The camera obscura was one of the inventions that led to photography.  Both words come from Latin, meaning, “darkened chamber or room”.  Which is ironic because photography would not be possible if it were not for light.  “Above all, whether in the work of scientists or artists, empiricists or rationalists, it was an apparatus that guaranteed access to an objective truth about the world.” After reading that sentence three more times and trying to really grasp it, I started thinking about the world without visual images.  With only seeing things in your own life.  No broadcasting of casualties in Iraq, no college basketball games, and no soap-operas! Event though some do not show the truth of the world, our lives would still be entirely different.  Much of the war we are in know, is only known about because of images.  “Observation leads to truthful inferences about an external world.”  The camera obscura was a model for producing truth and image.  Without these small steps towards photography we would never be where we are today.  The camera obscura brought our culture and our observing skills to where they are today.

“I know that the world I converse with in the city and in the farms, is not the world I think. I observe that difference and shall observe it. One day, I shall know the value and law of this discrepance.” Emerson claims this at the very end of his text.  I think he shows us here that everyone sees differently our of their eyes.  No two people are alike, everyone makes judgements, and everyone has predetermined thoughts on people they do not even know.  No two worlds are alike.

Emerson also talks about observing success, and how that is not often as observed as having a good income or a decent job.  We as humans, don’t observe which the world creates.  Perhaps, we are examining all the wrong images.  Perhaps we should return to the camera obscura, for that showed the most truth.

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One Response to “Techniques of the Observer- Blog Uno.”

  1.   Dominique said:

    Maggie,
    Thanks for this first contribution! I want you to think more about how Crary frames the “camera obscura” as a model for vision. Is he saying that this is the ideal relationship we should have to images or that it represented one relationship to representation at a specific cultural moment?
    Also, you might be very interested to read Samantha’s post and my response to it. See her blog when you have a moment!

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