Practices of Looking: an introduction to visual culture

Sturken M. and Cartwright L. (2001) Practices of Looking: An Introduction to Visual Culture. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Discourse, the gaze and the other pp93-96

  • Foucault’s ‘discourse’ – the means of talking about a particular subject at a particular point in history
  • “Photography has often been a central factor in the functioning of discourses since the nineteenth century.” pg95 – this links to Ursula Biemann’s writing on the sustainability of images and how documentary/media coverage creates unsustainable and limiting modes of representation.
  • photography enabled surveillance and is used as a tool of regulation “Photographs thus often function to establish difference, through which that which is defined as other is posited as that which is not the norm or the primary subject.” pg 95

Power, Knowledge and Panopticism pp 96-100

  • 3 central Foucault concepts: power/knowledge, biopower and panopticism.
  • the panopticon as a metaphor for the way power works
  • “Power thus is most effective when it is invisible and unverifiable…” pg99
  • “…the structure of surveillance, whether it is active or not, produces conforming behaviour.” pg 99

The gaze and the exotic pp100-106

  • photos of “exotic” people in faraway lands – “The subjects of these photographs are not named as individuals, rather they are identified as a particular category of people, established as other.” pg 103 lack of control of how they are represented
  • Derrida – binary oppositions are intrinsically linked to concepts of power and superiority.
  • unmarked/marked = the norm/the other
  • “…how to understand difference in terms that do not replicate concepts of dominance and superiority, must take place at the level of linguistic meaning as well as social and cultural meaning.” pg 104
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