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The Practice of Light: A Genealogy of Visual Technologies from Prints to Pixels The Practice of Light: A Genealogy of Visual Technologies from Prints to Pixels

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Sean Cubitt Sean Cubitt
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Light is the condition of all vision, and the visual media are our most important explorations of this condition. The history of visual technologies reveals a centuries-long project aimed at controlling light. In this book, Sean Cubitt traces a genealogy of the dominant visual media of the twenty-first century—digital video, film, and photography—through a history of materials and practices that begins with the inventions of intaglio printing and oil painting. Attending to the specificities of inks and pigments, cathode ray tubes, color film, lenses, screens, and chips, Cubitt argues that we have moved from a hierarchical visual culture focused on semantic values to a more democratic but value-free numerical commodity.

Cubitt begins with the invisibility of black, then builds from line to surface to volume and space. He describes Rembrandt’s attempts to achieve pure black by tricking the viewer and the rise of geometry as a governing principle in visual technology, seen in Dürer, Hogarth, and Disney, among others. He finds the origins of central features of digital imaging in nineteenth-century printmaking; examines the clash between the physics and psychology of color; explores the representation of space in shadows, layers, and projection; discusses modes of temporal order in still photography, cinema, television, and digital video; and considers the implications of a political aesthetics of visual technology.

 

Table of Contents

Series Foreword

Acknowledgements

Introduction

1 [black]

Black Matters | "Rembrandt", or invisibility | The Night Watch | Black as Ink | Gray | Virtual Black

2 Line

Rays | Diagramming Light | Mickey Mouse and the Maid of Corinth | Dialectic of the Line | Edge and Vector

3 Surface

3.1 Texture

Mezzotint, Aquatint, Lithography | Photography: Ansel Adams | Halftone and Wire Photgraphy | Automation and Control | The Raster Grid from CRT to Digital Projection | CCD and CMOS | The Politics of the Number

3.2 Color

Sensation | Johannes de Eyck Fuit Hic | Newton | Goethe | Charles Lock Eastlake and Industrial Chemistry |Technicolor | Chromolithography, Cartoons and Childhood | Ordering Color | Digital Color

4 Space

4.1 Shadows

Volume and Rim | Chiaroscuro and Fetish | CGI Shading | Fog | Cast Shadows 

4.2 Layers

Silhouettes | Flats and Mattes: Scenography in Theatre and Film | Silkscreen | Pfeiffer, Edwards, Tabrizian | Silkscreen | 3D Cinema: Avatar and T-Visionarium | Composites

4.3 Projection

Flattening: Maps and Graphs | Perspective and (Techonological) Determinism | Tutor-code and Lens | Projection and Data Projection | From Searchlight to Laser | Cubism and Voxel | From Space to Time 

5 Time

Orders of Time | The Photograph of Roland Barthers' Mother | Intermittance and Continuity | Latency in Digital and Analog Media | MPEG-4 and Entropy | Codec Wars | Vector Aesthetics

6 Reflection

Ancestors | Communionn as the end of Ethics | A Note on the Title

Notes

References

Index

 

About the Author

Sean Cubitt is Professor of Film and Television at Goldsmiths, University of London. He is the author ofThe Cinema Effect and the coeditor of Relive: Media Art Histories, both published by the MIT Press.

Light is the condition of all vision, and the visual media are our most important explorations of this condition. The history of visual technologies reveals a centuries-long project aimed at controlling light. In this book, Sean Cubitt traces a genealogy of the dominant visual media of the twenty-first century—digital video, film, and photography—through a history of materials and practices that begins with the inventions of intaglio printing and oil painting. Attending to the specificities of inks and pigments, cathode ray tubes, color film, lenses, screens, and chips, Cubitt argues that we have moved from a hierarchical visual culture focused on semantic values to a more democratic but value-free numerical commodity.

Cubitt begins with the invisibility of black, then builds from line to surface to volume and space. He describes Rembrandt’s attempts to achieve pure black by tricking the viewer and the rise of geometry as a governing principle in visual technology, seen in Dürer, Hogarth, and Disney, among others. He finds the origins of central features of digital imaging in nineteenth-century printmaking; examines the clash between the physics and psychology of color; explores the representation of space in shadows, layers, and projection; discusses modes of temporal order in still photography, cinema, television, and digital video; and considers the implications of a political aesthetics of visual technology.

 

Table of Contents

Series Foreword

Acknowledgements

Introduction

1 [black]

Black Matters | "Rembrandt", or invisibility | The Night Watch | Black as Ink | Gray | Virtual Black

2 Line

Rays | Diagramming Light | Mickey Mouse and the Maid of Corinth | Dialectic of the Line | Edge and Vector

3 Surface

3.1 Texture

Mezzotint, Aquatint, Lithography | Photography: Ansel Adams | Halftone and Wire Photgraphy | Automation and Control | The Raster Grid from CRT to Digital Projection | CCD and CMOS | The Politics of the Number

3.2 Color

Sensation | Johannes de Eyck Fuit Hic | Newton | Goethe | Charles Lock Eastlake and Industrial Chemistry |Technicolor | Chromolithography, Cartoons and Childhood | Ordering Color | Digital Color

4 Space

4.1 Shadows

Volume and Rim | Chiaroscuro and Fetish | CGI Shading | Fog | Cast Shadows 

4.2 Layers

Silhouettes | Flats and Mattes: Scenography in Theatre and Film | Silkscreen | Pfeiffer, Edwards, Tabrizian | Silkscreen | 3D Cinema: Avatar and T-Visionarium | Composites

4.3 Projection

Flattening: Maps and Graphs | Perspective and (Techonological) Determinism | Tutor-code and Lens | Projection and Data Projection | From Searchlight to Laser | Cubism and Voxel | From Space to Time 

5 Time

Orders of Time | The Photograph of Roland Barthers' Mother | Intermittance and Continuity | Latency in Digital and Analog Media | MPEG-4 and Entropy | Codec Wars | Vector Aesthetics

6 Reflection

Ancestors | Communionn as the end of Ethics | A Note on the Title

Notes

References

Index

 

About the Author

Sean Cubitt is Professor of Film and Television at Goldsmiths, University of London. He is the author ofThe Cinema Effect and the coeditor of Relive: Media Art Histories, both published by the MIT Press.

Additional Info

Additional Info

SKU 9780262027656
Author(s) Cubitt , Sean
Subtitle A Genealogy of Visual Technologies from Prints to Pixels
Publisher(s) MIT Press
Format Hardback
Original publication date 21 Oct 2014
Number of pages 368 pages including 28 b&w illus., 11 color plates

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