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Distributed Cognition in Victorian Culture and Modernism$
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Miranda Anderson, Peter Garratt, and Mark Sprevak

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781474442244

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474442244.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 18 September 2021

Instrumental Eyes: Enacted and Interactive Perception in Victorian Optical Technologies and Victorian Fiction

Instrumental Eyes: Enacted and Interactive Perception in Victorian Optical Technologies and Victorian Fiction

Chapter:
(p.61) 4 Instrumental Eyes: Enacted and Interactive Perception in Victorian Optical Technologies and Victorian Fiction
Source:
Distributed Cognition in Victorian Culture and Modernism
Author(s):

Nicole Garrod-Bush

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9781474442244.003.0004

This chapter makes a case for the importance of visual interactivity over disengaged spectacularity in the Victorian period by looking at a particular type of optical technology, the persistence of vision device (which would go on to develop into the mechanism behind cinema). They required the continual manipulation of the viewer’s hand to bring their flickering illusion of motion to life: by spinning a drum or turning a handle, the series of sequential illustrations or photographs housed in the device appeared to blend together and display a short animation. In drawing attention to the necessary collaboration between cognition, visual perception, and bodily action when using moving-image technologies, this chapter argues that Victorian optical technologies increased awareness of how crucial physical action was to perception. Vision did not simply take place behind the eyes; the cognitive work of understanding one’s environment as a textured, dimensional space was enhanced by new devices which demonstrated how the hand could help the eye to see, or even to see in newly tactile ways. Beyond being a process of pure opticality, perception was spread through the body, as dependent on the fingers as upon the mind.

Keywords:   Victorian, Fiction, Optical technology, Cinema, Perception, Tactile, Animation

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