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ARTECHNE – Technique in the Arts, 1500-1950


1 February 2019
Sala Francisco de la Maza, Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas

Keynote by Sven Dupré: ‘Visual Technologies on the Move’, 1 February, Sala Francisco de la Maza, Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas, Mexico

In his seminal Techniques of the Observer (1990), Jonathan Crary argues that a history of vision or perception “depends on far more than an account of shifts in representational practices … Vision and its effects are always inseparable from the possibilities of an observing subject who is both the historical product and the site of certain practices, techniques, institutions, and procedures of subjectification”. In the 1810s and 1820s Crary locates a rupture in the scopic regime between a geometric model of vision (in which vision was conceived as essentially passive and independent of the subject and based on a radical distinction between interior and exterior) and a physiological model of vision (in which vision became subjective, and the product of visual experience became located in the body of the observer). In this paper Sven Dupré will argue that the adoption of a methodological approach which focuses on the materiality of visual technologies reveals that in the early modern period (thus, prior to the early nineteenth century) observation depended upon bodily engagement rather than a strict division between the subject and the object. The keyword of such an approach is mobility which plays out on three levels: (1) the mobility and animation of images, (2) the mobile materiality of instruments, and (3) the mobility in terms of the portability of visual technologies across different sites and continents.