PRINT March 1992


All the impulses of the media were fed into the circuitry of my dreams. One thinks of echoes. One thinks of an image made in the image and likeness of images. It was that complex.
—Don DeLillo, Americana, 1971

RICHARD RORTY HAS CHARACTERIZED the history of philosophy as a series of “turns” in which “a new set of problems emerges and the old ones begin to fade away”:

The picture of ancient and medieval philosophy as concerned with things, the philosophy of the seventeenth through the nineteenth century with ideas, and the enlightened contemporary philosophical scene with words has considerable plausibility.1

The final stage in Rorty’s history of philosophy is what he calls “the linguistic turn,” a development that has complex resonances in other disciplines in the human sciences. Linguistics, semiotics, rhetoric, and various models of “textuality” have become the lingua franca for critical reflections on the arts, the media, and cultural forms. Society is a text. Nature and its scientific representations are “discourses.” Even the unconscious is structured like a language.

What these shifts in intellectual and academic discourse have to do with each other, much less with everyday life and ordinary language, is not especially self-evident. But it does seem clear that another shift is occurring in what philosophers talk about, and that once again a complexly related transformation is occurring in the production and understanding of culture. I want to call this shift “the pictorial turn.” In Anglo-American philosophy, canonical contributions to this turn could be traced in Charles Peirce’s semiotics and in Nelson Goodman’s “languages of art,” both of which explore the conventions and codes that underlie nonlinguistic symbol systems, and (more important) do not begin with the assumption that language is paradigmatic for meaning.2 In Europe one might identify it with phenomenology’s inquiry into imagination and visual experience; or with Jacques Derrida’s “grammatology,” which makes language visible, spatial, and material by treating it as writing rather than speech; or with the Frankfurt School’s investigations of modernity and “visual culture”; or with Michel Foucault’s insistence on a history and theory of power/knowledge that exposes the role of the nondiscursive and the “visible”—the seeable as well as the sayable.3 Above all, I would locate the pictorial turn in the thought of Ludwig Wittgenstein, particularly in the apparent paradox of a philosophical career that began with a “picture theory” of meaning and ended with the appearance of a kind of iconoclasm, a critique of imagery that led him to say, “A picture held us captive. And we could not get outside it, for it lay in our language and language seemed to repeat itself to us inexorably.”4 Rorty’s determination to “get the visual, and in particular the mirroring, metaphor out of our speech altogether” echoes Wittgenstein’s iconophobia, and the general anxiety of linguistic philosophy about visual representation. This anxiety, this need to defend “our speech” against “the visual,” is, I want to suggest, a sure sign that a pictorial turn is taking place.

I am not saying, of course, that all these different philosophical encounters with visual representation can be reduced to some single thesis, or that all the anxieties about “the visual” come to the same thing. Rorty’s concern is to get philosophy over its infatuation with epistemology, especially its obsession with the model of the image as a figure of representational transparency and realism. For him, the “mirror” is the temptation to scientism and positivism. For the Frankfurt School, by contrast, the regime of the visual is associated with mass media and the threat of a culture of fascism.5 What makes for the sense of a pictorial turn, then, is not that we have some powerful account of visual representation that is dictating the terms of cultural theory, but that pictures form a point of peculiar friction and discomfort across a broad range of intellectual inquiry. The picture now has a status somewhere between what Thomas Kuhn called a “paradigm” and an “anomaly,” emerging as a central topic of discussion in the human sciences in the way that language once did: that is, as a kind of model or figure for other things (including figuration itself) and as an unsolved problem, perhaps even the object of its own “science,” what Erwin Panofsky called an “iconology.” The simplest way to put this is to say that, in what is often characterized as an age of “spectacle” (Guy Debord), “surveillance” (Foucault), and all-pervasive image making, we still do not know exactly what pictures are, what their relation to language is, how they operate on observers and on the world, how their history is to be understood, and what is to be done with or about them.

The study of the visual arts has not been exempt from these developments, but it has not exactly been in the vanguard, either. Anglo-American art history, in particular, has just begun to awaken to the implications of the linguistic turn. While French scholars like Louis Marin and Hubert Damisch were pioneering a structuralist art history, Anglo-American art history continued to focus on sociological issues (notably patronage studies) and to avoid theory like the plague.6 It took the work of a renegade literary scholar like Norman Bryson to bring the latest news from France and to shake art history out of its dogmatic slumber.7

Now that art history is awake, at least to the linguistic turn, what will it do? The boring alternatives are already flooding the learned journals in the form of discoveries that the visual arts are “sign systems” informed by “conventions,” that paintings, photographs, sculptural objects, and architectural monuments are fraught with “textuality” and “discourse.” A more interesting alternative, however, is suggested by the very resistance of the visual arts to the linguistic turn. If a pictorial turn is indeed occurring in the human sciences, art history could very well find its theoretical marginality transformed into a position of intellectual centrality, in the form of a challenge to offer an account of its principal theoretical object—visual representation—that will be usable by other disciplines in the human sciences. Tending to the masterpieces of Western painting will clearly not be enough. A broad, interdisciplinary critique will be required, one that takes into account parallel efforts such as the long struggle of film studies to come up with an adequate mediation of linguistic and imagistic models, and its endeavors to situate the film medium within the larger context of visual culture.

If we ask ourselves why a pictorial turn seems to be happening now, in what is often characterized as a “post-Modern” era, the second half of the 20th century, we encounter a paradox. On the one hand, it seems overwhelmingly obvious that the era of video and cybernetic technology, the age of electronic reproduction, has provided unprecedented means of visual simulation and illusionism. On the other hand, the fear of the image, the anxiety that the “power of images” may finally destroy even their creators and manipulators, is as old as image making itself.8 Idolatry, iconoclasm, iconophilia, and fetishism are not “post-Modern” phenomena. What is specific to our moment, I want to suggest, is exactly this paradox. The fantasy of a pictorial turn, of a culture totally dominated by images, has now become a real technical possibility on a global scale. Marshall McLuhan’s “global village” is now a fact, and not an especially comforting one. CNN has already shown us that a supposedly alert, educated population (for instance, the American electorate) can witness the destruction of an entire Arab society as nothing more than a spectacular television melodrama, complete with a simple narrative of good triumphing over evil. Even more notable than the power of the media to allow a “kinder, gentler nation” to accept the mass destruction of innocent people without guilt or remorse was its ability to use the spectacle of that destruction to exorcise and erase all guilt or memory of a previous spectacular war. As George Bush so aptly put it: “The specter of Vietnam has been buried forever in the desert sands of the Arabian Peninsula.” Or perhaps the moral was put more pointedly by Dan Rather, as he juxtaposed file footage of the last U.S. helicopter rising from the American embassy in Saigon with live footage of a helicopter landing at our embassy in Kuwait City: “Of course,” Rather said, “an image doesn’t tell us everything. . . .”

Whatever the pictorial turn is, then, it should be clear that it is not a return to naive mimetic theories of representation, or a renewed metaphysics of pictorial “presence”: it is, rather, a postlinguistic, postsemiotic rediscovery of the picture as a complex interplay between visuality, apparatus, discourse, bodies, and figurality. It is the realization that spectatorship (the look, the gaze, the glance, the practices of observation, surveillance, and visual pleasure) may be as deep a problem as various forms of reading (decipherment, decoding, interpretation, etc.), and that visual experience or “visual literacy” might not be fully explicable on the model of textuality.9 Most important, it is the realization that while the problem of pictorial representation has always been with us, it presses inescapably now, and with unprecedented force, on every level of culture, from the most refined philosophical speculations to the most vulgar productions of the mass media. Traditional strategies of containment no longer seem adequate, and the need for a global critique of visual culture seems inescapable.

The current revival of interest in Panofsky is surely a symptom of the pictorial turn. Panofsky’s magisterial range, his ability to move with authority from ancient to modern art, to borrow provocative and telling insights from philosophy, optics, theology, psychology, and philology, make him an inevitable model and starting point for any general account of what is now called visual culture. Even more significant, however, is the fact that Panofsky’s early theoretical work is not just the subject of inert reverence, but of some rather hot arguments in art history. Is he really “the Saussure of art history,” as Giulio Carlo Argan once claimed? Or merely a “quaint early modern episode” in the “lugubrious labyrinth” of German neo-Kantian art history, as Donald Preziosi suggests? Has Panofsky’s iconology amounted to anything more than a “rote cryptography” that has reinforced the insularity of one of the most retrograde disciplines in the humanities? Or did he, as the enthusiastic editors of Zone Books suggest, anticipate Foucault by producing an “‘archaeology’ of Western representation that far surpasses the usual scope of art historical studies”?10

The answer is that all these claims have some partial truth. Panofsky has no doubt been appropriated for all sorts of stultifying disciplinary routines; the intellectual contexts of his thought could no doubt be understood much better than they are; his iconology would no doubt have been improved by acquaintance with Jan Mukařovský’s semiology; and he will no doubt be more to contemporary taste after Preziosi attends to his contradictions by “[grilling] him through the grid of Nietzsche.”11 All the same, it is quite remarkable how much power remains in his classic 1924 essay “Perspective as Symbolic Form,” now available in a clear, elegant translation and with an authoritative introduction by Christopher S. Wood. This essay remains a crucial paradigm for any ambitious attempt at a general critique of pictorial representation. Panofsky’s grand synthetic history of space, visual perception, and pictorial construction unfolds in all its nuanced and subtle detail. We are reminded once again that this is not just a story of the invention of perspective in the Renaissance, but an account of pictorial space that goes from antiquity to the present, that embraces Euclid and Vitruvius at one end and El Lissitzky and Ernst Mach at the other. Panofsky manages to tell a multidimensional story of Western religious, scientific, and philosophical thought organized entirely around the figure of the picture, understood as the concrete symbol of a complex cultural field of what Foucault might have called the “visible and the articulable.” This history is grounded, moreover, in what was for Panofsky’s time the most up-to-date psychophysiological accounts of visual experience. Panofsky argued that Renaissance perspective did not correspond to actual visual experience either as it was understood scientifically in the early 20th century, or intuitively in the 16th century or antiquity. He calls perspective a “systematic abstraction from the structure of . . . psychophysiological space” (p. 30), and suggests a link between “the most modern insights of psychology” (p. 154) into visual perception and the pictorial experiments of Piet Mondrian and Kasimir Malevich.

The unfinished business in Panofsky’s perspective essay, as in his iconological method more generally, is the question of the spectator. Panofsky is routinely ambiguous about just what the subject of his history is.12 Practices and precepts for pictorial representation are regularly elided in his argument with claims about transformations in “subjective visual impressions” (p. 66) and phrases about the “perception” of an “epoch.” (p. 34). Sometimes Panofsky will talk as if visual perception had a history that could be read directly from the pictorial conventions that express it in symbolic forms. Other times he will treat visuality as a natural, physiological mechanism that lies outside history, a mechanism intuitively grasped by ancient optics and on the way to a scientific understanding in modern psychophysiology. The neo-Kantian language of “subject” and “object” only compounds the difficulty by replicating the optical figures of perspectiva as the fundamental terms of epistemology.13 Vision, space, world pictures, and art pictures all weave together in a grand tapestry of “symbolic forms” that synthesize the Kunstwollen (artistic urges) of each historical period.14 If the pictorial turn is to accomplish Panofsky’s ambitions for a critical iconology, however, it seems clear that we will need to unweave this tapestry, not just elaborate it.

A notable attempt to disengage the spectatorial thread from art history’s master narrative is offered by Jonathan Crary’s Techniques of the Observer: On Vision and Modernity in the Nineteenth Century.15 Crary wants to write a book about “vision and its historical construction” (p. 1), but he wants to detach that history to some extent from “an account of shifts in representational practices” (p. 5). Bypassing what he calls the “core narrative” of art history—the shift from the “Renaissance, perspectival, or normative” model of vision (p. 4) signaled by the arrival of artistic Modernism in the 1870s and 1880s—Crary turns our attention to earlier “systemic shifts” in the discourses of psychology, physiology, and optical technology. The central argument of the book is that “a new kind of observer took shape in Europe” (p. 7) during the first few decades of the 19th century. The observer of the 17th and 18th centuries, according to Crary, was a disembodied figure whose visual experience was modeled on the “incorporeal relations of the camera obscura” (p. 16). In the 19th century, this observer is given a body. Psychophysiological phenomena like afterimages replace the paradigms of physical optics, and new optical devices like the stereoscope and the phenakitoscope grow out of “a radical abstraction and reconstruction of optical experience” (p. 9).

In its details, this is a book that has some important things to teach us about the problem of historicizing vision and spectatorship. Crary adduces some striking examples to illustrate the shift in the scientific understanding of visual experience: typical of these are his discussion of Goethe’s closing off of the opening into the camera obscura in order to contemplate the “physiological” colors that float and transform themselves in the ensuing darkness, and his acute description of the stereoscope as a kind of transition between the (ob)scene space of the theater and the Euclidean fragments of “Riemann space” (pp. 126–27). Crary also offers some important admonitions about theory and method. He warns against the tendency (characteristic of early film studies) simply to “read off” an account of the spectator from optical apparatuses in a kind of technological determinism. He notes that “the position and function of a technique is historically variable” (p. 8) and that the camera obscura may not occupy the same position in 18th-century accounts of vision that the stereoscope does in the 19th century. He seems aware, above all, that the whole concept of “the observer” and of a “history of vision” is fraught with deep theoretical problems: there may not actually be any “nineteenth century observer,” only “an effect of an irreducibly heterogeneous system of discursive, social, technological, and institutional relations” (p. 6). There may not be any “true history” of this subject, only a rhetoric that mobilizes certain materials from the past in order to have an effect in the present (p. 7).

Unfortunately, Crary falls prey to some of the worst occupational hazards of iconology, failing to heed many of his own warnings about overgeneralization and categorical truth claims. His modest and interesting account of optical devices and physiological experiments rapidly gets inflated into “a sweeping transformation in the way in which an observer was figured,” a “hegemonic set of discourses and practices in which vision took shape,” a “dominant model of what an observer was in the nineteenth century” (p. 7). Dominant for whom? Hegemonic in what sphere? Sweeping across what social boundaries? Crary cannot even ask, much less answer, these questions because he shows no interest in any empirical history of spectatorship. any treatment of the observer’s body as marked by gender, or of a vision inflected by class or ethnicity. “Obviously,” he says, “there was no single nineteenth century observer, no example that can be located empirically” (p. 7). The first half of the sentence is obvious and true; the second half is quite false, if by it he means that we can have no access to examples of spectatorship—what people liked to look at, how they described what they saw, how they understood visual experience, whether in pictures or the spectacles of daily life. Crary’s skepticism about the “single nineteenth century observer” leads him, against all logic, to conclude that there is no observer, except in the “dominant model” he has extracted from physiological optics and optical technology.16

Even more curious is the determining historical function attributed to this very specialized “shift” in spectatorship. The transformed observer who is described on one page as merely an “effect” becomes, in the twinkling of an eye, the fundamental cause of massive historical developments: “Modernist painting in the 1870s and 1880s and the development of photography after 1839 can be seen as later symptoms or consequences of this crucial systemic shift, which was well under way by 1820” (p. 5). When Crary talks about these “systemic shifts,” “gaps,” and “ruptures,” he sounds most conventional, most firmly in the grip of received ideas. The rhetoric of rupture and discontinuity forces him to make silly, impossible arguments that appear in the guise of historical particularity and resistance to “homogeneity” and “totality,” but actually wind up producing exactly what they want to avoid. Typical is his claim that the “similarities” between photographs and other, older kinds of pictures are only apparent: “The vast systemic rupture of which photography is a part renders such similarities insignificant. Photography is an element of a new and homogeneous terrain in which an observer becomes lodged” (p. 13).

Although the vocabulary is from Foucault, the tendency toward a totalizing master narrative that cuts across all strata, exerting its force on “a single social surface” (p. 5), sounds more like the German idealist history that informs Panofsky’s perspective essay—exactly the sort of thing Foucault was trying to leave behind. But then Crary’s Foucault, in a wonderful act of reverse historical leapfrogging, turns out to have influenced the principal philosophical influence on Panofsky: “Ernst Cassirer’s reading of the Enlightenment, though unfashionable now, more than echoes certain parts of Foucault’s construction of ‘classical thought’” (p. 56). It is telling that Crary opens by situating his own historical position precisely in the terms provided by Panofsky’s perspective essay, that is, “in the midst of a transformation in the nature of visuality probably more profound than the break that separates medieval imagery from Renaissance perspective” (p. 1). It is equally telling that his “systemic shift” turns for a supporting analogy to the narrative of M. H. Abrams’ The Mirror and the Lamp, a straightforward idealist history of English and German Romanticism that is generally regarded in literary studies as an important museum piece—a history to be criticized and rewritten, not to be cited as a confirming parallel.

The surest sign that the familiar turns of idealist history are being replayed in this book is the way it absorbs all possible theories and histories of the observer into a single minded, nonempirical account of a purely hypothetical observer. Foucault, Adorno, Baudrillard, Benjamin, Debord, Deleuze, and other critics all coexist happily in Crary’s text; their disagreements and discrepancies are utterly forgotten in the blinding light of a “dominant model” illuminating a “homogeneous terrain.”

In Crary’s defense it must be said that it is a lot harder to get away from idealist histories of visual culture than we might imagine, and it’s not clear that Foucault himself completely avoided its temptations. Any interesting theoretical reflection on visual culture will have to work out an account of its historicality, and that will necessarily involve some form of abstraction and generality. And there are important pleasures and rewards in these overgeneralized master narratives, especially when they are told by a master like Panofsky who knew more about the history of visual culture than Crary and I and several others put together. Panofsky’s story still feels fresh and challenging because it is so multidimensional, so densely realized, and so complexly comprehensive. It covers four distinct epochs (ancient, medieval, Renaissance, and Modern) with a discursive grid that includes religion, philosophy, science, psychology, physiology, and of course art history. It aims at nothing less than a critical iconology, a self-theorizing account of visual culture.

It’s not fair, then, to compare Crary’s book with Panofsky’s classic essay. The standard is impossibly high. It is a standard we will have to examine, however, if we are going to develop a critical art history, or an understanding of contemporary visual culture. Could it be, as Wood suggests, that “iconology, in the end, has not proved an especially useful hermeneutic of culture” precisely because its object entraps its discourse and method in tautological “likenesses” between visual images and historical totalities? Is iconology, in contrast to its “disintegrative” methodological cousin, philology, incapable of registering the “faults” in culture, the fractures in representation, and the resistance of spectators? Crary is certainly right to identify the historicizing of vision and spectatorship as the deep puzzle of a critical iconology. And he may, after all, be right in saying that we are “in the midst of a transformation in the nature of visuality . . . more profound than the break that separates medieval imagery from Renaissance perspective.” This is not what his book is about (Technologies of the Observer is only the “prehistory” to contemporary visuality), and he makes no argument for it, except to assert that “computer-generated imagery” is “relocating vision to a plane severed from a human observer” (p. 1). Since this “relocation” has been going on since at least 1820, and echoes Panofsky’s account of the “rationalization of the visual image” by Renaissance perspective, it doesn’t feel like big news.

At the same time, it is not so different from the paradoxical narrative I have tacitly subscribed to in locating a “pictorial turn” in contemporary thought and culture that replays the most archaic iconomachias on the screens of a global electronic visual culture. Cary’s technological symptoms of this turn—“computer-aided design, synthetic holography, flight simulators, computer animation, robotic image recognition, ray tracing, texture mapping, motion control, virtual environment helmets, magnetic resonance imaging, and multi-spectral sensors” (p. 1)—may not be best described as severing vision from “the human,” but it is certainly the case that they are altering the conditions under which human vision articulates itself, and it is easy to understand the moral/political anxiety in Crary’s nostalgic invocation of “the human.” Crary’s list of cybervisual technologies could be a catalogue of the special effects in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Predator or Terminator, an inventory of the devices that made a spectacle like Operation Desert Storm possible. The power/knowledge quotient of contemporary visual culture, of nondiscursive orders of representation, is too palpable, too deeply embedded in technologies of desire, domination, and violence, too saturated with reminders of neofascism and global corporate culture, to be ignored. The pictorial turn is not the answer to anything. It is merely a way of stating the question.

W. J. T. Mitchell teaches art and literature at the University of Chicago. His most recent book is Iconology: Image, Text, Ideology, 1987.



1. See Richard Rorty, Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature, Princeton: at the University Press, 1979, pp. 263 and 371; and the earlier collection of essays edited by Rorty, The Linguistic Turn: Recent Essays in Philosophical Method, Chicago: at the University Press, 1967.

2. Another important line of development would be Stanley Cavell’s attempt, in The World Viewed: Reflections on the Ontology of Film, Cambridge. Mass., and London: Harvard University Press, 1979, to address American film and modern painting within the philosophical framework of Anglo-American Romanticism.

3. I echo here the analysis of Michel Foucault’s method in Gilles Deleuze, Foucault, trans. Seán Hand. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1988. See, especially, the chapter “Strata or Historical Formations: The Visible and the Articulable (Knowledge).” pp. 47–69.

4. Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations (1953), New York: Macmillan, 1953. I:115. For a fuller account of this issue, see my essay “Wittgenstein’s Imagery and What It Tells Us,” New Literary History 19 no. 2, Winter 1988, pp. 361–70.

5. The nearest thing to a philosophical synthesis of Rorty and the Frankfurt School on the regime of the visual is, ironically enough, Martin Heidegger’s “Die Zeit des Weltbildes,” translated as “The Age of the World Picture” by William Lovitt, in Heidegger, The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays, New York: Harper & Row, 1977, pp. 115–54.

6. Hubert Damisch noted almost twenty years ago that after “the great period of Riegl, Dvorak, Wölfflin and others,” art history “has shown itself to be totally incapable of renovating its method, and above all of taking any account of the potential contribution from the most advanced lines of research.” The first “line” of research that Damisch mentions is linguistics. See Damisch, “Semiotics and Iconography,” in The Tell-Tale Sign: A Survey of Semiotics, ed. Thomas A. Sebeok, Lisse, the Netherlands: Peter de Ridde Press, 1975, p. 29.

7. I should also mention here the even more far-reaching work of T. J. Clark and Michael Fried, who have, in very different ways, put the theoretical languages of art history under the most intense pressure. See my remarks on the Clark-Fried debate in “Ut Picture Theoria: Abstract Painting and the Repression of Language,” Critical Inquiry 15 no. 2, Winter 1989, pp. 362–63.

8. For further discussion of traditional versions of these anxieties, see my Iconology: Image, Text, Ideology, Chicago: at the University Press, 1987; and David Freedberg’s The Power of Images: Studies in the History and Theory of Response, Chicago: at the University Press, 1989.

9. This negative version of the pictorial turn was already latent in the realization that a semiotics constructed on the model of the linguistic sign might find itself incapable of dealing with the icon, the sign by resemblance, precisely because (as Damisch notes) “the icon is not necessarily a sign.” Damisch, “Semiotics and Iconography,” p. 35.

10. Dust-jacket copy from Panofsky’s Perspective as Symbolic Form, trans. Christopher S. Wood, New York: Zone Books, 1991. See Giulio Carlo Argan, “Ideology and Iconology,” in The Language of Images, ed. W. J. T. Mitchell, Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press. pp. 15–25; and Donald Preziosi, Rethinking Art History: Meditations on a Coy Science, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1989, pp. 112–14. Preziosi’s blast in this book against Michael Ann Holly’s Panofsky and the Foundations of Art History, Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1984, was the opening salvo in the current controversy over Panofsky. For a more temperate reassessment of Panofsky, I recommend Keith Moxey, “Panofsky’s Concept of ‘Iconology’ and the Problem of Interpretation in the History of Art,” New Literary History 17 no. 2. Winter 1986, pp. 265–74; and Joan Hart, “Erwin Panofsky and Karl Mannheim,” forthcoming in Critical Inquiry.

11. See Preziosi, p. 121.

12. The best critique of Panofsky’s argument in the perspective essay is Joel Snyder’s “Picturing Vision,” in The Language of Images, pp. 219–47.

13. It is in this sense that I’ve argued (in agreement with Michael Podro) that at some very fundamental level of discursive figuration Panofsky does believe in the universality of perspective. See Podro’s discussion of the correspondence between Panofsky’s perspective and Kantian epistemology in The Critical Historians of Art, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1982. pp. 188–89; and my essay “Iconology and Ideology: Panofsky, Althusser, and the Scene of Recognition,” in _Image and Ideology in Modern/PostModern Discourse, ed. David B. Downing and Susan Bazargan, Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press, 1991, pp. 321–30. Wood’s excellent introduction to Panofsky’s essay also provides a good account of Panofsky’s “double entendres” between “art and worldview” (p. 21).

14. Wood notes this problem in his introduction: “Perspective encourages a strange kind of identification of the art-object and the world-object. It is perspective, after all, that makes possible the metaphor of a Weltanschauung, a worldview, in the first place” (p. 13).

15. Jonathan Crary, Techniques of the Observer: On Vision and Modernity in the Nineteenth Century, Cambridge, Mass., and London: MIT Press, 1991.

16. Crary does note that there are “practices of vision” that lie beyond the scope of this study, but he relentlessly assimilates them to his “dominant model” by characterizing them as “marginal and local forms by which dominant practices of vision are resisted, deflected, or imperfectly constituted” (p. 7). The problem with this formulation is that all heterogeneity in visual experience is preordained to fit a “dominant/resistant” or “universal/local” model, and (more fundamentally) that the case for Crary’s observer as a “dominant model” is never even argued. His account of the 19th-century observer would surely have benefited from some of the recent work being done on the audiences of early cinema, particularly Charles Musser’s The Emergence of Cinema: The American Screen to 1907, New York: Charles Scribner, 1990: and Miriam Hansen’s Babel and Babylon: Spectatorship in American Silent Film, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1991.