Optical Media : Berlin Lectures 1999 / Edition 1

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This major new book provides a concise history of optical media from Renaissance linear perspective to late twentieth-century computer graphics. Kittler begins by looking at European painting since the Renaissance in order to discern the principles according to which modern optical perception was organized. He also discusses the development of various mechanical devices, such as the camera obscura and the laterna magica, which were closely connected to the printing press and which played a pivotal role in the media war between the Reformation and the Counter-Reformation.

After examining this history, Kittler then addresses the ways in which images were first stored and made to move, through the development of photography and film. He discusses the competitive relationship between photography and painting as well as between film and theater, as innovations like the Baroque proscenium or "picture-frame" stage evolved from elements that would later constitute cinema. The central question, however, is the impact of film on the ancient monopoly of writing, as it not only provoked new forms of competition for novelists but also fundamentally altered the status of books. In the final section, Kittler examines the development of electrical telecommunications and electronic image processing from television to computer simulations.

In short, this book provides a comprehensive introduction to the history of image production that is indispensable for anyone wishing to understand the prevailing audiovisual conditions of contemporary culture.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
'Friedrich Kittler's Optical Media is not only, as its jacket-copyand introduction claim, its author's "best book for theuninitiated"; it is also one of his wittiest.'
Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television

'Kittler's lectures provide stimulating and provocativereading.'
New Formations

'Kittler's analysis is always rich and involving, describing acomplex path of theoretical and factual relations.'

'Optical Media is the most engaging and accessible ofFriedrich Kittler's books. It starts out with a clear presentationof Kittler'smedia-theoretical premises and then offers afascinating tour through the history of storing, manipulating andprojecting light. Witty, insightful, provocative, at timesoutrageous but always stimulating, Optical Media is not onlyan overlooked back entrance into the study of visual media from theRenaissance to the present, it is also an equally helpful backentrance into Kittler's own theory.'
Geoffrey Winthrop-Young

'Kittler is the preeminent thinker of time-based media and whatit means to edit the flow of time with technical means. Brilliantand remarkably original, he offers a kind of media analysis whosemethod is dialectically acute and philosophically deep. No oneinterested in what it means to live in a media-saturated age canneglecthis vital and controversial work.'
John Durham Peters, The University of Iowa

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780745640914
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 1/7/2010
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 332
  • Sales rank: 1,323,768
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Friedrich Kittler

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Table of Contents

  • 0. Preliminary Remarks
  • 1. Theoretical Presuppositions
  • 2. Technologies of the Fine Arts
  • 2.1 Camera Obscura and Linear Perspective
  • 2.1.1 Prehistory
  • Greeks and Arabs
  • 2.1.2 Implementation
  • Brunelleschi
  • Alberti
  • 2.1.3 Impact
  • Perspective and Letterpress
  • The Self-Printing of Nature
  • Europe’s Colonial Power
  • 2.2 Laterna Magica and the Age of the World Picture
  • 2.2.1 Magic Lanterns in Action
  • 2.2.2 Implementation
  • 2.2.3 Impact
  • Propaganda
  • Heidegger’s Age of the World Picture
  • Jesuits and Optical Media
  • Travelling People
  • Jesuit Churches
  • Jesuit Theatre
  • 2.3 Enlightenment and Image War
  • 2.3.1 Brockes
  • 2.3.2 Phenomenology from Lambert to Hegel
  • 2.3.3 Ghost Seer
  • Schiller
  • Hoffmann
  • 2.3.4 Romantic Poetry
  • 3. Optical Media
  • 3.1 Photography
  • 3.1.1 Prehistory
  • 3.1.2 Implementation
  • Niépce and Daguerre
  • Talbot
  • 3.1.3 Painting and Photography: A Battle for the Eyeballs
  • 3.2 Film
  • 3.2.1 Preludes
  • 3.2.2 Implementation
  • Marey and Muybridge
  • 3.2.2 Silent Film
  • 3.2.3 Sound Film
  • 3.2.4 Colour Film
  • 3.3 Television
  • 4. Computer
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