Suspensions of Perception: Attention, Spectacle and Modern Culture By J Crary
“Suspensions of Perception” is a major historical study of human attention and its volatile role in modern Western culture. It argues that the ways in which we intently look at or listen to anything result form crucial changes in the nature of perception that can be traced back to the second half of the 19th century. Focusing on the period from about 1880 to 1905, Jonathan Crary examines the connections between the modernization of subjectivity and the dramatic expansion and industrialization of visual/auditory culture.
At the core of his project is the paradoxical nature of modern attention, which was both a fundamental condition of individual freedom, creativity and experience and a central element in the efficient functioning of economic and disciplinary institution, as well as the emerging space of mass consumption and spectacle. Crary approaches these issues through multiple analyses of single works by three key modernist painters – Manet, Seurat and Cezanne – who each engaged in a singular confrontation with the disruptions, vacancies and rifts within a perceptual field. Each in his own way discovered that sustained attentiveness, rather than fixing or securing the world, led to perceptual disintegration and loss of presence, and each used this discovery as the basis for a reinvention of representational practices.
“Suspensions of Perception” decisively relocates the problems of aesthetic contemplation within a broader collective encounter with the unstable nature of perception – in psychology, philosophy, neurology, early cinema and photography. In doing so, it provides an historical framework for understanding the current social crisis of attention amid the accelerating metamorphoses of our contemporary technological culture.
Make Space!: Design for Theatre and Alternative Spaces By Kate Burnett
An illustrated collection of contemporary British set, costume and lighting designs, including the design of performance spaces. Published to accompany a national exhibition, this book represents 165 theatre productions, the work of 244 practising stage and theatre designers, and 12 contributing theatre buildings.
Seven sections show work in the variety of theatre formats found in Britain at the end of the 20th century: theatre in the round; purpose-built adaptable spaces and studio theatres; thrust and open stages; proscenium theatres; touring theatre; converted spaces; and events and non-theatre performances. Brief commentaries by designers focus in particular on their response to the characteristics of performance spaces
Site – Specific Art: Performance, Place and Documentation By Nick Kaye
Site-Specific Art is the first major study of site-specific theatre and performance in North America and Europe since the 1950s. This volume is an astonishing addition to the debates around experimental performance and its documentation.
The book is divided into individual analyses of the themes of space, materials, site, and frames. These are interspersed by specially commissioned documentary artwork from some of the worlds foremost practitioners and artists working today. This interweaving of critique and creativity offers a unique investigation into a major theme of contemporary work.
Site Specific Art explores the relationship of architectural theory to an understanding of contemporary site related art and performance, and rigorously questions how such works can be documented.
The artistic processes involved are demonstrated through entirely new primary articles from:
Station House Opera
Alternative Comics: An emerging Literature by Charles Hatfield
Hatfield analyses such seminal works as: Art Spiegelman’s “Maus”; Gilbert Hernadez’s “Palomar: The Heartbreak Soup Stories”; Justin Green’s “Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary”; Harvey Pekar’s “American Splendor”, and explores how issues outside of cartooning – the market-place, production demands, and work schedules – can affect the final work. He teases out the complications of creating biography and autobiography in a pre-eminently visual medium and shows how creators approach these issues in radically different ways.
About the Author
Charles Hatfield is an assistant professor of English at California State University. His work has been published in Comics Journal, Inks: Cartoon & Comic Art Studies, and ImageText amongst others.