The extracts are grouped into thematic sections, each with an introduction by The. Visual. Culture. Reader. Edited, with introductions by. Nicholas Mirzoeff ft *. Introduction to Visual Culture has ratings and 7 reviews. Karla said: Un librazo!!!Mirzoeff habla del surgimiento de la Cultura Visual con la muert. An Introduction to Visual Culture. Nicholas Mirzoeff Bildwissenschaft; Visual perception; Kultur; Künste; Visual communication; Communication and culture.

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Modern life takes place onscreen. Life in industrialized countries is increasingly lived under constant video surveillance from cameras in buses and shopping malls, on highways and bridges, and next to ATM cash machines.

An Introduction to Visual Culture

More and more people look back, using devices ranging from traditional cameras to camcorders and Webcams. At the same time, work and leisure are centred on visual media from computers to Digital Video Disks. Human experience is now more visual and visualized than ever before from the satellite picture to medical images of introuction interior of the human body.

In the era of the visual screen, your viewpoint is crucial. For most people in the United States, life is mediated through television and, to a lesser nihcolas film.

The average American eighteen year old sees only eight movies a year but watches four hours of television a day. These forms of visualization are now being challenged by interactive visual media like the Internet and virtual reality applications. Twenty-three million Americans were online inwith many more joining in daily.

In this swirl of imagery, seeing is much more than believing. It is not just a part of everyday life, it is everyday life. The abduction of the toddler Jamie Bulger from a Liverpool shopping mall was impersonally captured by a video surveilleance camera, providing chilling evidence of the ease with which the crime was both committed and detected.

The bombing at the Atlanta Olympic Games was captured for endless replay by a casual interface of visual technology involving an amateur camcorder and a German cable TV station interviewing American swimmer Janet Evans. Someone is nearly always watching and recording.

Yet noone has been prosecuted to date for the crime. For cultuer visualization of everyday life does not mean that we necessarily know what it is that we are seeing.

Their accounts differed so widely that the FBI ended up crediting only the least sensational and unembellished accounts.

Inthe Inyroduction released a computer animation of the crash, utilizing materials ranging from radar to satellite imagery. Everything could be shown except the actual cause of the crash-that is, the reason why the fuel tank exploded. Without this answer, the animation was essentially pointless. In SeptemberAmerican cruise missiles struck Iraqianti-aircraft defences twice in two days, only for American planes to be fired at by the Iraqis several days later.

Did the Gulf War never happen as Jean Baudrillard has provocatively asserted?

Visual Culture Reader

What are we to believe if seeing is no longer believing? The gap between the wealth of visual experience in postmodern culture and the ability to analyze that observation marks both mizoeff opportunity and the need for visual culture as a field of study. While the different visual media have usually been studied independently, there is now a need to interpret the postmodern globalization of the visual as mirzpeff life.

Critics in disciplines ranging as widely as art history, film, media studies and njcholas have begun introduchion describe this emerging field as visual culture. Visual culture is concerned with visual events in which information, meaning, or pleasure is sought by the consumer in an interface with visual technology. By visual technology, I mean any form of apparatus designed either to be looked sn or to enhance natural vision, from oil painting to television and the Internet.

Postmodernism has often nihcolas defined as the crisis of modernism. In this context, this implies that the postmodern is the crisis caused by modernism and modern culture confronting the failure of its own strategy of visualizing. In other words, it is the visual crisis of culture that creates postmodernity, not its textuality.

While print culture is certainly not going to disappear, the fascination with the visual and its effects that cu,ture modernism has engendered a postmodern culture that is most postmodern when it is visual. Postmodernism is not, of course, simply a visual experience. Nor can it be found in past epochs, whether one looks at the eighteenth-century coffee house public culture celebrated by Jurgen Habermas, or the nineteenth-century print capitalism of newspapers and publishing described by Benedict Anderson.


In the same way that these authors highlighted a particular characteristic of a period as the means to analyse it, despite the vast range of alternatives, visual culture is a tactic with which to study the genealogy, definition and functions of postmodern everyday life from the point of view of the consumer, rather than the producer. The disjunctured and fragmented culture that we call postmodernism is best imagined and understood visually, just as the nineteenth century was classically represented in the newspaper and the novel.

That is not to suggest, however, jirzoeff a simple dividing line can be drawn between the past modern and the present postmodern. Understood in this fashion, visual culture has a genealogy, that needs exploring and defining in the modern as well as postmodern period Foucault This definition creates a body of material so vast that no one person or even department could ever cover the field. This approach seems open to the charge that the visual is given an artificial independence from the other senses that has little bearing on real experience.

In this volume, visual culture is used in a far more active sense, concentrating on the determining role of visual culture in the wider culture to which it belongs. Such a history of visual vissual would highlight those moments where the visual is contested, debated culure transformed as a constantly challenging place of social interaction and definition in terms of class, gender, sexual and racialized identities. It is a resolutely interdisciplinary subject, in the sense given ab the term by Roland Barthes: There would be little point in breaking down the old disciplinary barriers only to put new ones nichopas in their place.

To some, visual culture may seem to claim too broad a scope to be of practical use.

An Introduction to Visual Culture — NYU Scholars

It is true that visual culture will not sit comfortably nicnolas already existing university structures. It is part of an emerging body of postdisciplinary academic endeavours from cultural studies, gay and lesbian studies, to African-American studies, and so on, whose focus crosses the borders of traditional academic disciplines at will. In this sense, visual culture is a tactic, not an academic discipline. It is a fluid interpretive structure, centred on understanding the response to visual media of both cilture and groups.

Its definition comes from the questions it asks and issues it seeks to raise. One of the most striking features of the new visual culture is the growing tendency to visualize things that are not in themselves visual.

Visual Culture Reader – Nicholas Mirzoeff – Bok () | Bokus

One of the first to call attention to these developments was the German philosopher Martin Heidegger, who called it the rise of the world picture. Consider a driver on a typical North American highway. The progress of the vehicle is dependent on a series of visual judgements made by the driver concerning the relative speed of other vehicles, and any manoeuvres necessary to complete the journey. At the same time, he or she is bombarded with other information: Yet most people consider the process so routine that they play music to keep from getting bored.

Even music videos, which saturate the visual field with distractions and come with a soundtrack, now have to be embellished by textual pop-ups.

This remarkable ability to absorb and interpret visual information is the basis of industrial society and is becoming even more important in the information age. It is not a natural human attribute but a relatively new learned skill.

For the medieval philosopher, St Thomas Aquinas, sight was not to be trusted to make perceptual judgements by itself: According to one recent estimate, the retina contains million nerve cells capable of about 10 billion processing operations per second. The hyper-stimulus of modern visual culture from the nineteenth century to the present has been dedicated to trying to saturate the visual field, a process that continually fails as we learn to see and connect faster and faster. In other words, visual culture does not depend on pictures themselves but the modern tendency to picture or visualize existence.

This visualizing makes the modern period radically different from the ancient and medieval world. While such visualizing has been common throughout the modern period, it has now become all but compulsory.

Quesnay in effect expresses the principle of visualizing in general—it does not replace discourse but makes it more comprehensible, quicker and more effective. Visualizing has had its most dramatic effects in medicine, where everything from nidholas activity of the brain to the heartbeat is now transformed into a visual pattern by complex technology.


Most recently the visualizing of computer environments has generated a new sense of excitement around the possibilities of the visual. Computers are not, however, inherently visual tools. The machines process data using a binary system of ones and zeros, while the software makes the results comprehensible to the human user.

Early computer languages like ASCII and Pascal were resolutely textual, involving commands that were not intuitive but had to be learned.

With the development of the Internet, the Java computer code now allows the untutored home computer user access to graphics that were once the preserve of elite institutions like the MIT Media Lab. As computer memory has fallen in price and with the arrival of programs like Realplayer and Shockwave, often available free over the Net, personal computers can play realtime video with full-color graphics.

It is important to remember that these changes were as much consumer as technology driven. There is no inherent reason that computers should use a predominantly visual interface, except that people now prefer it this way.

Visual culture is new precisely because of its focus on the visual as a place bicholas meanings are created and contested.

Western culture has consistently privileged the spoken word as the highest form of intellectual practice and seen visual representations as second-rate illustrations of ideas.

The emergence of visual culture develops what W. If this is so, it marks a significant challenge to the notion of the world as a written text ivsual dominated so much intellectual discussion in the wake of such linguistics-based movements as structuralism and poststructuralism.

While those already working on visual media might find such remarks rather patronizing, they are a measure of the extent to which even literary studies have been forced to conclude that the world-as-a-text has been replaced by the world-as-a-picture. Such world-pictures cannot mirozeff purely visual, but by the same token, the visual disrupts and challenges any attempt to define culture in purely linguistic terms.

One of the principal tasks of visual culture is to understand how these complex pictures come together. They are not created from one medium or in one place as the overly precise divisions of academia would have it.

Visual culture directs our attention away from structured, formal viewing settings like the cinema and art gallery to the centrality of visual experience in everyday life.

At present, different notions of viewing and spectatorship are current both within and between all the various visual subdisciplines. It does of course make sense to differentiate. Our attitudes vary according to whether we are going to see a movie, watch television, or attend an art exhibition.

However, most of our visual experience takes place aside from these formally structured moments of looking. A painting may be noticed on a book jacket or in an advert, television is consumed as a part of domestic life rather than as the sole activity of the viewer, and miirzoeff are as likely to be seen on video, in an aeroplane or on cable as in a traditional cinema.

Just as cultural studies has sought to understand the ways in which people create meaning from the consumption of mass culture, so does visual culture prioritize the everyday experience of the visual from mirzoefv snapshot to the VCR and even the blockbuster art exhibition.

If cultural studies is to have a future as an intellectual strategy, it intoduction have to take the visual turn that everyday life has already gone through.

The first move towards visual culture studies is a recognition that the visual image is not stable but changes its relationship to exterior reality at particular moments of modernity. As one mode of representing reality loses ground another takes its place without the first disappearing.

This dialectical image has in turn been challenged by the paradoxical or virtual image in the last twenty years Virilio The traditional image obeyed its own rules that were independent of exterior reality.

The perspective system, for example, depends upon the viewer examining the image from one point only, using just one eye. Noone actually does this but the image is internally coherent and thus mirzieff. This image is dialectical because it sets up a relationship between the viewer in the present and the past moment of space or time that it represents.