Michael Ma

Document Type

Thesis, Senior

Publication Date

Spring 2014




scope, optics, vision, gaze, eyes, seeing, visibility, view, scopophilia, power, survey, spectacular, cinema, photography, voyeurism, glass, mirror, riot, revolt, stage set, theater, path, panopticon, armature






Perhaps the most scripted way of seeing is fully characterized by the field of cinema. The development of film grows out of moving images where experimentations with illustrations and multiple freeze frame photographs can be traced back to Eadward Muybridge, E.J. Marey, and Thomas Edison. Through the development of tropes and scopes, optical illusions are created and the eyes begin to see motion images. Cinema, a spectacular event, owes its origins to the evolution of these devices and photography. The other variation of these devices of spectacle are surveillance tools. These devices transform the audience from mere spectators to observers or surveyors. It is no longer about passively absorbing moving images but the observer now has implications of actions that follow visual contact. The sight lines out of a military bunker most likely suggests gun fire to follow. The periscope of a submarine skims the surface while the commander may project its torpedo at the subject. The bomb sight of a plane is a detail of a high degree of fine tuned calibration through sight which leads to the pulling of a lever and opening of the bomb bay doors, leading to the release of a barrage of explosives.

Additional Information

Thesis Advisers: Alan Smart, Robert Petrie

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

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