Art & Architecture

Tricks of the Light: Essays on Art and Spectacle

Essays on media systems and contemporary art by a leading theorist of modern visual culture


Published (US):
Aug 22, 2023
Published (UK):
Oct 17, 2023
6 x 9 in.
8 color + 92 b/w illus.
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Tricks of the Light brings together essays by critic and art historian Jonathan Crary, internationally known for his groundbreaking and widely admired studies of modern Western visual culture. This collection features a compelling selection of Crary’s responses to modern and contemporary art and to the transformations of twentieth-century media systems and urban/technological environments. These wide-ranging and provocative texts explore the work of painters, performance artists, writers, architects, and photographers, including Allan Kaprow, Eleanor Antin, Ed Ruscha, John Berger, Bridget Riley, J.G. Ballard, Rem Koolhaas, Gretchen Bender, Dennis Oppenheim, Paul Virilio, Robert Irwin, and Uta Barth. There are also reflections on filmmakers Fritz Lang, Stanley Kubrick, Jean-Luc-Godard, David Cronenberg, and others. The book is enhanced by several expansive essays on the unstable status of television, both amid its beginnings in the 1930s and then during its assimilation into new assemblages and networks in the 1980s and 90s. These assess its many-sided role in the reshaping of subjectivity, temporality, and the operation of power. Like all of Crary’s work, his writing here is grounded in the acuteness of his engagement with perceptual artifacts of many kinds and in his nuanced reading of historical processes and their cultural reverberations.