The rising scientific culture of the early twentieth century shaped popular engagement with imaging. Three routes contributed to this diffusion: the availability of new technical processes for image reproduction, proliferation of startling images in the print media for mass consumption, and amateur involvement in science and technology. Together, they promoted a rising visual literacy and appetite among wider publics. Imagery became both democratic and startling. This chapter focuses on the popular audiences consuming imagery, and on the crucial role of visual surprise in new media. Audiences for photography, cinema and contemporary art stumbled through jarringly different expressive forms through the first three decades of the century. In the hands of graphic artists, photographers and editors, the content of imagery was increasingly designed to unsettle and disorient. Reproduced for the millions in large-circulation magazines, imagery was quickly popularized in new forms that had even wider appeal.
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