The Practice Of Light: A Genealogy Of Visual Technologies From Prints To Pixels

Hardcover | September 5, 2014

bySean 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.

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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, a...

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

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:368 pages, 9 × 7 × 0.81 inPublished:September 5, 2014Publisher:The MIT PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0262027658

ISBN - 13:9780262027656

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The Practice of Light is an amazing tour de force. Exceptionally well researched, brilliantly written and the result of the dream of a very talented individual. Cubitt dreamed he held a book such as this in his hand and dearly wanted to read it. No such book existed in reality, so he set about the monumental task of writing it himself. I say monumental because as you will appreciate as you read the book the level of detailed research and scholarship is vast; from the genesis of "Let there be light" through to the images we see on giant LED screens in our contemporary cities... Cubitt introduces, explains, and then explores highly complex theories in such a way that is easy to understand and without getting a stress headache. Highly readable... (L)ight will never appear the same again after digesting Cubitt's smorgasbord of tantalising morsels from history, science, art, philosophy, and technology.