The object stares back

Elkins, James

The object stares back : on the nature of seeing

San Diego [Calif.] ; New York [N.Y.] ; London : Harcourt, 1996, 1 vol. (271 p.).

Collection Harvest books.

ISBN 978-0-15-600497-8

Résumé :

At first it appears that nothing could be easier than seeing. We just focus our eyes and take in whatever is before us. This ability seems detached, efficient, and rational, as if the eyes were competent machines telling us everything about the world without distorting it in any way. But those ideas are just illusions, James Elkins argues in this «excellent and thorough study» (Boston Globe), and he suggests that seeing is undependable, inconsistent, and caught up in the threads of the unconscious. Blindness is not the opposite of vision, but its constant companion, and even the foundation of seeing itself. Using drawings, paintings, diagrams, and photographs to illustrate his points, Elkins raises intriguing questions and offers astonishing perceptions about the nature of vision. Ultimately, he concludes, «Seeing is metamorphosis, not mechanism» : it «alters the thing that is seen and transforms the seer.»

James Elkins lives a Chicago, where he is an art historian at the School of Art Institute of Chicago

Axe de recherches :

  • Axe transversal : Cultures visuelles

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