Blog The Story of Looking book review

The Story of Looking book review

Posted July 7, 2020, 6:09 p.m. by T

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The Story of Looking

Mark Cousins

Allen & Unwin

 

We are drowning in images and the accessibility and affordability of smartphones with ever improving cameras has massively changed both our approach to taking photos and our behaviour in them.

In this book The Story of Looking Mark Cousins examines across the realms of history, art, film, photography, science and technology how our view at things has (d)evolved from the cradle to the grave, illustrating his viewpoints with examples along the way.

Cousins’ reference points are eclectic, thematically often freely associated and resemble a tour de force through history, following his own stream of consciousness with juxtapositions galore that should prove to be thought-provoking for anyone remotely interesting in art and media.

What Mark Cousins achieves with his tome is that it makes one take a step back and reassess the act of looking, something that in itself is usually just taken for granted and not usually being assessed as compared to the respective object being inspected. A direly needed impulse in a turbulent and narcissistic age where the selfie has effectively replaced the self-portrait and both the banality and number of images produced to see ourselves in the world and shared via social media is ever increasing.

Centred around the span of a lifetime of an individual, The Story of Looking is many things depending on what you take away from it. On a deeper level and with its focus on detail, I found it triggering questions about perceptions and attitudes at large as the power of images continues to shape associations and thought processes.

A thought-provoking and engagingly written book that highlights in a deep yet playful way that the world we live in has become much more finely grained and how much the brain is ever updating the visual field, no matter how differently we look at things.

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