“Confrontation of eye and sun…”

1)  “There is a profound shift in the way in which an observer is described, figured and posited in science, philosophy, and in new techniques and practices of vision” (Crary 31). Here, Crary mentions that a new idea is being introduced, that alters the description of the observer. According to Crary, “the camera obscura used to define the observer as one who was subjected to an inflexible set of positions and divisions” (Crary 33). Similar to Crary’s depiction towards human vision, Turner introduces a new idea about human vision as well. Turner’s images can be referred to as “modern” paintings because he provides a new way of viewing his paintings. Initially, Turner’s paintings were not accepted by his audiences. Turner’s paintings, in particular the images that depicted nature were considered abstract, and or unclear. His paintings left people feeling confused, because the images were not understood.Turner did not embrace the more popular and accepted themes such as “Romanticism” that other artist chose to paint about. Instead Turner’s paintings displayed subjective images. He looked into the sun, and painted what he saw. Despite the controversy Turner’s paintings caused, he continued to paint abstractly, mentioning “indistinctness is his forte”. Turner felt that his style of painting was beautiful. Turner introduced a modern way of observing art. He encouraged others to be aware of what the eye can initially capture. Turner wanted to show the way his eye worked through his paintings. Turner’s images can be referred to as “modern” paintings because this new idea “confrontation of the eye and sun” (Crary 34-35), is seen as a turn in visual culture. A beginning of something new.

The most memorable aspect of Jonathan Crary’s “Modernizing Vision” is reading about how many people went blind, or damaged their eyesight as a result of staring directly into the sun. People became so curious to witness the beauty of an image that was present after staring directly into the sunlight, that they took a risk and participated in such dangerous activity. Turner also shows his dedication and passion for his artwork, because he continued to paint images he captured by risking his eyesight also. The shift between the way in which people viewed art, and used their vision during the nineteenth century, and the way in which vision is used today shows how society has grown, and how ideologies have expanded…

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2 Responses to “Confrontation of eye and sun…”

  1. Dominique says:

    Allison: very interesting first post. You’ve selected a couple of really useful bits from Crary to cite here. You also mention that Turner introduces some “new” idea about perception or visual representation, though I’m not yet clear on what exactly that is. The “confrontation of the eye and sun” — yes, important, what about it? How does that affect the way Turner thinks about vision? Keep in mind the language I used in the prompt–modernization entails “a decoding and deterritorialization of vision”– how does Turner represent that in a painting?


  2. Dominique says:

    one more quick thing, just so we have our facts straight: Turner WAS a Romantic (go to the interactive tour of the Tate and see what wing they’ve placed him in); the emphasis on subjective experience is very much a Romantic concept.

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