"It is the theory that decides what we can observe." (Einstein)

"It is more important that a theory be beautiful than it be true." (Paul Dirac)

In Greek, theoria originally meant a looking at or viewing and theoreo, a spectator. In this sense, theory and Visuality are metaphors of each other.

Is the theoretical attitude is that of the disengaged observer? Does theory require a distinction between the illusionless observer and the gullible participant, or to put it more mildly, between theory and observation? Does theory always entail what John Dewey derided as the "spectator theory of knowledge"? Perhaps to theorize is to create the impression of something that existed already (or, even better, always already) (see metaphor) In the Pragmatic tradition, theory is the critical reflection on "belief." William James calls it "an appetite of the mind," what Frank Lentricchia calls "the need to generalize" and "to obliterate differences." (quoted in Cary Wolfe, Postmodern Theory and the Pragmatics of the "Outside" )

But according to the Greek conception, theory is not a knowledge but touching (thigein ).

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art historical

In the late nineteenth century, with the rise of a philosophically oriented art history, the philosophical issues of how we perceive space gave way to the psychological problem of how we come to take delight in the characteristics of formand space. The philosophical art historians sought the "basic principles," (Grundbegriffe ) underlying the creation and appreciation of art, and their historical transformations. 

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eye movement

One form of visual attention is eye movement (often assisted by head movement). Because we see more clearly close to the center of our gaze, we get more information about an object if we direct our eyes in that direction. We get coarser information (at least about shape) from objects we are not looking at directly. 

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Field of Vision

In War and Cinema, Paul Virilio traces the "fatal coherence" between the eye and the arm (weapon) in the logistics of military perception. As has often been observed, what can be seen in warfare is what can be destroyed, and the technical developments of twentieth century warfare are characterized by the joint progress of visibility and invisibility. For Virilio the techniques of cinema and those of warfare became so bound up in the twentieth century that for him, film criticism has no meaning. It is reality that must be analysed in filmic terms. Starting with Etienne - Jules Marey's invention of the Chronophotograph the first of many matings between the machine gun and the movie camera, which unites the repetition of the automatic weapon with the repetition of cinema, Virilio focusses on common themes between warfare and cinema: the projecting lights of anti-aircraft batteries as spectacle, for instance, from Nuremberg to studio logos.

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mind / brain

How does the physical brain give rise to the psychological mind? How do the laws of mental life emerge from the brain?

The hypothesis of all those who examine the brain as "organ of the mind" is that a close enough analysis of the workings of the brain would, if we also had the key to psychophysiology, lead to a knowledge of consciousness. The psychophysiological hypothesis, at least in its narrow version of it, seeks point-to-point mappings of brain, consciousness, and memory.

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perspective / narrative

In his study of the relation between the photographic frame and narrative in film, Steven Heath sees filmic narrative as the fulfilment of the Renaissance impetus for events to have their proper place. He quotes Rosalind Krauss' comments on perspective as "the visual correlate of causality that one thing follows the next in space according to rule...perspective space carried with it the meaning of narrative: a succession of events leading up to and away from this moment; and within that temporal succession--given as spatial analogue--was secreted the "meaning" of both that space and those events". (in "A View of Modernism", Artforum, Sept 1972.) cf. Alois Hildebrand, "The Problem of Form in the Fine Arts" with its stress on the coherence of spatial recession. (see vision)

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In Deleuze's analysis of Foucault, the prison defines a place of visibility ("panopticism") and penal law defines a field of articulability (the statements of deliquency). In the same manner, the asylum emerged as a place of visibility of madness, at the same time as medecine formulated basic statements about "folly". (do the two always coincide temporally?) 

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Any theory of vision must describe some relation between the eye and the brain. Humberto Maturana studied the visual cortex of the frog and summarized his research in an article entitled, "what the frog's eye tells the frog's brain." Maturana and his co-authors demonstrated that the frog's sensory receptors speak to the brain in a language that is highly processed and species specific. If every species constructs for itself a different world, which is the world? Thus Maturana's credo: There is no observation without an observer.(K. Hayles, "Simulated Nature and Natural Simulations," in Uncommon Ground.) Further research led Maturana to conclude that perception is not fundamentally representational, that the perceiver encounters the world through his own self-organizing processes, through autopoesis.

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In The Philosophy of Space and Time, Hans Reichenbach develops the concept of visualization in relation to Euclidean and non-Euclidean geometries. Many of his arguments are a critiqe of Kant based on scientific progress since the time of Kant, especially the theory of relativity. (see scientific space )

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