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Visual Culture is a collection of original and critical essays addressing "vision" as a social and cultural process. The book exposes the organized but implicit structuring of a highly significant yet utterly routine dimension of social relations, the "seen." What we see and the manner in which we come to see it, is not simply part of a natural ability but is rather intimately linked with the ways that our society has, over time, arranged its forms of knowledge, its strategies of power and its systems of desire. We can no longer be assured that what we see is what we should believe in. There is only a social, not a formal, relation between vision and truth.
The necessity, centrality and universality of vision has been a major preoccupation of modernity and the fracture and refraction of vision are central to an understanding of the postmodern. Consequently, the role of visual depiction, the practices of visual production and reproduction, and the socialization, history and conventions of visual perception are emergent themes for sociology, cultural studies and critical theory in the visual arts. The contributors to Visual Culture all stem from these three traditions and all represent the vanguard of new research in their areas. Though their perceptions vary, they share a central problematic, the "visual" character of contemporary culture.