The Story of Looking

Mark Cousins

The Story of Looking by Mark Cousins (Paperback ISBN 9781782119135) book cover

Available as Paperback

An investigation into the elements of looking, combining art and science and painting a portrait of our culture, by the critically-acclaimed writer and filmmaker

In The Story of Looking, Mark Cousins takes us on a lightning-bright tour – in words and images – through how our looking selves develop over the course of a lifetime, and the ways that looking has changed over the centuries. From great works of art to holiday photos, from cityscapes to cinema, through science and history, protest and propaganda, and the refusal to look, this book illuminates how we construct as well as receive the things we see.

“A wide-ranging history of looking … you will gaze at it in wonder”

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“A history of the human gaze … Illuminating … Roams freely across history, art, film, photography, science and technology … Indispensable as a reference book”

“Bloody genius”
Christopher Doyle

“Intriguing and beautiful … [A] gloriously haphazard intellectual scrapbook … Wide-ranging, deep-seeing and clever”
scotland On Sunday

“An attempt to catalogue how and why we look, what we look at and how our social and cultural surroundings shape what we see … the result is, by turns, learned, often surprising … Fascinating”
glasgow Sunday Herald, Arts Books Of The Year

Mark Cousins

Mark Cousins is a Northern Irish author and filmmaker. His books include Widescreen: Watching. Real. People. Elsewhere and The Story of Film. His films – including I am Belfast, The First Movie, Atomic and The Story of Film: An Odyssey – have won a Peabody Award, the Prix Italia and the Stanley Kubrick Award, and have been shown in MoMA in New York, at the Cannes Film Festival and around the world. He is Honorary Professor of Film at the University of Glasgow. He lives in Edinburgh.


Mark Cousins’ documentary The Story of Looking, a perfect companion to his book of the same name, reaches cinemas on the 17 September 2021. Watch the trailer now!

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Take a look around in this 360° video with Mark Cousins, writer of The Story of Looking. “We know that we’ve got love lives, we know we’ve got working lives—but what if we think of our looking life? What does that mean?”

Mark Cousins talks The Story of Looking at Virtual Futures.

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