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.
structure of meaning it uncovers is already in place, immured within the semantically intense but static co-ordinates of the reified appearance of the city. Derrida's reading of Husserl allows a different understanding of the 1 S7 THE ARCHITECTURE OF THE VISIBLE visual experience described or performed by the poem. His location of the world within the phenomenological eye allows the final moment of recognition to be conceived in terms other than phenomenology's claim for the pure
understood in these terms as a moment of recognition and recollection which makes a past nexus of intentions visible within the perceptual present; as such, it distorts and deforms both this prior nexus and the context of vision into which it is returned. The instant of recognition is not a moment of fully present perception; rather, what the lyric T sees is a flickering image, inhabited or haunted by earlier moments of desiring and intending. The memory of the final stanza cannot therefore be
experience is not linguistic signification but chromatic differentiation' (1998, p. xiv). Benjamin's consideration of colour is therefore understood as allowing him to extend the concept of experience beyond the perception of form, while at the same time locating this excess within the terms of formal perception. Caygill argues that by reconceptualizing visual experience in this way, Benjamin is able to address the impact of technology without conceiving it in terms of a fixed and immutable fate.
Colour'. Here Benjamin insists that 'the gaze of the imagination is a gaze within the canon, although it does not proceed 'in accordance with it' (ibid., vol. 1, p. 48; emphasis added) That is, for Benjamin there is no pure seeing of colour, since colour can only be perceived through 'the canon' of form. His analytical comparison between colour and form is therefore artificial, in the sense that it extrapolates or separates out what cannot be so distinguished in experience. As Benjamin observes,
intuition, understanding and reason, so that the 'absolute' — or what Kant had identified as the ideas of reason — 'manifests itself in spatio-temporal experience, but indirectly in complex, tortuous and even violent forms' (1998, p. 2). In order to escape the restriction of experience to the relationship between subject and object, Benjamin rejects Kant's confinement of totality to the regulative projection of the rational subject, and seeks instead to find intimations of categorical