The Architecture of the Visible: Technology and Urban Visual Culture (Technologies: Studies in Culture & Theory)
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Visual technology saturates everyday life. Theories of the visual-now key to debates across cultural studies, social theory, art history, literary studies and philosophy-have interpreted this new condition as the beginning of a dystopian future, of cultural decline, social disempowerment and political passivity. Intellectuals-from Baudelaire to Debord, Benjamin, Virilio, Jameson, Baudrillard and Derrida-have explored how technology not only reinvents the visual, but also changes the nature of culture itself. The heartland of all such cultural analysis has been the city, from Baudelaire's flaneur to Benjamin's arcades. The Architecture of the Visible presents a wide-ranging critical reassessment of contemporary approaches to visual culture through an analysis of pivotal technological innovation from the telescope, through photography to film. Drawing on the examples of Paris and New York-two key world cities for over two centuries-Graham MacPhee analyzes how visual technology is revolutionizing the landscape of modern thought, politics and culture.
that restores the unequivocal nature of this opposition. From this perspective, what photography reveals is that, while this dual conception of beauty recognizes the involvement of both the eternal and the transient, ultimately the responsibility for beauty lies with an invariable and constant operation of human perception, identified with the interiority of the imagination. The technological reproduction of photography is thus understood to demonstrate the recalcitrance of the visible to the
terminology from its location 'between' apperception and perception to the realm of perception, Debord unwittingly collapses its critical potential by erasing the distinction which its immanent critique inhabits and questions. The implications of this transposition can be seen most readily in terms of the different methodological standpoints involved. As we have indicated, Lukacs takes the claims of modern thought and modern social institutions to systematic coherence as the starting point for
'reification' designates the fragmentation of spectacular vision for Debord, for Baudrillard it designates meaningfulness or form per se, which he associates with claims to grasp or render 'reality'. Where Debord looks for a release from the fragmented visual experience of the spectacle in the upsurge of 'real' experience, Baudrillard celebrates the reversal of any moment of 'positivity' or meaningfulness — which he associates with 'the real' — because signification is itself equated with
confronted by Husserl in his discussion of the retroactive nature of memory, memory's ability to 'see' the past perception differently from later vantage points. Husserl has to concede an element of retroaction within memory, but recognizes that it potentially threatens the self-identity of the remembered perception. He therefore seeks to contain this threat by restricting this retroactive dimension to protentions, assuming retentions to be determinate and fixed. If each perception involves
frame-by-frame exposures. Unlike live-action film — where at least within individual shots the 'natural' flow of events might be understood to be recorded — in animation the tempo of succession is ordered exclusively by the technical apparatus and its relation to retinal retention. Because the shot is reduced to a single frame, and every shot is therefore followed by an edit, then the achievement of coherence has no relation to the spatial relations in which events occur — as in live-action film