Long associated with this department, Jonathan Crary received his Ph.D. from Columbia in 1987 having previously graduated with a B.A. from Columbia College, where he was an art history major. Among his professors were Edward Said, Meyer Schapiro, David Rosand, Sylvère Lotringer, and Arthur Danto. He also earned a B.F.A. from the San Francisco Art Institute where he studied film and photography. His film teachers there included James Broughton, Larry Jordan, and Gunvor Nelson. His first teaching position was in the Visual Arts Department at University of California, San Diego. He has taught full-time at Columbia since 1989, and has also been a visiting professor at Princeton and Harvard. Since 1988, he has been an affiliated faculty member of the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program.
He has written extensively on contemporary art and culture for publications including Art in America, Artforum, October, Assemblage, Cahiers du cinéma, Le Nouvel Observateur, Le Monde diplomatique, El Pais, Film Comment, Harvard Design Magazine, Grey Room, Bookforum, Literary Hub, Domus, Otra Parte, Adbusters, Village Voice, and Texte zur Kunst. He has also written critical essays for over 30 exhibition catalogs. A selection of his work is included in the widely used anthology Film Theory and Criticism, eds. Braudy and Cohen (7th edition).
In 1986 he was one of the founders (and continues to be co-editor) of Zone Books, a press now internationally noted for its publications in intellectual history, art theory, politics, anthropology and philosophy, including texts by Michel Foucault, Wendy Brown, Giorgio Agamben, Lorraine Daston, Gilles Deleuze, Georges Bataille, Caroline Bynum, Leo Steinberg, Melinda Cooper and many others. Professor Crary was co-editor of the 1992 volume Incorporations (Zone Books) which assembled a broad range of reflections on the problem of the body in contemporary technological culture.
He is the author of Techniques of the Observer: On Vision and Modernity in the Nineteenth Century (1990) which has been translated into twelve foreign languages. With this book he began his extended study on the origins of modern visual culture, which he continues to develop in his current research. His book Suspensions of Perception: Attention, Spectacle and Modern Culture was published in 2000 and was the winner of the 2001 Lionel Trilling Book Award. In his following book 24/7 (Verso) he examines the fate of human perception within the operations of global information and communication networks, and it is currently in print or forthcoming in twenty-two foreign language editions. The Italian translation of 24/7 was a finalist for the 2016 Terzani International Literary Prize. The book was also the inspiration for a major group exhibition in 2019 at Somerset House in London. Over 50 invited artists responded to Crary's text with art works and installations for the show 24/7: A Wake-Up Call for Our Non-Stop World. His book Scorched Earth was published in 2022. It was included in Literary Hub's Best Books of the Year and nine translations are forthcoming.
Professor Crary has been the recipient of Guggenheim, Getty, Mellon, and National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships and has been a member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. In 2005, his teaching and mentoring were recognized with a Distinguished Columbia Faculty Award.
Somerset House, London
October 31, 2019 - February 23, 2020
Suspensions of Perception: Attention, Spectacle, and Modern Culture, MIT Press, 2001
J.M.W. Turner: The Sun is God, Tate Liverpool, 2000 (co-author)
Incorporations, ed. Jonathan Crary, et al, Zone Books, 1992
Techniques of the Observer on Vision and Modernity in the Nineteenth Century, Jonathan Crary, MIT Press, 1992
"Powering Down," October 176, Spring 2021
"Climate Control," October 168, Spring 2019
“Regulating the Gaze,” in Drowning in a Sea of Data, ed. João Laia, La Casa Encendida, Madrid, 2019
"Terminal Radiance" in Unwatchable, eds. Nicholas Baer and Laura Horak, Rutgers University Press, 2019
"Notes on Eye Tracking," Harvard Design Magazine, No. 46, Fall-Winter 2018
"John Berger: Critic of Neoliberalism," Politics/Letters 8, May 2017
“La vida sin pausa,” El País, May 24, 2015
“Le capitalism comme crise permanente de l’attention,” In L’économie de l’attention: Nouvel horizon du capitalism?, ed. Yves Citton, La Decouverte, 2014
"Jean-Luc Godard’s Histoire(s) du cinéma," in Sensible Politics: The Visual Culture of Non-Governmental Activism, eds. Yates McKee and Meg McLagan, Zone Books, 2012
"The Singularity of the Everyday," in Uta Barth: The Long Now, Miller and Co., 2010
"Introduction," to Paul Virilio, The Aesthetics of Disappearance, Semiotexte/Foreign Agents, 2009
"Attention and Event in the Work of Bridget Riley," in Bridget Riley Retrospective, Musée de l'art moderne de la Ville de Paris, 2008
"Memo from Turner," Artforum, June 2008
"Nineteenth-century Visual Incapacities," in Visual Literacy, ed. James Elkins, Routledge, 2008
"Cerith Wyn Evans's Luminous Stagings," in Cerith Wyn Evans: Bubble Peddler, Kunsthaus Graz, Austria, 2007
"Image" and "spectacle," entries in New Keywords: A Revised Vocabulary of Culture and Society, eds. Tony Bennett, Larry Grossberg, and Meaghan Morris, Blackwell, 2005
"Robert Irwin and the Condition of Twilight," Robert Lehman Lectures on Contemporary Art, No. 3, Dia Art Foundation, New York, 2005
"Conjurations of Security," Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies, Vol. 6, no. 3, 2004
"Manny Farber and the Garden of Earthly Routines," in Manny Farber: About Face, San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art, 2004
"Géricault, the Panorama and Sites of Reality in the Early Nineteenth Century," Grey Room 9, 2002
"Dr. Mabuse and Mr. Edison," in Art and Film Since 1945: Hall of Mirrors, ed. Russell Ferguson, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, 1996