Canongate has acquired an "ambitious" investigation into the elements of looking by film critic Mark Cousins.
World rights were acquired from Caroline Chignell at PBJ.
The Story of Looking is an investigation into the elements of looking, how it forms us individually and how it has formed our civilisations.
"Looking has been central to human life, its empathy, its art, its curiosity and mental health. Drawing together the insights of optics, art history, film studies, psychology and history, The Story of Looking will make us see, for the first time, that looking is a single human trait, like loving", the publisher said. "This ambitious project seeks to combine art and science and paint a portrait of our culture. Cousins applies his distinct vision to looking from the twenty-first century, starting each chapter with a single image and ‘taking people’s eyes for a walk.’"
Francis Bickmore, publishing director at Canongate Books, said: "A big ideas book about how we see, and the central role looking has played in the development of civilization itself, Mark Cousins’ new project is extremely ambitious. Who better as a guide than the infectiously enthusiastic and well-informed Mark Cousins? A man who has not only studied looking as a professional critic but also practiced it a professional film-maker - as fans of his highly acclaimed The Story of Film (Pavilion) and documentary will know. It will truly be a book to make you see the world anew."
Cousins said: “The Story of Looking tells a big story that's right in front of us in a way we've not considered. It takes in psychology, empathy, optics, war, desire, photography, film, painting, architecture, science, medicine, sport and comedy: a big challenge, which I'm relishing. I hoping that the result will be passionate, accessible and revealing. I've admired Canongate from afar, and been jealous of those published by it. Now I get to be one of them.”
Canongate will publish in hardback in autumn 2017.