverty History” campaign. Transcending disciplines, they trace a broader image complex whereby politics is brought to visibility through the mediation of specific cultural forms that mix the legal and the visual, the hermeneutic and the technical, the political and the aesthetic. Their contributions offer critical insight into the practices of mediation whereby the political becomes manifest.

    • Hardcover $37.95 £32.00
  • The Aesthetics of Disappearance, New Edition

    The Aesthetics of Disappearance, New Edition

    Paul Virilio

    Virilio introduces his understanding of "picnolepsy"—the epileptic state of consciousness produced by speed.

    Virilio himself referred to his 1980 work The Aesthetics of Disappearance as a "juncture" in his thinking, one at which he brought his focus onto the logistics of perception—a logistics he would soon come to refer to as the "vision machine." If Speed and Politics established Virilio as the inaugural—and still consummate—theorist of "dromology" (the theory of speed and the society it defines), The Aesthetics of Disappearance introduced his understanding of "picnolepsy"—the epileptic state of consciousness produced by speed, or rather, the consciousness invented by the subject through its very absence: the gaps, glitches, and speed bumps lacing through and defining it. Speed and Politics defined the society of speed; The Aesthetics of Disappearance defines what it feels like to live in the society of speed. "I always write with images," Virilio has claimed, and this statement is nowhere better illustrated than with The Aesthetics of Disappearance. Moving from the movie theater to the freeway, and from Craig Breedlove's attainment of terrifying speed in a rocket-power car to the immobility of Howard Hughes in his dark room atop the Desert Inn, Virilio himself jump cuts from such disparate reference points as Fred Astaire, Franz Liszt, and Adolf Loos to Dostoyevsky, Paul Morand, and Aldous Huxley. In its extension of the "aesthetics of disappearance" to war, film, and politics, this book paved the way to Virilio's follow-up: the celebrated study, War and Cinema.This edition features a new introduction by Jonathan Crary, one of the leading theorists of modern visual culture. Foreign Agents seriesDistributed for Semiotext(e)

    • Paperback $14.95 £11.99
  • Sensorium

    Sensorium

    Embodied Experience, Technology, and Contemporary Art

    Caroline A. Jones

    Artists and writers reconsider the relationship between the body and electronic technology in the twenty-first century through essays, artworks, and an encyclopedic "Abecedarius of the New Sensorium."

    The relationship between the body and electronic technology, extensively theorized through the 1980s and 1990s, has reached a new technosensual comfort zone in the early twenty-first century. In Sensorium, contemporary artists and writers explore the implications of the techno-human interface. Ten artists, chosen by an international team of curators, offer their own edgy investigations of embodied technology and the technologized body. These range from Matthieu Briand's experiment in "controlled schizophrenia" and Janet Cardiff and Georges Bures Miller's uneasy psychological soundscapes to Bruce Nauman's uncanny night visions and François Roche's destabilized architecture. The art in Sensorium—which accompanies an exhibition at the MIT List Visual Arts Center—captures the aesthetic attitude of this hybrid moment, when modernist segmentation of the senses is giving way to dramatic multisensory mixes or transpositions. Artwork by each artist appears with an analytical essay by a curator, all of it prefaced by an anchoring essay on "The Mediated Sensorium" by Caroline Jones. In the second half of Sensorium, scholars, scientists, and writers contribute entries to an "Abecedarius of the New Sensorium." These short, playful pieces include Bruno Latour on "Air," Barbara Maria Stafford on "Hedonics," Michel Foucault (from a little-known 1966 radio lecture) on the "Utopian Body," Donna Haraway on "Compoundings," and Neal Stephenson on the "Viral." Sensorium is both forensic and diagnostic, viewing the culture of the technologized body from the inside, by means of contemporary artists' provocations, and from a distance, in essays that situate it historically and intellectually. Copublished with The MIT List Visual Arts Center.

    • Hardcover $46.95 £38.00