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AcknowledBCIlI CtlCS xiii

Editori.,1 intr odu ctions and arran gem ent © Sunil Manghani.

Art hur Piper and Jon Sim ons 2006

Publishers' Permissions xiv
firs t pu blished 2006

Apar t from all)' Iair de.tiing for the purposes of research o r

Part One: Historical and Philosophical
pr ivate study. or criticism or rc vicv...·, as per mitt ed under the

Cop)Tight , D'''igns and Patent' Act . I988, this public.nlon may

Precedents 19
bc reprod uce d, sto red or I ran sm ittcd in any fo r m , or by any

m ean s, an i)' with ,hl, ; prior permissio n in w riti ng of th e

p ublishers. or in tI", case of reprogra phic reproducti on. in

I: From Genesis to locke 20
ac-cordance with the k il ns of licences issued by th e Copyr ight
Introduction 21
Li n:n ~ ing Agem.:)', Enqu ir-ies co ncer n ing rep rod ucti o n o utside:

those ter ms should be sent to th e pubb sher s.

1.1 Man Created in God's Image 24
SAGE Publication s Ltd

Gen esis I : 26 and 27

($) I O liver 's Ya rd

55 Cit) Road

Lon don EC 1Y 1SP

1.2 Graven Images

Exodus 20: 4-6

SAGE Publications Inc,

1.3 Abraham and the Idol Shop of' His Father Terah 24
24>5 'It-lll-r Road

Thou sand O aks. Californ ia 9 I 320

Midrash Rabbah

SAGE Publi cat ions India Pvt Ltd

1.4 The Simile o f the Cave 25
B-42. Panchshcc-l Enclav­ Plato
Po, t Box 4 I 09

New Delhi 110 0 17

1.5 Ar t and Illusion 29
Briti,h Lihrar)' Cata loguing ill Publication data

A catalog ue record for this book is available

1.6 The Origins of Imitation 31
from the Hritish Library Ar isto tle
ISBN, IO 1-4 129-00++- 1 r5flN 13 97H- I ·4 I ,19 OQ4-, 7 1.7 Thinking with Images 32
ISBN· 10 1-4129-004 5-X ISflN .I l 97S. 1-4 129-0045-4 (pbk) Aristotle
Li brary ofCongrt.ss Control Numbcs-: 200591054 1
1.8 John of Damascus 33
Typ"" ,t hy C&M Dlg it.,I , (p ) I.td ., Chcnnai, India 1.9 Horos at Nicaca, 787 AD 33
Pr in k d ond bou nd in G reat Br itain v)"The Cromwell Press l.td, Trow b ridgl~ . \Vi!t <> hire
Prin ted on pdper fr o m susta inabl e re so ur ces 1.10 Horos a t Niera, 754 AD 34

1.11 Image and Idolatry 34 3.2 Society of the Spectacle 69

Thomas Hobbes Guy Dehord
1.12 Evil Demon 36 3.3 The Precession of Simulacra 70
Rene Descer tes
Jean Baudrillard
L13 Optics 37 3.4 Image as Commodity 74
Rene Descartes Fredric Jameson
1.14 OfIdeas 39 3.5 'Race' and Nation 76
lulul Locke Paul Gilroy
3.6 Never just Pictures 78
2: from Kant to Freud 41 Susan Bordo
Introduction 42
2.1 Representation and Imagination 45 Art History 82
Immanuel Kant Introduction 83
2.2 Space and Time 48 4.l Studies i.n Iconology 86
Gotthold Lcs~ing Erwin Panofsky
2.3 Camera Obscura 49 4.2 Invention and Discovery 9l
Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels Ernst Uombrich
2.4 The Fetishism of Commodities and the 4.3 Interpretation without Representation, or,
Secret Thereof 50 The Viewing of Las Menina.'i' 94
Karl Mar-x Svetlana Alpers
2.5 How the Real World at Last Became a Myth 52 4.4 Towards a Visual Critical Theory 99
Friedrich Nietzsche Susan Buck-Moras
2.6 On Truth and Lies in a Non-Moral Sense 53
Friedrich Nietzsche
2.7 Images, Bodies and Consciousness
s: Semiotics lUI
54 Introduction 102
Henr-i Berg~on
;.1 Nature of the Linguistic Sign lOS
2.8 The Dream-Work 5(,
Ferdinand de Saussure
Sigmund Freud
;.2 The Sign: IconIndex, and Symbol 107
Charles Sanders Peirce

Part Two: Theories of Images 61 S.3 The Third Meaning 109

Roland Bar-rhes
3: Ideology Critique 62 ;.4 From Sub- to SuprasemioticrThe Sign as Bvent 115
Introduction 61 Mieke Bal
3.1 Television: Multilayered Structure 66 S.S The Semiotic Landscape 11.
Theodor Adamo Gunter Kress and Theo van Leeuwen
··· .. _-""""1;.,"1.;11
6: Phenomenology
124­ 8.3 This is Not a Pipe 179

125 Michel Foucault

6.1 Thing and Work

128 8.4 The Despotic Eye and its Shadow: Media Image
Martin Heidegg er

in the Age of literacy 183

6.2 Eye and Mind
Robert D. Romanyshyn
Maurice Merleau-Ponty

8.5 Images, Audiences, and Readings 188

6.3 Description
Kevin Deluca
Jean-Paul Sartre

6.4 Imagination


Mikel Dufrenne
9: Image as Thought 193
Introduction 194
6.5 Scientific Visualism

Don Ihde
9.1 Picture Theory of language 197

ludwig Wittgenstein
9.2 Body Images 199
7: Psychoanalysis
Antonio Damasio

146 9.3 Involuntary Memory 202

7.1 The Gaze
Marcel Proust
Jacques Lacan

7.2 The All-Perceiving Subject

Christian Metz

152 I 9.4 The Philosophical Imaginary
Michele Le Doeuff

7.3 Woman as Image (Man as Bearer of the look)

Laura Mulvey
156 I 9.5 Thought and Cinema: The Time-Image
Gilles Deleuze

9.6 The Dialectical Image 211

7.4 Cindy Sherman's Untitled Film Stills Walter Benjamin
Joan Copjec
9.7 Ways of Remembering 214
7.5 Two Kinds of Attention
John Berger
Anton Ehrenzweig

• 10: Fabrication 217

Part Three: Image Culture Introduction 218
10.1 Taking a line for a Walk 221
8: Images and Words Paul Klee
169 10.2 On Montage and the Filmic
8.1 The Roots of Poetry
Fourth Dimension 223
Ernest Fenollosa
.Sergei Eisenstein
8.2 Icon and Image
10.3 ElectronicTools 227
Paul Ricoeur
William]. Mitchell

10.• Can.era Lucida 2U 11.~ Cu1tur~1 Relalivism and the Visual Turn 1M
Da'id Hoeknn ~t, .. tin ja,.'
to.; Images Scatter into D~ta. D.ta C.thu 11.; 'fhe ModularitJ-· ofVision m
Peter Gahson '"
1:1: IlTIaseStudic. 292
II: visual Culture ,.2 Introduction m
13.1 'Inefamilyofln'ages
W,J.T. Mitchell

11.I The Medium is the Me ..ag'·

ImagesTh~{ Are
Marshall Mel""an

11.2 'Ineln.ageoftheCily )1/

13.2 Art llislory and
Jame' Elkin>

Not Art
Knin hneh 1LJ A Conslcot:tiv;';l MAnifeslo JOl

Harhara Maria 'ilalloru

11.:1 The Inlage_Worid
Small SoIlLl.g '" 13.4 Image., Nol Signs
11..1· The Philosopher as An,h, warhnl 1;4
Anhur I)anto

11.5 Symbol, Idol and Marti: Hindu I;od-Inlages

U.S Whal is Iconodash?
Aruno LalOUr ""
and the Politics of Mediation 256
.11 5
\'",. on (oIl"ibmofj
o , Price Grie"~
GIToon' No',," on F.J,w'F ]24
11.6 Th., United Colors of Diversity J61 Index ,12>
C"h. Lurv
11.7 Th" Unhucahle Lightness ofSighl 26,1
M~;l",g Chm~

1], \'i6ion and "'i.uality 2'"

12.1 Mod"rnhing \,;"ioo
J"n.ld-w, C''''y
12.1 'lhe In'/Pulse 10 See 27.
R~,-,I;,,,1 K"u"

12.,1 Ughting lor Whiteue•• 278

lU"h.lhl Ilv,r

Figure 5 .3

Vermeer, Johannes, Wom an Holding a Balance, Widen er Co llec tion. Image

© 2006 Board of Trustees, National Gallery of Art, Wa shington .

Figure 6.1

Van Gogh, Vincent, A Pair of Shoes. © Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam.

Figure 7.1

H ans Ho lbein the Younger, Jean de Dinteville and Georges de Selve (T he

Amb assador s') lD Nati onal Gallery London .

Figure 7.2
Cin dy Sherman, Unt itl ed Film Still tt2 (1977). Courtesy of Metro Pictu res.
The approach to th e st udy o f im ages proposed by this book is
interdisciplinar y, concerned wi th the n oti on of the 'i mage' in all it s
f igure 7.3
theoretical , cri t ical and practical co ntexts, uses and history.The Reader is, in
Cindy Sherman, Untitled Film Still #35 (1979). Courtesy of Metro Pictu res.
part, a r esponse to W.J.T. Mitchell 's regret (198 6 : 155 ) , that 'there is, at
I' ld" In th e h umaruties
present, no re al " lie . . . . . no u icono
. 1ogy "th at stu eli es tJre
fi gure 8.2
problem of p erceptual , conceptual, verbal and graphic images in a unifi ed
Magritt e Rene, Les Deu x M ysteres (1966) © AOAG P, Paris and DACS,
way' . In our response to this call , th e Reader suggests a holi sti c field of
London, 2006.
inquiry rath er than a Sing le discipl inar y pr acti ce. Th e approach of the Reader
is interdisciplinar y in th at it creates an inte rdisciplinary space for the study
fi gure 10.11 ,
of images, not lim ited to the humaniti es. Th e Reader accommodates and
Paul Klee, Fabtafel (auf maiorem Grau)/ Colo ur Table (in grey major), 1930,

examines th e different types of obj ects of study that vario us disciplines and
83 from Zentrum Paul Klee © DACS, London .

Paul Klee, Speci ell e O rdnungl Pedagogical Sketchbook, PN30, M 60!1 01

perspecti yes make of im ages, rath er th an deSignating images as a new object
Recto from Zentrum Paul Klee © DACS, London.
of study. In so far as im ages are objects of study and enquiry in disciplines
from art history t o neuroscien ce, from p oliti cal science to cultural st udies,
Figure 10.12
it cann ot be assum ed that th e int erdisciplin ar y terrain is already mapped
Giotto (1266-1336): Scenes from the Life of Saint Francis: Death of the Knight
out, ready for scholarly investigation. The creation of a single 'interdiscipline'
of Celano - detai I. Assisi, San Francese iLl 1990 . Photo Scala, Florence.
would, therefore, be inappropriate. Th e Reader instead encourages users to
pursue imagin ative com binations of theor ies, images, disciplines and
Figure 10.14
debates in the interdisciplin ar y field . In pr esen ting the histori cal and
Masolino (1383-1447): Healing of the Lame Man and Raising of Tabitha.
philosophical tr ajecto r ies alon g which th e study of images has developed ,
Florence, Santa Mari a del Carmine © 1991 . Photo Scala, Florence/Fonda
the Reader also provide s a guide to som e of th e differences and similarities
Edifici di Culto - M inistero dell'lnterno.
between the var ious disciplinary approaches to images.

Figure 10 .1 5
: "his book is also a response to th e fact th at images appea r to b e a prominent
Robert Camp in, 'A M an' © National Gallery London.
f ~atun' of contemporary life .Today im ages see m to inhabit every part of our
lives, and everything seems to be or have an im age. Our eyes ar e bombarded
Figure 12.1
by visual images, most obviously those produced and disseminated by
Ersnt, M ax, A Littl e Girl Dreams of Taking the Veil (1930) © A DAG P, Paris and
c~Hnm crcial enter tainme nt and information m edia , from advertising
DACS, London , 200 6 .
btllboards, new spap er photo graph y, th e int ernet, tel evision , film s and
COmpu:cr games. The urban environme nt is replete with the visual displ ays
f igure 12.3 of architectural deSign , inte rio r decor, lands cape , shop and business fronts,
Duchamp, M arcel, Rotorelief No .1. 'Carol les' (19 35) © Succession M arc I
Duchamp/ADAGp, Paris and DACS, London 2006. e
and traffic signals . Pri nt culture has gradually expanded its abil ity to include
Duch arnp, Ma rcel , Ro to rel ief No.3 ' Ch inese Lantern ' (193 .5) If) m all)' visu al images along with text at rela ti vely low cost , io technical
"'.. Suecess .io n
M arcel Du champ/ADAC P, Paris and DACS. Inst r u ct ion m anuals, educat io nal pu bli ca ti o ns, t our ist brochures , maga zines
and sh opping cataJogues, to nam e but a few. In the sciences, the po ssibi lity
of seeing what is to be known has pl-ogrcsscc1 from attend ance at
exp~r imen ts and autopsies to th e vicwino and nroducuon of dcctronic ,

images. Visual scientific images of previously invisible or un seen realm s ­ live in an image culture, th er e is a p ersi st ent, even consistent, lack of
from a nebula across the galaxy to a strand of DN A - are no long er limited cohere nce and understanding about what images are. Images thus constitute
to what our eyes can see through optical instruments such as the te lesco pe a problematic field for contemp or ary intellectual endeavour. If im age
and microscop e, but are generated by electronic instrum ents and compute r culture is on e of th e spurs for coUating thi s book, another is an acute n eed
programs that translate data into images , such as thos e mad e by MRf to und er stand th e vari ous meaning s of th e t erm 'image ' as it is used in
scann ers and radio telescopes. The gen eral techni cal capacity to produce different co nte xts. When we say the word 'image' we do not always seem
visual images has vastly increased, from manual crafting to chemi cal and to know what we mean , or, rather, we may mean too much Or too Little.
th en digital photography, from draftsmanship to computer- aide d d esign . Wittgen st ein argu es that att empts to define the essence of a vague term
Th e past can be Visually re constructed and th e future imagined not only in such as 'image' ar e futil e. A word doe s not show us the essence of a thing,
our minds but also before our eyes . At the point at which elec tronic, but for the most part ' the meaning of a word is its use in language '
co mputer-gen erated images be come simulat ions or virtual realities, it is no (W ittgens te in, 1958: §43). We often know what words such as ' image '
longe r a qu estion of seeing images but r ather of inhab iting th em. mean when they crop up in everyday use without being able to explai n that
meaning in pr ecise t erms. Th ere is no Single definition or 'essenti al nature'
But the ubiquity of visual imagery is only half th e story of contemporary
of image s, differ ent m eanin gs haVing only some semantic overl ap in
image culture. In capitalist consumerism, there has been increasing em phasis
com mon . Wittgen stein further sugges ts that we mak e sense of a term such
on advertising not the product, but the image or identi ty of the brand .
as image by p erceiving a comple x network of relations , which he cans
Consume rs buy trainers and cars for their logos, for the lifestyle or
'family r esemblances' , between different meanings. Rather than striving for
exper ience associated with brand image, such that the im age has becom e the
absolute clarity in a philosophical concept that can guid e our re search in
co mm odity (jameson , 3.4; Klein, 2000) .The corp orations that produce such
advance, we shou ld take our cues from the everyday language in which
co mm odity images , such as Nik e and Microsoft, also have th eir own im ages
'image culture' is used .
that constitu te a large part of their financial value. Politics, particularl y
electoral compe tition, is said to have b ecom e a matt er of images-and their Mitchell ( I 3. 1) direct ly invokes a Wittgenst einian appr oach to the multiple
pr ofessional mark etin g. In this context image is understood as ' the reputation, meanings of th e wor d ' image ' by figurin g images as a family that includes
tru stworthiness and cre dibility of the can didates or parties) (Scamme l, 1995 : graphic , opti cal, perceptual, me ntal and verbal forms. His 'family tree of
20) . W riting in the United States in 1961 , Daniel Boorstin ( 1992: 185-6) images' is a graphic illustrati on of the many different 'instit utionalized
obse r ved th e confluence between political and commerci al images, discourses' , types and sites of images and of how difficult it is to develop an
character ising an image as a 'pseudo-ideal' , as ' a studiously crafted per sonality adequate taxonomy of images that will serve every purpose. Mitchel1 points
profil e of an individual, institution, corporation, product or service ' . This out that only some. images, such as the on es m entioned in the first para graph
notion of images reaches into our very sense of our selves, not only in terms above, are visual . Dreams, fantasies, memories, literary images, m etaphors,
of how we and others perceive our personality, but also in terms of body and ideas and sense impressions have also been understood as images. TIle
gender images that inform our physic al shape and th e different ways we corporate, political, personal , bodil y and commodity images menti oned
display ourselves visually, such as through cosmetics an d fashion (Bordo, 3. 6). above that are so int egral to image culture are also not predominantly visual
We seem to be images liVing in a world of images. images, though they genera lly have visual manifestations.
A key motiv ation for this anthology is to pro vide an aid for makin g sense of This collection of readings, then , do es not atte mpt to define the image as
contemp or ary im age culture in the \Vest. Th e Reader critically ex amines such, but inst ead presents a representative but not exhaustive range of th e
im ages and debates about them in various histo rical, th eoreti cal and cult ural historical contexts, institu tionalised discourses , theoretical approaches and
conte xts . \Ve understand image culture to include not only the institu­ ~cbates that are pertinent to the stu dy of images. Only by figuring out the
tionalised culture of galler ies, museums and p erformance spaces, not only family resemblances between the use of the term images in all of the se
th e popular culture of the mediasphere , not only the cornmer cialised settings, only by understanding the meaning of images across theories and
cu lture of consume ri sm ; but also the culture of polities, of the economy, of debates , will an appreciation of the significance of images for contemporary
science and technology, of idea s, thought and kno wl edge, of bodies, social culture eme rge. Not least among the relations to be mapped are tho se
classes , ge nde r and race , of subjectivity and identity. Image cult ure is as between the allegedly strict, literal or 'proper' me anings of images in visual
br oad as th e cult ure of everyday life and as pertinent to eac h specialised Senses and extended , fi beurative meanings. Mit chell (I . 3. 1) advises us not

sphere of activity as any other. to overlook th e latter as 'bastard children ' in the fam ily, of image s. Th e
rclanons between the proliferatio n of visual imagery and th e t ransformation
Yet , despite th e shee r pr evalenc e of images , despite the many academic (or experience) of objects, events and ideas as images is crucial to any
engage me nts with th ern , de spite {he frequent acknow ledge men ts that we character isation of contemporary image culture.

Yet , th e analysis of images thro ugh histo r y, theory and cult ure requ ires, art and ar t history, traditi on ally divided betwe en eit her aesthetic or social
th erefore, not only the analysi s of different types of visual and n on- visual and cultural history enquiry. Even to day those bes t suited to understand
images, in t er ms of their conditions of productio n, dissemination and images in th e broader sens e h ave been those trained in pr actical cr itic ism ­
int erpret ation . It also requires an appre ciation of the roles of and attitudes th e stud y of ar t, for example, sitting so me where b et we en theory and
to images in the ir var ious academic, cultu ral and eco nomic contexts . A practice . The capaci ty of ar t history and criticism to d eal with im ages of all
brain scan can be enjoyed aesthetically, but in a hospital setting its fun ct ional sor ts has also b een enhanced by cat ering for a far gr eater co mp lex ity
use as evide nce fo r pa th ology is paramount, r equiring speci alised of ar tistic production and performance , including those using new
in ter pr etati ve skills. Each of the various do ma ins of images de ser ves study te chn ologies . It is thus n ot surpr ising th at two of the pioneers of image
in its own r ight as well as an aspect of the network of rel ation s that studies nam ed abo ve ar e ar t hist orians. Elkins ( 1999), for exa mp le , has
constitute image cult ur e . Moreover, th e interdisciplinary study of ima ge called int o question th e w ho le ' doma in of images ' by app lying cr itical and
culture must also b e historical an d compar ative. W hat is the ju stification analytical tools to 'non-art' images. Stafford (1996) ur ges art history to re ­
for con sidering it more imag istic than previous cult ures? Ho w have the inve nt itself as 'i maging studies ' . Ar t hist ory as it sta nds currently, she
ro les of images changed ove r tim e, suc h as in r elat ion to other modes of sugges ts, is t oo na r row a base from w hich to st udy all th e rel ati ves within
sign ification (Debray, 13.4)? 0 ne of the central them es of this bsook is how a 'fa mily of im ages'. It is soo n appare nt, for exa m p le, th at Stafford 's
images have b een discussed and contested from some o f the first writings interests in cognitive scien ce and computer scr eens, through which she
on the subject to the pr esent day. Th e study of im age cult ure entails a aims to demon strate th e 'i ntelligence o f sight ' , cannot he containe d , or
histor y of the past as well as of th e pr esen t. susta ined, by her ho me discipline.
Anoth er motivation for com piling thi s volume is to array the discur sive Given that there is already a relatively esta blished int erdiscipl inar y area of
apparatus required for th e study of images. In this respect, we have been visual studi es, and given th at even the scholar s mentioned above do not
influence d most immediately by th ose w rite rs we have gath ered together un equivo cally call for th e institution alisation of image st udies or a clear
under the heading ' Image Studi es' (Section 13), especially W J.T. Mitchell , di fferenti ation from visual culture (Elkins, 2003: 7), w hy is th ere a need for
Jame s Elkins and Barbara Mari a Stafford . The Reader aims bo th to define th e yet ano ther new acade mic field? Mit chell 's (1986) plea for the reviv al of
interdisciplinary field of' image studies' and create the discursive conditions for ico nology as the study of all members of the family of images op ens the door
making ima ge studies a reality. In presenting a selection of key read ing s across t o a truly rnulti -disciplin ar v approach t o the subject that transcends th e
the domains of phil osophy, art, literature, science, critical the or y and cultu ral strictur es of ar t history. It is clear from his inclusion of p er cep tual, mental
studies, the Readertells the story o f the image through intellec tual histo ry from and verbal images in th e famil y of image ~ that th e interdiscipl inarv st udy of
the Bible to the present. By including both well-established writings and more images is n ot to be und er stood as co nce r ned sole ly with the narrower
recent and inn ovative research , the Reader outlines the specific dev elopments concepts such as 'vision' and 'visualitv ' : Image studies thereby marks itself
of the forms of discourses about images eme rging today. out fro m the recent growth in visual cultur al studies, which wo rks largely
from within a cultural studies perspecti ve (Evan s and Hall , J 999; Mirzoeff,
Each of th e pion eers in thi s incipie nt , inte r disciplinary fiel d has pr ovided
1998 ) . In our fram ework , visual cultural studies can be sub sumed into a
th e impetus to reconsider how, why, and in rel ation to wh at we might
Wider frame of analy sis and critical p erspective, though not all of its
exa mi ne and und er stand images. Th ey con sider wh at demarcates th e field
practices should b e welcom ed un cr itically. For exa mple , Elkins (20 0 3: 83)
of im ages , th e historical, social and cult ura l complex es th at image s r eveal
suggest s that ' visual im ages might not always be th e optima l place to look
and w hat ro le ima ges can play in th e broa der in terests of thought and
for signs of gender, identity, politics, and the other qu est ions that ar e of
crit ique . Th ere is an overriding concern among th ese and oth er writers in
in terest to scho lar s'.Th e interdisciplinar y study of ima ges turns to a broader
the field to do justice to im ages, rather than treat them r eductively through
set of perspect ives fro m w hich to ex plor e the purported 'pi ct ori al turn '
the twin orientations of ico no ph obia and iconophilia - th e hatred or love of
identified by Mitchell ( 1994: 1 1).The perceived predominance of th e visual
images, respecti vely. This entails an effo rt to understand images in their is, in thi s light , exa mi ned as bo th an object of enquiry - a visual culture op en
ow n t er ms and to allow for th e many differe nt types of imag es. As a re sult, to interpre tati on - and cq ua llv as a perspect ive of enquiry.
the interdisciplinary study of images is not r estricted t o a single
theor isation .Th e Reader- thro ugh its variety of entri es - therefore ex plores A t th e r isk of esta blishing an overl y ant,!-gonist ic rela tionship with visual
differe n t contexts and m ethod ologies. .~ t u d i cs , w(~ offer so me further just ificatio n for the distinct de velo pme nt of
im age stud ies. T he usage of visual culture to refer t o all t.ypes of im ages and
Th e need fo r an interdisciplinary st udy of im ages is dicta ted by th e all aspe ctsor imag e culture is a featur e of the 'p ictllralising of the do m ain -of
limitations of th e current disciplines and multidiscipli nary arrangements , imagc/ th at has 'continued inexorably till the full spectr um of invisible -and
particularly by th e division bet ween the scie nces and th e hUl:l anit ics. By
inn er-bo dily images were mo del led on , or reconceived in pictorial te r ms'
and lar~e , im ag e s have be en st udied ac aclcmicailv thr ough the dISCiplines of

(Van D en Berg , 2004: 10) . The colonis atio n o f the im age catego ries by Having said th at, th er e is considerable ove rlap between image studies and
visual or pictorial ones is not an innocent process but one that expresses an th e more thou gh tful fo r ms of visual stud ies. Im age studies in an extensive
ideology of ocularcentrism that privileges vision above oth er senses, enn obling and inclu sive sense m ight be achieved by following what Elkins (200 3: 7)
vision with the authority of knowledge of and power over th at w hich is sugge sts need s to be risked for a futur e visual stud ies, w hich he de scribes as
seen . Similarly to Romanvshyn (8.4), Van Den Berg argues tha t Western a kind of ' unconstricted , un anthropolo gical int erest in vision' , an inter est
culture is deeply implicated with ocularcentric id eology, through practices that, im por tan tly, can go beyond any 'niche in the humanities'. Elkins
and institutions such as the invention of perspective in realistic visual advocates that th e current remit of visual studies 'b e el'en more general,
representation, detached, objectifying scientific observation, Panoptical welcoming scientists from vario us disciplines, moving beyond premodern
social surveillance, and in short all asp ects of the 'gaze ' . Even if this Western visuality and into non-Western art, archaeology, and the visual
argument is exaggerated or even unfounded, some explanation is required elements of linguistics ' (p, 41). This conception of visual studies accords for
for th e tendency of visual meanings of the word image to colonise the the most part with our vision for imag e studies. Yet, whilst Elkins refers to
others, as if a mental image is an obj ect looked at in the m ind, or as if an an extremely broad 'image domain ' , his account is still vel"Y much attached
idea must conjur e up a picture. Image st udies r esists th e 'pictur alising ' of to what h e describes as 'a love for the visual world' (p. viii). We add to th at
images (or even the visuali sing of the invisible ) because it is inappropriate a 'love' of othe r kinds of images in the broad , complex family . We do not
to conside r all for m s of images as if they are visu al. propose a disc ipline of image studies as a 'ma ster science'. The current
excitement (and co ntinued co ncer n) abo ut imag es will perhaps temper and
An exa m ple that illustrates the sign ificance of the distincti on between visual be better sustained as an underlying inter est or condition, rath er than a
im ages o r pictures and non -visual images is Susan Sontag's (20 04) essay on disciplin e. And th e ' condition' of image studies will gain greater de pth
th e photographs of the torture of Abu Ghraib pri son ers. Th e ph otographs th rough inter disciplinary understanding and dialogue .
a re undoubtedly pictures of e no r m ous politic al import an ce . The
pred ominant trope of Sontag's essay is nicely sum med up by th e first-p age
subhea ding : ' Susan Sontag on th e real m eanin g of th e Abu Ghraib pictures ' , HOW TO USE THE READER
Sontag treats the pictures to a p olitical hermeneutic, arg uing that 'complex Th e Reader is divid ed into three parts, w ith a total of 13 separa te sec tions .
cr imes of leadership, policies and auth ori ty [are] r evealed by th e pictures'. Each sec tio n is preceded by a shor t introduction , which explains th e
By looking at the pictures, Sontag can r ead the p athologies of US po litical significance of the section for image studi es, as well as the major theoreti cal
power and socio-cultural existence. co ncepts, m ain themes and co ntentiou s issue s in the section. Paragraph s on
each sel ection sh ow how they r elate to the understanding of images and
Sontag's essay, though, is as much abou t w hat th e photogl"aphs do, or she some of th e m or e gene ra l them es traced by individual writers. We also r efer
would like them to do, as what they reveal or mean. First, she notes that within th ese introduction s to connections with selections from other
photographs have accrued 'an insuperable power to determine what people secti on s, so that the threads of debates focused in one section can be
recall of events'. Despite the Pentagon's planning, th en, these pictures of followed beyond it. 'vVe also dra-w attention to some texts that we were
torture would stick in people's minds as much as , sa)', the contrived unabl e to include for rea sons of space, so that the short bibliographie s th at
toppling of Saddam Hussein's statue . Sec ond, they ' tarnish and besmirch the app ear at the end of th e int roduction to each section can be used for funher
reputation - that is the imag e - of Am erica'. Bush w as 'so r ry that people resear ch . Also, included below, are four alternative tables of contents.While
seeing these pictures didn't understand th e tr ue nature o f th e American the Reader neither advocates any particular thcorisation of imag es nor m akes
heart', while Rumsfeld worried abou t th e reputat ion of the US armed any gene ra l overriding po int abo ut the meaning of im ages, it is possible to
forces 'who are courageo usly an d respon sibly and professionally protecting discern some recurr ing th em es and tropes that resonate today. We have
our freedoms across the globe' . Sontag repo rts that th e Bush admi nistrat ion attem pted to r eflect these views in the str u ct ur e /sj of thi s bo ok . T he
principally deplored th e dam age d one to America 's image by th e pictures . selectio ns th at we have ma de fall into three m ajor parts.
Th ere is an importan t di stinction between the visua l im ages , the
Par t O ne, Historical and Philosophical Precedents , se ts th e
photographs that have poli tical meanings an d effects, and the political
backg round for co nte m por ary de bates abo ut images. Images have always
im age, or reputation th at is affec te d . While there are ce rtainly visual aspe cts
played a central role in helping t o define social order s, from the cave
to w hatever image of Amer ica Bush and Rumsfeld we re co ncer ned about
paintings of l.ascaux, Chauvet and Alt ami ra, to th e pedagogical frescos in
(t he flag, an apple pie, George Washington 's face , th e Statue of Liberty), m ed iaeval church es and the iconog r aphy of militar y regim ~s . Before
these pictures ar e not en ough to capt ure the concepts of lTeedom and assuming that co ntem porarv, culture is mor e prcd o m ina nrlv, an imac0 e
democracy that they so often invoke. An aspect of livin g in VIsual .culture is
cult ure than other and previous cu lt ur es, more hist ori cal r eflection is
that th ere are so m any visual associa tions even for such abstract Ideas, hut
required on what images meant in and to past societies. Some of the
th ey do not provide the com p lete picture .

readings in this part introduce major theore tical app roaches to im ages Part Three, Image Culture, intr-oduces some of the more recent debates
cove re d in the seco nd part, notabl y Marx (2.3, 2 .4 ) fo r ideology critiq ue abo ut im ages and today's visual e nvironment. Th e de bate abo ut the relativ e
(Section 3) and Fre ud (2 .8) for p sychoanalysis (Section 7). value of wo rds and im ages, language and pict ur es easily escalates into fierce
dispute s abo ut the ration al, cog niti ve and aesthetic value of each m ode of
Mor e significant ly, th ough , th ese sele ction s indi cat e the extent to 'which
signific ation. Sim ilarly, deb ates abo ut the linguistic or imagisti c character of
attitudes expressed th ou sands and hundred of years ago still fram e cur rent
hu man thought, particul arly cog nitive and critical thinking, are often heat ed
de bates about im ages. As th e introduct ion to Secti on 1 exp lains , th e
and loaded . Thi s brings us to some of th e issues pr evalent in contem porary
antagonism to im ages, or iconophobia, expressed in the rejection of idolatr y
image culture . One feature of such culture is the shee r power, scop e and
is still prevalen t tod ay. Mitchell ( 1994: 15) claims that the re is a paradox
diversity of image pr odu cti on, insti tutions and techn iques. 'vVe cover same
p eculi ar to the contempo ra ry 'pict or ial turn' :
o f this di ver sit y in readings fro m scientists, philosophers of scien ce and
tec hnology and various image-makers in Section 10 . In Section 11 th e
On The one hand, It seems so overwh elmmglv obvious that the era of video and cyber net ic
r eadings address diffe rent aspects of visual cult ur e as well as approac hes for
technolog)', the age of electro nic r epro duction , has developed new fo rms or visual
understa nding the sign ificanc e of differ ent visual pr actices and experiences .
sti mulation and illusionism w ith unprece dented power, On th e other hand , the fear of the
A key feature of visual cultura l studies has been analvsis of visualitv as th e
image, (he an xiet) that the ' P OWt;T of images' may finally destroy even their cre ator, and
manipulator s, is as old as image-making itself. cu lt~ra l, historical and socio-political shaping of visio n. As ~ve ll as
identi fying the social im pact of different forms of visua lity, the se analyses
In other word s, we are both fascinated by the seemin gly pervasive power of lead into de bates about the cult ural relativism and cu ltur al constr uction of
these new im ages, yet, at th e same time, br ing age-old fear s to the deb at e vision. Th e Reader closes with selections from the three pioneers of image
abo ut their mean ing, Man ifestati on s of icon ocl asm can thus be found not studies , mentioned above , as well as others w hose work esta blishes
only in the first sectio n , bu t also in contemporar y cu ltural ana lysis (Debo rd , frameworks for image studies.
3,2 ; Baudr illard , 3, 3) and science (Cal ison, 10 .5) . In a sim ilar way, ea rlier We re cognise that tables of conte nts and introdu ctions, no m att er how
conceptions abo ut th e forms of tho ught, ideas and me nta] image s in th e short, can carry too much authori ty in setting o ut an ap proa ch . We have,
mind, as well as the relati on between mind and bod v (Aristotle , 1.7 ; th er efore, also pr ovided alte rnative tables of contents to pave th e way for
Descar t es I . 12, 1, 13; Locke, J. J4 ; Kan t , 2 . I ) have had an eno r mous other po ssible readi ngs and constellations of texts , as alternat ive ways to
influen ce o n later and co nte mpo ra ry psychol ogical and cognitive theories approach the sele ctions in this Reader and as alte r nati ve frameworks for
(M crleau -Pon tv, 6 ,2; Sar trc, 6 .3; Dufrenne 6.4; Dam asio , 9 .2; Ze ki, 12. 5) . consider ing images. In listin g the r eadings und er different headings , we have
Part Two, on Th eories of Images, provides key texts of the major erred on the side of inclusivene ss, in the spir it of allowing connections to
approaches through which images have been conceptualised in th e twen tieth emerge from the read ing rath er th an being imposed from abo ve by th e
century and beyond . Ideology critique is not so much a theoreti cal perspective structure of th e volum e ,
itself as an offshoo t of Marxism that can he understood, as it is by Mit che ll Fo r alternative tabl es of co nten ts, see pages 10-17.
( 1986), as an icon oclastic for m of icon ology, one which is particularly suit ed
to cri ticism of th e images of mass, con sum er, popul ar cultur e. Ar t histor y is
also a discipline , rath er than a Single th eoretical approach, but its own sense of
crisis about its cur re nt pertine nce has prov ide d m uch of th e impe tus for
establishing image studies , Moreover, its practi ces of aesthetic ju dgement ,
close attention to detail , elaborati on of histori cal and contextual issues and its
variety of interpretative techniques are invaluable to any conception of im age
st udies. Semiotics, as the study, or even science, of signs has made the
strongest claims to holding th e key for und erstandi ng both visual and lingujst ic
signs , but its amb itious scope and scientific aspirations have been challenged.
Phenom enology is philosophically rooted , focusing on the conscio us and
un consciou s percep tion and ex perience of images, while also pr o\-iding
inSights for sci en t ific , cognitive approaches to images. Psychoanalysis'
scientific claim s are hotly co n tested, but that has not di mini shed its reputation
for acute analysis of the illlco nscious processes at work in makin g and
in tc r pn ':ting images, pa rtscular lv of subjectivity.

Table 1 Theoretical approaches to the analysis of Images rable 2 Disciplines dealing with images

Th eoretical approaches to th e
-Disciplines de aling with images Relevant readings
analysis of images Rele van t readings
- - - - - - - - -- - -- - - - - Art and art history Plato (1.5) , Lessing (2.2), Panolsky (4 .1),
Marxi st id eology cr itique Marx and Engels (2.3) , Marx (2.4) , A dorno (3. 1),
Gombri ch (4.2) , Alpers (4.3) , Buck-Morss (4.4) ,
Debord (3.2). Jame son (3.4) , Benjamin (9.6),
Bal (SA), Heidegger (6. 1), Merleau-Ponty (6.2) ,
Berg er (9.7)
Lacan (7.1), Copjec (7.4) , Ehrenzweig (7.5),
Non-Marxist ide ology critique Gilroy (3.5), Bordo (3.6) , Kress & van Leeuwen (5.5) , Foucault (8.3). Klee (10 .1), (William) Mitcheil
Lacan (7.1), Met z (7.2) , Mulvey (7.3), Rom any shyn (10 .3), Hackney (10 .4), Danto (11.4), Krauss
(8.4), Sontag (11 .3) , lury (11 .6) , Chen g (11.7), Dyer (12.2), Elkins (13.2) , Stafford (13.3)
(12 .3), Mitch ell (13. 1)
Architecture Lynch (11.2)
Psyc hoanalysis Freud (2.8), Adorno (3.1), Lacan (7.1), Metz (7.2),
Mu lvey (7.3), Co pjec (7 .4), Ehre nzw eig (7.5). Ba rthe s (5.3) , Metz (7.2), Mu lvey (7 .3), Copjec
Film studies
Roman yshyn (8.4), Krauss (12.2) (7.4), Deleuze (9.5) , Eisen stein (10.2), Dyer (12.3)
Sem ioti cs Baudrillard (3.3), Gilroy (3.5), Sa ussu re (5. 1), Peirce
(5.2) , Bar thes (5.3) , Bal (SA ), Kress & van Leeuwen Cultu ral, co mmunication and Ad orno (3.1), Debord (3 .2) , Baudrillard (3.3) ,
(5.5) , Lacan (7.1), Metz (7.2) , Deluca (8.5), Berger me dia studies Jam eson (3.4), Gilroy (3.5), Bordo (3.6), Saussure
(9.7) (5.1), Peirce (5.2), Barthes (5 .3), Kress and van
Leeuwen (5.S), Lacan (7.1) , Metz (7.2), Mulvey
Aesth etic value analysis Plato (1 .5 ), Less ing (2.2), Panofsky (4 .1) , Gombrich (7 .3), Copj ec (7.4) , Romanyshyn (8.4), DeLuca
(4.2). Alpers (4.3), Ba rth es (5.3), Bal (5.4), Heidegger (8.5), Deleuze (9.5) , Benjamin (9.6), Berger (9.7),
(6.1), Merleau-Ponty (6.2), Ehren zwe ig (7.5), Eisenstein ( t 0.2), (Willi am ) Mitchell (10 .3),
Fenollosa (8.1), Hockne y (10.4), Danto (11.4) , Elkins McLuh an (n .u, Sontag (11.3), Dante (11.4),
(13.2), Stafford (13.3) Grieve (11.5), Lur y (11.6), Dyer (12.3), Jay (12.4) ,
Debray (13.4), Latour (13.5)
Feminism/ Gender studie s Bordo (3.6), MUlvey (7.3), Copjec (7.4), Lury (11.6) ,
Che ng ( 11.7)
Visual culture studies Debord (3.2), Bo rdo (3.6), Al pers (4.3), Buck­
Postcolonialism and race Gilroy (3.5) , Lury (11.6) , Dye r (12.3) Morss (4.4) , Barthe s (5 .3) , Ba l (5 .4), K ress and
van L eeuwen (5.5) , Ihde (6.5), Lacan (7.1) , Metz
(7 .2), Mulvey (7.3) , Copjec (7.4), Foucault (8.3),
Rom anyshyn (8.4) , DeLuca (8.5) , Deleuze (9.5) ,
Berger (9 .7), Hockney (1OA), Galison (10 .5) ,
Lyn ch (11.2) , Sontag (11.3), Danto (11.4), Gr ieve
(1 1.5) , Lury (11.6), Cheng ( 11.7), Cra ry (12.1),
K rauss (12.2) , Dye r (12 .3), Jay ( 12.4), Mitch ell
Table I list s selections acco r ding to theoretical or methodological
(13. t ), Elk ins (13.2) , Staff ord (13.3), Debray
approaches to im ages that are not treated in separat e sections in Part Two , (13.4), Latour (13.5)
while also indi cating which selec tions could also be includ ed in th ose
sections bu t ar e locat ed elsewher e. Int erested r eaders can th us choose to Neu roscience Damasio (9.2), Zeki (12 .5)
re ad as a set th e selections pertinent to aesth etic value analy sis (the
Science studies Ihde (6.5), Gal ison (10.5), Latour (13 .5)
ju dgem ent of im ages according to aesth etic cr iter ia) , femi nism and gende r
stu dies , post colonial theory and critical race studies . Historical studles Alp ers (4.3) , Benjamin (9.6) , Crary (12 .1)

Literary stud ies Ari stotl e (t .6), Less ing (2.2) , Saussure (5.1), Bal
(5 ,4), Fenollesa (8.1), Rico eur (8.2), Proust (9.3) ,
L e boeuff (9.4)

Anth ropology and sociology Marx and Engels (2.3 ), Marx (2.4) , Debord (3.2),
Baudrillard (3.3), Gilroy (3.5) , Kress and van
Leeu wen (5 .5) , Sontag (11.3), Gr ieve ~1 1 .5), lury
(11.6) , Dyer (12.3), Jay (12.4), Debrsy (13.4)

(Co ntinue d)

Table 2 (Continued) Table 3 (Continued)

Oisciplin es dealing with images Relevan t rea dings Types of imag es Relevant readings

Philosophy Plato (1.4 , 1.5), Aristotle (1.6, 1.7), Ho bbes (1.11), 3.D artefacts (sculptures McLuhan (1 t.1), Lynch ( t 1.2), Gr ieve (11 .5)
Descar tes (1.12 ,1.13), Locke (1.14), Kant (2.1), and buildings)
Marx and Engels (2.3) , Marx (2.4) , Nietzsche
(2.5), Bergson (2.7), Heidegger (6.1) , Merleau­ Optics Plato ( 1.4), Descartes (1.13) , Marx and Engels
Ponty (6.2), Sartre (6.3), Dufrenne (6.4), Ihde (2.3), lacan (7.1), Hockney (10.4 ). Crary (12.1) ,
(6.5), Wittgenslein (9.1), Le Doeu fl (9.4), Del euze Zeki (12.5) , Mitchell ( 13.1)
(9.5), Benjamin (9.6), Danto (1 1.4)
Verbal ima ges Ar istotl e (1.7) . Lessing (2.2), Nietzsche (2.5, 2.6) ,
History of psychology Hobbes (1.11), Descartes (1.12, 1.13) , Locke Sau ssur e (5.1) . Peirce (5 .2), Sal (5.4), Sartre
(1.14), Kan t (2 .1), Bergson (2.7), Freud (2.8), (6.3) , Fenollosa (8.1), Ricoeur (8.2), Fouc au lt
Merleau-Ponty (6.2), Sartre (6.3) (8.3), Wittg enstein (9.1), Proust (9.3) , Le Doeufl
(9.4 ), Mitche ll (13 .1), Stafford ( 13.3)
Education Buck-Morss (4 .4), Kress and va n Le euw en (5.5)
Menta l imag es Plato (1.4) . Aristotle (1.7) , Hobbes (1.11).
Descart es (1.12,1.13) , Locke (1.14). Kant (2.1),
Table 2 lists selections according to the academic disciplin es to which Marx and Engels (2.3), Nietzsche (2.5), Bergson
t hey belong or within which they are likely to be read . The categor ies in this (2.7), Freud (2.8) , Baudrillard (3.3) . Bordo (3.6).
Panofsky (4.1). Gomb rich (4.2) , Saussure (5.1),
table should be self-explanatory, but as several selections appear un der more
Peirce (5.2). Sar tre (6.3) , Du frenne (6.4), lacan
than one heading, the interdisciplin ar y nature of image stud ies is highlighted. (7.l), Metz (7.2), Ehrenzweig (7.5), Wittgen ste in
(9.1), Damasio (9.2), Prou st (9.3), Le Doeuff (9.4),
Table 3 Types of images D eleuze (9.5), Benjamin (9.6), Be rger (9.7),
Mitchell (13 .1)
Types of images Relevant rea dings
Perceptu al Ima ges Plato (1.4, 1.5), Ar istotle (1.7) , Hobbes (1.11),
Draw ing and illustration Kress and va n Leeuwen (5.5), Ehrenzweig (7.5), Descartes (1.12 ,1 .13) , locke (1.14), Kant (2. 1),
Benjamin (9.6), Klee (10.1), Hockn ey (10 .4), Mar x and Engels (2.3) , Bergson (2.7), Adorno
Krauss (12 .2), Elkins (13 .2) (3.1), Debord (3.2 ), Baudrillard (3.3), Jameson
(3.4), Gilroy (3.5), Bordo (3.6) , Panofsky (4.1),
Paintings Plato (1.5), Less ing (2.2). Panofsky (4.1) . Sau ss ure (5.1), Peirc e (5 ,2), Ba rthes (5.3), Bal
Gombrich (4.2), Alpers (4.3), Bal (5.4), He id egger (5.4), Kress and van Le euwen (5.5) , Heidegger
(6.1), Mer leau -Ponty (6.2) , Lac an (7. 1), Foucault (6 .1), Me rlea u-Ponty (6.2) , Sartre (6.3) , Dufrenne
(8.3), Hockn ey (10.4). Danto (11.4), Elkins (13.2) (6 .4) , Ihde (6.5) , Lacan (7.1) , Metz (7.2), Mulvey
(7 .3) , Copjec (7.4), Ehren zweig (7.5), Romanyshyn
Pho tog raphs (chemical) Barthss (5.3) , Copjec (7.4), Berg er (9.7 ), Hockne y (8 .4), Deluca (8.5) , Wittgenstein (9.1), Damasio
( 10.4 ), So nta g ( 11.3), Crary (12.1) . Dyer (12 .3) (9.2), Deleuze (9.5), Berg er (9.7 ). Eisenstein
( t 0.2), Hockney (10 .4), McLuhan (11 .1), Lynch
TV Adorno (3.1), Ro man yshyn (8.4) . DeLu ca (8 ,5), (11.2), Sontag (11.3), Danto (11.4) , Grieve (11.5),
Dyer (12.3) Lury (11.6), Cheng (11 .7), Krauss (12.2) , Dyer
(12.3), Mitchell (13.1) , St affo rd (13 .3)
Film Barthes (5.3) , Mulvey (7.3) , Cop jec (7.4 ), Deleuze
(9.5 ), Eisenstein (10.2). Dyer (1 2.3), Jay (12 .4) Icons, idols , symbo ls and Genesis (1.1), Exodus (1,2), Midrash Rabbah (1.3).
logos Iconodules and Iconoclasts in Byzantium (1.8, 1.9,
Magazine, newspaper Gilro y (3.5), Bordo (3.6), Danto (1 1.4), Lury (1 t .6) 1.10), Hobbes (1.11), Marx (2.4), Freud (2.8),
and sti lt ads Jameson (3.4) , Panolsky (4.1), Saussure (5.1), Peirce
(5.2),lhde (6.5), Fenollosa (8.1), Foucault (8.3),
Com pu ter screen im age s (W illiam) Mitchell (10 .3) , Hackney (10 .4), Stafford McLuhan (11.1), Lynch (11.2), Danto (11.4), Grieve
(intern el) (13.3), Deb ray (13.4) (11.5). L.ury (11.6), Mitchell (13.1), Latour (13.5)

Table 3 lists selectio ns according to t he type of image discussed . H~wever,

Scientific Images (incl. Kress an d van Leeuw en (5. 5), Ihde (6.5), Damas io as men t i on e d above, no particular typology of j 111age~ . is satisf<1ctory fo r
human sciences) (9 .2), Hackn ey (l OA ), Gali son (10.5) , Zek l (12.5),
all issues and approaches . In add ition to th e t ypes of Image includ ed in
_ _ _ _ __
E_lkins (13 .2), Staff ord (13.3), Latoll r (13 .5)
Mitch e lJ's ( 13.1 ) fa mily tree, we have categor ised selections acco rclin p to

Table 4 Issues and debates in image studies Tabl e 4 (Con tin ued)

Issues and debates in image Issues and debates in image

studies Relevant readings studies Relevant readings

Contemporary culture as image Adorno (3.1), Debord (3 ,2), Baudri llard (3.3), Relation of images to language Plato (r .s), Aristot le (1.7), Hobbes (1.11),
culture (hyper-reality, media Jameson (3.4), Bordo (3,6), Buck-Morss (4.4), Bal and thought Descartes (1.13), Locke (1.14), Kant (2.1),
and science images ) (5.4), Kress and van Leeuwen (5.5), Ihde (6.5), Nietzsche (2.5, 2.6), Bergson (2.7), Freud (2.8),
Copjec (7 .4), Foucault (8.3), Romanyshyn (8.4), Panofsky (4.1), Saussure (5.1), Peirce (5.2),
Deluca (8.5), Damasio (9.2), Berger (9.7), Galison Barthes (5.3), Kress and van Leeuwen (5.5),
(10.5), Mcluhan (11.1), Sontag (11.3), Danto Heidegger (6.1), Merleau-Ponty (6.2), Sartre (6,3),
(11.4), Lury (11.6), Cheng (11.7), Crary (12.1), Dufrenne (6.4), Ihde (6.5), Lacan (7.1), Metz (7.2),
Krauss (12.2), Dyer (12.3), Jay (12.4), Mitchell Mulvey (7.3), Copj ec (7.4), Ehrenzweig (7.5),
(13.1), Elkins (13.2), Stafford (13.3), Debray Fenoliosa (s.t), Ricoeur (8.2), Foucault (8.3),
(13.4), Latour (13.5) Romanyshyn (8.4), DeLuca (8.5), Wittgensle in
(9.1), Damasio (9.2), Proust (9.3), Le Doeuff (9.4),
Tension between word and Plato (1.4), Lessing (2.2), Nietzsche (2.6), Deleuze (9.5), Benjamin (9.6), Berger (9.7), Klee
Image (Iogosphere/videosphere) Saussure (5.1), Bal (5.4), Kress and van Leeuwen (10.1), Galison (10,5), Mcluhan (11.1), Grieve
(5.5), Fenollosa (8.1), Ricoeur (8.2), Foucault (11.5), Cheng (11.7), Krauss (12.2), Mitchell
(8.3), Romanyshyn (8.4), Deluca (8.5), (13.1), Stafford (13.3), Debray (13.4), Latour (i3.S)
Witlgenstein (9.1), Le Doeuff (9.4), Benjam in (9.6),
Galison (t 0.5), Grieve (11,5), Jay (12.4), Mitchell Relation of visual to other per­ Plato (1.S), Iconodules and Iconoclasts in
(13.1), Stafford (13.3), Debray (13.4), Latour (13.5) ceptual modes, auralityfmusic Byzantium (1.8,1.9,1.10), Lessing (2.2), Bergson
(2.7), Barthes (5.3), Romanyshyn (8.4), DeLuca
Visual semiotics and rhetoric Gilroy (3.5), Bordo (3.6), Panofsky (4.1), Gombr ich (8.5), Damasio (9.2), Proust (9.3), Eisenstein
(verbal interpretation of the (4.2), Alpers (4.3), Buck Morss (4.4), Saussurs (10.2), McLuhan (11.1), Debray (13.4)
visual) (5.1), Peirce (5.2), Barthes (5.3), Bal (5.4), Kress
and van Leeuwen (5.5), Heidegge r (6.1), Merleau­ Scopic regimes, techniques Debord (3.2), Gilroy (3.5), Alpers (4.3), Barthes
Ponty (6.2), Ihde (6.5), lacan (7.1), Metz (7 ,2), of visibility (5.3), Bal (5.4), Metz (7.2). Mulvey (7.3), Copjec
Mulvey (7,3), Copjec (7.4), Ehrenzweig (7.5), (7.4), Ehrenzweig (7.5), Romanyshyn (8.4),
Fenollosa (8.i ), Foucault (8.3), DeLuca (8.5), Deleuze (9.5), Eisenste in (10.2), (William) Mitchell
Deleuze (9.5), Berger (9.7), Galison (10.5), Grieve (10.3), Hockney (10.4), Galison (10.5), McLuhan
(1i .5), Lury (11.6), Dyer (12.3) , Elkins (13.2), (11.1), Lynch (11.2). Grieve (11.5), Lury (11.6)
Stafford (13.3) Crary (12.1), Krauss (12.2), Dyer (12.3), Debray
Power of images (iconophobia, Genesis (i .1), Exodus (1.2), Midrash Rabbah
ideology critique, political (i.3), Plato (1.4, 1.5), lconodules and Iconoclasts What IS an image? (object, Genesis (1.1), Plato (1.4), Aristotle (i.7) ,
images) in Byzantium (1.8, 1.9, 1.10), Hobbes way of seeing, physical Iconodules and Iconoclasts in Byzantium (1.8, 1.9,
(1.11), Descartes (1.12), Marx and Engels (2.3), perception) 1.10), Hobbes (1.11), Descartes (1.13), Locke
Marx (2.4), Adorno (3.1), Debord (3.2), Baudrillard (1.14), Kant (2.1), Marx (2.4), Nietzsche (2.6),
(3.3), Jameson (3.4), Gilroy (3.5), Bordo (3.6), Bergson (2.7), Freud (2.8), Baudriilard (3.3),
Barthes (5.3), Kress and van Leeuwen (5.5.), Jameson (3.4), Panofsky (4.1), Gombrich (4.2),
Heidegge r (6.1), Lacan (7.1), Metz (7.2), Mulvey Peirce (5.2), Barthes (5.3), Heidegger (6.1),
(7.3), Copjec (7.4), Romanyshyn (8.4), Deluca Merleau-Ponty (6.2), Sartre (6.3), Dufrenne (6.4),
(8.5), le Doeuff (9.4), Deleuze (9.5), Benjamin Ihde (6.5), Lacan (7.1), Copjec (7.4), Ehrenzweig
(9.6), Berger (9.7), McLuhan (11.t), Sontag (11.3), (7.5), Foucault (8.3), Wittgenste in (9.1), Damasio
Danto (t1.4), Grieve (11.5), Lury (11.6), Cheng (9.2), Proust (9.3), Le Doeuff (9.4), Deleuze (9.5),
(11.7), Krauss (12.2), Dyer (12.3), Jay (i2.4), Benjamin (9.6), Klee (10.1), Lynch (11.2), Krauss
Mitchell ( 13.1), Stafford (13.3), Debray (13.4), (12.2), Mitchell (i3.1), Elkins (13.2), Stafford
Latour (i3.5) (13.3), Debray (13.4), Latour (13.5)

(Cont inued) (Continued)


Table 4 (Continued) per ceivin g th e world and im ages. The rea dings under this heading r elate to
Issues and debates in image tha t sense of theori sing.
stud ies Relevant readings
Vv'c arc, of cour se, aware of the ir ony of pr oducing a Reader about images,
Theories as images Exodus (1.2), Midrash Rabbah (1.3), Plato (1.4), especially as som e of the readings question the validity of analysing visual
Iconodules and Iconoclasts in Byzantium (1.8, 1.9, im8ge~ verba lly. That we have done so is a reflection of the limitations of our
1.10), Hobbes (1.11), Descartes (1.13) , Locke situation as scholars vvol'l<.i ng in th e humanities, wher e instruction and re search
(1 .14), Kant (2.1) . Marx and Engels (2.3), Marx are still largely conduct ed textu ally, even in fields such as visual culture. Were
(2.4), Nietzsche (2.5), Adorno (3.1), Debord (3.2),
we compiling a science t extbook, the budget might well have allowed for an
Jameson (3.4) , Gilroy (3.5). Bordo (3.6), Gombrich
(4.2), Barthes (5.3), Bal (5.4). Ihde (6.5), lacan accompanying disk packed with visual images, th ough th e cost of copyright fo r
(7.1), Metz (7.2). Mulvey (7.3) . Ricoeur (8,2), the medi a ima ges that are so pr evalent in image culture wo uld be prohibitive.
Romanyshyn (8.4), Wittg enstein (9,1). Le Doeuff Our backgrollild in the hum anities also ex plains the limited range of disciplines
(9.4), Deleuze (9.5), Benjamin (9.6), Berger (9.7), in Tahle 2. Elkins (2003) not es that the sciences tend to be far more visual as
Kl ee (10.1), Eisenstein (10.2) , Galison (10.5),
disciplines than the hum aniti es, so the re is a wealth of academic visual material,
McLuhan (11.1), Lynch (11.2), Sontag (11.3),
Danto (11.4). Grieve (11.5). Lury (11.6) , Cheng as well as a whole ser tes or issues about the imagistic character of scientifi c
(11.7), Krauss (12.2), Dyer (12.3), Mitchell (13.1), theor ising, that we have barely tappe d in to . Like Elkins , our int er - or
Stafford (13.3). Debray (13.4) transdisciplinar y am bitions for image studies include the stud), of image making
and interpretin g across the natural and social sciences as well as the huma nities.
We are also aware that the Reader deals predominantly with Weste rn image
Tabl e 4 lists selec t ions accor ding to issu es an d d ebates in image culture and Wester n approaches to analysing images, espe cially regarding the
studies. Some of the headings her e includ e fuller listings of selections historical and philosophical backgro llild in Part O ne . No Single volum e could
relevant to issues and debat es iden tified in Par t Three of the r ead er, notably do justice to the range and depth of writings on images.'vVe could not hop e to
Secti on 8 on relations betw een wor ds an d im ages, and Section 9 on rel ation s map the ent ire territory of images, but we do hope that the Reader will open a
between images and thought. Th e category on conte m porar y image culture few new pathways for novi ces and professionals alike. Ov er all, thi s volum e sets
incl udes read ings that bo th characte rise contemporar y cult ur e as an ima ge out a range of mat er ials that read ers can draw on and use in fashionin g th eir
cultur e an d explore differ en t aspects of it. Th e ' visual sem iot ics or rh etoric ' own approach to image studies.
head ing covers sel ections that addre ss th e fra ught qu esti on , discussed in the
int roduction to Sec tion 5, of w hether particular modes of ana lysis can work EDITING CONVENTIONS
for both lingui stic and i m agi ~ti c (or visual) signs and r epr esentations . Th e Many of the texts chose n have bee n ed ited . Wher e we have cut words, we
catego ry about th e power of images expands the discu ssion on icon ophobia have used ' . . . ' to indicate an omission of a few wo rd s within a sent ence ;
(in the introduction to Sec tion 1) and ideology crit ique (Section 3) to cover '[...J' eith er em bedde d in a paragraph , or appeari ng at th e beginning o r
the range of readin gs that addre ss the p o,ver that images are said to have end , to indicat e th e elision of a sentence or two of that paragraph; ' [.. .]' on
over our minds and in establishing or legitimising social power relations . a new line to ind icat e th at anything from a paragraph t o mo re is missing; and
aile of th e m ain doub ts about th e p ertin en ce of char ac ter ising a centred '* ' t o ind icat e a signifi cant break in the text , the removal of a
cont em po rar y culture as visual cult ure is that so ma ny of its featu res are subheading or chapte r.
m ultimedia, normally includi ng sound. Th e rel ation be tween visuality and
auralitv, as we ll as other senses and mod es of per ception o f im ages, is We have also removed rnanv of th e footnotes to the texts chosen, which has
allowed us to incl ude m ore' sele ctions . We have oc casionally added our own
the refor e covered by anothe r head ing. Visu ality, th e mod e of seeing and
footnote s, w hich are identifi ed as such . Refer ences such as ' (Kant , 2. 1)' are
lookin g , is not uni for m but, as discusse d in the introduct ion to Sect ion 12,
to sd ections in this volum e, giving th eir ordering accor ding to the sec tio n
is orga nised by vary ing ' sco pic regim es' or techniques of rend ering visible ,
In which they are located .
readings abo ut whic h are also liste d un d er that heading.T he vexed question
of how to define or conceive im ages also deser ves its O V.rr1 category, w hic h
includes readings pointing to som e clear differences betwee n, for exam ple, REFERENCES
im ages as static or moving objects that are pr odu ced an d viewed , images as BODTst in, D.J . ( 199 2) The Im G8 e: ,1 G" ide ro Pseudo-E vents in Am erica, 25th
human, ph ysical perceptions th at come from or with the ~c:t of VieWing, and anniversary edition. N e w York: Vintage: Books. '
im age s that ar e not vlewcc l physically at all. Finally, the G n ' c:.k etymological Elkins, J. ('19 99) The Domai n '!.j"JmascL Ithaca, NY: C ornell Un iversity P ress.
roots of th e word ' t h e m ')" refer to se c:ing , such that theori es are ways of Elkins, J. (2003) Visua l Studies: A SkeptiCal l nt roduction , London: Routl edge.
18: I MAGE S

Evans , J. and Hall , S. (eds) ( 1999) Visual Culture:The Reader. London : Sage .

Klein , N. (2000) No Logo. Lond o n : Flam ingo.

,'VUr w d T, N. (ed .) ( 1998 ) Th e Visual Culture Reader. Lond on : Rou tl edge .

Mitchell , W ].T. ( 1986) lconoloqy: lmaqe, Text, Ideology. Chicago : Universit y of

Chicago Pr ess.

Mitche ll, w.J. T. (1 994) Picture Theory: Essays on Verbal and Visual Representation ,

Chicago : Univer sity of Chicago Press.

Scammell, M . (1995) Designer Poluics: H ow Elecuons are Won. New York:

St Martin 's Press.

Sontag, S. (2004) 'What have we done?' , The Gua rdian , G2 section , 24 May.

pp. 2- 5.

Stafford, B. ( 1996) Good LookIng: Essays on the Virtue if' lmages. Cambridge, MA:

MIT Pr ess.

Van D en Berg , D. (2004) ' W hat is an image and what is im age power ?' . lmaq e

and N arrati ve, 8 ( May) Published o n -line at www.imagea nd na r rative .

be/ issue081dirkvandenbergh .htm

W ittgenstein, L. ( 195 8) Ph ilosophical Investigations, 3rd edn, 0'. G.E.M .

Anscorn bc, New York: Macmillan.




Current debates about the meaning, interpretation and status of images are
based on a rich and complex hi story dat ing from the beginning of writing in
I: I Man Created in God's Im age
the W est. M any of these early arguments h a ~e for med the basis for a great deal
Genesis 7: 26 and 27
of writi ng on images dow» to the present time. Kno.w ledge of this tradit ion is,
G rave n Im ages therefore, crucial for understandi ng what kind of. issues are at stake in talking
I: 2
Exodus 20: 4-6 about images.
Tw o predominant attitudes held about images by mod ern-day th inkers arise
1:3 Abraha m and the Idol Sho p of H is Fath er Terah first in bot h b iblical w riting and earl y G reek phi losophy: ico nophobia and
Mkiresh Rsbbeh, Noah, Portion 38, Section 73 icon oph ilia - the fear (or hatred) of images and the love of im ages, res­
pectively. Iconophobia is associated with a deep mistrust of images, or
1:4 The Sim ile of the Cave particula r kinds of images, and can be seen at w or k in w riters as diverse as
Pleto Plato (1 .4 and 1.5 ), Karl M arx (2 .4), Sigmund Freud (2. 8), Jean Baudrill ard
(3.3) and amo ng man y modern scienti sts. Iconophobes have oft en sought .to
1:5 Art and Ill usio n challenge established beliefs by qre.akj ~ g or decryin g Images and are also
Pleto known as ico noclasts.

1:6 Th e O rig i ns of Im itatio n This impulse can be foun d at work in th e first pages of the Bib le and in the
Aristotle Torah. Abraham, for exampl e, literally smashed the idols in his father's shop
because he was co ncerned that-peopl ewould .wor ship false god s rather than
I: 7 Th in ki ng w ith Im ages the one, true Go d (1.3). Simi larly, in one of the most in fluential passages on
Aristotle images in the history of philosop hy, Plato (1.4) has Socrates descr ib e how
ordi nary peopl e are l ike slaves c hain ed in a dark cave awa it ing
1:8 Jo h n of Damasc us enlig htenment. In dispell ing the illusion , ratio nal tho ught - th e right w ay of
seeing - provi des access to tr ue know ledge and emanc ipatio n.
1:9 H oros at N icaea , 787 AD
Bot h W.j.T. M itc hell (1986) and Bruno Latour (13.5i havewritten recent ly
~ bo ut how iconoclastic argu ments share cer tain assumptions. First,
I: 10 Heros at N iera, 754 AD
Iconoclas ts purport to possess a truth denied to ord inary peopl e becau se they
lmage and Idol atry ctl.nnot ~ee beyo nd the appearances of everyday, sensory real ity. They
I: I I Thoma s Hobbes mi stake Images for tr uths and, in doi ng so, threaten the fabric of the socia l
order. Second, icon ocl asts have access to the truth h idden behin d these
Evi l D em o n supe rfic ial images (~ ! th er throu gh divin e insight, or because of the acq uisit io n
I: 12 Rene Descarles of a special method of inquiry. Third, on ly by the iconoclastic action of
smashing our everyday beliefs in the images that surro und us can the rest of
O ptics soci.ety becom e privy to the real trut h, w hil e at the same time be ing free d
I: 13 Rene Descartes from the da ngero us and illusory world of th e senses. Fina lly, in bot h b ibl ica l
and p hilosoph ica l text s the false images of thi s wor ld, or w ay of li fe, are
Of Ideas repl aced by the true ones of the next.
I: 14
John Locke I\S Mitch ell has noted, ico nocl asm entai ls both an ep istemo log ica l and an
ethica l cl aim (198 6: 19 7). So it is perh a\?s no ~~ ci d ent that Plato 's analogy of

l the cave appears as a centre pie ce of his political text The Rep ub lic (1955 ),
which aimed to show how an ideal state w ould b~ run. Painting the existing
p.,olil if"";' I "1;>1"" noon "" ;, hi"",. r",;,lilv hasbeen.a tacnc prnnl""o.-! I... . _ .

·th i n ~e rs , i nCl u d i n g 'Ma'rx a nd Engels (2.3 ), Friedrich Nietzsche (2.5 and 2.6), represent? In doin g so, the y e ithe r implicitly re ly on seventeenth-century
Guy Debord (3.2) and Theodo r Adorno (3.1) - mos t of whom gro und ed the ir assumptio ns about the n ~tur: ~!mental irnagesas rep resentat io ns of th e
eth ical claims In epi stemological term s. " external world , or attem pt to prove tha t such <l rglJ m~nts ere w rong;
The influenceof such th inke rs on later commentators owes a great dealto But it w ould be a mista ke to thin k,that e pistem oio gica'i t heo ry is not
the strength of the critical images that they deploy in their own work. Plato 's influe nced by social forces, eve n when it is,,9ivorced from the.kindo! ethical
prisoners in the-cave, or..Rene Desc artes' (1.12),evil _de mon o f images, ar e injunction req uired b y lco r:.oclasm .The ;~quest i ons abou,t images raised by
such powerful p ictures that th e)' have become complex reference points fo r Hobbes, Descartes an d Locke emer ged out ()f a social world comi ng.to te rms
, . a w ho le way of thinking. For example, when Susan Bordo (3. 6) talk s abo ut with its new-found em pirici sm, asSteven Shapi n2'(1988) has a rgued : Locke 's,
learning tolivewith the ima ges in Plato's cave sh~ is ack now ledging her debt' (1.14) image of the so l i ta ry,: p ~j lo~ p he~_ observi~g his 0"";[1 eXRer i e nc~~~ t,a9,d
to his idea s.at the same time as making them relevant -for today, drawin o univers a l. conclu sionssolely art the-basis-of the Images refl t7q¢d ~i !:,
.- his m in~i-is mirrored byJhefigure \>f th(scien~ fic experimenter dem9 ~s tr~t i ng
Given the central 'ro le afforded ~ to ico ns, statuary an d, later, pa j [l~ings in
how ob jediW know ledge could be po ssib le ~nd I ~-g j ti .mate in irw od d where
th ose early Western so cieties dominated by reiigious Iife, t he s ta.kes ove rthe
God still provided ult~mate autho rity.E:pist~ mq legi:a ltth esry~helps.Ta~e the
ownership, meaning a ~fUnt,~rp'retation of images w ere'dhlgh: ty\bre' ofteri
socia l enterprise of science seem as natural as 10o ~l l)g at a 'R ,ece'of'w.i~x .
't han not, debates o Q images w e re underpinn<:d by real social upheaval .T he.
controversy Over icon sin eighth -centur y ~yzantium (1:8:"'1 :10) was no t a Without know ledge of th e reach and rLchn~s S" ()ih61 s ;tra d itlo'n,"'o ur"uride r"
debate about art, but ,? 'c ris[s o~erth~ 'p lkte and role of-the ho ly in society; stan ding of images is greatly
, " -;...
im pov~r i s hed .
0 .." ,

~ ..,...

as Peter Brown "(19 8] ),h as' ar gued. Successive Arab invas ions in the late
seve nthcentury created the need for soci a l cohesion. The libera l icon od ules:
., who had seen pictorial icon s' as haVing ho ly status, suddenly looked like
870\1'0, P. (1982) 'A Dark A ge crisis: aspects 'pf the ' i~90~ lasti c coo,trove rsy', in
idolaters. Fearing fJ!rth§:r divine retr ibution, the ico no clasts destroyed the P. :BrqY"tl {ed .I, .Societv-e nd the Holy £n Late An tiqu ity. London:. Faber & Faber.
icon s a n d 'rep l a c e(:I'thein ~ w it h thesimple, unifying political symbol of the
pp: } 5f c£'301 . . .... ' ",. ' '. ' ..• ..
cross. Simi lar trajectories could be traced during the English Civil War - see Darnasio,,", A.R. (1994 ) Descertes' Sirrot : Emotion,' Reason and 'the ~H[Jm irn iJ'Bra in _

Tho mas Hobbes' ~r i ti n g on ido latry (1.11) - and the Cultural Revoluti o n in New York: G.P.' Putna1n's Sons. .. . . " OS

'China. ·· z: Denn e~ , D. C. (1991) Con scious ness Explained. Bosto n, MA: Li ttle/ Brow n &' Co,

Ico~ophobictha~ e~tended.fo C1,rt itself. Plato (1.5) s uggested tha t the re~li ty ¢1rg n~r/ H.) 1 9§ 7) The Mirl'd 's New Science: A"History 'Ofthr:JC§gnitlve 'Re iioTution.

depicted .in paintings 'e nds up being an image of a sh adow; "a corru pt ing N<,;w;York: Basic Bo o ks." .. "
influen ce on so ciety: Many writers have followed' Plato's mistrust ofarf as a i\1hi~c,h.;)}; WJJ . (1 ?86)'" !cogo logy:' l!nag~; Text, Ide ology: ChicagoT: Universityiof
vehiclefortruth arid m:argina iise theimportance.of arttheory. in t~~jr \'Vo rk:
s: lCagg Pless. , ' c,'

Plato ,(1955) The Rep ublic, tr. Desmond Lee. Loildo'1:: F'enguin B()()ks:

In"'t;:qntrast, 'Aristotle's (1. 6) d iscu ssio n of. mimesis -:: orthe human~ capaci ty
Shapin,.. . S. (19&8) ' House'.cf experime nt ih , ~eve riteenth~century" EnglaYid~; Isis" .79:
f6 r :ma kir:jg mea ningfu l represe ntations of their ~oCia l world - acted ras a
373240 4: "~,, , ' " ~
~counte r to Plato's iconophobia and i ~founed eighteenth:centu ry,debate~.on

thejr{atu r~. of representation that stllf'r'erri a in relevant to : a ri~ n istory. · :

Desp ite. the c ~ncerns r;ised by~Plat'o a nd ot he rs ibout the .u n~~ liability:6J

\ eflsor y experience, images have freqllentl'y. ,Q~en use q o)? theorists as 'a.~aY

ofdescribing how .we can hav~' true knowledge of the world. Afisto.t l ~!s .( l.z)

fa mous remark about 'the soul's never thinking withou t-an imag e' ~plateo

images at the ce ntrE; of .episternologica] theory, a trend that can be trac ed

from the sixteenth century to the p'reseht day. FO( 'example, lmmanuel !<;,?Jlt

(2, 1\ ' Henri Bergson (2.7), Ludwig Wittgenstein (9.1 ) and Antonio Damasio

(9 .2) have each argued that mental images are repositories'of knowledge.
It may appear to day that the cognitive sciences have .answered tmany of the
traditional ques tions posed by philosophers such as
Hobbes (1,11), Descartes
(1.12 and 1.13) and John Locke (1:14). New brain-imaging technologies have
p!omi sed to open up , ~ho u ght itse lf to di ~ect .observati(:m. But, a:~ H<.:JWard
Gardner (1987) has noted, the new sciences of the -brain are attempting to
answe r some of the very questions po sed by these earlier thin kers. For
exa mple, the philosopher Dan iel b e nnett (1991) ar;:.d the neuroscientist
Anton io Damasio (1994 ) have publi shed major works that exp lic itly
acknowledge their conceptual debt to Descartes. They ask, for exam'ple, is it
right to talk about images in the m ind asthough they repres~nted the extern al
world? If we onl y know the wo rld thro ugh s u ch . re pre~en tatlons car: we have
access to any unmediated truth? And what could it mean for Images to
2 "': I M A G E S
FROM GENESIS TO LO C K E ~ :' ':'::,

I: I MAN CREATED IN GOD'S IMAGE 'H ere , take it and brin g it be fore (the ido ls].' Abraham stood up, took a
stick, broke all the idols, and put th e stick back in th e hands of the biggest
26: And God said , Let us make man in ou r image, after our liken ess: and let idol am ong them. W hen his fath er r eturned he asked: 'Who did this to
them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of th e air, and them ?' Abrah am answe red : ' I will not deny you the truth. A woman came
over th e cattle, and over all the ear th , and over every cr eepin g thing that with an otfering of fine flour and asked m e to bring it before th em . So (
crce peth upon th e ear th . brought it before them , and each said, ' I shall eat first .' Then the biggest one
stood amo ng them , he took a stick in his hand and broke the m all.' So Ter ah
27 : So God created man in his own image , in the image of God created he said to him : 'Why do you mock m e? Do these [idols] know anything [to
him; male and female created he the m. speak anti move]?' And Abrah am replied: ' Won 't your ears hear what your
mouth speaks?'

4 : Thou shalt not mak e unto thee any graven image, or any likeness ?f' any
thmg that is in heaven above , or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the
water under th e ear th :
5: Thou shalt not bow clown th vself to them , nor serve th em : for I the
LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the father s upon Intelligence ,
the children unto the third and fourth g eneral100 of them that hate m e; Pure thought or A
6: And shewing m er cy unto tho usand s of th em th at love me, and Keep my Intelligible
commandments. Knowledge world
(Forms )
reason ing (uses
objects from C
as illustratIons)


C Physical things

Rabbi Hiya the son of Rabbi Ada said that 'lcrah [Abr aham 's father] was an Physical
ido l wor shipp er. One day Terah had to leave the store [in which he sold Betief world
ido ls]. He left Abraham to manage the store in his absence . A man came
and want ed to buy an idol. Abraham asked him: 'How old are you?' And he Illusion D Shadows and images

res pon ded : ' Fifty or sixt y years old.' Abraham then said : ' Pit iful is th e man
who is sixty and wor ships idols that are only a day old .' So the man left in F IG U R E 1.1
embar rassmen t. Once, cam e a woman with an offering of fine flour. She said Plato's The Divided Line
to him [Abraham]:

'Ccnesrs, Chap ter I ' and ' Exodus, Chapter 20', on The Bible Au,h.r>?eJ KmS Jam", I'ell/ on wj,h Apu((Jph a ,
O xford and New Yor k: Ox for d Llrnvcr sity Pr ess. 1997, pp. I. and 89-90
From ' Mrdrash Rabbab, Noah . Portion 38 ) Sectio n 13' . te, Shat Lavi, in lcon()(la.~h B ~onJ u u: ImQB~
PI. to , "11..; dh 'i< bllinc ' , In n . RtpubIK. tr H.n.p. Lee . Lond on . I'<·ngu.in Classics , 1955. p. 275
W.urs In ~G ;~n('", Atli,q;o(J. and An , ed . Bru no Latour, and Pete r. Weib cl , C.lmhTjdgl~ . M A , MIT Pr ess
Copyright {) H .D.!'. l.cc. 19 , 3. 1974 . nd 19R7 R"p r<"llln :d b~' permission .,rr'<:nguill Books-ltd ,
7.002,.p. 38.


near er reality an d see ing more correctly, because he was tu rned to wards

object s that we re mo~e real ; and if on top of that h e were co mp elle d to say

what each of the passmg obj ects w as when it w as pointed out to hi m , don 't

'I want you to go on to picture the enli ghtenm ent or ignorance of our human you think he would be at a los s, and think th at what he used to see wa s more

conditions somewhat as follows. Imagine an underground chamber, like a cave real than th e obj ects now b ein g pointed out to him?'

with an entrance open to the daylight and rtmning a long "'Nay underground. '~luch more real. '

In thi s cham ber are men who have been prisoners there since they were
'And if he were m ade to look directl y at the light of the fire , it would hurt his

children , their leg s and necks be ing so fastened that the y can only look straight
eves and he would turn back and take refuge in th e things whi ch he could see,

ahead of them and cannot turn their heads. Behind them and above them a fire
,,; hich he would think really far dearer than the things being show n him.'

is burning, and between the fire and the prisoners runs a road, in front of
whi ch a cur tain- wall has been built, like the screen at puppet show s between 'Yes.'

the operators and their audience, above which they show their puppets.' 'And if,' I went on, 'he were for cibly dragged up the steep and rocky ascent

'1 see.' and not let go till he had been dragged out into th e sunligh t, the process would

be a painful on e , to which he would much object , and when he em erged into

'Imagine further that there are men carrying all sorts of gear along behind the the light his eyes would be so overwhelmed by the brightness of it that he

curtain-wall, including figures of men and animals made of wood and stone wouldn't be able to see a Single one of th e things he was now told were real. '

and other materials , and that some of th ese m en, as is natu ral, are talking and
some not.' 'Certainly not at first ,' he agreed .

'Because he would ne ed to grow accu stomed to the light before he could see

' An odd pi cture and an odd sor t of prisoner.'

th ings in the world outside the cave . First he would find it easiest to look at

'They are drawn from life ,' I replied. 'For, tell me, do you think our prisoners shadows, next at the reflections of men and other objects in water, and later

could see anything of themselves or their fellows except the shadows thrown on at the objects themselves. After that he would find it easier to observe the

by the fire on the wall of the cave opposite them ?' heavenly bodies and the sky at night than by day, and to look at the light of

'H ow could they see anything else if they were prevented from moving their the m oon and stars, rather than at the sun and its light .'

heads all their lives ?' 'Of course .'

' And would they see anything more of the ob jects carried along the road?' 'The thing he would be able to do last would be to look directly at the sun,

'Of course not.' and observe its nature w ithout using reflections in water or any other

medium, but just as it is.'

'Then if they were able to talk to each other, would they not assume that the
'T hat must come last .'

shadows they saw were real things?'

'Later on he would come to the conclusion that it is the sun that produces

th e changing seasons and years and controls everything in the visible world,

'And if the wall of their prison opposite them reflected sound, don't you and is in a sens e responsible for everything that he and hi s fellow-prisoner s

think that they would suppose, whenever one o f the passers-by on the road used to see .'

spoke, that the voice belonged to the shadow passing before them?'
'That is the conclusion which he would obviously reach.'

'They would be bound to think so.' 'And when he thought of his fir st home and what passed for wisdom there,

'And so they would believe that the shadows of the objects we mentioned and of his fellow-prisoners, don 't you think he would congratulate himself

were in all respects real .' o n his good fortune and be sorry for them?'

'Yes , inevitably.' 'Very m uch so.'

'Then think what would naturally happen to them if they were released 'There was pr obably a certain amount of honour and glory to be won among

from their bonds and cured of their delusions . Suppose one of them were let the prisoners , and priz es for keen-sightedness for anyone who could remember
loose , and suddenly compelled to stand up and turn his head and look and the order of sequence among the passing shadows and so be best able to predict
walk towards the fire; all these actions would be pai nful and he would be too thei r fut ure app earances. W ill our released pris oner hanker after these prizes
dazzled to see properly the objects of which he used to see tIK, shadows. So or envy thi s power orhonourj Wo nt he be more likely to led , as Homer says,
if he wa s told that what he used to see was men: illusion and that he was now that he woul d far rather be "a serf in the ho use of some landl ess ma n", 1 or
ind eed anything else in the wo rld , th an live and think as th ey do?'
•• 11. f~lawlllol I c cc _ _~ ...

' T hen wh at do you think would happ en ; I asked , ' if he went bac k to sit stronge r light o f the clearer world to w hich it has escaped from its p rev io us
in his old seat in th e cave? Wouldn 't his eyes be blinde d by th e dar kness, iM orance. Th e firs t state is a reason for cong ratu lation, th e second for
because he had co me in suddenly out of th e daylight ?' sym pathy, tho.ugh if one wa nts to laugh at it one ca l~ do so with less absurd ity
,Ce r tainly.' than at the mmd that has descended from th e daylight of the upper world .'

'And if he had to discriminate between the shadows, in competition with

the othe r p rison ers , while hc was still blinded and before his eyes go t used NOTES
to th e darkness - a pr ocess that might take so me tim e - wouldn't he be
1. Odyssey , XI, 489 .
likely to make a fool of himself? And th ey would say that his visit to th e 2. That is, the simile of the Sun and the analogy of the Line. Th e det ailed
upp er wo rld had ruined his sight , and that th e ascen t was not wo r th even relations betw een the three figures have been much disputed . Th e tran slation
attem pting. And if anyon e tried to release th em an d lead them up , th ey assumes the following main cor respondences:
wo uld kill him if they co uld lay hands on him .'
Tied prisoner in the cave Illusion
'They ce r tainly wo u ld.'
Freed prisoner in the cave Belief
' Now, my dea r Glau con,' 1 went on, 'this simi le must be connect ed, Looking at shadows in the world Reason
throughou t, with wh at pr eceded it .2 Th e visible rea lm corres po nds t o the outside the cave
prison , and th e light of th e fire in th e pri son to th e powe r of th e SWl. And
Looking at real things in the world Int elligence
yo u wo n 't go 'wr ong if you connec t th e ascent into th e upper world and the
outside the cave
Sight of the o bjects ther e wi th the upward progress of th e mind into the
in telligibl e realm - tha t 's my guess , which is wh at you are anxio us to hear. Looking at the sun Vision of the Form of Good. [. . . J
Th e tr uth o f the matter is, after all , known only to God. But in mv opinion,
for wha t it is wo r th , the final thing to be p er ceived in th e intell igi~le realm,
and percei ved only with difficulty, is th e absolu t e fo rm of Good ; once seen,
it is inferr ed to be re spon sible for everything r ight and good, pr odUcing in

the visible realm light and the source of light, and bein g , in the inte lligible
realm itse lf, contro lling source of reality an d intelligence. And anyone who ' Can you give m e a ge nera l de finit ion of representation? I'm not sure th at 1
is going to act rationall y either in public or privat e mu st perceive it.' know, myself, exactly wh at it is.'
' I agree,' he said, ' so far as 1 am ahle to und er stand you.' 'Then it's not very likely I shall!'
' Then you will pe rhaps also agree with me that it won 't be sur prisi ng if 'Oh , I don't know,' I said . 'Sho rt Sight is sometimes quicker than long Sight .'
th ose who get so far ar e unwilling to r eturn to mundane affairs, and if th eir 'True enough ,' he r eplied . 'But w it h )'0 1.1 here , if J did see anyth ing, r
m inds lon g to remain among higher things . Th at 's what we should exp ect if shouldn 't mu ch want to say so. You m ust use your ow n eyes .'
our simile is to be tr uste d .'
'T hen shall we star t whe re we always do ?You know th at we alw ays assume
' Yes, th at' s t o be exp ect ed .' th at there is a single essential Fo rm co rrespo nding to eac h class of particular
'Nor will you think it strange that anyone who descends fro m conte m plation th ings to which we app ly the same nam e?'
of the divine to the im perfections of human life sho uld blund er and make a 'Yes, [ know.'
fool of him self, if, while still blinded and unaccustom ed to the surroun ding 'Then let us take an instan ce . For exa m ple , th er e arc many particular b eds
darkn ess, he 's forcibly put on trial in the law- courts or elsewh er e about th e and tables .'
images of justice or their shadows, and made to dispute about the conce ptions ' Yes .'
of justice held by men w ho have ne ver seen absolute ju stice.'
' But th ere ar e onl y tw o For ms , one of Bed and on e of Table .'
'T here's nothing stra nge in that .'
' But anyo ne wit h any sense ,' I said, 'will re mem be r that the eye s may be
unsighted in two ways, hy a transition eithe r fr om light to da rk~ess or from
dar kness to .Iight , and that the same.distin ction applies to the mind , So .when
J ,_
I fbe~ we normally say th at the m aker of either of these kind s of furnitu re

nas h~ s .eye on ~e ap propr iate .Fo n~ ; and simi larly '~i th oth er t.hings . For no
he sees a mmd con fused anel unable to see clearly he w il] not laugh witho ut one coulcl possibly make the Form Itself, cou ld he ?
thinking , but will ask himself wh ether it has co me from a clearer world and Plato ' Part Ten (Bo kT r . Th R hi t I I'cnguIU Ch"ics 19 55 ~- 1 ~
I is..coniwcd.h.v-the-unac:c:us.wm.ed darknes s•.nr whe ther it is daz;-;bl hy- the, ... . . .
1/ l> I' L
l;P"';" .b..c !.i.J..U:l..-~;l::"'~'7::._::~,, ;, .. ~c o:::~ ;jO~ ;~~ " -, . I

'No.' 'Yes, that is so.'

'I wonder what vou would call a man who could make all the obj ects 'So painter, carpenter, and God are each responsible for one kind orbed.'
produced by indi~idual craftsm en ?'
'H e would be a remarkably clever man.' 'God creat ed only one essential Form of Bed in the ultimate nature of
'Just a minute , and you ' ll be more sur pr ised still. For this same craftsm an thing s, either because he wanted to or because some necessity prevented
can not only make all artificial objects, but also create all plants and animals, him from maki ng more than on e; at any rate he d idn 't produce more than
himself included , and, in addition , earth and sky and gods , the heavenl y one , and more than on e could not possibly be pr oduced .'
bodies and the underworld .'
'An astonishing bit of craftsmanship!' he exclaimed. 'Because, suppose he created two onl y, you would find th at they both shared
'You don't believe me?' I asked. 'Tell me do vou think that a craftsman of this a comm on charac ter or for m, and this common character wo uld be th e
sort couldn't exist, or (in one sense, ifn~t in'another) cre ate all these things? ultimate reality.'
Do you know that there's a sense in which you could cre ate th em yourself?'
'That's true.'
'What sense? ' 'And [ suppose that God knew it, and as he wanted to be th e real creator of
'It 's no t di fficult, and can b e done in various ·ways qui te quickly, Th e quickest a real Bed, and not ju st a carpenter making a particular bed, decided to
way is t o take a mirror and turn it round in all dir ection s; before long you make the ultimate reality unique.'
will creat e SWl and stars and earth, yourself and all other animal s and plants , '1 suppose so.'
and all the other obj ects we mentioned just now.'
'Th en do vou
, think we might call him author of th e nature of thin bus or some
' Yes, but they, would only
J be reflections,' he said , ' not real things.'_ such name?'
' Q uite right,' 1 replied , 'and very much to th e point . For a painter is a '\Ve could do so with ju stice; for all his creations are ultimate realities.'
craftsman of just thi s kind, I think. Do you agree? '
'And wh at abo ut the carpenter? Do esn 't he manufacture the bed? '
'You may perhaps object that the things he cre at es are not real; and yet there
'And wh at about th e ar tist? Does he make or manufacture?'
is a sense in which the painter creates a bed, isn't there ?'
'Yes,' he agre ed, 'he produces an appearance of on e .'
'Then what does he do?'
'And what about the carpenter? Didn't you agr ee that what he produces is
not th e essential Form of Bed, the ultimate reality, but a particular bed?' ' I think that we may fairly say that he represents what the other two make.'
'I did .' ' Good ,' said 1. 'Then the artist's representation sta nds at thi rd remove from
reality ?'
'If so, then w hat he makes is not the ultimat e realit y but so me th ing that
resembles that reality. And anyone who says th at th e products of the r· ..J
car pe nte r or any other craftsman ar e ultimate r ealiti es can hardl y be telling 'Th e ar tist's representation is .. . a long way removed from truth, and he is
the truth , can he?' able to reproduce everythi ng because he ne ver pen etrates ben eath the
'No one familiar with the sor t of argumen ts we're using could suppose so.' superficial appea ra nce of anythi ng.' [... J
'So we shan 't be sur pr ised jf the bed the carpe nte r m akes lacks the precision
of re alitv7'
'N o.'
'Then shall we try to define representation now, in the light of this
ill u stration?'
' Yes, please .' [..·1 The instinct fo r imitati on is inherent in man fr o m hi , earlie~t da~cs; he
elil}"cI"s from other ani m als in that he is the mo st imitative of creatu r r: ~, and
' W e have seen that there are three sor ts of bed .The first ex ists in the ultimate
n ature of th ings , and if it w as made by any o ne it m ust , I s~pp ose , have b ee n t\risto t ll:, 'T he: or ig ms and devel opment of po et r y' t from On th e-itrl '?f Poet ry. in Clo.ukaJ LUt td T)' Cfll iorm,
1•• 1...,. r: .. 'U'J p-r h .... ~""'''''H nrl i ~ TTlo ~ c1 6'"l h v -th.... r~rrtP nte. r_ the third bv the h::. int-oPpo '
"10.. a tT,T.S . J)nrlt.t-h I nnril .n . p ,pftal li n JLv.L-.. 1(,1;; t;" n vs. COD)' Ti ~..tll iO.T,S. 1Jor:w:h 1 96 ~ .
32 : I M AGES

he learns his earliest lessons by imitation. Also inborn in all of us is th e

instinct to enjoy wo rks of imitati on . What happ ens in actual ex perience is
evidence of this ; for we enjoy looking at th e most accura te representation s of
things wh ich in th em selves we find painful to see, suc h as the for ms of th e
When we set up an image of Chris t in any place, we appea l to the senses, and

indeed we sanctify the sense of sight, which is the highest amo ng the perceptive

lowes t animals and of corpses . Th e reason for this is that learning is a very
senses, just as hy sacred speech we sanctify the sense of healing. An image is,

great pleasur e, not for philosophers only, but for other people as well,
after all, a reminder ; it is to the illiterate what a book is to the literate, and what

however limited their capacity for it may be . Th ey enjoy see ing liken esses the word is to the hearin g, th e image is to Sight. All this is the approach through

because in doing so they acquire information (they reaso n out wh at each the senses: but it is with the mind that we lay hold on th e image. 'I'Ve remember

re presen ts, and discover. for instance , th at ' this is a pictu re of so and so'); for
that God ordered that a vessel be mad e from wood that would not rot, guilded

if by an)' ch ance th e thing depicted has not been seen before, it will not be
inside and out, and that the tables of the law should be placed in it and the staff

th e fact that it is an imitat ion of something that gives the pleasur e, bu t th e

and the golden vessel containing the manna - all this for a reminder of what

exec ution or th e colour ing or some other suc h cause .

had taken place, and a foreshadowi ng of what was to come. What 'was this but

Th e instinct for imit ation , t hen, is natural to us , as is also a fe eling fo r music a visual image, more co mpe lling than any ser mon? And this sacred thing was

and for rhythm - and metres are obviously detached sections of rhythms. not placed in some obscure corner of the taberna cle; it was displayed in full

Starting from these natural aptitudes, and by a ser ies of for th e mo st par t view of the people, so that whenever they looked at it they would give honour

gradual imp rovem ents on their first efforts , men even tually crea te d poetry and worship to the God who had thl·ough its contents made known his design

from th eir improvisations . to them. The)' were of course not worshipping the things them selves; they were

being led through them to reca ll the won derful works of God , and to adore him

whose word s they I

had witnessed.



Perce iving ... is analog ous to me r e saying and th ink ing , but when it is of the
We define with all acc uracv and care th at the venerable and bolv icons be set
pleasant or pai nful the soul engages in pursuit or avoida nce and these are
up like th e form of the ve~erable and life-giVing Cross , in a sm~ch as matter
analogous to asser tion and denial.
consisting of co lours and pebbles and other matter is appropr iate in th e holy
In fact , to ex perience pleasure and pain is to be active with th e perceptive Church of God , o n sacre d vessels and vestments , walls and panels, in hou ses
mea n in rel ation to goo d or bad as such. Avoidance , wha t is marc , and d esire and on the roads, as we ll as th e images of our Lord and Gael and Saviour
are, in their actualized state , the same thing, nor are th eir faculties different Jesus Chri st, of our undefi led Lady of th e Holy Mother of God , of the ange ls
eithe r from each othe r Or from the perceptive faculty, but th eir way o f b eing ,:"or thy of honour, and of all the holy and piou s m en. For th e more
the same tIling is differen t. For in th e thinking soul, im ages p lay the part of frequently th ey are see n by means of pict orial representation the more th ose
percepts, and the asser tio n or negati on of goo d or bad is invaria bly who behold them are aro use d to rem emb er and de sire th e protot)1)CS and
acco mpanied by avoidance or pursuit , whic h is the r eason for the soul's to give them greeting and wo rship of hono ur - but no t th e true worship of
neve r thinkin g withou t an image. ! Our faith which befits only th e divin e nature - but to offer th em both
i ~.c cnse and candles, in the sam e way as to U1e for m and the venerable and
NOTE hfe-giVing Cross and t he holy Gospel b ooks and to the other sacred objects,
as Was the custom even of th e ancients .
1. It is interesting that the wor d translated here as 'image' IS not phatitasma but
aisthema , a rare word only used once elsewhere in the De AnIma . As Hamlyn
suggests, its use there seems to remind us of the d ose d ependence that Aristotle
sees ill the intellectual soul on the sensitive soul immediately below it in the
hierarchy. [... j

Art srotlc , C hapter Hf.7 , D c/l n:mGl On the- jo ul , tr H ugh Laws on-Tan crcd . Lnnclt)T'! : PengUin Cla:\,''i-ics , 1986 , !:r Ofl1 !c()nGclmm , erls An thon v Bryer and Judah He r-rm. U l nnl ng;h~lt~ ~ ; U oi \-"<.'.r slty (If Blr'm jrlg~l "Hh Pr ess
PI" 20 &anel 24 8 . Cop~' r1gh (:j;; Hu gh Law, on-Tancr cd 19&6 . I ~7; . pp 1~ 3--4 . Reprod uced w ith p...·I·mi ~S I (>n o f t ht: c:d ll(JfS .

I: I 0 HOROS AT NIERA, 754 AD mblance of some Phantasticall Inhabitants of the Brain of th e Make)', But
-ese h . . 11 . th
in these Idols, as t ey are ong.m a ly m c Brain , and as th ey are painted ,
The divin e nature is co mpletely un circumscribable and cannot be depi cted Tlloulded, or moulten m matter, th ere is a similitude of th e one to
carYed , . .
or represented by artists in any medium wh atsoever. The word Christ mean s the oth er, for which th e Matenall Body made by Art, may be said to be the
hoth God and Man, and an icon of Christ 'would therefore have to be an Image of the rhantasti callldoll made by Natur e .
ima ge of God in th e flesh of the Son of God . But this is im possible. Th e ar tist But in a lar ger use of th e 'Nord Im age , is contained also, any R epresentation
would fall either into th e heresy which claims that the divine and human of one th ing by ano ther. So an ear thly Soveraign may be called th e Image of
natures of Christ ar e separate or into that whi ch holds that th ere is only one God : And an inferiour Magistrate the Image of an ear thl y Soverai gn. And
nature of Chr ist . DIany t imes in th e Idolatr y of th e Gentiles th er e was little regard to the
similitude of th eir Mat erial] Idol to the Idol in th eir fancy, and yet it wa s
called the Image of it . For a Stone unhewn has been set up for Neptune, and
divers other shapes far differen t from th e shapes they conceived of thei r


Gods, And at thi s day we see ma ny Images of th e Virgin Mary, and other
Saints, unlike one ano th er, and without correspondence to anyone mans
Fancy; and yet ser ve well enough for the purpose th ey were errected for;
An IMAGE (in th e most strict signification of the word) is the Re semblance which was no more but by the Nam es on ely, to represent the Persons
of some thing visible : In which sense the Phantasticall Formes, Apparitions, mentioned in the Histor y; to whi ch every man apply eth a Mentall Image of
or Seemings of visible Bodies to th e Sight, are onely Images; such as are the his own e makin g, or none at all. And thu s an Image in the largest sense, is
Shew of a man , or other thing in th e Wat er, by Reflexion, or Refraction ; or eithe r the Resemblance , o r th e Representation of some thing Visible; or
of the Still, or Star s by Direct Vision in th e Air ; which are nothing re all in both togeth er, as it happencth for th e most part.
the things seen , nor in the place where they seem to be e; nQI' ar c their
[ .. ,]
magnitudes and figures the same with th at of th e object; but changeable ,
by the variation of the organs of Sight , or by glasses; and ar e pr esent To worship an Image , is volunarily to doe those exter n all acts, which are
oft en-tim es in our Imagination, and in our Dreams, wh en th e obj ect is signes of ho no ring either th e matter of the Image, which is Wood, Stone,
absent; or changed into other colours , and shapes, as things that depend Metall , or some other visible creatur e ; or the Phantasme of th e brain , for
onely upon the Fancy. And these are the Images which are originally and the resemblance, or representation whereof, th e matter was form ed and
most pr operly called Ideas, and IDOLS, and derived from the language of figured ; or both together, as on e animat e Body, co m posed of the Matt er and
th e Gra ccians , with whom th e worn signifieth to See. They are Elow also the Phanta sm e, as of a Body and Soul e.
called PHANTASMES, which is in th e same langu age, Appariti ons. And from [ .. .]
the se Images it is that on e of the faculties of mans Nature, is call ed the
[. . .] But to 'wor ship God, as inanimating , or inh abiting , su ch Image , or
Imagination. And from hen ce it is mani fest, that th er e n either is, nor can bee
place; that is to say, an infinite substance in a finite place, is Idolatry : for such
any Image m ade of a thin g Invisible .
finite Go ds, are but Idols of the brain, nothing rea l]; and are comm only
It is also evident , th at th er e can b e no Image of a thin g Infinite : for all the called in the Scripture by the names of ~'£lni 0' , and I.;yes, an d NothmB' Also to
Images, and Phantasmes that are made by th e Impression of things visible, worship God , not as inanimating, or present in th e plac e , or Image; but to
are figUJ'ed : but Figure is a quantity every way det ermined : And th er efore the end to be put in mind of him, or of som e works of his, in case the Place,
th er e can bee no Image of God ; nor of th e Soule of Man ; nor of Spir its; but or Im age be dedicated , or set up by private auth or ity, and no t by th e
on ely of Bodies Visible, that is, Bodies that have light in themselves, or are a ~tho r i ty of them that are our Sover aign Pastors, is Idolatry. For the
by such en ligtened. Com man dement is, Thou shalt not make to rhey se!fe an)' graven Image . [. . . J
And wh ereas a man can fanc), Shapes he never saw ; making up a Figure out I...]
of the parts of divers creatures ; as th e Pacts make th eir Centaures ,
Be.'\idesthe Idol atrous Worship ofIm ages, th er e is also a Scandalous Worship
Chimaera s, and oth er Monsters never seen: So can he also give Matter to
o.f them. ; w hic h is also a sin ; but not Idolatry, For Idolatry is to worship by
those Shapes, and make th em in Wood, Clay or Metall. And these are also
slgncs of an internall , and reall honour: but Scandalous WorshJp... is but
called Images, not for the resemblance of any cor po rca lJ thing , but for the
Seem ing Worsh ip ; and may som eti mes bee joined with an inward, and
-fh o m..1.!i J [ ()hh(. ~s . ' O f th e Jdngd om e. of darkn cssc". in Levun han, Px.d : p..., Chapl{:r 4 ; . Lo ndo n : Pengu in
hearty detestation , both of th e Image , and of th e Phant astic all D ~e mon , or
Clasxlcs , 19 8 5, pp. 66 8- 75 .
[dol, to w hich it is ded icated ; and proceed oncly from th e fear of death , 0 ) '
::'?S; I M AGES F RO M G E.N ES IS T O LOCKE : .3 '/

other gr ievo us punishment; and is neverth elesse a sin in th em th at so areat deceiver that , ho wever power ful and cwming he may be , he will never
wo rship, in case th ey be men wh ose actions are looked at by o thers, as lights be able to impose o n m e.
to gu ide th em by; becau se following th eir w ays, they cannot b ut stum ble,
and fall in the way o f Religion: Whereas th e exa m ple o f those we regard not,
wo rks n ot on us at all , but leaves us to our ow n dili gence and caution ; and

consequen tly arc no causes of our falling, OPTICS
The summc of that whi ch I have said hitherto, concerning th e Wo rshi p of
Images, is thi s, th at he that wor shipp eth in an Image , or any Cre at ure , eith er [. ..j (I]t is necessary to ,b e~v arc of as sum~g that in orde,r to sense , th e :nind
the Matter ther eof, or any Fancy of his ow n, w hich he thinketh to dwell in needs to pe rceive certain Images transm itte d by th e objects to th e bra in, as
it ; or both together; or belccvcth that suc h things hear his Pr ayers, or see his our philosophers commonly suppo se; or, at least , th e nature or th ese images
D evo tions , witho ut Ears, or Eyes , co m m itteth Idol atry: and h e that must be co ncei\'ed quite othen ..' ise than as th ey do. For, inasmuch as [the
co unte r feite th such Worship for fear of punishment, if he bee a m an whose philosophers] do not consider anything about these imag~ s except that th ey
must resemble th e objects th ey represent , it is imp ossible for them to show us
exam ple hath power am ongs t his Brethren , committeth a sin : But he th at
how they can be form ed by th ese obje cts , received by the extern al sense
worshipp eth the Creator of th e world before suc h an Image, or in such a
organs, and transm itt ed by th e nerves to th e brain . And th ey have had no other
place as he hath not made, or chosen of himselfe, but tak en fro m the
reason for positing them except th at , obser ving that a picture can easily
com m andem ent of Gods Word, as the [ewes d id in worship pin g Go d befo re
stimulate our minds to concei ve the objec t painted there, it seemed to them
the Cherubins , and before the Brazen Serp en t for a time , and in, or towards
that in the same way, the min d should be stim ulated by tittle pictures whi ch
th e Temple of Jerusalem , whi ch wa s also hut for a tim e , com m ittc th not
form in our head to conce ive of those objects that t ouch our senses; instead ,
Idol atr y.
we should consider th at there are m any other things besides pictures w hich can
stimulate our tho ugh t , such as, for ex ample, signs and words, which do not in
NOTE any way resem ble the th ings which they signify. And if, in order to depar t as
1. Marginalia and original page number ing that appears w ithin the text have little as possible from currentl y accepted beliefs, we prefer to avow that the
been remov ed . objects which we per ceive trul y transmit th eir ima ges to th e inside of our
brain, we mu st at least observe that th er e are no images th at must resemble in
every respect th e objects th ey rep resent - for oth erwise there would be no
distinction between th e object and its image - but th at it is su fficien t for th em
t,o resemble the objects in b ut a few ways, and even th at their perfection

frequently dep end s on their no t resembling them as m uch as they might. For
example, you can see that engravings, being made or nothing but a little ink
placed here and ther e on the paper, represent to us forests, town s, men , and
1shall suppos e, therefore , that there is, no t a tr ue Go d , w ho is th e sovereign even battles and stor ms, even thou gh , am ong an infinit v of diver se qualities
source of truth , but some evil demon, n o less clmning an d d eceivin g than which they make us conce ive in these objects, only in shape is ther e actually any
powerful, who has used all his art ificc to deceive me. I will suppose that the resemblance . And even this resembl ance is a very imperfect one, see ing that,
heaven s, th e air, the ear th, colo urs, sha pes, so un ds and all ex te rn al things on,a com pletely flat sur face, they rep resent to us bodi es which are of differ ent
th at we see , arc on ly illusions and deception s w hic h he uses to take m e in . I heights and distances , and even that followin g the rul es or per spective, circl es
will co nsider myself as having no hand s, eyes , flesh , blood or senses , but as ~re ~ ften better represent ed by ovals rath er th an by other circles ; and squares
believing 'wrongly that I have all these th ings. I shalJ cling ob stinatel y to thi s y dIamonds rath er th an by other squares; and so for all oth er shapes . So that
notion ; and if, by this m ean s, it is not in my p ower to arrive at th e often , in order to be m ore per fect as im ages and to represent an object better,
kn owl ed ge of any truth , at th e very least it is in my power to susp end my they mu st not resemble it. Now vee must think in th e same way about the
judgem ent . Th is is why I shall tak e gre at car e not to acce pt into my belief
anythi ng false, and shall so well prepar e my mind agains t all the tr ick s of th is Hcnl:.D c.sC: <l .-tr:~ ) "Opncs" , Discou r-ses 4---6 1 m 1) iSt;OU( $t on AJt:chQd, O..,u c:;, Gee·me::!..."'. and Mt'.c~ro l()8Y ' tr. ~11 1 J.
(~ I.camp . Revised ed itio n . lndian apo lts: Hac kett Publi.J> ing Comp. ny, 200 1, PI'· 8 9- 9 1• 'n and 100 ·- I .
F,r' t ed ition co pyr ight (9 1% \ h)· the Aohb, - Mnrr ill Company. Inc. Revised editio n eo pyrig ht:O 200 1 by
R l"n t' D t: -'; ('olrh =~~ "Fir st m ed itatron ", in D i scourse on Met hod an d rIa' ,J.{c:J,r-f1rJorI.C , t r. E E . Su tdi ffc . LOUdon : Hackett Pub lishing Co mpa ny, Inc. Repr mu-d b)' per-m ission of J Iacket t Pu hlishing Co m pany. Inc . All d ghLo;
r(~ :<i 't~ r v c d_
PengUin C1 3 S$ic~ . t 9 6 S. p. 10 0 . C() p ~, ,-jgh t C <? E E. Sutc liffe, 1968 .

imag es that are formed in our brain , and we must note that it is on ly a qu estion f this resem blanc e th at the pi cture causes u s to p er ceive th e obj ects , as if
of kn owing how the y can enable the mind to perceive all the diverse qualities ~ere 'were yet other eyes in our brain with which we co uld apprehend it ;
of the objects to which they r efer ; not of [knowing] how th e imag es th ems elves but ra the r, that it is the movements of w hich th e pi cture is com pose d w hic h ,
resemble their objects; just as when th e blind ma n .. . tou ch es some obje ct acting immed iat ely on our mind inasmuch as it is unit ed to our body, are so
with his cane, it is certain that these objects do not tr ansmit anything to him establi shed by natu r e as to make it have suc h perceptions [. . . j
exc ept that, by making his cane move in different ways according to their
different inherent qualities, the y likewise and in the same way move the nerves
of his hand, and then th e places in his brain where these nerves originate .Thus
his mind is caused to pe rceive as many different qualities in the se bodies, as
there are varieties in the movements that they cause in his brain.
* 1. Ever y man being conscious to himsel f th at he thinks, and that which his
Thus you can clearly see that in order to perceive, the mind need not
mind is applied about whi lst thinking be ing th c ideas that are there, it is past
contem p late any images resembling the things that it sen ses. But this makes
doubt th at m en have in their minds several ideas su ch as those expr essed
it no less true that the objects we look at do imprint very perfect images on
bv the words wtnteness, hardness, sweetness, tbinkina, motion, man, elepbant, army,
the back of our eyes. Some people have very ingeniously explained this
d;llnkenness and others: it is in the fir st place then to be inquired , how he
already, by com parison with the images that appear in a chamber, when
comes by them ? I know it is a recei ved do ctrine that men have native ideas
haVing it completely clos ed except for a Single hole , and having put in front
and ori ginal characters stamped upon their m inds in th eir very fir st being.
of this hole a glass in the form of a len s, we stre tch behind, at a specific
This opinion 1 have at large examined already; and , 1 suppose, what 1 have
distance, a white cloth on which the light that com es from the objects
said in the foregOing book will be much more easily admitted when I have
outside forms these images. For they say that this chamber represents the
shown whence the understanding may get all the ideas it has, and by what
eye; this hole , the pupil; this lens, the crystalline humor, or rather, all those
ways and degrees they may come into the m ind ; for which I shall appeal to
parts of the eye which cause some refraction; and this cloth, the interior
everyone's own ob servation and experience .
membrane, which is co mpos ed of the extremities of the optic nerve.
2. Let us th en supp ose the mind to be , as we say, white paper void of all
* characters , wi thout any ideas. How comes it to be fur nished? \ Vhence comes
Now, having thu s seen this picture in the eye of a dead animal , and having it by that vast store which the busy and boundless fan cy of man has painted
considered its causes , you cann ot doubt that an entirely similar one is on it with an almost endless variety? Whence has it all the materials of
formed in the eve of a live man, on the interior membrane ... and even that reason and knowledge?To this I answer, in one word, from experience; in that
it is formed mu~h better there, because its humors, being full of spirits, are all our knowledge is founded, and from that it ultimately derives itself. Our
more transparent and have more exactly the shape which is requisite to th is obscr vation, employed either about external sensible obj ects, or about the
effect. And also , perhaps in th e eye of an ox the shape of the pupil, which is internal operations if our mmds perceived and r ~J1ect ed on by ourselves, is that which
not round, prevents this picture from being so perfect there. supplies our understandings 1V1tn all the materials ?f tbmkmg. These two are the
fountains of knowledge , from whence all th e ideas we have , or can naturally
Neither can we doubt that the images which we cause to appear on a white
ha~;c , do spring.
cloth in a dark cham ber are formed there in the same way and for the same
reasons as on the back of the eye; and indeed, because they are ordinar ily 3. First, our senses, conversant about particular sensible objects , do convey into
m uch larger there , and form there in many more ways , we can more easily the tmnd several distinct perceptions of things , according to thos e various ways
note different details there , of which I here desire to in form you so that yo u \\"?crein those objects do affect them. And thus we come by those ideas we have
can test for them , if you have not already done so . [.. . j ofyelJo w, "bite , heat, cold, s<ji , bard, biuer, sweet, and all those which we call sensible
qualities ; which when I sav the senses convey into the mind I mean the y from
[ J : x~em ;>.1 objects convey ~to the mind wh;t produces the:e those 'perceptions.
[ j not only do the images of objects form thus on the back of the eye, but nus great source of most of the ideas we have, depenJing wholly upon our
they also pass beyond tu the brain [.. .] senses, and derived by them to the understanding, I call SENSATION.
Now although this picture, in being so transmitted into. o ur head, always
reta ins some rese mblance to the objects from which i t proceed s, Joh n Lo ck e, 'Of id (.· ;J.~ in ecncrnl and th eir OrJ;!h l <) I' ) in An Essor (,m a m IIJa Hum an Undcrst( lU'lJfJ8 . Jknk 11 ,
Ch " , ,
neverthel ess, as I have already show n, w(: must not hold that it is by me ans O\ph :r 1. Loruj on an d V t:I"ln nn1: r:. v~~r; J)")a Jl. 199,{) pp. 4 :; 7 .
t. C: I MAG E S

4 . Secondly, the other fountain fro m which exp erience furni sheth the
understanding with ideas is the perceptJon if the operations if OlI T own minds within
us, as it is employed about the Ideas it has got; wh ich op eratio ns, \,.. hen the soul
com es to reflect on and consider, do fur nish the Wlder standing wit h ano ther
set o f ideas, which could not be had from thin gs witho ut. And such are
percepu on, r)JJnking, doubeina, believing. reasoning, knowinB' willmg, and all the
different aetin gs of our Own minds; w hic h we, be ing cons cious of and FROM KANT TO FREUD
observ ing in ourselves, do from these recei ve into our unde rstandings as •. 1

distinct idees as we do from bodi es affeCting our senses. TIn s so urce of uleas
every man has wh olly in himself; and though it be no t sense, as having nothing
to do with exte rnal obj ects, yet it is very like it , and might prop erl y enough
be called int ernal sense. But as I call th e o ther sensmlOn , so I call this
R EFLECTI ON, the Idea ; it a(Tonls being such on ly as the mind gets by
Representatio n and Imagination
reflecting on its own operations within itself. By REFLECTION then , in the 2: I Immanuel Kant
following part of this discour se, I would be understood to m ean that notice
which th e mind takes of its own operations, and th e m anne r of them, by Space and Time
r eason w he reof th ere co m e to b e ideas of th ese op era tio ns in th e 2:2 Coubold Lessing
understanding. Th ese two, I say, viz. exte rn al mat eri al things as the obj ects of
Camera Obscura
SENSATION, and the operat ions of our own minds within as the obj ects of 2:3 Karl Marx an d Friedrich Engels
REFLECTION, ar e to me the onl y or iginals from whence all our ideas take
th eir b eginnings. The t erm operatJOTlS here I use in a large sense, as The Fetishism of Com modities and the Secret Thereof
com pre hending not bar ely th e actio ns of the mind abo ut its ideas, but some ­ Karl Ma rx
sort of passions arising some tim es from th em , such as is the satisfactio n or
How the Real World at Last Became a M yth
un easiness arising from any thought . 2:5 Fried ric h Nietzsch e
[· ··1
On Truth and Lies in a No n-Mora l Sense
6. He that attentively cons iders th e sta te of a child, at his first com ing into 2:6 Fried rich N ietzsche
th e wo rl d, will have little reason to think him stored with plent y of Ideas,
that are t o be the matter of his future k now ledg(~ . It is by degrees he comes Images, Bodies and Consciousness
2:7 He n ri Bergson
to be furnished with the m. And tho ugh th e ideas of obvious and familiar
qualiti es impr int th em selves before the mem ory beg ins to keep a register of The Dream-W ork
time order, yet it is often so late before so me unu sual qu alities come in the 2:8 Sigm un d Freud
way, th at th ere ar e few men th at canno t recollect the beginnin g of their
acqu aintance 'with th em . And if it we re wor thwhile, no doubt a child might
be so o rd ered as t o have bu t aver)' few, even of the o rdinary Ideas, till he
we re grow n up to a ma n . But all th at are bo rn int o th e wo rl d being
surrounded with bodies that p erpetu ally and diver sely affect th em , variety
of ideas, vvhether care be taken abou t it or no , are im printed on the minds
of ch ildren . Lighe and colours are bu sy at hand everywhere when the eye is
but o pen; sounds and so me tangible qualities fail not to solicit the ir proper
senses and force an entrance to th e m ind; bu t yet, I th ink it will be granted
easily th at , if a child were kept in a place where he n ever saw any other bu t
black and white till he were a man , he would have no more ideas of scar let
or green th an h e th at fro m his childho od never ta~ tcd an oyster or a
pin eappl e has of th ose p ar ticular relish e s .

ineteenth and early twentieth }::entudes- Karl Ma rx, Friedrich N ietzsche'

nnd Sigmund Freud .; : belonged to 3 ' 'school of suspic ion' 't hat aimed to
demystify the wo rld through acritique of con sciousness.
For M arx, Nietzsc h~ and -Freud the abilit.yto ~e~ the truth requires.anactof
interpretation . As Ricoeur (1970: 3-34) says:

Beginl1i ng with them, understanding is h~rmeneut ics; hen.ceforward, to .seek

meaning is no longerto spell out -the consCl ~us n.e~s of mearung, but to deClph~r
irs expressions ." W}1at. all t~ree a.ttcmpt~d , . III dl~er ent ways, was .to n;ake their
'conscious' methods 01 deciphering coincide with the 'unconscious work of
INTRODUCTIO N ciphering which they attribute to the will t o power, to social being", to the,

In the late eighteen th century and throughout the nineteenth century, If nothing could be taken _ at face y'~l u e, . 'then everythi ng in need of
European attitudes to im'ages began to . radic ally alter. Images had been interpretation should be conside~ed an ! Illage, :;or a~ illusi?n. For M~rx'<t~ d
linked throughout the l\1 i d d l~ Ages ana ,up untilthe seventeenth century Engels (2. 3), that meant that SOCIal realit y was W?Jected .mto the m m d s~~f.
primarily w ith the sacred. But following.ifie critical revolutio n ini tiated qy citizens 1ike an Image In a camera obscura, as SOCIal relations produce-their
such thi nkers as lrrimanuel Kant e?-n t he 'products of socia I activity began dw n't opsy-l urvy, ideolog ical version of reality, Critique turns that im age,th ~~
to be seen as auto 11.0 mous Objects in-need of special forms of interpretqtion. rigQt way up by dcci~he~ring its. effects on soci.a lco.~sciousn ~ss: th er~?y
dispell ing the powerof.the [alse 1m-age on the mind ot ItS obserYers .Ma~ 's
In the Critiqve of Pure ReaSon (178 1), K a n~t made t he ratio nal subject the
(2.4) analysis of the commodity as a.religious-fetishis one such interpretati sm
basis of intelJigibility for human experience of the world, by showing thatthe
of the effects of capital ist prod uction on its consurnersc- th§y worshj R
organi sing framework of the mi nd regulated how the world could -be
commodities.' in the same way that those in Ab rahaf"Q's "fa the r's' sh~I)
understood . We need reasoni ng prior to experience to turn sense impression
worshipped thei r ido ls (1 .3) . Marx's analy?is was subsequently developed
into knowledge. Experience.ofthe world comes through the basic intuition s
into a genre of ideology critique (see Sectio n 3).
of perception, namely time and sp ace, and categories of undersrandin g,
such as the not ion of causality. ".- Kant held that the categor ies Jn the mind are necessary universal and accord
w ith the structure of the woild. N ietzsche (2.5 and -z .e) reconceives these
Kant identifiedand differentiatedbetween particu lar cognitive capac ities.
cognitive concepts as metaphors" as aesthetic forms that are contingent
Imaginat ion was shown to organise the 'sche rna'sthat themind appliedto
and serve buman purposes. For Ni etzsche, cognitio n is a fundamenta lly
empirica l sense data in order to produce a unified image of the wo rld in
metaphorical activity, the conc~R.ts through whi ch we interpret reality raving
our minds, by linking experience and understanding. Kant's view dire ctl y, no fo undation in it. Human jlrtistry translates sense impress ions into -images'
co ntrasts with Locke's (1 . 14) empiri cal concept of the reflected images of the and thence into concepts, wh ich appear 'true' to us only because we iorget
w orld playing on the 'whi te paper' of a passive mind. For Kant, the mi ~tJ 's
our role . inrnaklng them. Nlet,zschg u rges ~u sto ' ac kt1 owl edge i.i h d~a ke
'Imaging' capacity ?is a' precondition' for our percept ion of im agesof-the responsibil ity for the human"r9 le in " im?ging' or co ns.tructingreal ity, rathEli'
w orl d. " ­
than accept ing sediment ed "interpretat ions of the worl d as the truth. His
Kant's amb itious phi losophical »systern incl udes, a' senseithat diffetyDt emphasis on themetap horical l1?ot i.!re,ci.f meCining, 'if n()t truth, is ta ke ~,up ' b.y, '
cognitive faculties and form s of sreasorii ng" are . appropriate to diffe'rent phi losophers s uch ~J ~,tcoeu r (8.21 ~ n~ L,e Q(~euff (9 .4 ~
.i ntellectual realm s br forms, such as scientific understandi ng and aest h ~tiF Fre ud~s (2.8) invention of ps ychoa nalysis'. as a/talking cyre/for those
.j udgement. An emphasis on cu ltura l forms has deeply influenced analysis s u ff~rm g from mental disorders q l n be seen as a science for the deciphering
and criticism in l iterary studies and art history . For example, in Gotth old and under standing of the repressed, uncons cious processes of the psyche,
Lessing's (2.2) attempt to delimit the separat9 domains of art and literatu re, rnanlfest not only in irrationa l behaviour and beliefs but a lso in dream
Lessing justified his argument by saying that the former was concerned Images, in which the latent message is hidden behi nd the manife st content.
primarily w ith spate and the latter with time. Those draw ing on Less ing's ~hl' rationality of language serves as the orderin g principle for bringing to
work argue for the evaluation of di fferent artworks based on the purity of light the sense latent in irration al images. The theor y beh ind Freud's
form . For example, the North Ameri can art criti c Clement Greenberg (1940) p~yc h Qanal y sis was to have a major impact on contemporary image culture.
denig rated the impurity of Surrealism because of its narrative -and temporal HIS ,nephew, Edward Bernays, used freud 's unde r~tanding of unconscious
qualities. Critics still argue about the relative merits of cultural forms, but, as mOfwati,ons wh en establishing the principles of the public relations industry.
W.J.T. Mitc~e l l (1986: 10) has argued, such debates tend to serve hidden In, the academic world, Freud's methods have been appli ed to analyse
powers and interests, cnt:cally a range of cultural symbols, from literature through to art irnagcs
Kant bel ieved that when pure reason over-reaches its el~ by using concept'> and films (sec Section 7: Psychoanalysi s).
unempirically, it engages in metaphysical speculation that. generates Despite the profound influence the 'school of suspicion' exerted' on the
illu sions , It was possible to misunderstand th~ world and th~ obj ects within thinking of many tw entieth-century writers, where there is often a merging
it. Improper reasoning could lead th~ mll1d . or CO~sCl o u s ness to be
captivated by illusions, just like the prisoners III PI~to ~ ( 1.4 ) Cave, Paul
Ricoeur (197 0: 32) has s,u&i.esl~d that the L!Jr!:e, .~aJ o r IconoClasts of th~ _ _ _ _ ,. _ ,

of these interp retative techniques w ithin a single piece of writing, some REPRESENTATION AND
philosophers ~o ntjnued to bui ld upon Kant's - work in oth er ways. ~o r
example, Henri B[~ rgs o n (2.7) place d the body at the centre of unde rstandi ng
in a way that is reminiscent of Kant's transcend ental subject as the world's
unifyin g princi ple . For Bergson, the world becomes an 'agg regate of images'
and perception of the world occu rs w hen ' these same images [are] referred It is a merely empirica l law, that representations whi ch have oft en follow ed
to the eventual action of one particular image, my body' . Whil e Bergson or accompanied one another finally become associat ed , and so are set in a
impli es a non-rational aspect to cognition th rough the use of the bo dy ima ge, relation whe reby, even in the absence of the obje ct , one of the se repre­
it arises out of a critique of Kant and is meant to help provid e a positive, sentations can , in accordance with a fixed rule, hr ing about a transition of
affective aspect to thought w hich resonates in di fferent fields that have dealt the mind to the othe r. But this law of reproduction presupposes th at
w ith psycho logy, such as phenomenol ogy (Ma urice Merleau-Ponty (6.2) and
appearanc es arc thems elves actually subject to such a rul e , and that in th e
Jean-Paul Sartre (6.3) ), the philosophy of Gill es Deleuze (9.5) and the
neuroscience of Antoni o Dam asio (9.2). manifold of th ese rep resentations a coexisten ce or sequ en ce takes place in
conformity with ce r tain rules . Otherwise our empirical im agination wou ld
never find' opp ornmity for exercise appropr iate to its powers, and so would
REFERENCES remain concealed within the mi nd as a dead and to us unknown faculty. [. . . J
Greenberg, C. (1940 ) 'Toward a newer Laocoon', Psrtisen Review, 7 (J uly-August):
296-3 10. There mu st then be som eth ing vvhich, as the a priori gro lilld of a necessary
Kant. I. (1929 [17811) The Criti que of Pure Reason , tr. N. Ke mp Smith. New York: svnthetic unity of appe arances , makes their reproduction po ssible. What
St Martin's Press. that something is we soon discover, when we reflect that appearances are
Mitchell, \lV.j.T. (1 986) lconology: Image, Text, Ideology. Chicago: University of
Chicago Press. .
not things in th em sel ves , but are th e mere play of our representations, an d
Ricoeur, P. (1970) Freud and Philosophy.' An Essay on tnterp retsuon . New Haven, CT:
in the end red uce to determinations of inner sense . For if we can show th at
Yale University Press.
even our purest a priori intuitions yield no knowledge, save in so far as th ey
contain a co mbination of th e manifold such as render s a th oroughgOin g
synthesis of reproduction possible , th en th is synthesis of imagination is
likewise grounded , ant ecedently to all ex pe rien ce, upon a pttoti principles;
and we must assum e a pure transce ndental synth esis of imagination as
conditioning the very po ssibilit y o f all exp er ience. For ex perience as such
necessarily pr esupposes the r eproducibility of app earances. When I seek to
draw a lin e in th ought, or to think of the time from on e noon to another,
or even to repr esent to myself some particular number, obviously th e
various manifold representations that are involved must be app rehended
by me in thought one after the oth er. But if I were always to drop out of
thought the pr eceding represen tations (the first parts of the lin e , th e
a~ tecedent parts of the time period, or the units in the order represented) , and
did not r eproduce them whil e advancing to those that follow, a complete
representation wou ld never b e obtained : none of the above-mentioned
th ou~hts > not even th e purest and mo st eleme ntary r epresentations of space
and time, cou ld ar ise.
The synthesis of appre hension is -thus inseparably bound up . . vith th e
synthesis of r eproduction . And as th e form er constitutes the transcendental
ground of th e possibility of all modes of knowled ge whatsoever - of th ose

fm rn~nu c:l KAn t. from "Transcendental deducti on ", and ' Schcrnarism ' I m Tnt Crl liq (1~ oJ rure Reason ,
tr . I\orrnan Kemp Sm tih . Londo n: M acm,lIan Pr css., 192 9, p p. 13 2-3, 142-3 and 18 1--.3 _<0 Ma<:m.ilJ.:n
Pn.:s:-:. R (:prQ d U ~'f:d with p crmis..';lon hy Macm illan PtCS~ .

that are pure a priori no less than of those that are em pir ical -- the reproductive formal conditions of sensihility, namely, tho se of inner sense . These conditions
synthes is of the imagination is to be co unte d among th e tr anscendental acts of sen sihility co nstitute the uni vers al cond ition under 'w hich alone th e
of th e mind . We shall therefore enti tle this faculty the tr anscen dental faculty category can be appli ed to any obj ect. This formal and pure condition of
of imaginatio n . sensibility to which th e employmen t of the concept of understanding is
restricted , we shall entitle the schema of the concept. Th e procedure of
* under stanwng in th ese schemata w e shall entitle the schctuatism of pu r e
[. .. ] The tra nsc en dental un it)' of appercepti on . . . rel at es to the pure
synthesis o f imagination , as an a priori condition of th e p ossibility of all understanding.
com binati on of th e manifold in one knowled ge . But o nly th e producti ve The schema is in itself always a p roduct of imagination . Since, however, th e
synthesis of the imagination can tak e place a pnori ; the rep roducti ve r ests synth esis of im aginatio~ ~i~ s at no special intuition, but ~ nl~ at ~n ity in the
upon empir ical cond itio ns. Thus th e principl e of th e nec essary unity of pure determination of senslbJlity, the schem a has to he distinguished from
(prod uctive) synthesis of ima gination, prior to app erception , is the ground the image. [ .. . 1
of th e pos sibility of all knowledge, especially of exp erience.
Indeed it is schemata, not imag es of objects, whi ch und erli e our pure
We e ntitle the svnthesis of the manifold in imagination transcendental, if sensible concepts . No imag e cou ld ever be adequate to th e conce pt of a
without distinction of intuitions it is directed ex clusively to th e a priori triangle in gen eral. It would never atta in that universality of the concept
com bination of th e manifold; and th e unity of this synthesis is called which re nders it valid of all tri angles, whether right-angl ed, obtuse-angled,
transcendental, if it is represented as (j priori necessary in relation to the or acute-angled; it would always be limited to a part only of this sphere. The
or iginal unit y o f apperception . Sinc e thi s unity of apperception un derl ies schema of th e tri angle can exist nowhere but in thought . It is a rule of
the po ssibility of all knowledge, th e transcendental unit)' of the syn th esis of synthes is of th e im agin ation, in respect to pure figures in spac e. Still less is
im agination is the pure form of all possibl e knowled ge ; and by means of it an object of exp erien ce or its image ever adequate to the em pirical concept;
all obj ects of possible expe rien ce mu st be r epresented a priori. ~ for this latter always stan ds in immediate rel ation to the schem a of imagina­
The unity if apper ception m relation to th e !!ynt hesis ?I
Imaginati on is th e tion , as a rule for th e determination of our intuition, in accordance with
understanding ; and this same uni ty, with referen ce to th e transcendental som e specific uni versal con cept. Th e conce pt 'dog ' signifies a rule according
sym hesis of th e im agination , th e p ure understanding . In th e und er standing to which my imagination can delin eate the figure of a four-footed animal in
there are th en pure a pnori modes of knowledge whi ch conta in the nec­ a geocra l manner, 'witho ut limitation to any Single de term inate figur e such as
essary unity of the pure synth esis of imagination in re spect of all possible exper ience, or any p ossible image that I can rep resent in concreto , actu ally
app earan ces. These ar e th e caugories , that is, the pure con ce pts of pre sents. Thi s schematism of our trndersta nding, in its appli cation to
understanding. Th e em pir ical faculty of knowledge in man must therefore appearance s and their mere form , is an art concealed in th e depths of th e
contain an un derst andi n g wh ich r elat es to all object s of th e senses , altho ugh human soul, wh ose r eal modes of acti vitv nature is hardlv likelv ever to allow
only by ' means of intuition and of its synthesis through imagination . us to discover, and to have open to au/ gaze . This much only 'we can assert;
All appearances , as data fo r a possible ex pe r ience , ar e subje ct to this th e ima8e is a product of th e em pirical faculty of reproductive imagination;
under standin g. Thi s relation of appearances to po ssible ex pe rience is ind eed the schema of sensible co ncepts, suc h as of figures in space, is a product and ,
necessary, fo r otherwise th ey would yield no kn owledge and would not as it were, a monogram, of pure a prior: imagination , through which, and in
in any way co ncer n us. We have , therefore , to recognise that pure under ­ ~ccordance with wh ich , images thems elves first become possible . These
Images can be conne ct ed with the co ncept only by means of the schem a to
standing , by means of th e categories, is a for ma l and synth etic principle
of all experiences, and th at app ea rances have a necessary rela tion to the which th ey belong. In th em selves th ey are n ever com pletely congr uent with
the concept. On th e other hand, the schem a of a pure concept of
understanding .
unders tanding can nev er be br ought into any image whatsoever. It is simply
* the pure syn the sis, det ermined by a rule of that unity, in accordance with
[ . ..J For we have seen that con cepts ar e altogethe r imp ossibl e, and can concepts , to which the cat egory gives ex pression. It is a transcendental
have no meaning, if no obj ect is given for th em , or at least for the elemen ts ~r oduet of im agination, a product which concer ns the determination of
of which th ey are co m pose d. Th ey cann ot , therefore, b e view ed as app li­ In: er sense in general according to conditi ons of its form (time) , in respect
cable to thin gs in themselves, ind ep end ent of all question as to wh eth er and of all r epresentations, so far as these representations are to be connected a
how th ese may bc gi ven to us. We have also pro ved t hat the onl y manner prion in one con cept in confor m ity with the unity of apperception .
in whi ch obj ects can be given to us is b v m odi ficati on of out' sen sib ilit v;
and finally, that pure: a priori con cepts: in add ition t o th e func tion ;)f NOTE
understanding e x pressccl in the cat~gor y, must co nta in a prio ri c er ta in 1. All footn ote s ha ve been re m oved from th is passage.
·'';'8 : I MAGES

many modern poets, who attempt to rival the painter at a point where they
mus~ necessarily be surpassed by him.

I reason thus; if it is true that in its imitations painting uses compl etely

different means or signs than does poetry, namely ngures and colors in space

rather than articulated sounds in time, and if these signs must indisputably

bear a suitable relation to the thing signified, then sign s existing in space can

express only objects whose wholes or parts coexist, while signs that follow


2 ~


one another can express only objects whose wholes or parts are consecutive.
The production of ideas , of conceptions, of consciousness, is at first directly
Objects or parts of objects which exist in space are called bodies.
interwoven with the material activity and the material intercourse of men,
Accordingly, bodies with their visible properties are the true subjects of
the language of real life. Conceiving, thinking, the m ental intercourse of
men, appear at this stage as the direct efflux of their material behaviour.

The same applies to mental production as expressed in the language of

Objects or parts of obj ects which follow one another arc called actions.
politics, laws, morality, religion, m etaphysics, etc. of a people. Men are the
Accordingly, actions are the true subjects of poetry.
producers of their conceptions, ideas , etc. - real , active men, as they are
However, bodies do not exist in space only , but also in time . They persist in
conditioned by a definite development of their productive forces and of the
time, and in each moment of their duration they may assume a different
intercourse corresponding to these, up to its furthest forms. Consciousness
appearance or stand in a different combination. Each of these momentary
can never he anything else than con scious exist en ce , and the existence of
appearances and combinations is the result of a preceding one and can be the
men is th eir actual life-process . If in all ideology men and their
cause of a subs equent one, which means that it can be, as it were, the center
circumstances appear upside-down as in a camera obscure, this phenomenon
of an action. Consequently, painting too can imitate actionsv but only by
arises just as mu ch from their historical life-process as the inversion of
suggestio n through bodies.
objects on the retina does from their physical life-process.
On the other hand, actions cannot exist ind ependently, hut must be joined
In direct contrast to German philosophy which descends from heaven to
to certain beings or things . Insofar as these beings or things are bodies , or
earth, here we ascend from earth to heaven, That is to say, we do not set
ar e treated as such, poetry also depicts bodies, but only by suggestion
out from what men say, imagine, conceive, nor from men as narrated,
through actions.
thought of, imagined, conceived, in order to arrive at men in the flesh. \Ve
set out from real, active men, and on the basis of their real life-process
Painting can usc only a single moment o f an action in its coexistmg

we demonstrate the development of the ideological reflexes and echoes

compositions and must th erefore choose the one which is most sugge stive

of this life-process. The phantoms formed in t}1C human brain are also,
and from which the preceding and succeeding actions are most easily

necessarily, sublimates of their material life-process, which is em pirically

com prehensible .
w:rifiable and bound to material premises. Morality, religion, metaphysics,
Similarly, poetry in its progressive imitations can use only one Single
all the rest of ideology and their corresponding forms of consciousness,
property of a body. It must therefore choose that one which awakens the
thus no longer retain the semblance of independence. They have nO
most vivid image of the body, looked at from the point of view under which
history, no development; but men, developing their material production
poetry can best use it. From this comes the rule concerning the harmony of
and their material intercourse, alter, along with this their real existence,
descriptive adjectives and economy in description of physical objects.
their thinking and the products of their thinking. Life is not d etermined
I should put little faith in this dry chain of reasoning did 1 not find it by consciousness, but consciousness by life. In th e first method of
app~oach the starting-point is consciousness taken as the living individual;
completely confirmed by the procedure of Homer, or rather if it had not
In the second method, which conforms to real life, it is the real living
been just this procedure that led me to my conclusions. Only on these
principl es can th e grand style of the Greek be defined and explained, and mdiYiduals themselves , and consciousness is considered solely as their
co nscio usness.
only thus can the proper position be assigned to the opposite style of sO

Gottbold Ephrram Lessm g, Laocoon /1n 6 .'Oaf oil {he Lrmus if P131."ltJng and Poetry; tr. Edw~yQ Allen
McCormick . Baltirn ore, MD : Johns H opkins Un;v"r ,'ty Press. 193 1·, PI." 7~:-'" © 19 84 John, Hopkms Karl Ma.rx and Prledrrc k Engd."i . fro m ' Feuer-bach ". In Th ~ (ser mon ldl.:oJ0!JX 2nd edn , (.~{ 1. C. ]. Art hu r.
Uriivcr-srtv Press. Rc prf n t c.d wrth per mi s.~ ion of Th e [ohns Hop kin=- U n n· ( ~r:-'lt) · Press. l (md o n ; Law ren ce & Wishar-t , 1974, p. 47 . Translan on :D t 9 70 LA.....-ren ce & W ish ar-t ,
::, () : I MAGE S F ROM KA N T TO FREUD: ~'> l

THE FETISHISM OF COMMODITIES AND A commodity is th erefore a myst erious thing, sim ply becaus e in it th e


social char acter of m en's labour app ears to them as an objective character
stamped up on the pr oduct of that labour ; beca use th e relati on of th e
ro d ucer~ to th e sum total of th eir own labo ur is pr esent ed to th em as a
A commodit y appea rs, at [irst sight , a very tri vial thing, and easily ~oc ial relation, existing not bet ween th em selves, but be tween th e pr oducts
understood. Its analysis shows that it is, in reality, a ver y que er thing , of the ir labour. Thi s is the reason why th e p rodu cts of labour become
ab ounding in metaphysical subtleties and th eolo gical niceties. So far as it is commod ities, social th ings whose qu alities are at the same time perceptible
a value in use , there is nothing myst erious abo ut it, whether we con sider it and imp er cep tible by the senses . In th e same way the light from an object
from th e point of view th at by its properties it is capable of satisfying human is perceived by us not as th e subjective excitatio n of o ur optic nerve , but
wants, or from th e poin t th at tho se properties are th e product of human as the objective form of some thing outside the e ye itself. But , in th e act of
labour. It is as clear as noon-day, th at man , by his industry, changes th e forms seeing, th ere is at all eve nts, an actu al passage of light from on e thing to
of the mat eri als furn ishe d by Nature, in such a way as to make th em useful another, fro m the external object to th e eye . There is a physical relation
to him .Th e form of wood, for instance, is altered , by maki ng a tabl e out of betwe en phv sica] things. But it is different with commo dities. There , the
it . Yet, for all that , the table contin ues to be that commo n, eve ry-day th ing, existence of th e thi ngs qua commo d ities, and th e value -r elation bet ween
wood . But , so soo n as it ste ps forth as a commodity, it is changed into the produ cts of labo ur wh ich ~tamps th em as commo di ties, have absolutely
som ething transcendent. It not only stands wi th it s feet on the ground, but, no conn ection with the ir physical properti es and with the mat erial
in relation to all other comm odities, it stands on its head, and evolv es out of relations ari sing therefrom. There it is a definit e social relation between
its wooden br ain grote sg LIe ideas , far mo re wo nderful than 'table- tu rning' men , that assumes , in their eyes , th e fantastic form of a relation between
ever was. things. In orde r. th erefore , to find an analogy, we must have re course to
the mi st-envelop ed reg ions of the religiOUS wo rld . In that world th e
The mystical cha rac te r o f comm odities does not originate , therefore, in
productions of t he hu man br ain app ear as indep end en t b eings endowed
their use- valu e. Just as littl e do es it proceed from the nature of the
with life, and ente ring into relation both with one another and the human
determining factors of valu e. For, in th e first place, however varied the
race. So it is in th e world of com modities with the produ cts of m en's
useful kind s of labour, or productive activ itie s, may be , it is a physiological
hands. This J call the Fetishism which atta ches itse lf to the products of
fact , that th ey are functions of the human organism , and that each suc h
labour, so soo n as th ey are pr odu ced as commodities, and which is
function , whatever m ay be its nature or form , is essentially the expen diture
therefore insep arable from the production of com mo dities.
of human brain , nerves, mu scles, &c. Secondly, w ith r egard to that whic h
forms the gr ound -work for the quantitati ve determination of value, nam ely, This Fetishism of commod ities has its orig in , as th e for egOing analysis has
the duration of th at expenditure , or th e qu antity o f labour, it is qu ite clear already show n, in the peculiar social char acter of th e labour that produces
that there is a palp able difference b et ween its quantity and quality. In all them .
states of society, the labour-t im e tha t it costs to produce the means of As a general rul e , ar ticles of utility becom e commodities, only because they
subsistence, mu st necessarily be an obje ct of inte res t to m ankind , though are products of the labour of private individuals or groups of individuals
not of equ al interes t in different stages of development. And lastly, from th e who carryon their work independently of each other. The sum total of the
moment that me n in any way work for one anothe r, th eir labou r assumes a l~bour of all these private individuals form s the aggregate labour of socie ty.
social for m . Since the pro ducers do not co me int o social contact with each othe r until
Whence , then , ar ises th e e nigmatica l charac ter of the product of labou r, r.hey exchange their products , the specific social characte r of each pro ducer 's
so soon as it assumes the form of com mo dities? Clea rly from this form labour does not show itself except in the act of exc hange . In oth er words,
itself. The equality of all sor ts of hum an labou r is exp resse d objectively by. the labour of the individual asser ts itself as a par t of th e labour of societv
their products all being equally values; th e meas ure of th e expenditure of onIy by m eans of th e relation s which the act of exc hange establishes directly
labour-power by the du ration of that expenditure, takes th e form of the between th e pr odu cts, and indirectly, through them , between the producer s.
quantity of value of the pr odu cts of labou r ; and finally, th e mutual relations T~ the latter, therefor e, the relations connecting th e labour of one individual
of the producer s, withi n which th e social charact er of th eir labour affirrns With that of the rest appear, not as dir ect social relati ons between individuals
itself, take th e form of a social relation b etween the products. at work, hut as what th ey really are, mater ial relatio ns between persons and
.,: ad al rel ation s between things. [. .. J
I-fc:nce, when we bring th e products of ou r labour into rel ation with each
Ka rl M olTX, fr o )')'} ' The r(·t j ~h is1T1 o f co m m o d it ies and t he $Cl' Tc t tlwf(:uf '. JIJ (;«Fa ,,1, Vol. l , §. 4 , other as values, it is not because we sec in the se articles the mat er ial
(r, S. Mo or e am i E. Avc ling. London : Charles H . Ke rr & Co. , 19 1'). pro H1-4 lInd 8 5- 6 . C op yr-ig h t 1906 . receptacles of hom ogen eous human labour. Q uite the contrary ; wh en ever,
:', 2 :I M A G E S

by an exchange, we equat e as value s our different products, by that ver)' 3. The rea l world , unattainabl e , undemonst rable, cannot b e promised, but
act, we also equate , as hu man labour, the different kinds of labour even w hen m erely thought of a consolation, a duty, an imperat ive.
expended upon them. \Ve are not aware of thi s, nevertheless we do it.
(Funda me ntally the same old sun , but shining th rough mist and
Value, therefor e , do es not stalk about with a label describing what it is. It
scepticism ; th e idea gr own sublime , pale , northerly, Konigsbergian .)2
is value , rather, that conv erts every product into a social hieroglyphic.
Late r on, we try to decipher the hier oglyphic, to ge t behind the sec ret of 4. The real wo rld -- unattainable? Un attained , at any rat e . And if un attained
our ow n social pr oducts; for to stamp an o bject of utility as a valu e, is just also unknown. Consequ ently also no consolatio n, no redemption, no d uty :
as m uc h a social product as language. The recen t scien tific discovery, how could we have a d uty toward s some thing unkno wm?
th at th e products of labour, so far as they ar e values, ar c but mat erial (Th e g rey of dawn. First yawnings of r eason . Cockcrow of positi vism .) l
ex press ions of the hum an labour spe nt in th eir pr oduction , m arks, ind eed , 5.The 'real world ' - an idea no longer of any usc, not even a duty any longer _
an epoch in the history of th e development of th e human rac e, but, by no an idea gro wn usel ess, supe rfluo us , consequently a refuted idea: let us
means, dissipates the mi st through wh ich the social charac ter of labour abolish it !
appe ars to us to be an obj ective character of th e pr oducts them selves. Th e
fact, that in th e parti cular for m of p roduction with whi ch we are d ealing, (Broa d daylight; breakfast ; r eturn of cheerfuln ess and bon sens; Plato
blushes for shame; all free spirit s run riot.)
viz ., th e production of com modi t ies, th e spe cific social char acter of privat e
labo ur car r ied on independ ently, consist s in th e equality of every kind of 6. We have abo lishe d th e re al wo rld: what world is left? th e appare nt wo rld
that labour, by virtue of it s bein g human labou r, which characte r, perhap s? . . . But n o! with th e real world we have also abolish ed th e appar ent world!
th erefore, assumes in the product th e form of value - this fact appears to (Mid-day ; moment of th e shor test shadow ; end of the longest error;
th e producers, notwithstanding the discovery above referred to, to be ju st zenith of mankind; [NCIPIT Z ARAT H USTRA. )+
as re al and final, as th e fact, that, after th e discover y by science of th e
com pone nt gases of air, th e atm osphere it self rem ained un altered . NOTES
1. The tru th Wahrh eil, correspo nding to wahreWelt real worl d .
NOTE 2. That is, Kantian , from the northerly German ci ty in which Kant was born and

1. All footnotes have been removed from this passage. in which he lived and died .

3. Here meaning empi r icism, philo soph y founded on observation and

experiment .
4 . Here begins Zara thu stra. [. . . J




I .Th e real wo rld , attainable to the wise , the piou s, the vir tuo us man - he

dw ells in it, he is it.

What then is truth ? A mov able host of metaphors, metonymies, and
(O ldest form of th e idea, rel ativ ely se nsible, Sim ple , convinci ng. anthropomorphisms: in sho r t, a sum of human relations which have been
Tra nsc riptio n of the proposit ion ' I, Plat o, am the tru th.') 1 poetic ally and rh etorically intensified , transferred, and em bellishe d, and
2. The real wo rl d , un attai n able fo r the moment , but pr omi sed to th e wise, wh ich, after long usage, see m to people to be fixed, canonical, and
th e piou s, the virtuous man (' to the sinner who rep ents'). bind ing. Truths are illusions wh ich we have for gotten ar e illusi o ns ; th ey ar e
(Progre ss of the idea: it grows more refined, more enticing, more metapho rs which have become wor n out and have b een dr ain ed of
in compreh ensible - it becomes a woman, it becomes Chr istian .. .) S(:nsuous for ce, coins which have lost th eir em bOSSing an d are now
considered as metal and no lon ger as coins.

Fl""i ed rich Nietzsche, "Ho w the "r-ea l world) at last. ~' :C ;:UTl (; a m vt h ". in i ;,", lrah [ uI ~h~ !d oh : 0,. H QOt'" to
J. H nl hng c1a)..; . 1 .(H\ (~ f)n : t\;~g u : r: C lasSIC::'.. i96 8 , Pl' . 4-0- 1.
: rtmu , TneA nti-Cim It , !T. R
Phtl osopniu wizh a H r:H Friedrich Niet zsc he . fTorrl rh ilf) .t(Jp ~v (Jr'ld7T(,c!J Sd <:!( ,OM j ;-(J>f/ NJel 7..H.:h(; ~ S() l~book)· ?j":.J-U! l:,ar~r' J J1 70~ . cd. ;)od
Cop)'l"lght © R-I. Holling .l:1\.k. 19 t;A. Re produced by p crrt"H:'i$1011 uf P, ~n .gU1n B()ob Ltd. tr , Danie l Breaz ea le . ..\tlanti ~ : ! J 'ghhmd~, 0:J : I tuma u.tf cs P n~ !'i ~ , i 979 . p . g4,
5 4 : I M A GE S FR OM KAN T T O FREUD : 5 5


I pass now to the study, in bodi es similar to my own, of the str uctu re of that
articular image which I call my body. ] p erceive affer ent nerves whi ch
~ansm i t a disturbance to the nerve cente rs ; then effere nt nerves wh ich start
froIll the cent er, conduct th e disturbance to the periphery, and set in mo tion
\ Ve will assume for th e moment th at we know nothing of theori es of m atter parts of the body or th e body as a wh ole. I question the physiologist and the
and theories of spir it , nothing of the discussions as to th e realit y or ideality psychologist as t o th e pur pose of both kind s. Tht'y an swer that , as th e ce n­
of the exte rnal world. Here I am in the pr esen ce of imag es, in th e vaguest trifugal movem ents of th e n er vou s syste m can cal! forth a mo vem ent of the
sense of the word , images perceived when my senses are opene d to th em , body or or parts of th e body, so th e ce nt ripe tal mov em ents, or at leas t som e
unp erceived wh en th ey are dosed. All th ese im ages act and r eact upon one of them , gi ve birth to th e representation I of the ex te rnal world . What ar e
another in all th eir elem ent ar y parts accordi ng to constant laws w hich I call we to think of this?
laws o f natur e, and, as a p erfect knowl edge of th ese Jaws would probably The afferent ner ves are images, the br ain is an image, the disturbance traveling
allow us to calculate and to foresee wh at wi ll happ en in each of th ese throu gh the sensory ner ves and propagated in the brain is an image too. If th e
images, th e fut ur e of th e im ages must be containe d in their present and will image which I term cerebral disturbance really begot ex te rn al images, it
add to th em nothing ne...v. would con tain th em in o ne way o r another, and the rep resentation of th e
Yet there is one of them which is distinct fro m aU the others, in that I do not who le material uni verse would be im plied in th at of this molecul ar
know it onl y from without by perceptions, but from within by affections: it movement . Now to state this prop osition is eno ugh to show its absur dity.Th e
is my body. I exam ine the condit ions in w hich th ese affections are pr oduced: brain is part of the materi al wo rld ; the material world is not part of the brain.
I find th at th ey always inter pose the mselves b etween the excita tio ns that] Eliminate the image which bears the nam e m aterial world , and you destroy at
receive from without and th e movemen ts whi ch I am about to execut e, as the same time the br ain and the cere bral disturbance which are parts of it .
thou gh th ey had som e und efined influ ence on th e final issue . I pass in r eview Suppose, on the con tra ry, that these two images, th e brain and the cere bral
my differe nt affections: it seems to me that each of them conta ins , aft er its disturb ance , vanish : ex hypothesi you efface only these, that is to say very littl e ,
kind, an invitati on to act , with at th e same tim e leave to wait and even to do an insignificant detail fro m an imm ense picture .Th e picture in its totality, that
n othing. ] look close r : I find movem ents begun , but not ex ecu ted, th e is to say th e wh ole univer se, rem ains. To make o f the br ain the conditi on on
indication of a more or less useful decisio n , bu t no t that con straint whi ch which the w hole image depends is, in truth, a contradiction in terms, since
precludes ch oice . I can up , I co mp are my recollecti ons: I rem ember th at the brain is by hypothesis a part of this im age . Neither ner ves nor nerve
eve ryw her e, in th e o rgan ic world , I have thought] saw this sam e sensibility centers can , then, condition th e image of the universe.
appea r at the very m om en t when n ature , haVing con ferred up on th e liVing Let us consider this last point. Her e are ex ternal images, then my body, and,
be ing the pow er of m obility in space, gives warning to th e species, by m eans lastly, the changes brought abo ut hy my body in the surrounding images. I
of sensation, of th e ge nera l dan ger s which threaten it , leaVing to the See plainly how external imag es influ ence the image that r call my b ody: th ey
ind ividual th e pr ecaution s necessar y for escapin g from th em. Lastly, I transmit movement to it. And I also see how th is bo dy influ ences external
int errogat e my consciousnes s as to th e part which it plays in affec ti on : images: it gives back movement to them. My body is, ~h en, in th e aggregate
consciousn ess r eplies th at it is present ind eed , in th e for m o f feeling or of
sensati on , at all th e step s in which I b elieve that I take the initi ative , and th at
0: ~h e m aterial worl d, an image w hich acts like other im ages, re ceiving and
gJ\'mg back m ovement, w ith, perhaps , thi s differen ce only, that my body
it fades and disappea rs as soon as my activity, by becoming auto matic, shows appear s to choose, wi th in cer tain lim its the manner in which it shall restore
th at consc io usn ess is n o lon ger neede d . Th er efore, ei ther all th ese ~v ha t it receives. But how could m y bod~ in general , and my ner vous system
ap pear ances are dece pt ive, or the act in which th e affecti ve state issues is not In partk-ular, b eget the who le o r a part of my representation of th e universe?
o ne of th ose wh ich might b e r igo ro usly de d uced from anteced ent
phenomena, as a mo vem ent from a m ovement; and, hence , it really adds
:ou may say that my body is matt er, or that it is an image : th e word is of no
Impon ance. If it is matt er, it is a part of th e materi a! world ; and th e material
something new to the uni verse and to its hist or y. Let us hold to the ~vo rld , con sequen tly, exists around it and with ou t it. If it is an im age, that
appearanc es ; I will formulat e purely and sim ply w hat I feel and what I see : ITna? c can give bu t what has been put into it , and since it is , by hypothesis,
All seems to tak e place as if, i n this 0fJ8 , e8ate if images which 1 call t he universe, the Image of my bo dy only, it would be absurd to exp ect to get fro m it that
notbln8 , cally new could happ en except through th e m edium if certa in particular of the wh ole uni verse. My body , an obj ect destin ed to move other objects, I S, th en,
Images, the ty pe if whic h lSJurnlshed me by my body a center if action; it cannot give birth to a reprl?.> enw tion.

H enr-i R ~. rgs.o n. 'Of the selectio n o f i mag e~ for con sciou s p resen tat ion . What o ur h'.xly mt~ ., n~ and docs' .
But if my bod y is an o bjec t capable of exercising a genuine and therefore a
HI ,~au ~r an d ;}fcn:lO r)' ~ tr. Na ncy Margar et Paul .md Vy: Scou Palme r. Nc ....' Yor k - Z(JJ\t: Bo ok s, 199 1, new acti on upon th e sur rounding objects, it ~ u st occu py a l~ ri vil cged
pp . 17- 22. Re pr-oduced b.y pcr nu sslo n of Z on e UQ()k ~ . position in re gard to t hem. As a r ule , any image mfluences ot her Images in

a manner which is determined, and even calculable, through what are called of the drcam by reference to its content. We are alone in confronting a
the laws of nature . As it has not to choose, so neither has it any need to different state of affairs ; as we see it, there is a new kind of psychical
explore the region round about it, nor to try its hand at several merely material intervening between the content of the dream and the results of
eventual actions. The necessary action will take place automatically, when its our reflections: the latent dream-content reached by our procedure, or the
hour strikes. But] have supposed that the office of the image which I call my dream-thoughts. It is from this latent content, not the manifest, that we
body was to exercise on other images a real influence, and , consequentl y, to \\'orked out the solution to the dream. This is why a new task faces us which
decide which step to take among several which are all materially possible. did not exist before, the task of investigating the relationship of the manifest
And since these steps are probably suggested to it by th e greater or lesser dream-cont(~nt to the latent dream-thoughts, and of tracing the processes by
advantage which it can derive from the surrounding images , these images which the former turned into the latter.
must display in some ,,'ay, upon the aspect which th ey present to my body, The dream-thoughts and th e dream-content lie before us like two versions
the profit which my body can gain from them . In fact, I note that th e size, of the same content in two different languages, or rather, the dream-content
shape, even the color, of external objects is modified as my body approaches looks to us like a translation of the dream-thoughts into another mode of
or recedes from them; that the strength of an odor, the intensity of a sound, expression, and we are supposed to get to know its signs and laws of
increases or diminishes with distance; finally, that this very distance grammatical construction by comparing the original and the translation.
represents, above all , the measure in which surrounding bodies are insured, Once we have learnt what these are, the dream-thoughts will be easy for us
in some way, against the immediate action of my body.To the degree that my to understand without any further ado. The content of the dream is given as
horizon widens, the images which surround me seem to be painted upon a it were in the form of hieroglyphs whose signs are to be translated one by
more uniform background and become to me wore indifferent. The more I one into the language of the: dream-thoughts. We would obviously be misled
narrow this horizon , the more the objects which it circumscribes space if we were to read these signs according to their pictorial value and not
themselves out distinctly according to the greater or lesser ease with which according to their referentiaiity as signs . Suppose I have a picture-puzzle, a
my body can touch and move them. They send back, then, to roy body , as rebus , before me: a house with a boat on its roof, then a Single letter of the
would a mirror, its event ual influence; they take rank in an order alphabet, then a running figure with his head conjured away, and the like.
corresponding to the growing or decreasing powers of my body. The objects Now I could fall into the trap of objecting that this combination and its
which surround my body rdleet its pOSSible action upon them. constituent parts are nonsense. A boat docs not belong on the roof of a
[... ] I call matter the aggregate if images, and perception of matter these same house and a person without a head cannot run; besides, the person is bigger
J mages rqerred CO the eventual action if one particular image, my body. than the house , and if the whole is supposed to represent a landscape, then
Single letters of the alphabet do not fit in there, as they certainly do not
NOTE occur in Nature. Obviously the correct solution to the rebus can only be
1. The word representation is used throughout . . . in the French sense, as reached if I raise no such objections to the whole or to the details, but take
meaning a mental picture, which mental picture is very often perception. the trouble to replace each picture by a syllable or a word which, through
(Translators' note.) some association, Can be represented by the picture. The words connected
in this way are no longer nonsense, but can yield the most beautiful and
lUeaningfu I po etic saying. The dream is a picture-puzzle of this kind, and our
rred~cessors in the field of dream-interpretation made the mistake of
Judging th e rebus as if it were a pictorial composition . As such, it seemed to
them to have no meaning or value .

Until now every other effort to solve the problems presented by dreams has The first thing the investigator comes to understand in comparing the
latched directly on to the dream's manifest content as it is present in the drea.m-content with the dream-thoughts is that work if condensation has been
memory, and has attempted to use this as the basis of an interpretation; or, earned OUt here on a grand scale. The dream is scant, paltry, laconic in
if it dispensed with an interpretation, it sought to substantiate its judgement COmparison to the range and abundance of th e dream-thoughts. Written
clown , the dream will fill half a page; the analysis c()ntain~~g rh e dream­
thoughts -vlll require six, eight, twelve times as much space. if he r~ti o. varies
for diffen :nt dreams; as far as r can check, it never chan ges I ts inte nt.
Sigmund Fre ud, from "Dr -ea m \v-or k". in The Imapraati o(l (IDuanl.l" . tr. Jo)'(;,: Cri ck, Oxford: Ox.font
Un ivc r sit )' Pres s, 1999 , pp . 2 1 1- 1.2. 2 32 - 5 an d 254· .6 . Tran:-;btion c.. :<.> py r ig ht (i':; jny<.: \: Ct ·i,,:k, 1'=-)99 . As a rule, in taki ng t he dream-thoughts brought to light to be aU'tlw
Rep roduced by pe r -mission o f O xfo rd Llmver stty. Prcss. dream -material there is, one is underestimating the degree of compr<.;ssioll
~) 8 : I M A G E S FROM KANT TO FREUD : ~~ 9

that takes place, whereas further work of interpretation is able to reveal further, as from the outset it leaves no room for thinking that thes e two
fresh thoughts hidden behind the dream. We have already had to note that fact or s in selecting elements for the dr eam - multiple determination and
actually one is never certain of having interpreted a dream in its entirety; inherent value - must necessarily work along the same lines to produce the
even when the solution seems satisfying and complete, it is always possible same meaning. 1t supposes that the ideas which are the most important in the
for a further meaning to announce its presence through the same dream . dream-thoughts are likely to be the ones that recur in them most often, for
The quota tj' condensation is thus, strictly speaking , indeterminabl e. One the particular dr eam -thoughts radiate from them as it were from a centre.
conclusion to be drawn from this disproportion between dream-content and And yet the dream can rej ect these elements, even though they are
dream-thoughts might be that a wholesale condensation of the psychical emphasized so intensely and reinforced so variously, and it can take up into
material takes place during the dream's formation. [... J its content other elements which are characterized by the second quality,
inherent value, alone.
While we were collecting examples of dream-condensation, another (·.. 1
relationship , probably no less significant, must alread y have caught our The thought suggests itself that a psychical power is operative in the
attention. We could not fail to observe that the elements pushing to the fore dream-work which on the one hand strips the psychically valuable elements
in the dream-content as essential components certainly did not play the same of their int ensity, and on the other creates new values by way if OJ'eT­
part in th e dream-thoughts. As a corollary, this sta tement can also be determmation out of elements of low value; it is the new values that then reach
reversed .What is clearly essential in the COntent of the dream-thoughts does the dream-content. If this is what happens, then a trangerence and displacement
not need to be represented in the dream itself at all. The dream, one might rd the psycbical intensi0' of the individual elements has taken place; as a
say, is centred differently; its content is ordered around a centre made up of consequence, the difference between the texts of the dream-content and the
elements other than the dream. thoughts. [... ] In my patient's Sappho dream, dream-thoughts makes its app earance. The process we are assuming here is (he
[for ex ampl e], climbing up and down, bemg up above and down below are mad e to essential part of the dream-work; it has earned the name of dream-displacement.
be its cen tre ; but in fact the dream deals with sexual relations \vith persons Dream-displacement and dream-condensation ar e the two foremen in charge of the
of the lower orders, so th at only one of the elements in the dream-thoughts dream-work, and we may put the shaping of our dreams down mainly to their
seems to have entered the dream-content, but then to an undue extent. [. ,.J ,
Dreams of this kind give the impression of displacement with good reason. In
complete contrast to the se exam ples, the dream of Irma's injection shows *
that in the formation of a dream indi vidual elements are also ahle to r et ain So far we have been occupied with exam ining how the dream represents
the pla ce they occupy in the dream-thoughts. When we firs t recognize this relations between the dr eam -thoughts, but in doing so we frequently
new relation, which is entirely variable in meaning, between dream- thoughts returned to the broader topic of the general nature of the changes
and dream -content, it is likely to fill us with astonishment . If in the course of undergone by the dream-material for the purposes of dream-formation.
some normal psychical process we find on e idea being Singled out from many Now we know that the dream-material , largely divested of its logical
others and becoming particularly vivid in our co nsciousness, we usually relations, und ergoes a con centrat ion , while at the same tim e displacements
regard this success as proof that it has been accorded the especially high of intensitv among it s elem ent s n ece ssarily bring ab out a p sychical
psychical value (a certain degree of interest) which is its due. But now we transvaluation of this material. The displacements we were considering
discover that this value accorded to particular elements in the dream-thoughts turned out to be substitutions of one particular idea by another somehow
is not retained or not taken into account in forming a dream. After all, th ere dosely associated with it; and they were useful in condensation, for in this
is no doubt as to which are the most valuabl e elements in the dream­ way, instead of two el ements, an int ermediate factor com mon to them both
thoughts ; our judgement needs no help to tell us. But in dream -formation g~i ned entry to the dr eam . We have n ot yet mentioned another kind of
these essential elements, charged though they are with intense interest, are (hsplacement. But we Jearn from our analyses that th ere is such a thing, and
dealt wi th as if they were of little value, and instead their place is taken in the that it makes its presence known in a transposition in the words used to express
dream by other elements which certainly had little value in the dream­ the thought concerned . In both cases it is a matter of displacement along a
thoughts. At first this gives the impression that the p sychical intensity' of the chain of associations, but th e same procedure tak es place in different
particular ideas was not taken into consideration at all. in their sele ction for psychical spheres, and the result of thi s displacement is that in one case on e
the dream , but only the varying nature and (!egree ol the ir determination. : lerncn t is replaced by another, whil e in the other one elem ent exc?anges
What enters the dream , one might think, is n ot what b important in the Its verbal formulation for another.
dream-thoughts, but what appears frequently a~d variously in 0em, However, This .i~F ond kind of displ acement occurring in the f?rmation of drc:ams is
thi s assum ption wi ll not, take OlU- under~taodJng of drearn -fon nation much not ocily of gn~at theo retical interest ; it is also parllcularly well sUlted"'to
6 0 : IMA GES

ex plain the app earance of fantastic absur dity in which dream s disguis.
themselves. As a rule , the displacem ent [ollows the dir ecti on taken when
co lourless and abstract ex pre ssion of th e dream -th ought is ex change d for
pict orial and concrete on e . The advantage, and thu s th e intenti on of t
substi tution, is obvious. For the dream , what is pictorial is capable ~
representation, can be integrated into a situation whe re an abstract expressioj
would cause similar difficulties for the dream -r epresentation to those ii
political leadin g ar ticle , say, would make for an illu strated new s-magazin
But not only representabilitv has to gain from thi s ex cha nge ; th e sever,
interest s of con densation and the censors hip are able to do so too . O nce
abstract, unusable thought is transformed into a picto ri al language, th ~
co ntacts and identities whic h the dream -work requires - and will creats
where th ey are not present - come abo ut bet ween thi s new expression an
th e rest o f th e dr eam -m ateri al more easily than before, for langu age ha;
develop ed in such a way th at the concrete words of every language are fa}
richer in associa tions than its conceptual term s. O ne can imagine tha t
good bit of th e intermediary work in th e pro cess of dr eam -formation talo
place in thi s way - by appropriate Linguistic transfor m ation of th e ind ividu
th ough ts - for it aims at reducing the separate dr eam -thought s to th e mo
eco nomical and unified expression possible in the dream . !... ]
TWO ••
1.The psychical intensity, value, weight of inte rest , of an idea is of course to
kept separate from the sensory intensity of its represent ation .


Telev ision: M ultil ayered Structur e Karl Marx and Friedrich .Engels (2.3) ini tiated a .traditi on of SOCial analysis
3: I Theodor Adorno that sees: ideo logy as pervading and distorting human relations and
consciousness. lri their initial critique of 'German ideology', the version of
Soci ety of the Spectacl e
Hegelian thought popular in Germany in th eir tim e, they argued that the
3:2 Guy De bord
hilosophers had an inverted vision .of reality because they im agined that
The Precession of Simula cra ideas change the world. Hence, the Cerrnan ideol ogists' phil osophi cal
3:3 Jean Baudrillard critique of-the 'false conceptions' and .'chimeras ' in the ruli ng ideas was
useless, because it did not change the material cond itions reflected by those
Image as Com mod ity ideas, Marl' did not him self develop further the notion of ideol ogy, the term
3:4 redric Jameson 'false consciousness ' being a later inventio n. But W.J.T. M itchell (1986) and
others argue that M arx's (2 .4) analysis of the capitalist commodi ty as a
' Race' and Natio n mysterious fetish is, like ideology critiq ue, part of M arx's iconoclastic
3:5 'auf Gilroy critique of capitalist idolatry. M arx moves from the mental idolatry of the
inverted ideas of the German idealist philosophers to the material idolatry of
Never Just Pictur es commodities. Mitthe ll l l .986: 4) claims that 't he noti on of ideol ogy is rooted
3:6 Susan Bordo in the concept of imagery, and reenacts the ancient struggles of iconoclasm,
idolatry, and fetishisrn' . Ideology critique thus entails the problems discussed
in the introduction to Section 1. ' ' . .. .
Ideology critique is also an analysis of th ~ power relations invo lved in the
reproduction of capitalism, w hich legitimates itself by means of a set of
:uling idcas.T1ie critique unmasks those ideas as false, partia l, mythicalor
Imaginary images of capita list society, w hich generally obscure the
contradictions and explo itation in capitalist eco nom ics and class relations. .
Marx's idea of ideology has been developed in many ways, some of which
do not regard ideol ogical consciousness as false, or as an epistemological
error ('zit ek, 1994) . Ideo logy critique has-been a pow erfu l tool for the critical
~ n al ys i s of contemporary ' image culture', particularly useful for unmasking
Images of society, subjectiv ity and human relatio ns broadcast by the mass
media (Nichols, 198 1; Wi lliams, 19 74). Versions of ideo logy critique
adopted in cu ltural and media studies often employ other concepts and
~e t hods of image analysis, such as semiotics and psychoanalysis (see
Introductions to Sections .5 and 7).
~s With Ma rx's analysis of the commod ity, critical theorists focused on the
lorm·of ideo logical representation in order to reveal its ideological function.
Max Horkhei rner and Theodor Adorno (199 3) cri tiqued the capitalist
structure of the 'c ulture industry' as a tool of 'mass deception', whose
landardi sed produc ts rob the audience of their facult ies of ima ginatron and
reflection, turni ng le isure time into the wo rk of consump tion and
onformism. Adorno's (3 . 1) <l ila lysis of the television image lin ks this type of
struclural investigation with Freud's UJI) language (Jf psy choa na lvsts.

The harmonious 'manifest' co ntent of the image masks a contradictory and hape women's sense of self. Susan Bordo (3.6) focuses on the normalising
harmful social reality - the 'l atent' base out of which the image grows. The S ower of images of women's bodi es, such that women embody images, lik e
role of the critic is to describ e the relation ship between these two elements ~ audrjll ard 's simulacra that precede reality. Bordo invokes Plato's (1.4) scene
so that the audienc e can see the social truth behind the image. i the power of images in the cave, but claim s that cultural critics must
If Horkeimer and Adorno had theorised the commodification of mass ~ema in in the cave of mystifying cultural images while trying to demystify
culture, Guy Debord (3.2) concei ves the spectacle, of which the mass media them,
are the most obvious manifestation, as the comm odification of all social li fe.
Analysing, unlike Marx , conditions. of economi c abundan ce rather than REFERENCES .
poverty, he consid ers how workers have become isolated consumers of Baudrillard. J. (1 993) Symbolic Exchange and Death. tr. I.H. Grant. London: Sage.

illusions or pseudo-needs. He also refers back to Marx's key figures of Best, s. (1994) 'The commoditication of reality and the reality of commodification:

ideology, conceiving the social relations of the spectacle as fetishistic. Yet, Baudrillard, Debord, and postmodern theory', in D. Kellner (ed.), Baudr illard : A

he regards the spectacl e not as the inverse image of reality, but as an Crilica l Reader. Oxford: Blackwell. pp. 41- 67.

inversion or negation of 'real' life. a false reality that is thematerial isation of Debord.. G, (19IB ) Society of the Spectacle. Detroit: Black & Red.

ideology. There is also a clear resonance wi th Plato's (1.4) iconoclasm; in Dworkin. A. (1981) Pornography. New York: Perigree Books.

that the 'spectator's consciousn ess' r ls ' imprisoned ... by the screen oh he Fanon, F. (1986) Black Skin, White Mash , tr. C L Markmann. New York: Grove Press.

spectacle' which 'is his "mirror image" (Debor-d. 1983: §2 1B). Horkheimer, M. and Adorno, T. (1993) Di alectic of Enlightenment, tr. J. Cumming.

New York: Continuum.

Jean Baudrlllard (3.3) concurs with Debord 's analysis that ideol ogical images
Jameson. F. (199 1) Postm odernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Cap italism. London:

have lost thei r illus ionary character to becom e reality. But Baudrillard

critic ises Marxi sm and ideology critique for serving as alibi s for the Mitchell, w.rT. (198 6) Ico nology: Image, Text, Ideology , Chicago: University of

disappearance of reality into simulation and hyperreality, Hi s basic argument Chicago Press.

is that both produ ction and signification lose their .connection with realit y, Nichols, B. (1981) Ideology and the Image. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.

such that referent ial value (in respect of use value or the referent) is Williams, R. (1974) Television : Techn ology and Cultura l Form, London: Fontana.

annihilated and everythin g 'collapses-into simulation ' (Baudrillard, J 993: 8). Ziiek, S. (ed.) (1.994 ) Mapping Ideology . London: Verso.

The world that has been transformed into images is-riot a society of the
spectacl e, which is ' a li extensi on of the commodity for m' (Best, 1994: 51),
but is a dernaterlalisation of everyth ing into signs. Following the
ramifications of Byzantine icQ\1oclasm (1.8 to 1.10) to the limit, Haudril lard
con cludes that the hyperrealslmulated irnage does not conceal anything,
so ideology crit ique is redundant.
Fredric Jameson (3.4) adopts ideas from Hor kheimer and Adorno, Debord
and Baudril lard. among many other influences, while retaining a M arxist,
historical materlaltst approach, He expli citly characterises contemporary
spectacl e or image culture, w hich he takes to be the cultural logic of a new,
mul tination al or late stage of capitalism, ,as postmodern. In this .rnode of
capitalism, that is more extensive and intrusive than earlier stages, the
di stinctionbetween economi c base and cultural superstructure is eclipsed,
so that we seem obliged ' to talk about cultural phenomena .. . in business
terms' (Iarneson, 1991: xx i). The commodified media arc central to this
identification, as the market merges with media into an image of social
total ity, legiti mated by the consumption of consumption, of produ cts as
The underl ying approach of ideology critique in revealing that whi ch is
concealed by im ages has proved useful for cultu ral analysis that is not only
or primarily concerned with unveilin g capitali sm . Other forms of
oppression, such as racism and sexism, can be show n to be at work, often
unconsciously, in images. Critical race analysis o~en highlights the visibility
of race (Fanon, 1986). Paul Gilroy (3.5 ) p~ov,dcs ,:n eX<lmpl e of how
ostensibly incl usive images of class, ~i.ti~en shlp or natlonalit~ ideologi call y
conceal racist exclu sions. Feminist cr.J tlcl sm has often been dir ected against
demeaning and reduct ive representations of.wome n .that not only express or
promote sexist attitudes to wome n (Dworkin, 1981, M ulvey, 7.3), but also
66: I M A G E S I D E O L O G Y CRITIQUE : S 7

TELEVISION: MULTILAYERED are somehow allowed to manifest th emselves on the surface in jests, off-colour
remarks , suggestive situati ons, and similar devices. All this interaction of
various levels, however , points in some definit e dir ecti on : the tendency to
channeli;t.e audi ence reaction. Thi s falls in line with the suspicion Widely shar ed ,
A depth-psychological approach to tel evision h as to be focus ed on its
waugh hard to corroborate by exact data , that the majority of television show s
multilayered st ructure, Mass media are not simply the sum total of th e today aim at producing, or at least reproducing, the very smugness, intellectual
act ions they portray or of the messages that radiate fro m th ese actions . Mass passivity and gullibility that seem to fit in . . vith totalitarian creeds even if the
m edia also consist of various layers of m eanings superimpo sed on on e explicit surface message of the shows may be anti -totalitarian .
another, all of which contribute to the effect . True, du e to th eir calculative \Iv'ith the means of modern psychology, we will try to determine th e
nature, these rationalized products see m to b e more clear -cut in their primary prerequisit es of shows e liciting mature , adult, and responsible
m ean ing than authentic works of art, whi ch can never be boil ed down to reactions - implying not only in con te nt but in th e very way things are being
so me unmistakabl e ' message' . But the h eritage of polymo rphic meaning has looked at, th e idea of autono m ous individuals in a free democratic society.
been taken over by cultural industry ina smuch as what it conveys becomes We perfectly reali ze that any d efinition of such an individual will be
itsel f o rganized in order to enthral th e spectators on var ious psychological hazardous; but we know quit e w ell what a human being deserVing of the
levels simultaneously. As a matter of fact, th e hidden m essage may be more appellation ' autonom o us indi vidual ' should n ot be, and this ' not ' is actually
important than th e overt, since this hidd en message will escap e th e controls the focal point of our consideration ,
of consciousness, will not be 'looked throu gh' , will not be ward ed ofT by When we speak of th e multilayered str uctur e of television shows, \ve are
sales r esistance, but is likely to sink into the spectator 's m ind . thinking of various supe rim posed layers of di fferent degrees of manifestness
Probably all th e various levels in mass medi a involve all th e m echani sm s of or hiddenness that ar e utilized by m ass cult ure as a technological means of
co nsci ousness and unconsciousn ess s tressed by p sycho-an alysis . TIle 'handling' the audience . Thi s w as ex pressed felicitously by Leo Lowenthal
differ ence between th e sur face content, th e overt m essage of tel evised when he coine d th e t erm 'p sychoanalysis in reverse ' .Th e implication is that
mat erial , and its hidden m eaning is gener ally m ark ed and rath er clear -cu t. som ehow the psycho analyti c co nce pt of a multilayered personality has be en
Th e ri gid sup erimposition of various layers probably is on e of th e features taken up by cultural industry, and that the con cep t is used in order to
by whi ch m ass media are di stinguishabl e from th e integrated products of ensnare the con sumer as com ple tely as po ssible and in order to engage him
autonomous art , where the various layer s ar e much mor e thoroughly fused. psycho-dynamically in the serv ice of prem editated effects. A clear-cut
Th e full effec t of the material on th e sp ectator canno t be studied w ithout division into allowed gratifications , forbidden g r atifications, and recurrence
conside r ation of the hidden meaning in conjunction with the overt one, of the forbidden gratifications in a somew hat modified and deflected form
and it is precisely this interplay of various layer s whi ch has hitherto is carried through.
been neglec te d and which will be our foc us. Thi s is in accordance w ith the To illustrate the concept of the multilay er ed str uctu re: the heroine of an
assumption shared by num erous soci al scientists that certain political and extremely light co me dy of pranks is a young schoolteacher who is not only
social trends of our time, particularly those of a totalitarian nature , feed to underpaid but is incessantly fined by th e caricature of a pompous and
a co nside r able ex te nt on irrational and frequently un con scious motivations . authoritarian school principal. Thus, she has no money for her meals and is
Whether th e conscious 01 ' the unconscious m essage of our material is more actually starving. Th e supposedly funny situ ations consist mostly of her trying
imp ortant is hard to predict and can he evaluate d only after care ful analysis. to hustle a meal from various acquaintances, but regularly without success. The
'vVe do appreciate, however, that th e overt m essage can be interpreted much ;nention of food and eating seems to induce laughter - an observation that can
m ore ad equat ely in the light of psychodynami cs - that is, in it s relation to ;rcquently be made and in vites a stu dy of its own , 0 vertl y, the play is just slight
instin ctual urges as well as control - than by looking at th e overt in a naive amusem ent mainly provided by th e painful situati ons into which the heroine
way and by ignoring its implications and presupposition s. and ~er arch-opponent con stantly run .The scr ipt do es not try to 'sell' any idea.
The relation betw een overt and hidd en m essage will prove higWy complex Th.e hidden me aning ' em erges sim ply by the way the story looks at human
in practice . Thus, the hidden m essage frequent ly aims at reinforcing b~lngs; thus th e audien ce is invited to look at the character s in the same way
conventionally r igid and 'pseudo -realistic' attftud.e, similar to th e accepted Witho ut being made aware that indoctrination is present. Th e character of the
ideas more rationali stically propagated by the surface message. Convers ely, a underpaid, maltreated schooleeachc r is an att empt to reach a compromise
number of repressed gratifications which playa large ro le O Il the hidden level between preVailing sco rn for thc intellectual and the equally conventionalized
r ~ spc,ct for 'cu lture'. The hero ine shows suc h an intellectual superiority and

-n\<'"OdO l" Ad o -n o , from . He" v to loo k at tdc", l.~ i()n ' . In The Culture Induurr r» (..-d . I . [It'r n;ll;t d n I J

hl~h -spirjtedness th at identification with he r is inv ited, and co mpensation is

l\rnJ\Jl'dg<." 19':)( . pp. 1 64- ~ . 175 -7 . R cprodu ct-.d w ith pcnnb .'I.iotl . Origin all\' Ir 1/ . ,( )O ( on :
oflercd for the inferiority of her position and that of her ilk in the social
J "r . I . . . . •• V lot > ~
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j , , " h Oln Qy f1rr~=
rJ.rFJ Jm,
. 11:•.,} I e RadiO Set-un. .Nol o n l". i.. th.....>n t r " l character supposed to b !..l .ve.n&.c hartnin a h ilI ..h ..
I D E O L O G Y CR IT IQ U E : b 9

wisecracks con stantly. In terms of a set pattern of identificati on , the scr ipt [tu ral and pedagogical problem presented by tel evision , we do not think

implies: 'If you are as humorous, good-natured, qui ck-witted , and charming as ~at the novelty o f th e sp ecifi c finding s should be a pri m ary concern. We

she is, do not worry about being paid a star vation wage .You can cope with your know from p sychoanalysis th at th e reasoning, ' But we know all thi s!' is often

frustration in a humorous way; and your superior w it and clever ness put you a defence . This defence is m ade in order to dism iss inSights as ir rel evant

not only above materia l privations, but also above the rest of mankind' . In other because they ar e actually uncomfortable and make life m ore diffi cu lt for us

words , the script is a shrewd me thod of promoting adjustm en t to humiliating than it alre ady is by shaki ng our conscienc e w hen we are supposed to en joy

conditions by presenting them as objectively comica l and by giving a picture the 'simple pleasures of life ' . Th e investi gatio n of the telev ision problems we

of a person who exp eriences even her own inadequate position as an obj ect have here ind icat ed and illu strat ed by a few examp les select ed at random

of fun apparently free of any resentment. demands , most of all, taki ng ser iously notions dimly familiar to most of us

Of course, this latent m essage cannot be considered as unconscio us in the by putting them into thei r proper co ntext and persp ecti ve and by checking

strict psychological sense , but rather as 'inobtrusive "; thi s message is hidden them by pertinent mater ial. We p ropose to co nce ntra te o n issues of which

only by a style wh ich do es n ot pretend to touch anything serious and we arc vaguely but unco mfortably aware, even at th e expense of OUT

expect s to be r egarded as feath erwei gh t. N e ve rtheless, even su ch discomfort's mounting, th e further and the more syste matically our studies

amus ement tends to set patterns fo r th e m emb er s o f the aud ience w ith out proce ed . 'The effor t here req uir ed is of a m or al nat ure itself: kn OWing ly to

their being aware of it. face psycholog ical mechanisms operating on various levels in ord er not to

become blind and passive victims.'We can change this m edium of far-reaching

[. . . J
potentialities only if we look at it in th e same spirit whi ch we hope w ill one

Here, an obj ection may be raised : is such a sinister effect of the hidd en day be expressed by its imager y.

message of tel evision known to those who control, plan, write and direct
show s? O r it may even be asked: are those traits possible projections of the NOTE
unconscious of the decision -makers' 0\'Vl1 minds acco r ding to-the Widespread 1. Footnotes re moved.
assumption that works of art can be properly und erstood in term s of psy­
chologica l projections of th eir author s? As a m atter of fact , it is thi s kin d of
reasoning th at has led to the suggestion that a specia l socio-psycho logical study
of decision -ma kers in th e field of television b e ma de. We do not think that
such a study would lead us very far. Even in th e sphere of autonomous ar t, the
idea of projection has been largely overrated. Although the authors' motivations
cer tainly enter th e ar ti fact, they are by no m eans so all-d etermining as is often
1. In SOCIetIes w here modern conditions of production prevail, all life

assum ed . As soon as an ar ti st has set himself his problem, it obtains some presents itself as an immense accum ulation of spectacles. Everything that w as

kind of im pact of its own; and, in m ost cases , he has to follow the obj ective directly lived has m oved away in to a representation.

requirements of his product m uch more than his own urge s of exp ression
2. The im ages detached from every aspect of life fuse in a common stream
when he translates his primary conception into reality. To be sure, these
in which the unity of thi s life can no lon ger be reestab lished . Reality
objective requirem en ts do not play a deci sive ro le in m ass media , which stress
considere d pa rtiall)' unfold s, in its own ge nera l un ity, as a pseudo-world
the effect on the spectator far beyond any artistic problem . However, th e total
«pan , an obj ect of m ere con te mp lation . The spe cialization of im ages of th e
set-up her e tends to limit the chances of the ar tists' projections utterly.
world is completed in m e wor ld o f the autonomous im age, w here the liar
Those wh o produce th e material follow, often grumblingly, innumerable
requirem ents, rules of thumb, set patterns , and mechanisms of contro l which
~as lied to himself. Th e specta cle in ge neral, as th e co ncre te inversion of life,
IS the autonom o us movem ent of the non-liVing.
by necessity reduce to a mini m um the ran ge of any kind of artistic self­
express ion. Th e fact that most products of m ass m edia ar e not prod uced by 3. The ~pe eta cl e presen ts it sel f Sim ultaneously as all o f society, as part of
on e individual but bv collective coll aboration - as happ ens to be true with sock ty, and as instrum ent if unifi catIon . As a part o f societ y it is sp ecificallv
most of the illustrations so far discussed - is only one co ntr ibuting factor to the sec tor wh ich co nce ntrates all gazing and all consci o usness . Du e to the
this generally prevailing condition. To study television show s in te rms of the Very fact that thi s sec to r is st>parate , it is th e Com m on gro und of the deceived
p sycho logy of th e auth ors would almost be ta~tamo u nt to stud)i ng Ford cars gaze and of false con sciousness, and the uni fication it achi eves is nothing but
in ter ms of the psych oan alysis of the late Mr fo rd . all Official langu age of ge ne r alized separa tion.

W e do not pretend that the individual iIl ust r~ti ons and ex amples , or th e
• , . , . 'J C 'l are inte rpreted , are basically new. But in view of the
Guy Debor d, from SOCk!} :ith e ,'1:= aclc, I k tm i, : Black & R,,d. 1983 . ""' IS 1- 5 .10<1 21 \.
70 ; I M A G E S I D E O L O G Y CRITIQU E ; ~' ;

4 . The spectacle is not a collection of images, but a social rel ation am ong substance. It is the generation by mod els of a real wi tho ut origin or reality:
peopl e , m ediated by images. a hvpcrrea l. Th e territory no lon ger pr ecedes th e map, no r does it survive
5.Th e spe ctacle cannot be understood as an abuse of the wo rld of vision, as it. 'It is nevertheless the m ap that precede s th e territory - precesslOn if
a produ ct of the techniques of mas s dissemination of inlages. It is, rather, a 51mulacro -- that engenders th e terri tory, and if on e must return to the fable ,

WelranscnauunB which has become actual , materiallv, tran slated . It is a world today it is the territory whose shr eds slowly r ot acro ss the extent of the
vision whi ch has become objectified. map: It is the real, and not the map , who se vestiges persist here and there in
the deserts that are n o longer tho se of th e Empi re, but ours. The desert ?f the
* rea/ltse!f
2 15 .Th e spectacle is ideology par excellence, because it exposes and manifests
in its fullness the essence of all ideolo gical system s: the imp overishment, *
ser vitu de and negation of real life. Th e spe ctacle is materially 'the expression To dissimulate is to pr etend not t o have what on e has .To simulate is to feign
of th e separation and estrangement between man and man .'Through the 'new to have what on e doesn 't have . O ne impli es a pr esen ce, the other an
power of fraud ,' concentrated at the base of the spectacle in this production, absence. But it is mo re co mplicated th an th at because simulating is not
' the new domain of alien being s to whom man is subservi ent . . . grows pretending: 'Whoever fakes an illness can Simply stay in bed and make
coextensively with th e mass of objects .' It is the highest stage of an expansion everyone beli eve he is ill. Whoever simulates an illn ess produces in him self
which has turned need against life. 'The need for money is thu s the real need some of th e symp to ms ' (Littre) . Th erefor e, pretending, or dissimulating,
produced by politi cal economy, and the only need it produces' (Economic and leaves th e principle of realit y int act : the difference is always clear, it is
Philosophical Manuscripts). The spectacle exte nds to all social life the principle simply masked , wh ereas simulation threatens th e difference between th e
which Hegel (in the Realphilosophie of Jena) con ceives as the principle of 'true' and the 'fals e,' the 'real' and the 'im ag inar y.' Is the simulator sick or
mon ey: it is 'the life of what is dead, moving within itself.' not, given that he produ ces 'true ' sympt oms ? Obj ectively one cannot treat
him as being eithe r ill or not ill. Psychol ogy and medi cine stop at thi s point ,
forestalled by th e illness's hen cefor th undiscoverabl e tr uth . For if any
sympt om can be 'pro duce d,' and can no longer be taken as a fact of nature,
then every illn ess can be consid ered as simulatable and simulated , and


medicine loses its meaning since it on ly know s how to treat 'real' illnesse s
according to their objective causes. Psychosom atics evolves in a dubious
mann er at the borders of th e principle of illness . As to psychoanalysis, it
transfers th e symptom
of th e oroanic
order to the unconscious order: th e
The simulacrum is never what hides the truth - it is truth that hides the fact that there is none.
latter is new and taken for 'real' more real than th e other - but why would
The sim ulacr um is tru e. - Ecclesiastes
Simulation b e at th e gates of the uncons ciou s? Why couldn 't the ' ~ork ' of
the lillcon scious b e 'p rod uced ' in the sam e way as any old symp tom of
If once we were able to vievv the Borges fable in which th e car t ographe rs of classical medicin e? Dr earn s alrea dv are.
th e Empir e dr aw up a map so detailed that it ends up cover ing th e ter ritory
exac tly (the d eclin e of th e Empire witnesse s the fraying of this m ap, little by Certainly, the psychiatrist pur por ts th at 'for ever y form of m ental alienation
littl e, and its fall into ruins, though som e shreds are still discer nib le in the ~erc is a particular order in the succession of sym ptoms of which the
deserts - th e metaphysical beauty of thi s ruined abstraction testifying to a Simulator is ignorant and in th e absence of which th e psychiatrist would n ot
pride equ al to the Empire and rotting like a carcass, returning to the he d ~ ceived.' This (which dates from 1865) in orde r to safeguard the
substance of the soil , a bit as the double ends by bdng confused with the real p,rtnclple of a truth at all costs and to escape the interrogation pos ed by
throu gh aging) - as th e mo st beautiful allegory of simulation, this fable has Simulation - th e knowl edge that truth , referen ce, objective cause have
now com e fu ll circl e for us, and possesses nothi ng bu t th e discrete char m of ceased to exist . Now, what can m edicin e do with what float s on either side
seco nd- order simulacra. of illness , on either side of health , with the dupli cation of illness in a
dIscou rse tha t is n o lon ger either true or false?What can psychoanalysis do
Today abstraction is no longer that of the map, the do uble, th e mirro r, or the WI t h the duplication of th e discour se of the un con scious in the discourse of
concept . Simulation is no longer that of a territory, a referenti al being , or a simulation th at can never again he unmasked , sin ce it is not false either ?
What can the army do about simulators? Traditi onally it unmasks them and
p~n i sh e s th em, according to a clear principle of ide ntification , Today it can
Jean Bau d rrllerd , 'The prcccsxio n o r sim u l.acra· . from Sl mo l a a Q an~ .~J~n: ~dCiQn . rr. Sh t.·ila 1:dria G I-lset',
Ann Ar bor, MI : Un jvt:rs ity o f M k higa rl Pres s, i 9 94. pp . 1 and 3- 7. g J he U nlV (:n~il)' o f M k higan 19 94 . rhscharge a verv good simu lator as exactly c,<juivalcnt to a ' real' ho m osexual
Rep ro d uce d wit h p e r m ission. a h eart~patien;, or a mad man. Even military psychology draws back from

Cartesian certainties and hesitates to make the distinction between true and This way the stake will always have been the murderous power of images ,
false, between the 'produced ' and the authentic symptom. 'If he is this good murderers of the real , murderers of their own model, as the Byzantine icons
at acting crazy, it's because he is.' Nor is military psychology m!stakcn in this could be tho se of divine identity. To this murderous power is opposed that
regard: in this sen se, all crazy people simulate, and this lack of distinction is of representatiOns as a dialectical power, the visible and intelligible
the 'wor st kind of subversion. It is against this lack of distinction that classical mediatio n of the Real. All West ern faith and good faith becam e engaged in
reason armed itself in all its categories. But it is wh at today again outflanks this wager on representation: that a sign could refer to the depth of
them , submerging the principle of truth . meaning, that a sign could be exchanged for m eaning and th at something
could guar ante e this exchange - God of cour se . But v~rhat if God himself can
Beyond medicine and the army, favored terrains of simulation, the question
be simulated, that is to say can be reduced to the signs that con sti tute faith ?
returns to religion and the simulacrum of divinity: 'I forbade that there be any
Then the whole system becomes weightless, it is no longer itself anything
simulacra in the temples because the divinity that anim ates nature can n ever be
but a gigantic simulacrum - not unreal, but a simulacrum , that is to say
represented .' Inde ed it can be. But what becomes of the divinity when it reveals
never exchanged for th e real , but exchanged for itself, in an uninterrupted
itself in icons, when it is multiplied in simulacra? Docs it remain the supreme
circuit without r eference or circumference .
power that is Simply incarnated in images as a visible theology? Or does it
volatilize itself in the sim ulacra that, alone, deploy their power and pomp of Such is simulation, insofar as it is opposed to representation. Representation
fascination - the visible machinery of icons substituted for the pure and stems from the principle of the equ ivalence of the sign and of the real (e ven
int elligible Idea of God?lbis is precisely what was feared by Iconoclasts, whose if this equival ence is utopian , it is a fund amental axiom). Simulation , on the
millennial quarrel is still with us today.This is precisely because they predicted contrar y, stems from th e utopia of the principle of eguivalen ce, .Jrom th e
this omnipotence of simulacra, th e faculty simulacra have of effacing God from radical negati on of tbe sian as value, from the sign as the reversion and death
the conscience of man, and the destructive, annihilating truth that they allow sentence of every reference. Whereas representation attempts to absorb
to appear - that deep dO\\11 God never existed , that only the simulacrum ever simul ation by interpreting it as a false rep r esentation , sim ulation envelops
existed, even that God himself was never anything but his own simuJacrum-­ the whole edific e of repre sentation itself as a sim ulacr um .
from this came th eir urge to destroy the images . If they could have believed that Such would he the successive phases of th e image:
thes e images only obfuscated or masked the Platonic Idea of God, there woul d
have been no reason to destroy th em . One can live with the idea of distorted • It is the reflection of a profound reality;
truth, But their metaphysical despair came from the idea that the image didn 't • It ma sks and denatures a profound reality;
conceal anything at all, and that these images were in essence not imag es, such • It masks the absence of a profound realitv;
as an original model would have made them, but perfect simulacra, forever • It has no relation to any reality whats oever: it is its own pure simulacr um .
radiant with their own fascination. Thus this death of the divine referential must
be exorcised at all costs . In th e first case, th e image is a good appeara nce - representation is of th e
sacramental order. In the second, it is an evil appearance - it is of th e order
One can see that the iconoclasts, whom ODe accuses of disdaining and
of malefi cence. In the third , it plays at being an app earance - it is of the
negating images, were those who accorded them their true value, in
order of sor cery , In the fourth, it is no longer of the order of appearance~,
contrast to the icono later s who onlv saw reflections in them and were but of simulation.
content to venerate a filigree God. O~ the other hand , on e can say that the
icon worshipers were the most modern minds, the most adventurous, The transition from signs that dissimulate som et hin g t o signs that
because, in the guise of having God become apparent in the mirror of dissimulate that th ere is nothing marks a deci sive turning point. The first
images, they were already enacting his death and his disappearance in the rdle(,.is a theology of truth and secrecy (to which th e notion of ideology still
epiphany of his representations (which, perhaps, they already knew rio belongs) . The second inaugurates the era of simulacra and of simulation, in
longer represented anything, that th ey were purely a game, hut that it was which there is no longer a God to recogru:;;e his O,VB, no longer a Last
therein the great game lay - knowing also that it is dangerous to unmask Judgment to separate the false from the true, th e real from its artificial
images, since they dissimulate th e fact th at there is nothing behi nd them). resurrect ion , as ever ything is already dead and re surrected in advance,

This was the: approach of the Jesuits, who fouml ed their pollucs on the \J./hen the real is no lon ger wh at it was, nostalgia assum es its full meaning.
virtual disappearance of God and on the w,or,ldly and sp ectac ular, There is a plethora of myths of origin and of signs of reality ~- a plethora
manipulation of consciences -- the evane: ~ c enc c of God in the epiphany oJ of truth, of secondar y objectivity, and aut henticit y. Escalation of th e true,
power - the end of transcendence, which now onIY,S{T"C:S as an alibi for a of lived exper ience , resu rrecti on of the figuratiYC> where the obj ect and
st.rategy altogether free of influenc:c.') a~~ 1 signs. Bchin cl the bal'oqueness of substance have disappeared . Panic- stri cken producti on of th e real and of
images hides the eminence g rise 01 p o liti cs . th e referential , paralfU to and greater than the pani c of m at er ial

production: this is how simulation app ears in the phase that con cerns us ­ of high -t ech informati,..ation (the prevalence of current theorie s of
a strategy of th e real , of th e neoreal and th e hype rreal that everywhere is comm unication, language , or sign s bein g an ideological spinoff of this more
the double of a strat egy of d eterrence . (Jcncral 'worldview ' }. Thi s is then [.. . J a second moment in which [... ) the
~ed ia 'i n gen eral ' as a unified process is somehow foregrounded and
NOTE exper ience d (as opposed to the content of individual medi a projecti ons);
I . Fo otnotes removed. and it wo uld see m to be thi s ' totalizatio n' that allows a bridge to be made to
fant asy images of 'th e market in general' or 'the market as a unified process.'
The third feature of the complex set of analogies between med ia and market
that underlies the force of the latt er 's cur rent rh eto ric may then be located in
IMAGE AS COMMODITY the form itself. This is the place at which we need to return to the th eory of
~R£DRIC JAMESON the image , recalling Guy Debord's remarkable theoretical derivation (the
image as the final form of comm odity reification ). 2 At this point the pr ocess is
Horkheimer and Adorno obs erved long ago, in th e age of r adio, the revcrsed, and it is not the commercial products of the market which in
peculiarity of the str ucture of a commercial ' cult ure industry ' in which th e advertising becom e im ages but rather the very enter tainment and narrative
products were free . I Th e analogy between media and market is in fac t. pro cesses of commercial television, which are, in their turn, r~i.fied and
cem ented by this m echanism : it is not because the m edia is like a market that turned into so many commodities : fro m the serial narrative itself, with its
th e two things are comparable; rather, it is because the ' mar ket ' is unlike its well-nigh formulaic and rigid temporal segments and breaks, to what the
' con cept ' (or Platonic idea) as the media is unlike its own concept that th e came ra shots do to space, stor y, characters , and fashion , and very much
tw o things are comp arab le. The media offers free program s in whose including a new process of the pro du ction of star s and celebritie s that seem s
conte nt and assor tme nt the consumer has no choice whatsoever but whose distinct from the older and more fam iliar histori cal experi ences of these
selection is then rebaptized 'free choice.' matters and th at now converges with the hith erto 'secular' phenomena of the
In the gradual disappea rance of the physical marketplace , of course, and th e forme r public sphere itself (real people and even ts in your nightly news
t end ential identification of th e com mod ity with its image (or brand name or broadcast, th e transformation of nam es into som ething like new s logos, etc.) .
logo) , anothe r, m ore intimate, symbiosis b etween the market and th e m edia Man)" analyses have shown how the news broadcasts are structured exact ly like
is effectuate d, in . . vhich boundaries are washed over (in ways profoundly narrative ser ials; meanwhile, som e of us in that other precinct of an official,
charac teristic of th e postmodern) and an indifferenti ation of levels gradually or 'high ,' culture, have tried to show the waning and obsolescence of
takes the pla ce of an old er sep aration between things and concept (or categor ies like 'fiction' (in the sense of something that is opposed to eith er the
indeed , econo mics and cu lture, base and supe rstructure ) . For on e thing, th e 'literal' or the 'factual'). But here I think a profound modifi cation of the publi c
products sold on th e marketpl ace be com e the very cont ent of the media sphere needs to be theorized: the eme rgence of a new realm of image r eality
image, so that , as it were, th e same referent seem s to maintain in both that is both fictional (narrative) and factu al (even the characte rs in the serials
domains. [... ] Today the products ar e, as it were, cliffused throughout the are graspe d as real 'named ' star s with extern al histories to r ead about) , and
space and time of th e entertainment (or even ne ws) seg ments, as part of th at which now -- like the for mer classical ' sphere of culture' - becom es
content, so that [. .. J it is some tim es n ot clear wh en the narrative segment .s~miautonomou s and floats above realit)', with this fund am ental historical
has ende d and th e com me rcia l has begun . cbfference that in the classical period reality per sisted independently of that
sentimental and romantic 'cu lt ur al sphere,' whereas today it seems to have lost
[. . .] [T[he products form a kind o f hierarchy wh ose clim ax lies vcr)' that separate mode of ex istence. Today, culture imp acts back on rea lity in ways
precisely in th e technology of reproduction itself, which now, of course, fans that make any independent and, as it were , non - or extr acultu ral form of it
out well beyond th e classical t ele vision set and has come in ge neral to prohlematical [. . . J so th at finally the th eoris ts unite their voice in th e new
epitomi ze th e new informational or computer te chn ology of the third stage doxa that the 'referent' no l onge~ exists.
of cap italism . We must th erefore also p osit another type of co nsum pt ion:
cons um ption of th e very pro cess of con swnption itself, above and beyond its At any rate , in this third m oment th e contents of the media itself have now
conte nt and th e imm edi ate commercial products. [. . . J Much of the hecome commodities, whi ch are then flung out on som e wider vers ion of
euphoria of postm oder nism derives from the cele bration of the very pr ocess ~he . market with which they beco me affiliated until th e two things are
indistinguishable . Here, then, th e media, as which the market was itself
fantasized , now r eturns to the market and by becom ing a part of it seal s and
Fredrr c [am eson , from Posunodernism, or, Tbe <';u Jr u ['d! f.Cf/I( ~ri. (/~C C:,:, pJ ~d/Hm J) urh~t:~,, > ~C . Duke: l.hu vnr sit v certi fies th e: for merly me tapho rica l or analogica l ident ification as a 'literal'
Press J99 1, pp. 275 -7 . Repr-oduced hy pCTml"s lo=~ . ; reality.
\'\litb the Conservatives, there Inflation is n(}\\' !ower th
NOTES arc 11,) ' blacks, no'whites, j ust people, been forover a decade, keei)i
I, Max Horkheimer and T.W. Adorno, Dialecu c ,?j'EnliBhtenment, John Cumming, Conservative" believe rhar prices stable, wit h the price 0
trans, (New York, 1972), pp. 161-67, treating rninorincs as equals en­ now hardly rising at aIL
2. Guy Debord, SOCle0' rif the Spectacle (Detroit, 1977), chapter 1, courages the majontv to treat them Meanwhile, manv bush
as cquals. throughout Britain arh recov
Yet the Labour P arty aim (0 leading to thousands of new jo

l!ll " .
treat ~' ()U asa 'specialcase,' asagroup
all 0 /1 your own.
Is setting you apart from the
Firstly, inourt raditional il
nes, but JUS t as irnponanuy ir
technology areas such as n
res!ofsocicty 8. sensible way to over­ electronics.
[. ,.J Britain's languages of ,race' and nation have been articulated together. come raciaI prcjlid iccand social inc­ J11other words, the medi,
quality? working,
The effect of their co mbination can be registered even where 'race ' is not
The question is, should we Yet Labour want to cI
overtly referred to, or where it is discussed outside of crude notions of
reallv divide the British people in­ everything, and put us ba(
superiority and inferiority. The discourses of nation and people are saturated stead otunuing them? square one,
with r acial connotations. [. ,. J
Thev intend to increase
r... JTh e Conservatives appeal" to recognize this and seek to play with the AilE YOU TO BELIEVE?

lion, They intend 10 increas

ambi guiti es which this situation cr eates. [. . .] W'hen La bour wer e in govern ­ National Debt.
ment , th ev pr om ised to re pe al I m­ T hey promise rmport an
The Conservatives' ethnic election poster of 19 S3 provides further inSight
migration ,\CH passed in 1962 and port cont rols,
into th e right's grasp of these complexities. The poster was presumably 1971. Both pronuscs were broken. CdSl vour mind back 10 tt
intend ed to exploit am bigui ties b etween 'race ' and nation and to salve the T his time, they arc promising Labour .governmcnt. Lab
sen se of exclusio n exper ienced by the blacks who were its target. Th e post er to throw out the British Nationality methods d idn't work then.
app ear ed in the ethnic minority press during May 1983 and was attacked by ,\ cL which g i \c~ lull and equal Th evw on't work now.
black spokespeople for suggesting that the categories black and Briti sh were cruzcnshi p i 0 en: 1;" ( me pcrrnan en t­ A BETTER BJ!ITAIN
mutually exclusive. It set an image of a young black man, smartly dressed in lv sculed in Bnuun, FOR All OF US.
a suit with wide lapels and flared trousers, above the caption 'Labour says he's B Ul ho\\ do the (: \.) n ~lT\ ativcs' The Conservativesbclicv:
black. Tories say he's Briti sh' . The text which followed set out to reassure pronuscs compare > every,me wants to work hard <l l
rea de rs that 'w ith Conservatives there ar e no "blacks" or "w hite s", just \\ 'C said thai \\ <.: \1 abolish the rewarded lor It.
people '. A variant on th e one nation theme em erged , entwined with 'SUS' luw. .I'huse rewards will onlv (
criticism of Labour for tTeating blacks 'as a "special" case, as a group all on \'>;fC kepi our p rom ise. ;lbuul by creaung a mood of c
your own'. At one level , the poster states that the category of citizen and the \\ 'c \did we'd rc c r Ll i l m( lrl' U J]· n r p or t U Jli l ~ ' for every one
form al belonging which it bestows on its black holders ar e essen tially ou red policemen, get I he po Iice Brirain. regardless of their
colourless, or at least co lo ur-blind . Yet [oO .J populist raci sm does not back into the communny,and tram creed or colou r.
re cogniz e the legal mem ber ship of th e national community conferred by its them for a beucr understanding of Th e difl crcnce you're v(
you r needs . lor l~ ihis:
legislation as a substantive guarantee of Britishness. 'Race' is, therefore.
despite the text, being defined beyond these definitions in the sphere of
We h:r1 our prurnrsc. To the Labour Party, y OL
cultu re. Th ere is m ore to Br itishness th an a passp ort . Nationhood, as Alfre d PUTnNGTHE ECOHQMY
black person
. ['0 the Conscrv,ui\'cs" you
Sherman pointed out in 1976,
T he Conscrvauc CS haw al­ British Ciuzcn.
wavs said th ai I h ~· 0 111\' lung term VOle Conxcrvativc. and
Paul Gilroj' . from There Am ', No Blo,k io ,he Umon jod Lond ono Routledge, t 992, Pl': 56-9, Reproduced a nsw er to our ec onO!nlL' problems vote JlX a more equal, more pro.
b) pcr rnissto n of T&F Inform a, was to conq lief i nib [ion , ous Bruain .

FIGURE 3.1 :
Con servative Party election
poster, 1978_ Courtesy of

The Conservative Party,



Rem ains ... man 's ma in focu s of identi ty, his link w ith the wi der world , the pa. t an d fut ure, even be aware that they were artificially created by other human beings. If
'a partnership with those who arc UVLng, those who are de ad and those who are to be ~uddenl)' forced outside the cave, we would surely he confused and even
horn ' . . . It includes national cha racter reflect ed in the way of life . . . a passport or residence
scornful of anyon e who tried to tell us that this, not the cave, was th e real
permit does not auto matically im plant national values Or patr iotism .'
world, that we had been living inside an illusion, deceived into believing that
arti6cial images were the real thing. But our enlightenment would require this
At this point the slightly too large suit worn by the young man, with its
recognition .
unfashionabl e cut and connotations of a job interview, becom es a key signifier.
It conveys wh at is being asked of the black readers as the price of admission to Never has Plato's allegory abou t th e seducti veness of appearances been
the colour-blind form of citizenship promised by the text . Blacks are being more apt than today, but note th e contempor ary tw ist. For Plato, the
invited to forsake all that marks them out as culturally distinct befor e real artificial image s cast on the wall of th e cave are a metaphor for th e world of
Britishness can be guaranteed . National culture is present in the young man's sense perception. Th e illusion of th e cave is in mistaking that world - what
clothing. Isolated and shorn of the mugger's icons - a tea-cosy hat and the we sec, hear, taste, feel - for the Reality of end ur ing ideas, which can only
dreadlocks of Rastafari - he is redeemed by his suit , th e signifier of British be 'seen' with the mind 's eye. For us, b edazzlement by cr eated im ages is no
civilization . Th e image of black youth as a problem is thu s contained and metaphor ; it is the actual co ndition of our lives. If we do not wish to r emain
rendered assimilable. Th e wolf is transformed by his sheep 's clothing. The prisoner s of these image s, we must re cogni ze that they are not reality. But
solitar y maleness of the figure is also highly signillcant. It avoids the hidden instead of moving closer to this recognition , we seem to be mov ing farther
threat of excessi ve fertility which is a con stant presen ce in the r epresenta­ away from it , going deeper and deeper into the cave of illusion .
tion of Black women (Parmar, 1984). This lone young man is incapable of 1·..J
swamping 'us' . He is alone because the logics of racist discourse militat e against
the possibility of making British blackn ess visible in a family or an inter­ Unless one re cognizes on e's own enmes hment in cultur e, one is in no
generational group.2 The black family is presented as incomplete, deviant and position to theor ize about that culture or its effects on others. But unless
ruptured . one striv es to develop critical distance on that enmeshm ent, on e is apt to
simply embody and perpetuate the illusion s and mystifications of th e cult ure
(for example, communicating anxie ty about body Weight and height to on e 's
REFERENCE childre n). So, for m e , th e work of cultural criticism is not exactly like tha t
Parmar, P. ( 19 84) 'Hateful Contraries' Ten 8, no. 16.
of Plato's philosopher, whose enlighte nme nt requir es th at he transcend his
experien ce of ibis world and ascend to ano the r, purer realm. (Act ually, I'm
not so sure Plato believed that, either, but it is certainly the way his ide as
1. Sunday Telecrapl», 8 .9.76 .
have been dominantly int erpreted.) C ult ur al criticism does not so mu ch ask
2. Footnote removed .
that we leave the cave as tu rn a light on i n it .

~Ithough [th e organisation Boycott Anorexic MarketillS] and th e fashion


Industry seem to be standing on opposite sides of th e fence in th e deba te
about cu ltural images and eating disorder s, they (and People and th erapists
Mead and Strober) share an important and d efective assumption about th e
In The Republu: Plato pr esent s a parable well known to stu dents in introducto ry way we .int eract with medi a imag er y of slende r ness. Because these images
philosophy classes. He asks us to imagine our usual condition as koo'\vers use ~odl es to sell surface adornm ents (such as clothing, jew elry , footwear) ,
as comparable to life in a dark cave, where we have been confined since the lrnages are taken to be advertising , at most, a certain ' look ' or st yle of
childho od, cut off from the world outsid e . In that cave we are chained by the app e.arance . What that ' loo k' or sty le might proj ect (intelligen ce ,
leg and neck in such a way that we are unable to see in any position but straight sophisticat ion, childliken ess) is unacknowl edged and unexplored , along
ahead , at a wall in front of us, on which is projected a procession of shadow \ ~l th the values that the viewer might bring to the experience of looking.
figures cast by ar tificial puppets manipulated by hidd en pupp eteer s. In such a 1 ~oughout th e literature on eati ng disorders. wh ether 'fashion ' is b eing let
condition, Plato asks us. would not these shadow images, these illusions, seem off th e hook or condemned, it app ears as a whimsical , capriciou s, and
to be 're ality' to us? Th ey would be the only world we knew ; we would not Socially disembodied for ce in our lives. _

Su san U<Jrt [u, ' Never )u....t prcru r es", from TwiJiahl Zan,,':' TIll' Hlddc() t,..fi,if ~:u !:, ..Tt3J Im( J£J~s./rl)ln PlOLo tc This tr i\;alizing of fashion reflec ts a m?re gener al failur e to recognize that
O. J.• Ucrk~ J c)'. C/\ : Llrn ve r -sitv o f C lll;fr:)1"n ia Pr ess, J9 9 7 , pp. I 2. J 2:, 6 . 't ; 1997 Th ('" i{.(:g(:nt :-: ().f l !h~ looks arc more than skin deep , that bodies speak to us.T he notion that bodi es
U nive rsity o f Califo r nia. Rep ro d uced 'w llh pC' ~-mj s sl()(l . arc mere bodi es, empty of meaning. (k~ v() id of mind, just materia l stuff
EK ' : I M A G E S I D E O L O G Y C R I T I QU E : 8;

occupying :,;pace, goes bac k to the philosoph er De scartes. But do we ever Many women may not like wh at this fetish, as I have int erpret ed it, pr ojects ­
interact with o r exper ience ' mere' bodies? Peo ple who are attracted to the woman 's wiUing collapsing of her ow n desire in to pleasing th e male .
certain size s and shapes of bodi es o r to a particul ar co lo r of hair or eyes are Clearly, my interpretati on wo n' t make pornogr aph y less of a conce rn to
m ista ken if th ey think thei r prefer ence is onl y abo ut particular b ody par ts . many femin ists. But it situates th e pr obl em differ ently, so we're not talkin g
Wh eth er we are conscious o f it o r not, w he the r our prefer en ces have their about the re duction of wo men to mere bodies but about w hat thos e bo dies
or igins in (positive or negative) infant m emories, cult urally learn ed express. This resi tuati ng also opens up the p ossibility of a non-polari zing
associati ons, or accidents of our histories , we are drawn to wh at th e desir ed conversation between m en and wom en, one that avoids unnuanced talk of
b ody evokes for us and in us. I have always found certain kinds of ma le hands ­ ' male dominanc e ' and contro l in favor of an ex plorati on of images of
stu rd y, st o ckv hand s, the kind one might find on a physical laborer or a masculinity and fem inin ity and the 'subjecti vities' th ey embody and
peasant - to 'be sex ually attracti ve, even strangely m oving. My father had encourag e. Men and women ma y have ver y different in terpretations of those
hand s like thi s, and I am conv inced my 'aesthetic' pr eferen ces he re derive images , differences th at n eed to be brought o ut into the open and
from a very ear ly time wh en my attitudes toward mv father's masculinity disinfected of sin, gui lt, and blam e .
were no t vet am'bivalent, wh en h e existed in my lifesimply as the strong', Some femi nists, for example, might interp ret a scene of a man ejaculating on
J "
om nipo te nt, secure hands that held me snu gly against harm. a woman's facE' as a quintessential ex pression of the male need to degrade
Once we recognize that w e never respond on!y to particular body part.~ or their and dominate . Many men , however, experience such motifs as fantasies of
configuration hut alwoys to the meanings they carry for us, the old femini st uncondit ional acceptance. 'From a male poin t of view,' writes Scott MacDonald ,
charge of' objectification ' seem s inadequate to descr ibe what is going on wh en 'the desire is not to see women har m ed , but to mom entarily identify with
women's bodies are depicted in sexualized or aestheticizcd ·ways. The notion men who - despite their personal unattractiveness by conv entional cult ur al
of wome n-as-objects suggests the redu ction of women to 'mere' bodies, when definition , despite the unw ieldy size of their erections, and despite their
actually what 's going on is ofte n far more disturbing than that , involving the aggressiveness with th eir sem en - are ador ed bv the women they enco unte r
depiction of regressive ideals of feminin e behavior and attitude that go much sexually.'1 Fro m this point of view, then, what ~u ch (soft) hetcr u'sexual porn
deeper than appearance . I rem emb er Julia Rober ts in j}~ystic Pizza when she 'was provides for men is a fantasy world in which they arc never judged or r ejected ,
still swinging he r (then much ampler) hips and throwing sass)' wisecracks, not never made to feel guilty or embarrassed. I think that all of us, male and
yet typecast as the perpetually star tled, em otional teet er -totter of later films. In female alike, can identify with the desire to be un conditionally adored, our
order for Roberts to project the vulnerability that became her tradema rk , those most shame- hau nted body par ts and body fluids worshipped, our fears abo ut
hips just had to go.They suggested t oo much physical stability, too much sexual personal excess and ugliness soothed and calm ed.
asserti veness, too mu ch womanlines s. Todav the cam era fastens on the coltlike From the p er spective of many women, however, the fem ale att itudes that
legs of a m uch skinnie r Rober ts, often wobbly and off balance , not because she provide reassurance to MacDonald - altho ugh he may, as he says, 'mean no
has 'great legs' in some absolute aesthetic sense (actua lly, when they do harm ' by th em - are demeaning. They are dem eanin g no t because th ey
aesthe ticized dose-ups of her legs, as in PrettyWoman, they use a body doubl e!) redu ce WOmen to bodies but because they embody and pr omulgate im ages of
but because her legs convey the qualities of fragility that dir ector s - no doubt feminine subjectiv ity that idealize p assivity, compliance , even masochi sm .
responding to their sense of the cultural zeitge ist as well as their O\V n Just as WOmen need to und erstand why men - in a cultu re tha t has required
preferences - have chosen to emphasize in her. them to be sex ual initiators w hile not per mitting th em th e 'weakness' of
The criticism of ' ob jectification' came naturally to feminism b ecause of the feeling hurt wh en th ey are rejected - might cr ave un complicated adoration ,
continual cult ural feti shizati on of w o m en 's bodies and body par ts - br easts so n;e n need to understand why women might find th e depicti on of fem ale
and le gs and butts, for exam ple. But these feti she s ar e not mere body p ar t~. b? dleS in u tterly com pliant poses to be pro ble ma tic. In our gende r history,
Often, features of women's bodies are arranged in representations pr ecisely alt er all , being un st intingly obliging - wh ich in an ideal world would b e a
in orde r to suggest a particular attitude - de pende nce or sedu ctiven ess or sexual 'POSition' that all of us could joyfully adopt with each other - has
vulnerability, for ex am p le. Het erosexu al pornogra phy, which has been been int er twined with soc ial subordinati on . When bodies get together in
accused of b eing th e worst p erpetrator of a view of women as mute 'meat,' sex , a whole history, cultural as well as per son al, comes alon g with them .2
in fact seem s more interes ted than fashion layouts in animating wo men 's
bodi es with fantasi es of w hat's go ing on inside th eir minds. Even the
pornographic motif of spread legs - ar guahly the worst offender in reducing NOTES
th e woman t o the status of rri cr'c receptacle - seems t o me to use the b ody l , Scott MacDonald , ' Confessions of a Feminist Porn Watc he r,' in Mich ael
t o 'speak ' in this way. ' Here I am ,' spre ad .le&s declar e, 'ut t erlv available t~ Kim rnd , ccl., Men Confrom POTnogrophy (Ne w York: Me ridian , 1990 ), p. 4 1.
you, rcady t o be ami do whate ve r you d e sire . 2. hlOtnote removed .

Studies in Icanalogy
4: I Erwin Panofsky Art history is the longest standing academic di scipline to be concerned with
the study of visual artefacts. In recent years, it has become a highly contested
Invention and Discovery discipline, particularly in relation to the emergent field of visual culture (see
4:2 Ernst Combrich Sections 11 and 12; and Buck-Morss, 4.4). GiorgioVasari's (1511- 74) Lives
oi the Artists is widely considered to provide the first coherent history of art
Interpretation without Representation, or, The Viewing of Las Meninas in which Vasari assesses the quality, style and technical achievements of
4: 3 Svetlene Alpers artists from antiquity to his contemporary present. Until the end of the
nineteenth century, art history was concerned primarily with objects of fine
4:4 Towards a Visual Critical Theorv art - drawings, paintings and works of sculpture - and most practitioners
Susan Bisek-Morss ' wrote only about the art of the past. In that sense, the discipline at least had
a coherent field of investigation as its object, even if the concept of history
that influenced thinker s in the subject underwent radical transformations.
Theemergence of modern art at the turn of the nineteenth century was seen
by many critics as a radical break with the past. As Eric Fernie (1995: 15-16)
has said: 'Since the Renaissance the representation of the visible world
constituted one of the underlying principles of painting and sculpture, but
with the development of expressionism and abstraction in the early years of
the twentieth centu ry this ceased to be the case'. While art historians such
as Ernst Gombrich (4.2) emphasised aspects of historical continuity in
artworks and other images, the fact that artists began to question the
definition of art is well -documented (Foster et al., 2004) . Art historians began
writing more about contemporary images and about the nature of the
relationship between art and images.
One of the key methods in art history is the detailed description of individual
artworks and the effects that they have on the viewer. This entails paying
dose attention to the way particular images look that takes account of the
ontent of the work, the way that this content is presented and the materials
?ut of which the artefacts are made. The cultivation of a way of seeing that
15 sensitive to an image's pic torial elements is a practice that can be learnt
by c~mparing the appearance of a great number of images from many
hlstoncal periods (Acton, 1997). One of the aims of this form of visual
co~nois5eurship has been to attribute paintings, for example, to specific
artists and to categorise them into stylistic schools and historical periods - as
well as il;Jdging their quality and place in the historical canon (Fernie, 1995).
The diagrams of Alfred Barr can be seen as part of this tradition (Figure 4.2).
Art historians supplemenl this attention to images w ith knowledge about
particular artists and the historical circumstances In which they worked. In
thaI sense, art history is a highly empirical practice, but it has been criticised
Ior its relatively unreflective approach to its theoretical presuppositions. For
example. James Elkins (1988) has argued that this lack of reflection is one of
the characteristics of this form of cultura] analvsls that ~ ives It its particular

debates about the inhe rently political nature of images that have arisen from REFERE N C ES
post-structuralism more central to the field. In addition, T.). Clark (1985) has Acton , M. (1997) Learning to Look at Paintings. London: Ro utledge.

developed a Marxist, historical ideological critique of art images, while Clark. T.). (1985) The Painting of Modern Life: Paris In the Art of Manet and his

Griselda Pollock (1988) is one example of feminist criticism in art history. followers . London: Thames & Hudson.

Crary, I. (19 90 ) Techniques of the Observer : On Vision and Modernity in the

rwin Panofsky's (4.1) iconography could be seen as one attempt to map Nineteenth Century. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

how the various pictorial elements in artworks are 10 be interpreted and Elkins, J. (1988) 'Art history without theory', Criticat tnouirv, 14: 354-78.

considered . His ambitious three-tiered scheme aims to synthesise the Fernie, E. (1995) ArC Historv and its ,"'ethods: A Critical Anthology. London: Pha idon

different facto rs that are at play in our understanding of images, from basic Press.

psychological processes to highly complex cultural influences that operate Foster, H., Krauss, R., Bois, Y.-A. and Buchloh, B.H.D. (2004) Art since 1900:

at a symbolic level. This interp lay between the science of vision and the Modernism, AntiModernism, PostModernism. London: Thames & Hudson .

cultural construction of vision has been considered as highly problematic by Foucault, M. (1973) The Order of Things, tr, unidentified collective. N ew York:

later writers such as Jonathan Crary (1992 and 12.1). For Panofsky, only the Vintage.

correct analysis of images at the level of detail and the identification of Moxley, K. (1994 ) The Practice of Theory: Poststructurelism, Cultural Politics and Ar t

'motifs' can give rise to the 'synthesis' of understanding needed to make History. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

sense of all of the different threads of meaning that we attach to the image. Pollock, G. (1988) Vision and Difference: Femininity, Feminism and the Histories of

Ernst Gombrich (4.2), in the piece chosen here, compares visual innovation Art. London: Routledge.

in art to the development of knowledge in the natural sciences. In suggesting Rose, G. (200 1) Visual Methodologies. London: Sage.

that art arises from an inductive process of experimentation that has as its Vasari. G. (1987) Lives oi the Artists: Volumes 1 and 2. London: Penguin Books.

materials both the technologies of production - canvas, oils, etc. - and the
stock of previous efforts by past artists, Gombrich shifts the emphasis of
interpretation from viewing and the observer, to making and the artist.
While both Panofsky and Gombrich wrote on a wide variety of subjects and
from a range of perspectives, they were among those theorists criticised for a
narrowness of view by the New Art Historians in the 1970s and 1980s, such
as Clark and Pollock. For example, Svetlana Alpers (4.3) suggests that neither
Panofsky nor Gombrich pay sufficient attention to those compositional
elements of pictures that enable us to understand pictures as representations
of real social relations in the world . She draws attention to the differences
between reality and imaging, differences that she accuses the earlier wri ters
of overlooking even though they can be discerned in the pictures themselves.
While Alpers holds on to the techniques of art historical analysis by praising
the virtues of paying close attention to the image (see also Bal, 5.4), she
emphasises the social and political implications of particu lar techniques oi
representation using theoretica l methods pioneered by Michel Foucault
(1973) .
Buck-Morss (4.4) also draws attention to the social context of images when
she questions the pertinence not only of art history but also of the traditional
concept of fine art in contemporary visual culture, in which capitalisl
consumerism coincides with the advent and pervasiveness of modern
imaging technologies . What is the place of art in a culture and economy
dominated by an imaging industry? TIle perceived shortcomings of art history
and its future as an academic discipline are also a central concern for those
trying to define a field of image studies. such as James Elkins (13.2) and
Barbara Maria Stafford (13.3). But they and other critics have suggested that
while art history's primary focus has been limited. to d~cribing and making
value judgements on the appearance and quality 01 'pilrticular images ­
rather than engaging with the ~ocial and cultural pra~t1ces that make those
images possible - its practice 01 derailed Image analvsls makes it an essential
<tarring point lor any form of visual research !Rose. 200 I,.
..en:': : I M A G E S

UO!llpe J.1 10 NOISH

Iconography is that b ranch of the hist or y o f art which con cerns itself with
the sub ject matte r or meaning o f works of ar t , as opposed to th eir for m . r --- - - - - -----------------"'

Let us , then, try to define the d istinction between subject matter or meanJn8
on the one hand , an dJ orm o n the other.
When an acquain tance gre ets me on the stre et by removing his hat , what I see _o '-C1> U",)
• Q)""O
fIl -
E -a "0
.s .~
E "=
-~ -g g aJ
-£- <i; C
O ·(ji
- c -c
t:: C)
from aJormal point of view is nothing but the change of certain deta ils within a '0 ':;:: ::l :O Gi .!: ._ cu ~ OJ ~ = .52 <ti <>l~ --'.
con nguration forming par t of the general patt ern of colour, lin es and volume s .Q> s: § ~ ~ .~ ~.g '" l!! ","§~ 52 _ EGIl l!!
~ ~ ,S! l!! E .S c .9 ,S! Q .~ fIlQ) o '~ ::> >-~
,9­ -- ~
- c: '­ -c .~ o; c: .t:: .o<.>
which constitutes my world of vision. \Vh en I identify, as I automatically do , this -;:E 13~ % t'?Q)~:E<ll 2? ""O C:
~ co
::> 0) <1) " ' _ Q) 0
>;., ,~ § Ql >­
~ ~ Ol 2ic:o >­
configuration as an object (gentleman), and the change of de tail as an Cl'cnl (hat­ t; ~tiL:).o :;:' C C GIl
,,"' ro .- .0
<.> ~ ,S 2 f? ~ '0 ~ ~
'-''It> CU ':;' 'fIlQ) c:
o~E1a~ oE~~ 151l 15 :8 E ;:a ~ .'l? a. <1l
rem oving), I have already oyer stepped the limits of pu relyJormal perc eption and §~
ent ered a first sphere of subjectmatter o r meaninB' The meaning thus perceived is E E? z- g~ ~a
o E - lil ~

e-, Q;l
o£Qi '6 ~~ c:
> .Q v, ~ ~
~ E~~ :~g~~
of an elementary and easily under standabl e natur e, and we shall call it theJaaual

<il C1>~:Q'a. .!!i .9 -g § 2? ~ ~
o"' -Q)u~<I)
ti)~f/)O "'CC C:'-l;1J
()-S I £ ~ O ~ ::I: .S ~ u _ a> Q) I o .s§ 8 ~~ -s
meaninB; it is apprehended by Simply ident ifying certain visible forms with
certain objects known to me from practical expe rience, and by identifying the
change in their relations with cer tain actions or events.
Now the obj ects and even ts th us identified will naturally produce a ce r tain
rea ctio n within myself. From the wa)' my acquaintance performs his act ion Ql~
'" ~ fIl '" - >- c:
Q) .!l! i:l ~ ::>
c .Q
I may he able to sense whether he is in a good or bad humour, and whethe r (I) 0
.;:: s:
<ll_ ~ ;O:
,~ ~ ..-'.
s -= ss
:"' .c Ql E >- .!: "t3
(5 t'ij
his feelings to wards me are in different, frie ndl y or hostile. These ~ § ;z. '~ ~
c E u ­

~:=<-g c: .o ~'"
c:"" til ;;:: is C3: Ql <1l U VlC:
psychological nuances will invest th e gestures of my acquaintance with a <ll~ ~ ,~ c: (I)
Ol :::"u <.l
"0 IJ) <I) c:
>- - E
'-U~(ij Q) 0. .El
E ~ ~ ro ~ "" .t:: .Q ~ ~
'-a; ;:a
further meaning w hich we shall call expressional. It ditTers from the Jacrual .9,. e. "t5 == Q)
~ <.l til <.l
.c:::=C: Ql :-=O ?­
EE ~£-g ~ "O
::> Ql
C J::. '1:1
one in tha t it is apprehend ed , not b)' simpl e identification, but by 'empath y,' 6 .-3:.:
>- tIl "' __ OQ)
Z~ Q :::. ro
::,c IJ)
(I)::::'<llOU o.cu
To understand it , I need a certain sensitivity, but this se nsitivity is still part
of my pra ctical exper ience , that is, of my ever y-day familiarity with objects
and even ts. Th erefore both the fa ctual and th e expressional mcaninB rna)' he
classified t ogether : they constit ute the class of primary or natural meanings. c
.Q 'iQ
However, my realization that the lifting of the hat stands for a greeting belongs ~
.!t U 15 CU

in an altogeuler differen t realm of interpretation . Th is lorrn of salute is ~

c ­
~ ~~ t\i.s t\i
.!t § 2\ .!:l
e-­ c: ~ .t:::.;;;: c J:::
peculiar to the western world and is a residu e of media eval chivalry: ar med s OJ
'- -
'%..s Q)
Vl • Q.m(l) Q. ..-'. Ol
s o .9,. .g Ui ~!!lQj"E e: ~ GIl e: .!!l C
men used to remov e their helm ets to make clear their peaceful intentions and '0 '~ h :J .z­ctl o IJ) 3:
° 8>~a;8>~ ~
<; <1>
§~ g-§ ~
£ f5 a ~
their confidence in the peaceful intentions of othe rs. Neither an Australian I

8~Ci~ E
- tll c _ ~ 5;.gg i:i'
bushman nor an ancient Gr eek could he expected to realize that the lifting of 15
a hat L~ not only a practical event with cer tain expressional connotations, but ~
also a sign of polit eness. To unde rstand this signifIcance of the gentle man 's <:
action I mu st not only be familiar w ith the practical world of objects and
"@ -!. ~ vi j
events, but also w ith the mo re-than- practica l world of customs and cultural
~ I
~ ...
<I> .52 ~
..: 1!<ll -§ffi <l>
~ . ijl
traditions peculiar to a cer tain civili7.ation . Conversely, my acquaintan ce could ~- ~ - lij'
.... - : .(i; o '€ - -§! ~­o
<ll~iijOlE'O .
not Icel im pelled to gn:e t me by rcmovin~ his hat were ~c not conscious of the
significance of this feat. As for the c"prcs.~lonal cu~otatl ons which accom pany -
'~ ijj
~Eu~'§o .
<ll Vl

t:: :o __ 5 a 0
C <0
C: ' -
s:ll s\l! .s,es;;; s:E .sss
CJ) c:: .gco.9~
'__ C V>
<0 <1>

.~ O .§ :g
:S ·~ ·§~2
g W~
0: e
:J 'lii
his action , he mayor may nu t be consctous 01 them . 111crefore, when 1 ~~ ~ijl~~u ::E = 8",8 ~ v)Q:l ~ l:::8=_v> (,9 $
rll~nw:J ItT rh,. i rr llj ,III: IV naJ ll ,Jn.-...
N ew y(,r" 11011'1" 1"1 Tord11 ~ (, nlul l H.cpnntc..1 With
G a ug uin d. 1903
Seurot d.r 89/
>". I M A G E S SYNTHET ISM ~ >, A
inte rpret the removal of a hat as a polite greeting, r recogn ize in it a me <lIling 1886
which rna)' be called secondary or convent ionul; it differs fro m the primm)' or
natural one in that it is intelligible instead of being sensible, and in that it has
been consciously imparted to\ he practical action by which it is conveyed .
Redo~ \ Porl ~
And finally: bes ides constitut ing a natural event in space and ti me, besid es Ro usseau
naturally indicating moods or fee lings , beside s con veying a conventional ~ \ Poris

g reet ing, the action of TIl)' acq uain tance can reveal ( 0 an experienced ,
obser- ver all th at goes to make up h is 'personalitv.' T his per so nality is condi­ I
tioned by his being a man of the twentieth century, by his national, social and ,,I \
educational background, by the pr evious history of his life and by his pr ese nt
surround ings, but it is also dist ingu ished by an individual manner of viewi ng : Q-IEAfd ASTERr-J AR T
~ , I
things and reacting to the world which, if rationalized, wo uld have to
be called a phi losophy. In the isolated action of a polite greeting all these I'
factors do not manifest themselves comprehensive ly. bu t nevertheless symp ­ I \
I \
t omatically. \Vc cou ld no t co nstruct a mental portrait of the- man on the basis I \
of this single action, hu t only by co-ordinating a large number o f simi lar
observations and by in lerpreting them in connection w ith our general info r ­
I \
I \

mation as to the gentleman 's period, nationality, class. in tellect ual traditions
I ~


and so forth. Yet all the qualities which thi s men tal po rtrait wo uld show I

explicitly arc im p licit ly inheren t in every sing le action , so that, conversely,


ever y single action can be interpreted in th e light o f those quali tic..s.

I 1911 IAL'nich

The meaning thu s discovered rna)' be called the intrinsic meanuu; or concem; it is ,

essential where the two other kinds of m eaning, the primary or natura} and the I

secondary or convcmional, are phen omenal. It may be defined as a unifying

principle which underlies and explains both the visible event and its intelligible
significance. and w hich dete rmines even th e form in which the visible even t ,

takes shape . This mcnnsic mcaning or canrcnc is, of course, as much above the I

sphere of cons cious volitions as the expressional meaning is benea th this sphe re. I

Transferring the results of this ana lvsis from every -d ay life to a work of art , \
we can distingUish in itx subject matte r or meaning tl~e same three stra ta: "
1. PRIMARY OR N ATU RAL SUBJE CT MATTE R, subdi vided in to
FA CTUAL and EXPRESSIO NA L. It is apprehended by identifying purejOrms,
that is: cer tain con figuratio ns of line and co lour, or certain peculiarly shaped I'
lumps of bronze or stone, as represe ntations of natu r al objeers such as hum an
beings, anim als, plants, houses, tool s and so forth; by idelltif)ing their mutual
relations as cl'emsi and by perceiving such expressional qualiti es as th e mournfu l
character of a pose or gesture, or the homelike and peaceful atmosphere 01' an
interior. The world or pure j onnI thus recognizee! as carriers of primary or It

F IGURE 4 . 2
Alfred H. Barr, Jr, 'Th e Development of Ab str ac t Arl ', a chart NON-GEOM ETRICAL ABSTRACT AR T
prepared for the dust-jacke t of the eXhibitIon catalogue,
Cubism and Abstract An . Mu seum of Modern Art , New York,
1936. Reproduced by pe rmiSSIon of the Museum or Modern
New 'lbrk DigItal Imag9 Q 2006, The Mus eum o f Mode m
• en n •
, ; : I MA G ES A R T H IST O RY: =' ;
mural meanings may be called th e worl d of artistic mo r!f~ . An enum eratio n of Ernst Cassirer has called 'symbolical' values. [. . . J111e discovery and interpretation
these motifs wou ld be a pre-iconographical description of the work of ar t. of ihese 'sy mbolical' values (which are generally unknown to the artist him sel f
and may even emphatically d iffer from what he conscio usly intended to
expr('s~) is th e object of what we may call IC(JIJoaraph.r III a deeper sense: of a
apprehended by realizing tha t a male flgure with a kni fe represenL~ St.
methOd of inte r pre ta tio n w hich arises as a svn thesis rather than as an analysis.
Bartholom ew, t hat a female figure wi th a peach in her hand is a personificatio n
And as the co r rect id enti fication of th e mot!!s is the p rerequisi te of a co rrect
fVlT3city, t hat a group of ligures sea ted at a dinner tah ll' in a certa in
'c(1Mgraphical analysi: III the naffOWe.r sense, the correc t analysis of imases, stories
ar rangem e nt and in certai n poses represents the Last Supper, o r that two
and "lIc80l/e~ is the pre requisit e of a co r rect « onoqrapiucal Interpretation in a
figures lighting each o ther in a certain manner represent the Combat ofVice
Jeeper scmc. - unless we dea l wi th such wo rks of ar t in which the wh ole sphere
and Virtue. In doing th is we co nnect artistic mor!f.~ and combinations of ar t istic
f secondary o r conventional subject m att er is eliminated, an d a direct
mocUs (co mposiuons s wit h themes or conceprs. iHorifs thu s recogn ized as car r ie rs of
transition fr~m mot~fs to concCIll is striven for, as is the case w ith Eur op ean
a secondary or convcnuonal mean ing may be calle d InIGaes, and combina tions of
landscape painting , still -life and genre; that is, on th e whole, with exce ptional
Im ages arc wh at the ancient th eor ists of art called ' jrwcn71 vni;' we are wont to
phenom ena, which m ark th e later, over -sophisticated phases of a long
call them ston es and allcqories. ' The ide ntification of such ImaBcs, stories and
allcqorics is the dom ain of iconography in the nar ro wer sense of the wo rd. In
fact , when we loosely speak of'subjea matter as op posed to f orm' w e chie fly
m ean th e sphere of secondary o r convenuonal subject m att er, vii'.. the wo rld of NOT E
spe cific themes or concepts man ifested in Images, ston es and allcaon es, as op po sed I . Footnote removed .
to the sphere of primary or natural subject maUer man ifested in artistic motifs.
' Fo r mal analysis' in W olfllin's sense is largely an ana lysis o f motifs and
combinations o f mo tifs (compositions) ; fo r a formal anal ysis in th e strict sense
of th e word wo uld even have to avoid such expressions as ' man ,' ' horse .' or
'co lum n " let alone such evaluatio ns as 'the ugly triangle bet ween the legs of
Michelangelo 's David ' or ' the adm irable clarifi catio n o r th e joints in a human
body.' It T,
obvious that a co r rect tconoqraphical analysts III the narrowcr sense The revisi o n I advocate in the sto r v o f visual discoveries, in fact , can be
presupposes a correct id ent ifi cat io n of the motifs. I. . .1 paralleled w ith the revision that h~s been demanded for th e history of
3. INTR[NS[C MEANING O R C O NT ENT. [t is apprehended hy ascer taining scien ce. Here, too , the nin e tee nth ce ntur y beli eved in passive recor ding, in
those un der lying pr incip les which reveal the basic attitude of a nation, a pe riod , unbiased observation of un intc r p r c tcd facts . The tech n ical te rm for thi s
a class , a religiOUS or philosophical persuasion - unconsciously qua lified bv onc outlook is the bel ief in in du ct ion, the belief that the patie nt co lle ction of one
pe rson ality and condensed int o one wo rk . N eedless to say, these prin cip les are instance after L11l' o ther w ill gradually bu ild up into a co r re ct image o f
manifested by, and there/ore throw light on, both 'compositional m ethods' and nature , provided always that no ob servation is ever colored hy subjective
' ico nographical signifkance.' In the 14th and 1Sth centuries fo r instance (the bias . In this vie w nothing is m o re harmful t o the scientist th an a
earliest example can be dat ed around 13 10) , me traditional type of th e Nativity preconceived notion, a hvp othesis . or an expectation which ma y adulterate
with the Virgin Mary redining in bed or on a couch was frequently replaced his resu lts. Scie nce is a reco rd of facts, and all kno w ledge is t r ustw o r th y o nly
b)' a new on e w hich show s the Virgin kneelina befo re the Chi ld in adoration . in so far as it stems directly from se nso ry data .
~ '"
From a co m positional point of view this change means, roughly spea king, This inductivisr ideal of pure ob servation has pro ved a mirage in science no less
th e substit utio n o f a u'iangular sch eme for a rectangular o ne ; fro m an than in art. The vel)' idea that it should be pos sible to observe without
iconographical point of view in the narrower sense of the term, it means the l:~p ectation, that you can make your mind an innocent blank on which nature
introducti on o r J ne w theme textually formu lated by such writers as Pseu do· will record its secrets, has co me in lo r strong criticism . Every ob servation, as
Bonaventura and 51. Hridget. Rut at me same time it reveals .1 new e m otio nal Kar l Popper has st ressed , is a resul t of a qu estion we ask n ature , and every
atti tu de peculiar to th e I~tcr phases of the Mirldlc Ages . A really e xhaustive questi on im plies. a tentative hyp othesis. We look for some thing be caus e o ur
int erpretation of th e intrinsic meaning or co~ltent might even sho w tha t the hypothesis makes us exp ec t ce r tain results. Let us see if th e)' follow. If not, w e
technical proced ures characte r istic of a certain c~un try, ~criod, or artist, 1'01' 1l.1Ust revise our hypothesis and try again to l est it against obser vatio n as
instance Michelangelo's prdercnce for scul~ lurc 111 stone IIlst('ad of in bronze, rigorously as we can ; we do that by tryi ng to dis prove it , an d th e hyp othesis tha t'
the peculiar usc of hatchings 111 his draWings, arc. ~')'Tl1ptomati c of the same
basic attitud e that is discernible in ;J l lhc o ll.wr spl'ohc qu a/itk-.s of his sty le. In
thus co nceivi ng of pun' I'Jnn". nWlJls, lI TI ilg " S , stnr ics and allcgorie.' as
. .
ruurufestations of uruIer 1YII~ P' · l nt: l IlJ l,·~ ' w,. Interl)n·!. ' \11 UH ,,- t! Jl O1enL..;\., W Il a l
" " : IMA G E S ART H ISTORY : .

surv i ves that win nowing process is the one we feci e ntitled to hold , pro \Vhat an opportunity, w e rn a)' in fe r, to test traditi on an d improve upon it. It
tempore . such as th ese which explain the ~gr adu a l natu re of all ar tist ic
. " c -';i1111jl lc"

T h is de scription of the wa)' science works is eminently applicable to the changes , lo r var iati ons can b e co n tro lle d an d che c ke d o nly against a se t of
story of visual discoveries in ar t. O ur fo r m u la of schema and co r rection , in invJr i,Ult:-;,
fact , illustrates this ver)' procedure . Yo u must have a starti ng point , a Does not t he e x pe r ie nce of Le coq de Boisbaudran suggest the re vo lutio nar y
standard of com par iso n . in orde r to be gi n that pr ocess of making and work of a mu ch greater innovator, Maner's Dejeuner sur l' herbe? It is we ll
matching an d remaking w hic h finally be co m es embodi ed in the finished kn O\\'1l th at this daring explo it of naturalism was based , not on an incid e nt
image . The artist cannot star t from scratch but he can c r it icize his in th e enviro ns of Paris as th e scandalized pub lic beli eve d , but on a print
fore'i-unn ers , from Raphael's cir cle which no ne other than Frcar t de Chambray had
There is an interesti ng pamphle t by a minor painter called Henry Rich ter, e xto lled as a masterpiece of co m positio n . Seen from our point of vie w this
published in 1817 - th e year Constable exhibite d W ivcnhoc Par k - which wel l borro wing los es much of its punling nature. The syst em atic explorer can
illustrates th e spiri t of creative research that an imated the yOlmg painters of the affor d les s than any on e els e to rei:' on random actio ns. He canno t just sp lash
nin etee nth century. It is called Day/isht :,1 Recent Discovcrv in the Art C!f Paintlnq , colon abou t to see what happens, for e ve n if he shou ld like th e d fect he
In this amusing dia logue the pa inter challenges the Dutch seventeenth -century coul d ne ver repe at it. The nat uralist ic im age , as \\T have seen, is a \'e r y
mas ters, or rather th ei r ghosts assem bled at an exhibition, w ith the question: closel y kn it configuration of rela tionships w hich cannot be var ied b eyond
.Was there no d ear skv in your dol)', and did not th e broad blue light of the certain limits without becoming unin tellig ible to artist and public alike .
atmosphere shine then , as it does now .. . ? [ find it is this whi ch gives the chief Man er 's actio n in m od ifying a co m p osit io nal schem a of Raphae l 's show s that
splendour of suns hine bv contrasting the golden with the azure light" . . . . ' he knew th e value of th e adage 'One thing at a time .' Language grow s by
introducin g ne w words, but a langu age consisting only of new words and a
Like Constable , Richte r scr utinized the t rad itio nal formula handed down in new syn ta x would be indistinguishable from gibberis h .
the scie n ce of pai nting and found that if yo u tested pictures painted in that
w ay th ev d id no t look like scenes in d aylight , H e t here fore advocated th e These co nside ratio ns mus t sur el y inc rease our r espect lo r the achie vemen t
addition' of m ore blue in co ntrast to' y~lIow in order to ach ieve that of th e successfu l innovator. Mo re is ne eded than a rejection of trad itio n ,
equival ence to da yligh t wh ich had hi ther t~ el ud ed art. more also th an an 'innocent eve ,' Art itself be comes the innovator's instr u ­
ment for probing reality. He" ca nno t sim ply batt le down that mental set
Rich te r 's cr it icism w as right, but he docs not appear to have succeeded in which m akes him sec, th e m o tif in te r m s of know n pic tures; he must ac tively
producing a satisfacto r y alternati ve. Perhaps he wa s no t inventive eno ugh to try that interpretation , but try it cr itically, varying h ere an d there to sec
put his hypothesis to the test of a successful paint ing , pe r haps he lacked t he whether a better match could no t be achieve d. He must st ep back from the
st amina for tr ying again and agai n, and so he disappeared into the oblivio n canvas and be his own merciless critic, in to lerant of all eas)' e ffe cts an d all
of a tame and uninspired Victorian illustrator while Co nstable we n t o n short -cut m ethods. And his rewa rd might easi ly be tile public'S finding his
e xpe rimen ting till he fo und those bri gh te r an d coo le r harm onies w hich, egtrivalelll ha rd to re ad and ha rd to accept be cause it has not ye t been
inde ed , took pain ting nearer to the plcin ai r . trained to interpret th ese new co m bina tio ns in terms of th e visibl e world .
Buf the e vid ence of histo r y suggests th at all su ch discoveri es involve tile No won der the boldest o f th ese experiments led to th e co nvictio n that the
svsternatic co m par ison of past achi evements and pr~~s('nt motifs, in other artist's vision is entire ly subj ective. With imp ressionism the popular notion of
wo rd s, th e tentative pro je ct ion of works of art into nat ure . e xperimen ts as the painter became that of th e man who pain ts blue tr ees and re d law ns and
to how far nature can in fact be seen in suc h terms . One of the most who answers evcry criticism with a pr oud 'That is how I see it .' This is on e part
infl ue ntial te ac her s o f ar t in n inete en t h -c en tury France , Leco q de of the stor y but not, I beli eve , th e whole .This assertion of subjectivi ty can als
Boisbaudran , who wa s an ardent r eformer and advocat e of memor y be overdo ne ,There is such a thin g as a real visual discoverv, and there is a way
training . provides an other instance of th is intera ction . Cr itica l of accep ted of testing it despit e th e fact we n;a v never kn ow w hat the 'ar tist himself saw ; t
life -class ro utines and eage r to guide th e student toward ' th e immense field , a certain moment. Whatever the initial resistan ce to impressioni st paintings.
alm os t une x plored . o f living action. of changin~, fugitive effects ,' he when the fir st shock had wo rn oll', people learned to read th em . And haVing
obtained permission to let models pose in the ~pe~ air and m ad e them move. lear:ned this language, th e)' went intu the fields and wo od s. o r looked o ut of
fre ely. as Rodin wa s to do : ' O nce our ad~lIratlo~ rose to th e hei ght o l ~~Ir window onto th e Par is boulevards, and found to their delight ~lat the
e nth usiasm. One of our models, a man of splendid stature with a g re at ',slhle world could after all be seen in te rms of these br ight patches and dabs of
sw e eping bea rd, lay at rest upo n the hank ~r th.c po~d , : Iosc to a group of !laint. The transposition wo rked . The impressionists had taught th em, not,
ru shes, in an atti tude at once easy an d beauufu l. r he illUSion Was co mp lete ­ Indeed, to see nature with an 1I11lo n 'rll eye , hut tu ex plo re an un expected
mvthologv made t rue lived hd 'o re our t: ~'cs, lor th e r r-, hdi)re us was a rive r altcrnath'c that turned ou t to fit ("c r l.Jin ,·xp,·ric·rw,... b ell e r tha n d id an v e-ar lie r
, . • -: . . . 1'. " . ;" ....; ...t d i1!llIt y ll\l r till: vour-« Ill" hi s Wollc
..: . I M A G E S A R T HISTORY ' ­

'nature imitates ar t ' became current. As O scar Wilde said, there was no fog in
London before W histler painted it .

1. Images removed.


Along with Ver meer 's ,In ?I Paintinq and Courber's Scu JlQ , Velazq uez's Las
MClllnas (Figu re 4 ..3 ) is surely one of th e grl'atest representations of pict or ial
re prese ntation in all ofWeste rn painting. W hy has this work eluded full and
satis factorv discussion bv ar t histo r ians? W hv should it be that the major
stu dy, the 'most ser io us ;nd sustained piece ~f w r iti ng on this w·ork in our
time, is by Michel Foucault?!T he re is, I shall argue, a st ruc tural explanation
built int o the interpretive procedures of the discipline itself that has made a
picture such as Las iHcninas lite rally unthinkabl e under the rubric of ar t
F IG U RE 4.3
history. Before co nsidering the wo rk , as I propose to do, in representational Diego Velazquez , Las Meninas ,
ter ms, let us consider why this should be so. 1656, Museo del Prado . Mad rid
Rights reserved © Museo
Historically, we can tra ce two lines of argum ent abou t Las Mcnmas: the first , Nacional del Prado , Madr iv .
most eleg~lt1y encapsulated in Theophile Gau tier's ' O ll est done le tableau?' Reproduced with permission by
has been con cerned with the extraordinar ily real presence of the painted Museo Nacional del Prado,
wo r ld ." The frame appears to intersect a room w hose ceiling, floor, and
window bays exte nd. so it is suggested, to includ e the viewer, The light and
shado w-filled space is not only intended for the viewer's eyes - as in the case
of her maids, and a dwarf, and of course Velazquez himself who has ste pped
of its mu ch sm alle r predecessor IltUlg at the Spanish court. Van Eyck' s ,irno!fi m
back li'om his canvas 1'01' this \'ery porpose .
IIh /Jlng. Given the great size of the canvas, it is intended also tor the viewer>
body. Th e size of the ngures is a match fo r our own .This appeal at on ce to eye The gazt' out of th e canvas is a con sistent feature in Velazquez's works. I...J It
and to hod )' is a rem arkable pictorial perfo rmance which contradicto ri ly ~Iocs not initiate or att end to some occurrence ; em pty or expression , it is no t ,
prescnts powerful human ligures by means of illusionary sur faces. In th e in short, nar ratl vr- in nature .The gaze, "ath er, Signals from with in th e picture
nineteenth century it was a commonplace for travellers to Madrid to refe r to hat the viewe r outside the pictu re is see n and in turn it ackno wledges the
it in what we can ca ll photographi c terms. Continuing a tradition starteel state o r being seen .Though not invented for the occasion of Las Meninas, the
in the eighteenth century about such works as Vermeer 's I',CIl' rj' De!ft, it was device is heighten ed here because it is thcm atizcd by th e situ ation , or possibly
com pared to nature seen in a camcro obscura , and Stirlin g-Maxwell, an early the situatio ns at hand .
wr ite.', not ed that Las Jfcllinas anticipated Daguerre. Th e pictorial quality of Just what the situati on is - hen ce what UII: subjec t of the work is - has been
presence is sustained in the apparently cas.ua,1 deportment of.the figures that i~ ~h c conce rn of the seco nd line of argument abo ut Las Menmas.111e problem
distinguish ed, as so often in the works ofVclazquez. bv a particul ar featu re : th 1\ not one of identiIlcati on - an early co mm entato r identifi ed eac h
Iact that we are looked at by those at whom we arc looking. To twentieth participant in the sce ne (even including the figure paUSing in the light of the
centu r y eves at least. this gives it the appearance of a 'napshot being taken . ln distant doorway whose role of marshal in the qu een 's ento urage signifi ~antl)'
the fo~g ;ounJ. th e littl e princess tu r n - to us [rorn her ento urage , as do cs a nt: matche s Velazque-z's rol e in service to the k.ing>: How ever the presence of
the king and CJuccn marked by thei r rdlc~l lon III the I?" o minent mirror at
l), l ' ce nter of th e far wall. and the I.trgt pKl un ' ~el' n fro m the hack on us
r"'J lll n • •

,·,1 U"I

q ueen 01 ' w hat is the source o f thei r reflect ion s, and w hat is th e subject bei ng unO("J" wh at co nditions is the ma n represen te d in paint on the surface o f a
pain ted on the unseen canvas? The impulse: in recent st ud ies has been to CJ.ll \·JS?
answe r t hese q ues tions hy attempting to supply the plot - a littl e playlet as
Art hb tor ians answe r th is question in stylisti c te rms . Gombrich, q uite co n ­
one scholar calls it - of which this p ictur e is a scene . The litt le Infanta, So
sri ou ~ l y raking lip w here Panofskv left off, made it his major task to define
t his accoun t goes, has d ro pped in to sec Velazquez at work. sto ps to ask her
st"k. En capsulat ed in the brilliant phrase ' m aking co m es befo re ma tc hing,'
m aid of ho no r for a drink of w ate r and loo ks up w hen surpr ised by th e
~{~ ruling inSight of Gombrichs Arc and Illusion has provi ded a generation
unex pected entrance of her parents, the king and queen.
of liler'.lr)" cr itics w ith the to uchstone fo r the ir ana lyses of literary
It is characteristic of art histo rical practice that it is the question of plo t to conven tio n , But they have ignor ed th e ract tha t in the process of re-placing
wh ich th e notio n of th e me aning of the wo rk is appe nded , rather th an to the an expressive notion of style w ith a representational one , Gombrich
question o f the nature of the pictorial rep re sen tation [ . . . J. And it is on th is efTccti\Tly e liminates just w hat he sets o ut to define. Despi te his emphasis
basis th at th e meaning of Las tl!em nas is today interpre ted as a claim fo r the on 'making' or co nventio n , he is far Irorn the st r uct ur alist tha t he is
nobility of p aint ing as a liberal art and as a personal claim fo r nob ility o n th e som elim es taken to he . Gombrich tr eats rep resent atio n as a matter of
pari of Velazquez himself. In sho r t, Las .Henirw 5 is now und e rs tood as a visual skill - skill in rendering and skill in perception. Pictor ial co nve nt io ns in
statem e nt of th e social rank desired by th e painter. Weste r n ar t , he arg ues, ser ve t he perfectio n o f na turalist ic representation
[ . . .] which Cornbrich significantly c hooses to call ' illusion .' Basing himself o n
the ir re fu table evidence olTered by the studv of perception . Gomb r ich
In o rder to re duce Las Meninas to its curren t me an ing two moves are
concludes by defin ing a perfect representation as indi sting uishable to our
nece ssary : firs t , against th e evidence or th e pictu re it is argued that artist and
eves from nature. Like the current commentators o n Lay Menmos ,
king are represented together and thei r proximity is see n as the ce ntral
Gombrich ellectivel v cr edi ts the perfect re presentatio n wi th maki ng pic ­
feat u re of the wo rk ; seco nd , art histo r ians separate w hat th e y claim to be the
ture s disappear: the question of re presentatio n re treats before th e p e r fect
seven tee nth ce ntury meani ng of the work from its appearanCt" which is put illusion Velazquez prod u ces o f t he pa inter, the princess, and her en tourage,
in its p lace as m er el y th e concern of mod ern viewer s.
Any meaning must dearly lie e lsew he re - be yond or ben eath the surface
It is th is insistence on the separat io n o f qlH.~s t io ns o f meaning fr o m questions of the p icture .
o f re prese ntation t hat m akes Las Meninas unthin kable within the es tablished It is her e that the strength o f Fo uca ult 's commentary on l.as Aletnnas lies .
rub ric o r art history. The problem is endemic to the field . [ . . .] What is Beginning, as he does . w ith a de te r minate and de ter mining noti on of class ical
missing is a no tion of representatio n or a co ncern w ith what it is to pict ur e representatio n, he finds in this pai nting IC5 r e pres en tatio n . Fo ucau lt' s
so mething, I···J exposition o r t his p o int proceeds through a careful viewing of th e w ork
\ Vhy should art histor y find itself in this fix! The answe r lies , paradoxically, which is impressive 1'01' its atten tive ness . His interest in repre sen ta tio n
in a great strength of t he d isci p lin e pa rticula rly as it has been viewe d and gives him the m o tive fo r look ing which is lo st to th ose- who seek meaning
used by lit e rar y scho larshi p. T he cornerstone of the ar t histo rical notio n of in signs of a claim to social st atu s. Foucau It finely e vo kc-, the th em e o f
meaning is iconography so named by Panofskv w ho was its foun ding reCiprOcity b e tw ee n an absent vie wer (before the painting) and the world in
fath e r in o ur time. Its great achievem ent was to demonstrate Ulat VIew. He argues th at the ab sence of a subject- viewer is ess ential to classical
representat iona l pictur es ar~ not intended so lely for p er cep tio n . but can be r~presentation . This seems to me wrong. Fo r the reci proci t)' be tween absen t
read as having a secondary or deep e r le vel of m ean ing . \ Vhat then do we VIewer and wor ld in view is prod uced not hy t he absence of a conscious
mak e of the pi ctorial sur face itself? In hi s se minal essay on iconography and human subject, as Foucault argues , bu t rather b;' Velazquez's ambit io n to
ico nolog)'. Panofskv clearly e vades this question. He introduces his sub ject ern bra ce t wo conflicting m odes of representation, each of which constitu te s
with the sim ple example of meeting a fri end on the street w ho lift s his hat t~e relationship between the vie wer an d the p ict ur ing of t he wo rl d
in greeting. The blur of shapes and colors identified as a man and the sense (hfT~: rell~ly. It is the te nsio n be t ween these two - as between UlC opposing
that he is i n a certain humor are called by Panofsky the primary o r nat ural holes 01 two .m~gne ts tha t one might attempt to bring together w ith one's
meanings, but the understanding tha t t.o raise th e hat is a greeting is a ands - that Inform s this picture .
secondarv o r co n ve ntio nal meaning. So far we have been dealing only with (~agine two dilTercnt ki nd s o f pictures - the first is conceived to be like a
life . Pan;ltsky's strategy is t he n to Si~lp), recomm:nd transferring the \~Jnclow on the perceived world .The artist positions himself on the viewer's
resu lts of th is analysis from everyday lilt: to a .wo rk of art. So now we have
sld~ of the picture surface and looks through the frame to the world, ~"hich
a piclUre of a man lift ing his hat. W hat Panotsky c~ooscs to ignore is that
he then re constructs 011 the surface of t he picture by means of the geometric
the mall is not p rese n t hut is n·. pn:St;n lcr.! III t ht; plclure . In what man ner,
ronvC'lltion of linear perspecti ve. I·· J
IMA G ES A R T H I S T O R Y : "> ;;"

T Ill" second mode is not a win dow but rat her a sur face on to which an irna T OWA R DS A VI S UAL C R IT IC AL T H E O RY •
01' the world casts its elf. just as ligh t focuss ed through a len s forms a pict Ut,
on th e retina of the eye. In place of an artist who frames the wo rld to pictu

it , th e wo r ld produces its own image witho ut a necessar y frame. T 1111' pro d ucti on of a dis course of visual culture entails th e liquidation of ar t
replicative imagc is jus t there for the loo king, withou t th e in tervention 0 ;l ' I I l' have kn own it . Th er e is no way within suc h a d iscour se for art to

hu m an ma ker. T he worl d so seen is conce ived of" as exi sting prior to sll ~t,li n a sep arate e xistence , not as a practi ce, not as a ph enomenon, not as
artist-viewer. [.. . 1The artist of the fir st kind claim s that 'I see the worl ~l (>xpe r icnce , not as a discip line. Mu se ums would then need to become
wh ile that o f the second sho w s rath er that the wo rl d is 'being seen .' double en casings, prescT\'ing art objects, and pre scT\'ing the art -id ea . Ar t
I am not just imagining tw o kinds of pictures, but describing two modes hi,to r:' de par tm en ts would be mov ed in with archaeo logy . And w hat of
representation that are central in Western art . I. . . 1 In Velazquez's Las Mem 'artist,;' ? In the recently expired socialist societies, th ey printed u p call ing
we find the two as it were co m poun de d in a dazzling, bu t [un dam entaj] earth with thei r p ro fessio n liste d con fidentl y after their name and pho ne
unrcsolvahle way. While in th e Albertian picture the artist presumes himsd numbe r. In recen tly restructured cap italist societies, they became ca ught in
to stand with the viewer b~foTe the pictured world in both a physica l a di,l!ectica] cul-d: -sac, attem pting to rescu e th e au to nomy of art~ as a
ep istemolog ical sens e , in th e de scriptive mode 11(" is accoun ted fo r, if at all rcl1en ivL' , cri tical practi ce by attacking the museum , the ver y institution
wuhm that world . A pict orial device signalling this is th e artist mirrored in that sustains the illusion tha t art exists. Ar tists as a social class de ma nd
wurk (as in Van Evck 's !lm o!flm ) or a figun:: situated as a looker with in, la th sponsors : th e state , private patrons , co r po rations . Their produc ts enter the
like a su rve yor situ ated with in the very world he ma ps. In Dutch paint ings market through a dealer-critic system that manipu lates value and is
this type: the looker w ith in the picture does no t look out. That would ind rncdiatvd bv galle ries, museums , and private co llections . Tomorrow 's artists
he a cont rad icti on since a picture of this sort docs no t assum e the ex isten ce rna>' opt t ~ ~go underground, much like fre emasons o f the eighteenth
viewer s pr ior to and external to it, as do es the Albertian m ode. centu ry. Th ey may choose to do thei r wo r k esote ri cally, w hile employed as
reducer s o f visual culture .
In l.as MellllJas th e looke r with in the p icture - th e on e whose view it is ­ n
on ly loo ks out , bu t is su itably none o ther than the artist himself. W hat Their wor k is to sustain the critical moment uf aesthetic expe r ience . Our
ext raor d inar y about thi s picture as a re presentat ion is tha t we must take work as critics is to recognize it. Can this be done best , or done at all. w ithin
at once as a r cpl ication of the wo rl d und as a reconstruction o r the world a new int erdisciplinary field of visual studies? What would be the epis£eme, or
we view through the win dow fram e .The wor ld seen has pri or ity, but so 31 theoretical frame , of such a field? Twice at Cornell over the past decade we
do we , th e viewers on this side o f the picture surface , Let m e expl . have had meetings to discu ss th e cr eatio n o f a visual studies program . Both
Parad ox ically, th e world seen tha t is prior to us is pr ecisely w hat , by loo kim times, it was painfully clear that institutionalization canno t by itself produce
o ut (and here the artis t is join ed by th e princess and part of her re ti nue such a frame. and th e discussio ns- am ong a dispara te g rou p or art historians,
co nfir m s or acknowledges us . But if lI 'e had not ar r ived to stand befo re th a,nthropol ogists , computer design ers, social historians , and scholars of cinema,
worl d to look at it , the pr ior it), o f the wo rl d se en wou ld not have bee lIterature , and arc hitecture - did not coalesce in to a program . Still, visual
defined in the first plac e . Ind eed , to co me full circle , the wo r ld seen culture has become a presence on campus , It has worked its way in to many of
before us be cau se we (a long with th e king and quel.'n as noted in the d ist th ~ tr aditi onal disciplines and lives there in suspende d isolation, encapsulated
mirror) ar c what com m and ed its prese nce. \\" Ithin th eore tic al bubbl es. T he psych oan alytic-bubble is the biggest , bu t there
are others. One co uld list a com mon set or readings , a canon of texts by
LJS Menmas is produced not out o f a singl e, classical noti on of rcprescn tati
~nhes , Benjamin, Fo ucault , Lacan , as \\'1:11 as a pr ccan on o f texts by a long
as Foucault sugg ests , but rath er out of spe cific pictorial traditio ns I list or co ntem po rary writers. Ce r tain them es are standard: th e reproduction
c prcsenrat io n . It confo u nds a stab le reading , not be cause of th e absence I of ~e imag e, th e soci ety of the spectacle , eJl\i sion ing the O ther, sco pic
th e viewe r -sub ject , but because the painting hold s in sus pension tl regimes, the simulacrum, th e fetish , the (male ) gaze , the machine eye . Today
cont rad ictor)' (and to Velazque z 's sense of things . insep ar abl e) mode> the phrase ' visu al stud ies ' calls up 202 entries in a keyw ord search at th~
picturing the relationship of viewer, and picture, to world . O ne assu m es t~, Corne ll l.lniversitv Libraries. There is a me dia Iihrarv a "cinema pr ogram an
pri ority o f a viewer before th e picture who is the measure of the world at art museu m , a theater arts ce n ter, tw o slide libr~~ ies , and a half d o~en
th e other assu m es that th e world is prior to an )' human presen ce an d is t11' pOSS (~ssi \'d )' guarded . department -owned \'iclc:ocasscttc: plavers. If th e
essen tially imm easurable. theoreti cal hubbies burst, there rc m~i ns . this infrastr ucture of teclm ol ogical
reproduction . Visua l cu lture , once a lor"lgner to the acade my, has gotten its
NOTES green card and is here tu stay.
I . Michel rnu rngli~h Translation, N ew York: Rando'
1louse , Vin tag' • ~ 1,"1I1t1 " I ~~Jf,.. rp. .L~ ) I' . ~\.. 1 1~96
.,_ : IMA G E S

Silent m ovies at the be ginning o f the cent ur y init iate d the u topian i
of a universal language of images, one that could glid e oyer pol iti
and ethnic borders, and set to right th e Tower of Rabel , Acti on fH
and MTV at the end of the ccnturv have realized this idea in secular iz
instr um entalized form, p rod ucing "subjects for t he next stage of glo
capitalism . In this w ay, visua l culture beco mes th e concern of the soc
sciences . ' Im ages in the m ind mo tiva te th e w ill,' wr ote Benjam in, alludj
to the political power of im ages claimed by Sur realism . But his wor
co uld provide the motto as well for th e adver tising industry, prod
sponsor ing , and po litical campaigni ng, w hereas today the fre edom
exp reSSion of artists is defended on formal grounds t hat stress It Nature of the Linguistic Sign
Vir tuality o f the re presentation . The images o f art , it is argu cd , have 5 :I Ferdinand de Saussure
effect in the realm of deeds .
The Sign: Icon, Index, and Symbo l
A critical analysis of th e im age as a social object is needed more urge n ~ 5:2 Charles Sanders Peirce
than a prog ram that legi timates its ' cultu re .' We need to be able to l'
im ag es e m ble m atically and sym p to m atically, in ter m s at' th e m The Third Mea ning
5 :3 Roland Barthes
fundamental questions o f socia l life . T his means that critical theo rie s ai,
need ed, theories th at ar e th em selves visual, tha t show rather tha n arglk
From Sub- to Suprasemiotic: The Sign as Even!
Such conceptual conste llations co nvince by their power to illuminate tf: 5 :4 Mieke Bal
world , br inging to consciousness wh at was befo re on ly dim ly perceive d ,
that it becom es availabl e for critical re flectio n . I do not understand The Semiotic Landscape
5 :5 Gunter Kress and Thea van Leeuwen
de scription of 'anthro pol ogi cal' models and 'socio -histor ical' mo d els
antith etica l po les of th is theoretical pro ject , Any inter p re tation wor th its ~J ,~
d em ands both . It needs to provide a socio-historical and biographical ston
of o r igins th at estranges the ob ject from us an d shows us th at its tr uth is n
immediatel y accessible (the object's pre history) , and a sto ry of de fcrr e
action (it s afterhistor v) th at comes to terms wi th the po tenc~' of the 01*
wi thi n o ur own horizo n of concerns .
\V hilc the In ter net is the topic and the m edium for ne w co urses in digi
cu lture , it is str iking to anyo ne who has vi sited th e Intern et ho w visual!:
im pover ished a home- page can be. C vber digits rep roduce the mov ing imag
haltingly, and the static ima ge uni mp ressivelv. The possibility o f com pu"
scr eens replacing television screens may mean a great dea l to stockho kle
of telephone com pan ies, but it wi ll no t shake the worl d of the visual imag
Aesth eti c exp eri en ce (sensory ex per ience ) is not reducible to infonnaLio
Is it old-fashioned to say so ? Per haps the era o f images that ar e more ih
information is alr eady behind us. Perhaps discussions about visua l cu lt ure
a field have come to o late . It b w ith nostalg ia that we bo ycott the videos wf
and insist upon seeing movies on th e big screen ,
The producers of the visual culture of tomorrow are the cam era -worn
video /Hlm editor s, citv planner s, set desigrwrs for rock star s, touri
packagers, marketing c~nsultnnts, polifical consulC~llts, teIe \;sion produce
comm odity de signers, layout pt'rsons, an,d.cosme tic surgeons. Th ey arc
students who sit in our c lasses today. What IS It they need to kn o", ?What will i
gained, and by wh om , in (,fkring them a program ill visual studies ?

'ThE' cultural and literary critic Roland Barthes (1972) initially combined
SJUssure's semiotics with Marxist ideology critique to uncover the myths of
contemporary society and politics. Applying semioti cs to political and
adv'ertising images, Barthes distinguished between thaI which a picture
;ctuall y signifies, or denotes (such as a Black French soldier saluting) and its
broader cultural and ideological meaning, connotation or signified (the
civilising role of French imperialism). Barthes claimed that the ideological
'rhetoric of the image' is underwritten by the seeming naturalness of photo­
raphic denotation (1977: 32-51). But Barthes (5.3) became dissatisfied with
fhe quasi-sci entific nature of structuralist semiotics, moving towards post­
IN T RO D U C T IO N structura li sm and more open systems of meaning and criticism. He identifies
in images a 'third' level of meaning, which, following Julia Kristeva (1984),
Semiotics - or the 'study of signs' - is concerned with meaning-making he refers to as signifiying - a signifier without a signified. The third meaning,
representation in many forms. It has been app lied widely in the analysis as a supplementary signifier, is indifferent to, or free from, the narrative or
Images in medi a, communication and cultura l studies, as well as in codes that surround it. The third meaning can structure a film differently to
history, as a method of 'taki ng an image apart and tracing how it work established codes and connotations, without subverting the story, leading
relation to broader systems of meani ng' (Rose, 2001: 68). Semiotics, ofte Barthes to suggest that '[tlhe filmic is what, in the film, cannot be described'
conjunction with psychoanalysis (Silverman, 1983), came to prominenc (see also Eisenstein, 10.2).
the height of French structurali st thought in the 1950s and 1960s (Haw Ar! historian Mieke Sal (5.4) takes inspiration both from Barthes and Peirce, as
1977). Since this time, various semiotic approaches - exemplified by well as drawing on psychoanalysis, feminism and narratology. She deploys
journal Applied Semiotics - have been adopted and adapted across a wn two new terms: sub- and suprasemiotic, which, respectively, refer to the
range of disciplines outside of the arts and humanities, including. smallest, technica l aspects of a pictu re (in themselves not signs as such) and
example, medic ine, law, business studies, engi neering and the cogm the overarching, holistic interaction of signs. Her analysis of the relationship
sciences. between these two extremes leads her to see something akin to Barthes' third ,
There are tw o mai n traditions recogni sed in semiotics. The first stems f obtuse meaning in painting. In conceiving of the sign not as a thing, but as an
the work of the Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure and the second i event, which brings to mind Peirce's semiotic process, Bal acknowledges that
the American philosopher and logician Charles Sanders Peirce. Saussu pictures do not stand alone, but 'move' because of the view er. Her use of
(5.1) structuralist, dyadic model of semiotics focuses on the linguistic si narratology as an aspect of visual semiotics accords with her critical move
which he argues does not correspond to its object or referent. Rather, t beyond a word-image opposition (Bal, 1991; Bal and Bryson, 1991 ). But it has
is an arbitrary relation between the signifier, meaning a sign that is also, along with her notion of non-semiotic elements, sparked a controversy
acoustic image of a sound, and the signified, meaning the con about the general appropriateness of semiotics for the analysis of visual images
corresponding to the signifier. The meani ng of language comes from and whether or not a properl y visual semiotics can be established (Elkins,
differential relations betwee n signs, or the place of a sign in a w 1995, 1996, 2003; Bal, 1996; see also Section 8. Images and Words).
structure of interrelated signifyi ng units. The impact of Saussure's v ~un.t er Kress and Thea van Leeuwe n (5.5) have no qualms about applying
relates directly to what Rorty (1979: 263) terms 'the linguistic tum ', w her SOC,~ I semiotics' (Hall iday, 1978; van Leeuwen, 2005 ) across a broad socia l
all of social and cultural life is critical Iv examined in terms of 'tex ts' l~rr~ 1n of communication, w hich they refer to as the 'semiotic landscape' .
'te xtua lity' . In light of debates about contemporary image culture, W. NOting the increasing reliance on visual as opposed to linguistic moda lities
Mitchell (1994: 16) suggests there has been a furt her 'pictorial turn ', mar of Communication, wh ich reflects the shift to a more visual than literary
by a 'postlinguistic, postsemiot ic rediscovery of the picture'; which argua' Culture (see Sections 11 and 12), they call for new forms of vi sual literacy
might entail a visual semiotics . ~al have hitherto been suppressed. The clear distinction they draw between
Peirce's (5.2) semiotics , wh ich expressly engages wit h visual as well VISUal and linguistic modes of communication, simi lar to Romanyshyn (8.4)
linguistic signs, involves a triad ic model along with a series of layered and Debray (13 .4), also draws attenti on to the multi-modality of signs (Kress
at tim es quite opaque taxonomies (Elkins, 2003 ). Similar to Saussu ~~d van Leeuw~n, 2001 ). Kress. and van Leeuwen develop a critical
signifier and signifi ed respectively. Peirce describes the interaction betv SCo urs~ an.alysls of ~he conve.ntlons or grammar of contemporary vi sual
a repr esememen (the iorm the sign takes) and an im erpretsnt (the se ornmUnlCatlon, drawing attenuon to the motives and interests behind as
made of the sign), but also includes an ?bjecl (to whi ch the sign re Well as the effects of, domi nant forms of visual communica tion, as they s~ek
In change the 'sem iotic landscape' at the same tim e as interpreting it.
However Peirce was no naive realist, argumg that all experience is medi a
by signs.' Overall, Peirce's notion of 'sem i~c; I~ ' - in con ~ra~ t to Saussu
synchronic emphiJsj~ .u p~ n str,!~ure . - r~esc,,?es a semIOtIC pro cess . RE F ERENCES
much adopted claSSifIcation 0 1 icoruc . md~xlcaf and symbol ic signs. B~I , M. ( I qql ) On Story-relling. L5sar~ In Narrarl)IQgv, eO Job lrng. Sonoma, CA:
example, depends pri~aflly upon thr- use at the sign. thereby emphasis] PfJlt!bridge Press.

the 'role of the reader In <;(!11110 tIC analys ts (Eco, 1984). Ildl , M . ( 19 9 0) ' Sernlouc elements in «c"opmlt: pr... Iii rtttc 01/ tnqutrv, 2 2 (3):

SEM I O T I C S : . c;

Bal. M. and Bryson, N . (1991) 'Sem iotic s and art history ', Art Bulletin, LXXIII (2)­ NAT U R E O F T H E LI N G U IS TI C SIG N
Barth es, R. (1972 ) Mythologies, Ir. A. Lavers. London : Jona than Cape.

Barth es, R. (19 77) Image, Music. Text , tr, S. Heath. G lasgow: Fontana .

Eco, U . (19 84) The Role of the Reader, Bloomington, IN: Ind iana University Press.
Some peo ple regard langu age , wh en re duced to its ele ments, as a
Elkins , I. (1995) 'Ma rks, traces, trails. contours, orli, and splendo res: nonsem iotlc
naming-proce ss only - a list of word s. eac h corresponding to the th ing that
clemen ts in pi ctures ', Critical Inquiry, 2 1 (Summer): 822-60. it name., . For example :
Elkins, ]. (1996 ) 'W hat do we w ant pictures to be? Repl y to M icke Ba!' . Critical InqUIry

22 (3): 590-602 .

Elkins, J. (2003 ) 'W hat does Peirce's sign theory have to say to art history?', Cultllr.

Theor y and Critique, 44 (1): 5-22 .

H all iday, M.A.K. (19 78) Language as Social Semiotic. Lon don : Arnold.

Hawkes, T. (1977) Structuralism and Sem iotics. London: Routledge.
Kress, G. and van Leeuwen, T. (200 1) Multimodal Disco urse: The Modes and Media.

of Contemporary Communication. London: Arnold .

Kristeva. j. (1984) Revolution in Poetic Language, tr, M . W all er. New York: Co lu mbia

Un iversity Press.
Mitchell. W.j.T. (1994) Pic ture Theory: Essays on Verbal and Visual Representation
Chi cago: University of Chicago Press. EQUUS
Rorty, R. (1979) Philosophy and the Mirror 0; Nature. Princeton, Nj : Princeton
Un iversity Press.
Rose, G. (200 1) Visual Methodologies: An Introduction Co the tm erp tet eti on of Visual

Materials. London: Sage.

Silverman, K. (1983) The Subje ct of Sem iotics. New York: Oxford Univer sity Press.
etc . etc.
van Leeuw en, T. (2005) Introdu cing Social Semiotics. London : Routledge.

This conce p tion is 0pl'n to criticism at several points. It assumes that

ready-m ade ideas exist befor e words [.. . J; it docs not tell us w hether a
name is vocal or psych ol ogi cal in nature (arb or, for instance , can be
consider ed fro m either viewpo in t): finally. it let s us assume that the linking
of a nam e and a thing is a very Simple operation - an assumption that is
anything hu t true . But this r ather naive approach can brin g us near th e tru th
by sh ow in p us th at the linguistic un it is a double entity, on e for m ed by th e
associating of two term s.
The lingu istic sign un ites, not a thing and a nam e , b ut a concept and a
sound-im age. The lat ter is not the ma teri al sou nd , a purely phy sical thi ng,
but till" psych ol ogical imprint of the sound, th e impressio n that it ma kes on
? u.r sens es. The sou nd-im age is senso ry, and if I happen to call it ' m ater ial,'
u Is only in that sense , and by way of opposing it to the oth e r ter m of the
a~sociation , the con cept , which is gen erally m ore abs tr act.
Th e psycho log ical character of our so un d -irnapcs becomes app ar ent wh en
we ob ser ve our own speech . Without m OVin g our lips o r tongue , we can
talk to ours elv es or recite mentally a select ion of ver se. Because we reg ard
~h e words of o ur language as so und -images , we m ust avoid spea king of the
phonemes ' that make up the words . Thi s term, wh ich suggesl~ voca l

!",mU\~.n c l de S.ll u ~:mrc. rtom U -'lH':t( in " '£'~nJll. .H ty uIUItJ :"'t', , , 'ror k . Mc. Gr,)" l h ll , 1966, pp. 6 5 ·R, 120 .
tr Rl~' Harrh I;J 19 S J Mu; H~ rn' . Engli. IlIt,m\"l. licm ,m, 1 t'tlil,-,d.J man e-' Rt· p lT)lh.K"~ : d w it] . p', ~rm u.5JOn
uf 'm... I\t c l ~ r ., ,, Ildl <:() mI MOI4..~.

IMAGES SE M I OTle s : 1':'7

activit v, is applicable to th e sp oken wo r d only, to the realization of the inner

I·· I

irnav c in discourse . Vic can avoid th at m isunderstanding bv ~peakin g of the

The bond between the sign ifie r and the Signified is arb itrary. Since r m ean

.I'twnJ s and svllablc« or J word p ro vided we re m e m ber th~t the names refer to
b- sign th e w ho le that res ults fro m the associat ing o r the sign ifier with th e

the so um l-irn ag«,

si~1 i fkd, [ can simply sa)': the lingUIstiC Sign is arbitrary,

Th e linguistic sign is then a t we-side d psych o logi cal entity that can he
[. . . In l langu age there are on I)' dillerences. Even more im portant: a difference

represented by the drawing :

gClled ly impli es positive ter ms between whi ch [he difference is set up : but in

laJ1i:--T1.lage ther e are on ly differ ence» without posu ivc terms. Whethe r: we take the

signifl l.~d or the signifie r, langu age has neither ideas nor sounds that e xisted

b; fore the linguistic system, but only conceptual and phoni c dillc renccs that


han" issued fr;m the s)'stem .111e id e~ /sigllilk 'd j or phonic substance [signifier]

that a sign contains is or less im portance than the other signs that surround it.

Sound-Image [ . .. 1
But th e statem e nt tha t everyt hing in lan guage is negative is true on ly if the
sign itied and signifier are considered separately ; w hen we co nsid er the sign
in its to tality, we have som ethi ng th at is positive in it 0 \ \ '11 class. A linguistic
The two cle m ents ar c intimately unitcd.und eac h recalls th e o ther. W heth er system is a se r ies of differe nc es of sound combined w ith a series of
we try to find th e meaning of the Latin wor d arbor o r th e wo rd th at Lat in <lifferen ces of ideas; but th e pair ing of a certain n umbe r of acoustical signs
uses ;0 design ate the con cept 'tre e,' it is clear that only the associations with .1$ m any cuts made from the mass of thought engenders a system of
sanctio ned by that language appear to us to co nfo r m to reality, an d we values; and this s)"S tem ser ves as the effective link be t ween th e pho n ic and
disregard w hatever o thers migh t be imagi ne d . psyc ho log ical elements wi th in each sign .
Our defin itio n o f th e lingui stic sign p oses an impor tan t question or
ter m inol ogy. r call th e combination of a concept and a sound -image a siBil ,
but in cu r re nt usag e the term ge ne rally designates only a sou nd -image , a
wo rd , for exam ple (arbor, N C. ) . One ten ds to forget that arbor is calle d a
sign o nly because it carries the concept ' tr ee ,' wi th the resu lt tha t the idea
. •
or till' sensory pa r t implies We idea of the w hole , C H A R L E S S A N D E:R S PEIR CE:

A sign, or represen tamen, is something w hich stands to somebody for

something in some respect o r capacity. It addresses so mebody, tha t is ,

'tree' creates in th e m ind of t hat per so n an equivalen t sign, o r pe rha ps a more

t--- - - l lI
arbor II' - I
deVeloped sign . That sign which it create s I call the interpretant of th e firs t
sign. The sign stands for something, its object . It stands for that o bject , not in
all reSptT ts, bu t in refe ren ce to a sort of idea , which J han' sometimes ca lled
the a round or the representamen . ' Idea ' is he re to be understood in a sort of
Platoni c sense , ve ry famili ar ill ever yday talk · I m ean in that sense in which
We say that o ne man catches another man's idea in w hich we say tha t w hen
Ambiguity would disappear if We three notions involv ed here were
deSignat ed by three nam es, eac h suggesting and opposing the others . I
m a~ recalls what he w as thinking uf at som e ~re\'ious time , h~ recalls the ,
sam e idea, and in which when a man co ntinues to think an ything, say for a
propose to retain th e word siBn [slgn eJ to designate th e wh ol e an d to re place
tenth o f a se co nd , in so far as th e th ought co ntinues to agree with itself
concept and sound-im aqe respectively by uon!fied [siBn!flel and siBnifier
du ring that time, that is to have a like conten t , it is th e same id ea, and is no
l.sJgn!flant]; th e last t wo terms have th e arlvantage of indicating the
at each instant o f th e interval a new idea .
opposition tha t se para tes them from ~~ach other and from the whole of
which they arc parLs, As rega rds IIBn , it I am satisfi ed with it , this is sim ply
because I d " no t. know uf any wo rr] to re p lace it, th e ordinary languag~' Repnn ",<lI.y perm ,'"on of thr publbb "r lrom n.. c.Jkn.,J ropen '!!'C h" t l.. SanJ<n 1'<i tc 4. Vol, ll , ed
suggesl ing n« nthl;;r. ChJ.r le'l Ha r talusr ne .Ind Paul \\lCh 'l. pp . Il S. 14 1-.... 1/,'91 .,. l ~mbl·idg\ - . MA· rhc Bclkn.p Ilre u. ( .If
J f,an '.nl Unav("nlty J-'rt·u . C V()"'rlghl ,f'" 1911, 1960. try thl Pr Clhll~lI and r, 'UtY'n or H. n 0"tnl CoJl\:ge .
, . - v-, I MAGE S SEM I O T I C S : '

[ ... ) Ohjl'C[S by blind compu lsion. But it would be difTicult if not impossible, to
instance an absolut ely pure index, or to find any sign absolutel y devoid o r
1\ sign is either an Icon . an Index, or a symbol, An Jean is a sign which would
p ossess th e characte r w hic h render s it sign ifican t , even though its object had
tht' indexical q ualit y. Psvcholoqically, the action o f indices depe nd s upon
as,;ociatlon by contiguity, and n o t u po n asso ciation hy resem blance 0 1' up on
no exis tence : such as a lead -pe ncil streak as representing a geomctricalline.
An ind ex is a sign w hic h would, at o nce, lose the c harac te r w hich m akes it a inte llect ual o perations .
sign if its objeZ.t were removed , but wo uld no t lose that character if there
we re no in te r prctan t . Such , for ins tance, is a piece of mould w ith a SYJ\l BOL : A Sign wh ich is consti tu ted a sign merely or main ly by th e Iact
bullet-hole in it as sign of a shot ; for w ithout the shll t there wo uld have bee n that it is used and unde rstood as such , w hether the ha bit is natu ra l o r
no hole ; bu t th ere is a ho le there , wh e ther anybody has th e sense to attribut e con\ cntional, and witho ut re gard to the motives w hich originally gove rned
it to a shot or not. A sym bo l is a sign w hich wo u ld lose t he cha rac ter w hich its selection. [. . ·1
rende rs it a sign if there were no inter pre tant . Suc h is any utt e ranc e or It is of th e nature of a sign, and in pa rticular of a sign which is rendered
speech whic h sign ifies what it docs only by virtue of its being understo od to significant bv a character which lies in the fact that it w ill be in terpre ted as
have tha t sit-,mifkation. a sign. o r course, nothing is a sign unless it is interpreted as a sign; but the
[. . .J charact e r which causes it to be int erprete d as referring to its object may be
one wh ich m ight belong to it irrespect ive of its object and though th at
ICON : A sign whi c h refer s to the Object th at it deno tes m erely by virtue of
object had neve r existed , o r it ma y be in a relation to its o bject w hic h it
c haracters ~r its own, and \\·hich it possesses , just t he same ,' whethe r am
would have just the same whether it were interpreted as a sign o r not. Rut
suc h Ob ject actually exists or not , It is t r ue that un less there r eally is suc h
the tlieraa o f Burgcrsdicim seem s t o b e a sign which , like a word , is
an Object , the Icon does nOI act as a sign ; but this has n oth ing to do with its
connected with its ob ject by a co nve ntion that it shall be so und erstood , or
cha ract er as a sign , :'\n)'thing wh at ever, be it qua litv, e xistent individua l , or
else by a natural ins tinct or 'intellect ual act w hich takes it as a represe ntative
law, is an leon o f anythi ng, In so far as it is like th at thing and used as a sign
of its ob ject w itho u t any action nccc ssar ily taking pla ce w hic h co uld
o f it.
estab lish a factual connection between sign an d ob ject. If this was thl~
[ .. . ] meaning o f Burgersdicius, his thcma is the sam e as th e p res en t write r' s
INDEX: A sign , or re present atio n , whic h refe rs to its object not so mu ch 'symbol.' ,
be caus e o f an)' similar ity or ana logy with it, nor beca use it is associated w ith
ge ne ral ch aract e rs w hich th at ob jec t happens to possess, as beca use it is in NO TES
d yn ami cal (including spatial) connection both with the individual object, on I. Editor's note : For the sake of claritv, and bre vit ,.v the order of UlC text from the
th e one hand , and w ith (h<: senses or memory of the pe rs o n fo r w hom it origillaI has been altered slightly. Also , the or iginal numbcl'ing of the paragr aphs
serves as a sign , on th e other hand. has been removed.
2. Edilor', note: Peirce is rd,ning here to Burgersdicius' LON,e (1., ii ., § I ), of 1635,
N o matter of fact can be stated w ith out th e usc of som e sign serving a." an
in which the wo rd ' the rna' is coined. llle meaning of which, Peirc e suggests, is
index . If /I. says to B, 'The re is a fire, ' B will ask , ' W he re?' Thereupon A is
equivalent to what Aristo tle sometimes ex presses by A6yo ~ (1°80'<) , being the
force d to resort to an inde x , e ven if he o nly means somewhere in the real
immediate object of a thought o r meaning.
universe, past and future . Otherwise, he has o'nl), said that there is such an idea
as lire , w hich wo uld give no information , since unless it w ere know n already.
the word '{irc ' would be unintelligible . [1':\ points his Hilger to the fire, ~is
finger is dvnamicallv con necte d with t he fire, as much as if a self-acting [ire
alar m had directlv ~rned it in that direction; whi le it also forces the eves of B T HE THI RD M EAN IN G
to turn th at w ay, 'his att e ntion to be ri veted upon it, and his und er standing t o ROLAND BART HES
recognize that -his question is answered. If A's reply is, 'Within a thousand
vards of here,' the wo rd 'here' is an index; for it has precisely the same force Here is ~n image fro m [Eisenstein's] hun the Terrible ( Figure 5.1 ): tw o
as if he had pointed energetically to the ground between him and B. COUrtiers, confederates , or supernumeraries (it doesn't matter whether or
not I recall the story's details ex ac tlv) are shOwering the you ng tsar's he ad
[ .. .] with go ld. I believe 'l can Jisli nguis h three levels of m eaning in this scene :
Indices may be distinguished Irorn o ther ~ ign~. l~r represenlations, by th ree
characteristic marks: first, that the)' have no stgl1lficant n:scmblanet: to their
objects; second, tha t lite)' refer to indi vid uals , " i~g lc un it", ~ing lt: co llec tio ns
l 'If'''' (11111 ~ w."g). I~K~ , PI" ·~ I i.·I7~.
" I' u ni ts o r singk co n tinu,l; thln l Iholt t hrv tlln't1 tln, au enuon to tl u-ir
1 1. ' IMAG ES

here-w fo re inco mp lete sign is composed. T here is a certain density of th e

cow-til'r s' m akeu p, in one case thick and emphatic, in th e other sm~oth and
' d i~ t mguished ; ' there is the 'stupid' nose on one and the delicate line of the
cyd ids on the other, his dull blond hair , his wan complexion, the affected
S;;,oo tlmes s of his hairstyle which suggests a wig, th e connection with chalky
skin tints, with rice powder. I am no t certain wheth er my reading of th is thir d
meaning isjustified - if it can be generalized - but already it seems to me that
its signifier (the features I have just attempted to e xpress, if no t to describe)
poss~sses a theoretical individuality. For, on the one hand , this ~ignifier
cannot be ident ified w ith the simple Dasem of th e sce ne ; it exceeds the copy
of the re fe rential motif. it compels an inte r rogati \'e r ead ing - an
interrog,ltion bearing precisclv on the .~ igni fi c r, not on the signified, on the
reading, not on intellection : it is a 'poetic' apprehension. O n the other hand ,
it canno t be identified with the episode's dramatic meaning. To say tha t these
features reftr to a signifkan t 'e xp ression' of the courtiers, here remote and
bore d , there diligen t ('The)' are ~jmplj' dom.q their job as courtiers' ), does not
altog~,tlw r satisfy me . Snmething in these two faces transcends psychology,
F IGURE 5 . 1
anecdote, fun ction, and, in short. meaning, though with out being reduced to
From Eisenstein's Ivan the
Terrible. Source: British the pcrsistencx: which am hu man bodv exerts hv merely being present. In
11m Institute. oppositi on to the first 'two levels, ~Ja t of c~11Inunication ~and tha t of
significati on, this thir d level - even if my rea ding of it is still uncertain - is
that of slgn.I!j'irw ["on!f)anccl, a wo rd that has the advantage ofreferrinq to the
field of the signifier (and not of signification) and of app roac hing , along the
1. An informational level: ever vth ing I can learn from the setting the trail blazed hy Julia Kr istcva , who proposed the term, a semiotics of the tex t.
COstu mes, the characters , their relati onships, their insertion in an anecdote
familiar (0 m c (however vaguely).This level is that of commumCGnon, If I had to
I...]The symbolic meaning (the shower of gold, power, wea lth, the imperial
rite) com pe ls my rel'ognition by a double determination. It is intentional (i
find a mode of analysis forit , i should resort to a primary semiotics (th at of
is what the author has meant) and it is selected from a kind of general ,
the ' message '), though 1 shall not dea l with this level and this semiotics he re .
common lexicon of sym bols ; it is a meaning which seeks me out - me, the
2. i\ sym bo lic level: the sho wer of oold .Th is level is itsel f strat ified . There is recipient of the message , the subject of the reading - a me aning which
• b
a refer ential sym bo lism : the imp e rial ritual of baptism by go ld . Then the re proceeds fro m Eisenste in and mo ves ahead <!l me . It is evident, of course (as
is a diegetic symbolism : the theme of gold, of wealth (assuming it exists) in is the other meaning, too), but evident in a closed sense, participating in a
Ivan the Terrible, which in this imag e would mak e a Signilkan t intervention . complete system o f destination . [ propose to ca ll this complete sign the:
Th er e is ,1150 an Eisensteinian symbolism - if, sav, a critic decided to show ~bl'1 ~l1.l meanin,q. [. . . [!n theology, we are told , the obvious meaning is the one
tha t gold. o r a sho we r of gol d. ~r th e curtain co~ s titu ted by this shower. 0 which presents itsel f (juit e naturally to the mind ,' and tills, too, is the case:
the disfigurement it produces, can parti cipate in a system of displacements ~ o me tile symbolics of a shower of gold has always seemed endowed with a
and suhs t itutions characteristic of Eisenstein . Finally th ere is a historical .~atura)' clar it v, As for the other, the third meaning, the one which appears
~ )'mholis m , if i t can be show n, in a manner even more gen eralized than tilL, In ex cess,' as a supplement my intellection cannot quite absorb, a mean ing
rnTl~ding , that gold introduce's a (theatrical) function, a scenogr aph)' 01 both persistent and fugitive, apparent and evasive , [ propose calling it
exchange whi ch we can locate bot h psydlOanalyticaIly and economicall)'. he obtuse meaninB' This word readily comes to my mind, and miracu lo usly,
i .c . ; sem io logically. This second level, in its totality, is that o f sJonylcatlon . [t~ upo n exploring its etymology, f find it already yields a theory of the
mod e of analvsi s would be a more high I)' elaborated semiotics than the first. supplementary meaning; obeu.ws means blunted . rounded. Now, tile features [
a second or nco .semiotics no longer acccss ibk to a science of the message have indicated - makeup, whiteness, false hair, etc. - are they not a kind of
but to sciences of th e sym bo l (psichoana l~'s i :> , economic:;, dramaturgy ). blunting of a too evident meaning, a.too violent meaning? Do the)~ not give
Is this all ? No , for [ cannot yet detach m)'sdrfrom the im~gc . I read , [ rcceivv the obvious significd a kind of i~enahle round ncs.s, do they not cause my
(p rohably straight 00', in fact ) a third O1~anmg. erratic yet evident and reading to slad? An obtuse ang l{· IS ~rea ter than a right angle: an obtuse allBlc
persistent. I I do not know what its signified , IS , ~~ ~castl cannot give it a name. of IO()", says the dic tionary: th. t hird nll~.lnlllg, too , St=ems lu me greater
hut I can clearly see tho: feature:> lh.- ~ lg l1lly mg alCldcnts Ill' which lids

_ than the pure pe rp cndil:uIJr. th. rr crn hant , l e~al upright of th e- nar ruu ve,

im.1g\' and its de scri ption , between defini tion an d approximation If we

CJJ1I; \)t descri be the obt use m eaning, this is be cause, unlike the obvious
l1leaning. it co pies nothing : how describe what re presents n othing? H ere the
p'c'wri,d ' n ·nd er ing · of \\:ords is impossibk: Conscquerulv, if.we rem ain, you
and I, on the level of arti culated langu age m the presence of these images _
that is, 0 11 th e level of my ow n text - the obtuse meaning will not com e in to
kHlg. w ill not en te r into th e cri tic's me talanguage . Which means that
he llbtuSl' m eanin g is out side (a rticu lat ed ) language, bu t still with in
inter loc ution . For if you lo ok at these images I am talking about. you will
sec th e meani n g: We can understand each other abo ut it 'over th e sho ulder'
;)r 'on th e ha ck~' of articulated language : thanks, to th e image [.". J, indeed
thanks to what in the ima ge is purdy im age (and w hich , to tell the truth, is
ver v little in d ee d) , we d o without speech yet continue to un d erstand each
othe r.
In short , \\ hat the obtu se mean ing disturbs, ste ri lizes , is metalanguage
FIGURE 5.2 (cr iticism ). \\1(' can offer several reaso ns for th is. First of all, the obtus e
From Ordinary Fascism. rnean ins is discontinuous, inJijJi:rem to the storv and to th e obvious meaning
Source: British Film (as simUkation of th e story);
~ /
this dissociation h;s a contra n<lcuram or at least ~
Institut e.
dhtancin g effect with regard to th e referent (to 'reality' as nature, a rea list
instance ). Eisens tein would probably have acknowledged and accepted this
'ncongr ulL)', th b irn -pe rtinencc: o f the .~ignil1 er, for it is he w ho remarks,
It seem s to me to op<:n the f1 ~' l d of me aning totally, i.c . , infinit e ly. I even apropos of sound and co lour : ' Ar t begins the: moment the cr eaking of a hoo t
acc ~' p l , for this obtuse meaning , th e word 's pejorative co nno tation : t he (o n the so und track) accompanies a differen t visual sho t and thereby provokes

o btu se mean in g see ms to extend bev ond culture, kn owl edge , infor ma tio n. corresponding associations,Th e same is t rw.' of colour: colour begins where it
Analvt ically, th::re is something ridi'cu]ous about it ; b ecau;e it opens onto no longer co r responds to nat ural co loration . .. '. Th ere upon , the signifier (th e
h e infinity of language , it can see m limited in the eye s of analytic reason. It third mt~aning ) is nol filled ; it is in a perm anen t state of depletion (a ter m from
bel on gs to th e famil y of pun s, jokes , usel ess exertions ; indifferent to moral lint,'U.istics which designates the empt). all-purpose verbs - for exam p le, the
or aesthetic categor ies (the tr ivial , the fu tile , th e art ificia l, the parodic), it French verb I mre); we might also say, on th e o ther' hand - and this would be
sides with the carn ival aspect of things. Obt u se therefore suits Illy pur pose quite as tr ue - that this same signifier is not emptied (cannot be emptied); it
we II. maintains its e l]' in a state of perpetual erethism; in it desi re does not attain tha t
spasm orthe si&rnificd which usually caus es th e subject to sink voluptuousl y
into the peac e of nomination . Ultimately th e obtuse meaning can he seen as
* an accem. the very form of an em ergence , of a fold (even a crease) marking the
heavy layer of information and ~ ign i lkati on . If it cou ld he described (a
In this docum ent ary image (Figur e 5.2 ) from Ordinary Fascism I readi ly read contradiction in terms), it would ha\~e exactly the be ing of the Japanese haiku:
an obvious meanin g, that of fascism (an aesthetic and svmbo lics o f strength, an anaphoric gesture witho ut sigJuficam content , a kind of gash fro m w hich
the theatrica l hunt), but I also rea d an obtuse supplement ; th e (again) m eaning (the de sire for meaning) is expunged . [. . . J
disguised blond stu pid it y o f th e youth car r Ying th e arrow s the slac kness of
his ~hand s and h is m outh (I am ~ot descri hing, I cannot n~anage that. ( am 1·../
m erely d esignating a site ), Go ering \ co ars e nails, his trashy r ing (here we [.. . T]he supplem entary Signi fier's ind!ffirence, or fre edom of po sition with
ar c alrea dy at the limit of th e mean obvious m eaning , like the vapid smi le of respect to narrative, permits locating Eisenstein 's hist ori cal, political ,
the m an in glass es in th e background , obviously an ass- kisser ). In other th eoreti cal achievements quite precisely. In his work , the story, the
words, the obtuse meaning is not st ructurally situ at ed, a scmanto logiSJ anecdotal, Ji cgetic representation, is not destroyed; qu ite the con trary: what
wo uld no t acknowledge its ob jecti ve existence (but What is an objccth·e finer story than that of h an . that of Potemkin ] T his stature of narrative is
reading?). t.. . 'T[hc obtuse meaning is a signil1c.r Without Sign ified ; whence necessar y in order LO he understood in a so cietv which, unable to resol vc th e

the di fficu lty of naming it: m ~' n:ading re mai ns ~u .'.pended betwe en the t'ontra d i ~t i ons of histo ry w ith out a lo ng pol itk-a l pr ocess, draws support

(provisionallyr) fr om m yth ic (narrat ive) solutions . T he p relent proble m is F RO M SU B - TO S U PRAS E MIOTI C :

no t to destroy nar rative but to subv ert it ; LO d issociate subversio n [rom T H E S IG N A S EVE N T '
destruction is tod ay's task . Eisenstein makes, it see m s to me , just this M/ E KE B A L
distinction . Th e presen ce of a supple mentary, ob tuse , third mean ing - even
if only in a Icw unages, but then as an imperishabl e signa ture, like a seal If we I I ant to assess to what exte nt we can circumscri be the signif)ing uni ts
whi ch endo rses th e entire work - and the entire OcU\Te - thi s pr esence ca.lkcl ,i gns and understand ou r dealings with them, we must delimit the field
profoundly alt ers the th eoretical status of the anecdote . The story (diegesis) of signs' and meanings in two directi ons . At on e extr eme there are the
/ a powerful svstcm
is no lon toovcr m ere Iv ) (an age-old
... narrative syst
.. em ), but also subs'~l1 ioti c technical a.'peets of the works of art. Although they all contribute
and contr adict or ily a Simple spac e, a Held o f permanenccs and permutations; to the ('onstr uction of signs, stvl istic variatio n , light and dark composition or
it becom es tha t conflguration , that stage w hose false limits multiply the marc teclmical .1Spcct s like br~shstrokes , paint ~1.ickne s s , and lines are no~, a
signifier's permutatiw play; it is that vast outline which, by difference, prio r i, signs in themselves; not any more than in a literary text sheer ink on the
com pels a vertical reading (Eisenstein 's wo rd ); it is tha t .folie order which page, m (~'e pun ctuation marks , a~d synt actic structures ~re . Although tJley an :
p er m its us to avoid pure seri es , aleatory co mbin ation (chance is onl y a crude, par t of what make us int erpret the work, we do not give them meaning in
a cheap signifle r) , an d to achieve a structurarion wh ich leaks f rom Insi de. themse lves, exce pt in som e tr uly speci al cases. (. . . 1
Hence we can say that with Eisenst ein we have to rever se the cliche which
:\ t the other extreme , there are the suprascm iotic holistic aspects of the
holds that the more gratuito us the meaning th e mo re it app ear s to be Sim ply
wor ks. AiLho ugh the re-has been a tendency to conflate the concepts of ' tex t'
parasitic on th e ~tor )' to ld : o n the con trar y, it is this st ory whi ch becomes
and 'sign ,' and, by exten sion. of 'work' and 'sign ,' I think such a conflation
somehow parametric to m e signifl cr , of which it is nu m or e tha n the field of
only displaces the pr oblem of what kinds of encounter s signs and meanings
displa cem en t, th e constitu t ive. Ilegati\;ty, or again: the fellow tr aveller,
arc. I... J The consequence or such a position is that the com poun d sign wil]
In short, the third me aning structures the film J!fIercnrtl'. with out subverting be subdivided into discret e unit s, and th is division ,vill become a gestu re at
th e story (at least in Eisenst ein) , and for thi s r eason , perhaps, it is at this level, best either of ar ticu lation or of slicing up, delimiting, what supposedly acids
and o nly her e, that the 'filmic' at last app ears. Th e filmic is what, in the film , up in the whole. T his subdivisio n is held mo re acceptable for verbal th an for
can not he described , it is the representation that cann ot be represented . The visua l ar t; indeed, m e distinction between the tw o is often based on the very
filmi c beguls only where language and articulated me talanguage cease. assumption that verbal works are com po sed of discrete units whereas visual
Everything we can say about h an o r Potemkin can be said about a written works are 'de nse : The distinction is dec eptively self-evident and can 1)('
text (w hich would he called h an the Tern blc or The Baulesiup Potcmkin), except deconstructcd only by reversing it and arguing that to some extent verbal
this - which is the obtuse meaning; I...1hence the film ic is precisely here, at texts arc de nse - the sign of the effect of the real canno t be distinguished
this poin t where articulated langu age is no mo re than approximative and From the work as a whole on whi ch it sheds a specific meaning - and that
where another language becins (a languag e whose 'sci ence ' cannot therefore visual texts are d iscr et e , w hich som e tim es, and in some resp ects, th ey are .
be linguistics , soon~discard ed like a bo~ster ro cket). Th e third meaning, which The distinction is untenable, but it nevertheless reflects different atti tu des of
we can locat e theoreti callv hut not describe , then app ears as the transition reading that op erak conven tio nally for eac h art. I...]
from language to si.gn![l'ing [slgnifJcance] and as the fOlmding act of th e filmic
itself. 0 hligcd to eme rge from a civi lization of the Signified, it is not surpr ising *
that the filmic (despite the incalcu lable quantity of films in the world ) sho uld Ver meer 's Woman Holdinq a Balance (Figur e 5.3 ), housed in the N ational
still be rare (a few llasht,s in Eisenstein ; perhaps elsewhere "), to th e point Gallery in Washington, I'e presents a woman in a blue dress, hold ing a balance
where we might assert that th e film, like th e text, does not yet exist: th ere is above a table; on th e wall, in the backgr ound , is a pain ting or the Last judgment.
onl y ' cinema: i.e., there is language , narrative, poetry, som etimes very light streams in From a stained -glass window at the upp er left . It is a strik ingly
' modern : 't ranslated ' in to 'i mages' said to be 'ani mate d: Nor is it sur pris ing ~tlll painti ng. It avoids narrative - both the anec do ta l and the dvnamic . Instead
that we can pe rcei ve the filmi c only after having traver sed - analyt ically - the It presents an image in ter ms of visual rhythm , eq uilibrium, balanced contrasts,
'essen tial ,' the ' depth : and th e 'complexity' of the cinematic work - all ric hes and subtl~ lighting. [. . . 1
belo nging ani)' to articulated language . ou t of which :"c constitu te th at w()~k
and believe we exhaust it. For th e Illrnic is diOcn :nt from the film : th e fllmic Svetl ana Alpers , I assume fr o m her Art if Descr ibinq ( 1985) , would call this a
is as far From the 111m as the nove listic is /Torn the novel (I can write c1esCriptivc painting, It is a pain ting that app eals to visuali ry if ever there was
novcl isti callv without ever " Tiring novels) . on e , a case for Alpers ' oppositi on to Italian infatu at ion with nar rati vitv. Any

1. Fooinou remove d
'!- I M AGE S SE M IO T I CS :

is ther e to balan ce th e 'work, to fo reground the simi larity, the rhym e , be t ween
God and this wo m an , has been displaced fro m an ear lier, 'original' position to
a belter, visuallv m o re convincin g balance , leaving on ly th e telltale trace of
a nail ho le? As it is, the woman stan ds right below God , a pos ition that
emphasizes th e simil arity be tween judging and weighing. Also , th e separatio n
betw.;en th e bk~ssed and the doo med is obliter ated by he r position ,
suggesting, perhap s, tha t the line between good and evil is a lin e on e. But
in the m idst of this specu lative nourish , I am caught up short by th e
renh.: mh rance that we are looking at a paintin g of th is balance, no t at a real
roo m . The paint e r surely did not need to paint the nail and th e hole. C\Tn if,
in setting up his studio, he actuall y may have di spla ced the Last j uda mem.

[ .. . J

In the p,lin ting, narrathity so blatantly absent on first - and even second - glance
is found to have been inserted by m eans of a sign that makes a statemen t o n
visuality. Th e visual e xper ience tha t en codes the icon ic association betwee n
woman and God is no t displaced but, on the con tr ary, underscored by this
narrative aspe ct .We im agine someone tryi ng to hang th e painting in exactly th e
right place . We are suddenly aw are of m e wom an 's artificial po se : Instead of
changing the painti ng 's pmition , th e artist ar rangi ng his studio co uld simp ly have
changed th e. wom an 's place, o r his o wn ang le of vision . All of a sudden
FI GURE 5 .3
Vermeer, Woman Holding a Balance som ething is happening , the still scene begins to mo ve, and the spell of stillness
c. 1662--4. Source: National Gallery, is broken .
Washington, DC. See colour Plate 1
TIle na il and t he ho le , both visua l e lemen ts to w hic h no ico nographic
me an ing is attach ed , uns ettl e th e poetic descr iptio n an d th e passively
admiri ng gaze that it t r igg e red , and dyn amize th e act ivit)' o f th e view er.
W here as before t he dis covcrv o f th cse detail s the viewe r co uld gaze at th e
wor k in won der, no w he or : he is aw ar e o f his o r he r im aginath':'e additio n
in the very act of looking. The wo r ], no lo nge r stan ds alo ne ; no w th e vie wer
must ac know ledge that he o r she makes it work , and that th e surface is no
attempt to read the painting as a narrative can onl y mis read it . It is a surface longer st ill bu t tel ls th e story of its makin g.
carefully hal anced for visua l e xperience, wher e t he ap peal to visua lity is
wo rked ou t in the tin iest de tails, O n th e uppe r left part otthc painting, in
[ ... ]
the wh ile wall near the rep resented Last j uJamenr, is a nai l, and ncar tha t I·..] \-Vhenever a lite rary sc ho lar, moved by th e commenda ble inte nti on of
nail, a ho le in the w all. Th e m inutely de tai led wo r k of painting is so high ly put tin g an end to th e current pr o liferation of interpre tatio n , sta nds up to
emphasized in these tiny details tha t both insi de: the: hole and next to the nail claim that some details in realistic texts have no na rrative func tio n, that they
we can scc a sha do w. The so ft , wa r m light streaming in from the window on merely serve to prod uce an ' effect of t he real' ( Barthes, 1968 ) o r an effect of
the upper left touches these two irregularities in the wall , as if to \'crisim ilituck l vrasscmblan ce; Genette, 1969) , someone else responds th at th e
d emonstrate that r ealistic description o f the wo r ld seen kn ow s no limits. exam pll~s given do have a narrative fun ction alter all, if o nly o ne looks hard
1·.. 1 enuugh. There seems to be a res istance to meaningle ssness th at invar iably
loo.ks co nvin cin g As a consequence . we continue to assume that everything in
For' me it was the nail and the ho le th at th e light m ade visible, prod uced ; th at
a work of art co ntributes to, and modifies , the mcaning of th e wo rk .
instigate d a hurst of speculative fer tilitv, W hen I saw this nail, the ho le, and the
shadows , I was fascinated: I co uld not keep my eyes ofl' them . W hy arc they But if everyth ing in a wor k of art participates equa llv in the production of
the re ? I asked mvsclf', Arc th ese me rely mean ingless detai ls that Roland rn ~aning. the n how do we know wha t tex ts and im ages are 'about' and wh y ? In
Bar th es would cha'lk up to an 'dleCl of the real ' ? Arc tJ1CSC 1I11.' signs tha t make other wo rds, wh ich signs convey, ur lrigger, which m eanings? One answer L.,
a co nnotation of re alism shift to the place of denotat ion hCl<lU~e there is Jl that tlu-re is no answer becaus,' r.-xts and imag"s do nothi ng. th e interpreter
elcno ta t ivc m eaning available? Or do t ~ l<:v I~o i.n ' I () a ,·han gt· i ll th e signillc ¥<I IJ('(' inn 'l1l<; the m eaning. I'ul tin~ tlw ~U~, s ltu,n dilfl·rc,·mly, we may ask, On what
rcpn.·,'tt:llh;d !iJ.. ..... _


tr ou blesom e in literary theory bec ause th e q uestio n int erf eres with th e ontological status fo r the sign . lf the si!:,'T1 is a 'real thing,' then sigI1s mu st be
appan'nt ob viousness or the answer. Vve assume \\'1' know wh at signs ar e and numerahle, hence discre te and intri nsically static. A rad ically dynamic vi ew,
whic h signs we process because we know what a letter, a word, and a senten ce hO\\',,:\'er, wo uld conceive the sign not as a thing bu t ,15 an event, th e issue being
are, and w e assume that wo rds arc the units we call signs in verbal works . not to <klimi t and isolate th e one sign from other SigI1S , but to trace th e possible
e IDl~rgen cl' of th e sign in a Concret e situation of wo rk-reader interacti on .
Her e, visual poeti cs reminds us of th is assumption's un tenabi lity by forcing US
Wittgenstein's co ncept of language games posits a dynamic view of th e sign ,
to ask what the visual counterpart of a wo rd is: Is it an im age, as thl' phras e' word
which makes sigI1s as aem'c, and requ ires them to be both depl oyed accordinq to
and image ' too easily suggests ? Mulling over tills difficult c(luatio n, we become
rules and publu: /1 sign, then, I S not a lh lnS bue an CI'Cnc . Hen ce the meaning of a sign
less sure that words are, in fact, the ' stu ff" of verbal sign illcatio n .
is neither preestablished and fixed, no r purely subjective and idiosyncratic.
The problem o f delimiting signs and delineating interpretation - of
Altho ugh th is view seems to o pe n th e di scus sion to a paralyzing infinitude
d istingu ishing inter pretati on from descrip tion - is related . Since readers and
of phenomena . this ap pare nt pro ble m disappears as soon as we ackn owledge
viewe rs bring to th e te xt s and images th ei r ow n cu ltu r al and per sona l
that sign eve nts occu r in sp eci fic. circumsta nces and acco rding to a fini te
bagg age , th ere can be no suc h th ing as a fixed, pr ed eter mi ned m eaning, an d
nurnbcr o f cu ltu ra lly valid, co nventional, yet not unalterable rul es, which
the ve ry attem pt to summarize meanings, as we do in e ncyclo paedias and
semiot idans call 'cod es. lT ho sel ectio n of th ose r u les and th ei r combinati o n
textbook s, is by d efinition red uct ive . Yet as soon as w e ar c forced to draw
leads to specific inte rp ret ive beh avio ur .
from th ese vie ws th e inevitable co ncl usio n tha t 'anything goes' and that
interpret ation is a futile scho larly activity sinc e it all dep ends on the
ind ivid ual in terpreter, we dra w bac k .\ Ve t he n turn ar ound, trying to loca te, NOTES
in the text or image , no t a m eaning, bu t th e 'occas ion "o f m eaning , th e thi ng I . Eduo r 's note : TIl t: opening paragr aphs of th is selection outlini ng the conce pts of

that triggers m eaning; not fixity, but a justificati on for o ur flexibility, sub- and suprascrnio tic marks appear in Bal 's or iginal text as a lengthy foo tnot e.
It has been inclu ded here as a the oreti cal supplem ent to the mai n tex t.
[ .. . J
2. Footnot e removed
The vi ew of signs to whi ch I [adh ere ... J posi ts th e basic de nsity of both verbal 3. Footnote rem oved .
and visual te xts. [ use the te r m 'd ensity ' in Goodman 's ( 1976) sense : as
conveying the fundamental insepar abilit y ~f individual ~igns , as th e o pposite of WORKS CI TED
discre te ness.Th is vi ew eliminates at least o ne differen ce between discourse ,1l1e1 Alper s, S, ( 1983) \rt ':f Dcscribinq : Dutc h Arc In th e Seve ntee nt h Cem llly . Chicago :
imag e. Resisting the early W itt gel15tein 's anguish about, and sym pathizing wi th Univer sity of Ch icago Press,

his later happy endorse me nt o r, the cloudiness of langu age, I co ntend that the Barth es, R. (1968) ' L'Elle t de reel' , in COmmUrJl WClOnS , 4-: 84-9 . [English : 'T he

sam e den sity that chara ct erizes visual texts ob structs the propositional clar ity of reality effect ", in Roland Barthcs , The Bust le C!f LWBl/aBc, tr. Richard Ho ward ,

verbal texts .j Thus , separate words C3IUlOt be taken to rule interpretation, and New York: Hill & Wang. pp. 14 1 54,

the ideal ofpure ' pr op ositional conten t longed fo r in the Tractatus is untenable: Gene-lt c , G. (1 969) ' Vraisernblance ei rno tivatio n ", f lBures II, 71 -100 . Paris:
th e elements of a pro positio n canno t have ind epe nd e nt m eaning. This Editions du Scull.

recogniti on mea ns that tile differen ce between verba l and visual texts is Goodm an , N. ( 1976) La ng uo8c~ of /Irc: An Approach co a Theory 4' Symbols.

no longer o ne o r the status and delimitation of the signs that co nstitute them. Indianapolis: Hac kett .

And the visual model, appare ntly pr ed omi na nt , overw hel ms th e concrete Witt genstein , L. (19 58) Philosophical Im'esri sa cions, tr. G.E.M. Anscornbc,

par tic ular it y of the sigIufie r, giving rise to 'cloudiness' in each m edium . Hence, New York : Macm illan ,

th e \Vittgen stcin of the Traaat us mourns th e fact th at th er e is no no nde nsc W ittgenstein , L. (196 1) Tractotus 1.081co-Phllosophlcus, tr. B. F. McGuiness.

language, wh ereas later, in the lnvcsuqauons, \Vitt gcnstein denounces the New Yor k: Hum anities Pres s.

po siti\i stic illu sion th at makes visuali t y the bas is of in te r pretatio n, sacrificing
bo th the signifie r and the activit)' of semiosis. In th is later work he endors es the
view he earli er n 'gr ctt ed , that langu age is as dense as pictu re s.This may not make
language visual, but it does disp lace the diffe rence be t ween the two med ia.
G U NT£R K R £ S S A N D TH£O V A N t. ee u ws:
Yet the density of both visual and linguistic signs is not rea lly the issu e . Rathe r,
it is th e dynamism of signs that the rccogni tio ~l of th eir t1cnsity mak es possible The place of visual com m un icatio n in a given societ)' can only be un derst ood
th at is at Issue. T he per ceptiun of signs as static can. be traced to th e atomistic in the co ntext of, o n the o ne hand , th e range of forms or modes of publ ic
view o f verbal signs , itself a relic uf.e.a~ ly . structurah s~ which , in its turn , had
In herited it from more cxplid tly PO"IUVIStlC scho o ls 01 rultUl -a1sc ho larship.t'The lid I'h"u V;,t, 1l I l" 'U W r n I " ndo n
.I" L" !llIl '" ,u r n ' of this. atortU"til V1t. w olIl' th~ "''-''OIutj- h ' ,"
com m unication available in that society. and , on th e oth er hand , their uses and
: ll u vo v ur rs « \ :-. p ":L ~ l,~ Tlil ll ~ ITY
valuation s. Vi e refer to this as 'the scm'iot ic landscape.' Th e m etaphor is worth
t h~ 1n 1l jl fU..ri,· J!ll h ·,.... ri ~ . l;:! (r l ...lw \\o'1f t he cornhined Iif"lti of t'ai

exp loringb a lillie, as is its cl\"mologv. J ust as the features of a landscape (a field,
~ ~J
.1111 l, 'I; \\' h ~'l1 t he Wlfr" h 1'1111".,1 be t wee n lite pol es .

~n( , · tl u,t. ill F ig . ' J~ ((J 1 ' 111.1 (It), r.}w H ' l~ nrrn tl ·c on t Lt" It.'f t ( If

a wood , J dump of tr ees, a house, a gro up of buildlngs) only make sense in f ~" I.q r ·- liN" In t h,. "I m u'.l l i r f>l"t i ot l u '" tlli"~ uf rlw l -, kn llll Ildd.

the co nte xt of thei r wh o le environment [.. . J so par ticular m od es of \\ 1111(' thll"J, f' fin Up· righl of th e wire ure LfL lh(! tl r l~'1 1t rl 11[ 1"'.'1'1.1011 .

( '''Il "t't _lllt~ lltl)' ill t he l'o m h i [J~'41 lk tfl o f l'j ~. 1~2 f d Lh r- nel l! til tIt':

com m unication should be seen in th eir enviro nm ent , in the environmen t of aU Id t o l l.h C' wi re is til ro llg - tJw r,· nT" n l t1 r~f..~ nu mhe r " f li nr«, whi l

rh- lid..! l oJ ,hi' right i~ wea k.

the other modes of com m un ication which surround th em, and of th eir If \\"1 ; e svumc. with Faruduv, d C'''' t he Hill.es . uf fa rel: L1!C in

func tio ns. The use of th e visual m ode is no t th c sam e now as it was e ven lifty 1~' [l". IOrl ntul Lr-"" 1I 1~ lo «lu.rten " i :\ \..·(' p. l ~ 'I , we i-o howd c x p<x:t the

wrre tAl he ll rg l'( l to th e rl [JJIt. This is p n.'f' l "' '-'~ )y what. "0\"
(' lin d h.r

year s ago in Western societies, it is no t th e same from one so ciety to anomer; l' ~ r ( rnuent.

and it is not the sam e Ir om one socia l group or inst itu tion to another.
[ .. . J I s I I s I
The new r ealit ies o i m e scm io tic landscape arc [. . . ] primarily brough t
about by so cial an d cult ur al fact o rs: hy me intensifi cation of linguistic and l : i t0\ ~ ' !!II . I
I ! J!
lC I.f;;rH
I " \, / l

cu ltu ral d iversity wi th in the bounda ries of nation states, and by the
weaken ing o f thes e bound ar ies. d ue to mu lt icult ur alism. e lect r onic media of
Ii " "
\ ,
• '.

I, I
I ~

co m m un icat io n, te chn o logi es of tr ansport an d g lobal econom ic
develo pm ents. Global flows of cap ital and in formation di sso lve no t on ly
):1 :1.: (,::" klj 1: l1liTIf-h r I ~JI! .11I" r.-. curren t III . rru l~ } 1 1 WH(l. 0,) 1-i t-ll) .i n

cultu ral and politi cal boundaries but also semiotic boundar ies. T his is I .. 11,,,lta,:lU'n.. ~ :-" o:... I I I t"1'l ~ . l b j r ll"'. J h d, 1 tl ! l.ul " lid (h ).

already beginning to have the most far -reaching e fkcL~ on th e character istics TJr~ p'" II'" JIll' (:! Oil' l'In °J.riL "w!''' ,
of Engl i~ h (an d Englishc:» , globally, and even within the national boun da rie s T lt r~ ·.i Ulptr: .,In·t.r ll ' ruotne r-rutxi, l , IIf u nll l pi"otf'd Itc t.\\'Ct.11 UH.'

of England . IKt le", uf Ii IK~rllUtll<" l lt Ol lil,:n c t ( set: l' i ~" (J:Jl. " "h a l 1\ cu rr ent i!'t

PI\.S.'-i('d. fh ruuC'h t.h l~ r" d ID thr-di rcctron illd iea tr.·d III the H,I!u rc we

("till ...h....... h:. !IIJ P JyW;':- Vlt.: m illg 5 lett -ha nd ruh -, th at t.hl'" ' ~ft. ­

T he place of language in public form s of communication is changing. l.3nguagc h4n d ... i\\l" of th e eot) wtll t cr.d t.o mr .vo flown n' lri t he fi ~ h t .h /m4t

is moving from its former, un challenged rol e as rhe medium of co mmunication , ..id,· Tu ltu H e lip, j H Cl lI l' lu l H:r l h .:i l the ( li rtT t ~qll . tf tlu.: field d ue

tu tb(' pf'"l\r~ llr"!n t, IOn"wr is. f n m l lhl.: :\. l (\ ti ll ~ . 1'0 1...., I TI Hl" th:­

to a role as one m edium ai communication , and perhaps to the role of till' ' ",Ill wil l rot... . t( ~ i ll ,. t 'lltJ1lh~ r o dl w k wi,, ~ ' Uil't'l"t ion tn :1 vertiru l
F IGU RE 5,4
(>V\ it illli
Early twentieth-century science textbook.
medium of com ment , albe it mort' so in some domains than in others, and man '
McKenZie. 1938, Cambridge University P
rapidly in some areas than in other s. Although this is a relatively new
phenomenon in pub lic communication , children do this q uite 'naturally.'

medium. The subjectivit y of the reader is here formed in , and im p lied
Figure 5 . 5 comes from a science te xtbook for child ren in the early to m iddle
by, th e hierarch ic organization of th e mode of (scientific) \\-Titing. It is a
years of secon dar y schooling in England . Two qu estions can be asked . T he
sub jectiVity whi ch treats language natu rall y as the medium of information,
first : ' W hat is the etTen of the m od e of rep resen tation on the e pist.cmolob':,
the medium of truth and of truth transmitted rdatin:lv transparentl v in th e
synt ax of th e wr iti~g ; Jnd it is a sub ject ivity h abi~uated to su;tained,
of science? ,' •Do different modes of representation facilitate , or rule a lit ,
diHcrenl accou nts of natural phenom ena?' T he second qu est ion is, again, the
{~on ccntrated an alysis, atte nt io n , rdlecti on . In Figure 5.5 , images an; tlll~
Cjllesllon of su bjecti vit y: th e implied re ader of th is page is ,1 fundamen ta lJ)'
Cl~Ol ra l medium o f inform ation, and the role o f language has be com e tha t of
differ-cnt reader fmm that of the older t ex tb,)ok sho wn in Figure 5 ,4 ,
medium o f commen ta ry. Image~ (and this includ es the layout of th e page )
Readers wh o have hecome ha bitu ated to the contemporary textbook pagc
carry the ar gum ent. Tb l" subjectivity of t he re ader is form ed in a m ix o f
( h gure 5. 5) not o nly havc a dilTerent co nce ptio n o f what scie nce is, but also
semiotic mod es in wh ich the visual is ('learl v dominant . Tt is a subjectivity
of w hal (being ) a scientist is. They have different notion s of au th o r i t~·
which reli <;"s on the visual rather than o n' the verbal, as a m edium (;f
rel ati ons, of the sta tus o f scien ce as a discipline , of epistemologica l
nt er ta inment a~ much as a medium o r inform ation' information in fac t
po sitions, and ~ (J o n - just as the design ers of th b pag e have rlilTercnt
becomes relatively marginal a,:; an aim, both on th e ' part o f th e st ude nt
co nce pti ons of th ese qu estions to those of tllt> page show n in Figure 5.4.
and on th e part of th e textbook designer, th ough for d ifferent J'easons, It is
r...\Vh at ] is th e status of written language in Ihc~ <.' pages? In Figure 5.4 it is als" a subjectiVity habituated 1.0 th,· mor<- ready apprehension of th e
th e cen tral m edium, th e medium nf informallon . Ilnag(~ !> have ml' functio n transparently presented visua l. The ~p~)rchension of facts displaces th e
of illustrating an argumt;:n t ca rr k rl by the written \'<'o n l, th at is, of concern with tru th . and m!" ernph,Ui 's IS no t on 'ustaint:(l. cOIlCl"ntrat ec!
' ,p"Psl.1'-i ns' ) L!\[ ("(m tl'lIb .,1 U't \\'nl!~11 lilll £u:ll!.t in Ol ,jiH ~: r ent anal v ,~is. but un th., qUKk apprdw'l.~illn or r.ll't. ;111<1 infurmal i'If>

50n1t' materia l (paper. wood, vel lum , sto ne , m etal , rock . etc.) and it is
\\Tlttc ll wnl: so me thing (go ld , ink, (en )gra\'ings, dots of ink , etc .); with
~~ EIf8W
f«'t8$ !etters for m ed in systems influe nce d by aesthe tic , ps)'Chological , pragmatic
and othe r co nside ra tions; and w ith a layout im posed on the mat erial
Energy suhstance, w he the r on th e page , the co m pu ter screen or a polished brass
1 !.1W!I"C II ~ t« mO ,.1\1 AM tlr. plaque . Th e m ult irn o d alit y of writte n rex ls has, b), and large, been ignored ,
J . '. I 1 M ~I''''' ob,.<u h...... ~
n. ta.Itet' t!MT 'C'2(M'If t.h.4
o. UMtk .......,. u.,
~I U( t.d klJ:I#tic
n.~ l

whet her in ed uca t iona l co nte xts , in linguist ic th eorizing or in popular

"'-- ....a
common sense . 'Iodav, in the age of 'multimedia ,' it can suddenly be

.~a ----QL ~
perccJ\'ed again. .
s 'E6Ho Cl&A bt - . . I • u...t 1& 1• .,..ad, (Of WW ~ .IIIM"C' LJ
(A1l.4 .... Dd&I .....-0 We can summarize this discussion in the form of a set of hypotheses: (a) hum an
• r.z.rc,.t«wd LD blewn.... "'-.... food aM rAOfto codtu ' societies use a var iety of mod es of rep re sentation ; (b) eac h mode has .
. QobI .., I. ealW ,._IDiot.. aDH'O'
• ~'1IntJlCaJI~1~ """IDO"I"'I n.c """"'~L inherently, a differen t re presentational potential, a different potential for
t;KO''': tWnlU \.Q . " . . . 0l'TWlI ..&eet:tkaJ .lMrv tn..
p 1WA tI.WI ., lI.an.- ...... _ m.tl ~ ., to . . . . ,.. raap
meaning-making; (c) each mode has a specific social valuation in par ticular
".­ social con te xts; (d ) differe nt pot ential for meaning-making may imply different
potentials for the for m ation of subjectivities, (e) individuals use a rang e of
representational mo des, and therefore have available a rang e of means of
meaninji-m aking , eac h allcc ting the formatio n of th eir subj ecti vity: (1) the
dillerent modes of representation arc not held discre tely, separ ately, as auto­
norn ous do mains in tile br ain, or as autonomo us com muni catio nal resources in
A (o fte taa pu.ah. pWJ., tftM • \at. CoM&c1 tc ~ act
...._ _ ol';IctI th&t\clladl . . _ _ .
a culture, nor arc they deployed discr etel y. eith er in representation or in
commun icatio n; rath er, th ey inte r rnesh and int eract at all tim es; (g) affective
aspects of human behaviour and bemg arc not discret e from other cogn itive
activity, and ther efore never separate from representational and comm unicative
FIGURE 5.5 behaviour; (h) eac h mod e of re presentation has a continuou sly evolving history,
Science textbook (Suffolk Coordinated in which its semantic reach can contra ct or expand or move into diffe r ent areas
SCience. 1978, Longma n Educational) . as a result of the use» to which it is put.
As modes o f rep resentati on are ma de and re m ade, they co ntribu te to th e
making and remaking of human societies a.nd of the subjectivities of th eir
T he shift is based on changed re lations of pow("r in two distinct areas : in the members . No ne o f th ese hypotheses would, we imagine , att ract sign ifica nt
ar ea of so cial valuatio ns o f scientific kno w ledge , w here th e autho r ity of disagre<:mcnt, especially wh en put sing l),. Together, however. the)' represent
science can no lon ger he tak en for granted ; and in th e area o f ed ucation, a l~ha llenge to the exis ti ng com mo n se nse on th e relati ons between langua ge
wh ere the authority o f th e t ransm itt er s o f social values can no longer and thought , and on mainstrea m theor ies and practices in all areas of public
he taken for grant~d , bu t has to be acbieved , ln this set of relati ons the Communication. T his is a crucial feat ure of the new sem iotic lands cape.
subject ivity of th e stu dent reader s in relat io n to power and authority i.'
changed . The)' no lon ger acce pt th e socia l valuations o f science and
ed ucation accepted hy most ea rl ier stude n ts, even if m any of th em tu rned
away fro m int ernalizing them as th eir ow n .

These changes in the se m iotic landscape ... re veal what has in fac t alw ays
been the case : language, w hether in speech or writ ing , has always ex isted as
just one mode in th e totality of modes involv ed in the prod uction o f any
tex t , spoken or wri tten . .A spoken text is not just verbal but also visual,
combining w ith 'non-ve rba l' modes of co m mu nication suc h as facial
expression . ge stu re, post ure and other form" of sd f' presentation. A wr-ittcrt
text . simil ar ly. involves more than languag e : It b wr itt en on so me thing, on

Thing and W ork phenomenology is primaril y concerned wi th the structure of experience
6: I Martm H eidegger and, in particular, how things appear to us in the way that they do. Art
images and artefacts have occupied a central role in phenomenol ogical
Eye and Mind thinking because each type of object in the wor ld is thought to foster a
6:2 Ma uric e Merleau -Ponty particular kind of consciousness. Writers such as M artin Heidegger (6.1)
have held that artworks have the potential to emancipate consciousness
6.3 Descripti on because they elicit an imaginative and creative response to living in a wo rld
• Jean-Paul Sartre
constrained by convention.
6.4 Imagination The key to understanding the phenomenological approach to images is the
• M ike l Oufrenne concept of 'intentionality', first outlined by its founder Edmund Husser! in his
seminal wor k Logical Investigations ("I 970a). Husserl's basic i~s ig ht, which
Scientific Vi sual ism drew on the psychol ogy of Franz Brentano, is that consciousness and the
6:5 Don Ihde world are co-constituting. In particular, each indiv idual experience involves a
particular type of intentional relation between consciousness and the wo rld ­
so the experience of a remembered image, a loved im age and a perceived
image can be understood as each having their own particular, defi ning
characteristics. On e task of phenomenology is to describe the structure, or
'essence', of such experiences by enumerating those characteristics. For
example, Husserl 's (2005) fine-grained analysis of 'image-consciousness' aims
to describe how we are able to see representatio nal paintings as both three­
dimensional objects and as canvas and paint at the same time.
Sin"~e phenom enology attempts to deal w ith individual experiences, it often
begIns w ith a.detailed analysis of a particul ar image, or type of image, in a
simila r way to art history. For example, Martin Heidegger describ es a
painting of peasant shoes by Van Gogh in order to po int out the perceptual
Interplay betw een the oil and canvas of the painting as a thin g and its
representatio n of a pai r of shoes (Pattison, 2000). In a similar vein, Gaston
B~ch el ard (1969) has dealt w ith the images of architecture and the spaces
?t the home. However, phenomenol ogy also focuses on the role of images
In constituting subjectiv ities and, in that respect, is perhaps clo ser to
P~ychoanalys is than tradi tiona l art history. For example, Heideg ger's
dIstinction between a piece of equipment and a work of art is intended to
~ efl) on str ate not on ly that an art object is not used in the same way as, say,
a carpe n~er's hammer or a sack of coal, but that it engenders a partic ular type
of con sciousoess. Equipment fosters a utili tarian view of a world that is
pass ive ?efore the technological forces at work in society, whereas artwo rks
e ~ p has lse the ability of ~peop l e to create a w orld of meaning in harmony
WIth nature. Heide gger (1977) developed this romantic ised view of artwork
and its potential for social liberation into a full y-fle dged critique of modern
technol ogy.

In oppos itio n to iconoclastic vi ew s of images that also pay close attention to Husser l, E. o 970b) The Crisi s of Europea n Sciences and Transcenden tal

i ndi vidu al artefac ts, suc h as ideo logical cri tique and sem ioti cs, phenomenology, tr. D. Carr. Evanston, IL: Northwestern Un iversity Press.

p henome no logy bro adly understands ima ges posit ive ly and as having a high HlJSSerl, E. (1989) Ideas Pert aining to a Pure Phenomenology and a Phenomenological

degree of cogni tive content. How ever, thi s cog n itive cont ent is not Philosop hy, Second Book, tr. R. Roj cew icz and A. Schuwer. D ordrecht: Kluwer

necessarily associated w ith con scious thought. Building on Hu sserl's (1989) Academic.

w ork on the body as a lived pheno menon, ,vlerleau -Ponty (6.2) expl ained HuSSCr!, t. (20 0S) Phantasy, Image Consciousness, and Memo ry (1898- 1925), tr, l.B.

how meaning is created by the pre-consci ous, bodily activity of the artist as Brough, Dordrecht: K luwer Academic.

a socia l b ein g in w h ich art becomes a-f orm of 'figured philosophy'. Images IngJf den, R. (1989) Ontology of the Work of A rt: The M usical Work, The Picture, The

Architectural Work and The Film, tr. R. M eyer and I.T. G oldw ait. Athens, O H: Ohio

and the consci ousnesses that accom pany the m are socia l pro ducts refracted
University Press.

through the mediu m of the artist and his or her equipment.

Pattison, G . (2000) The Later Heideggcr , London: Rout ledge.

The 'phenomenon ' of phenom enol ogy can be either a physical object, such Petitot. l-. Varela, F.j., Pachou d, B. an d Roy, j. -M . (eds) (1999) Naturaliz ing

as a painting or a film (lngarden, 1989), or an obj ect o f conscio usness, such Phenomenology: Issues in Contemporary Phenomenolog y and Cognitive Science.

as a dream, sensation, feeling Or mental im age. Phenomenologists such as Stanford, CA: Stanford Un iversity Press. .

Jean-Paul Sartre (6.3 ) and Mikel Dufrenne (6 .4) have, therefore, also turned Piper,. A. (200 6) 'Se nsible model s I n cognitive neurosci ence' , in Logos of

thei r attentio n to w hat psychologists have vario usly called ment al images, Phenornenology and Phenomenology of the Logo s, Book Four : 71Je Logos of Scient ific

qualia, or the conte nts of consc iou sness. In doing so, they have appl ied the Intffrrogation , Anelect« Husserlisne, Vol. 91. Berlin: Springer. pp. 10.5-18,

same descriptive tech n iq ues used to analyse artworks and im ages of science
to reveal the struct ure, or essence, of cog nitio n. Bot h Sartre and Du frenne
critic ise the empi ricis t notion of David Hu me and John Locke (1.14) that
mental images arc somehow ' in' conscious ness, suggesting, instead, that
consciousness is made up of in tenti on al acts. For Dufrenne, as wi th Kant
(2.1), im agination is the organ ising prin cipl e that makes the process of
synthesising the mind 's rep resentative facu lties and empiric al sense-data
possib le. In one respect, this phenomenologi cal pract ice is intended as a
supp lement to psychology and cognitive science bec ause it is argued that by
pay ing close attention to the details of consci ou s exper ience scie ntists are
better ab le to discrimi nate the phenomena they wi sh to investigate (Petitot
et al., 1999).
While most texts of classical phenomenol ogy tend to focu s on either
traditio nal art objec tsa nd aesthetic theory, or differe nt aspects of cognltlon,
mo re recently writers have turn ed their ' attentio n to non-art images - a
subject that has become central to such art critics as James Elkins (13.2).
For examp le, Do n lhde (6.5) argues that the scient ifi c way of understanding
the world is p redom inant ly visual and tbe way that its images are constructed
by techno logy helps determine wh at can be accepted as know ledge In
that field. Ihde shows that the ' I ifeworld' (H usser], 1970b) of institutional
practices and technologies, such as those deployed in science, do not produce
neutral ways of seeing, but come with a sed irnented, cognitive content
that phenomenology can uncover, Othe rs have suggested combining such
' lifewo rld' analyses with a cl ose attention to particular images and the
perceptua l vision those foster to both art images (Brough, 2001 ) and non-art
im ages (Piper, 2006) .

Bachelard. G. (1969) The Poetics of Space, tr. M . lol as. Boston , MA: Beacon Press­
Brou gh , J. (2001) 'Art an d non ..;' rt: a millennial pu zzl e' , in S. Crowell, L. Embree and
S. j, jul ian (eds), The Reech of Refleclion: Issues for Phenomeno logy 's Second
Century. Electronica l ly published by the Centp.r for Advan ced Resear ch in
Phenomenology at www.e1ec tronp ress.com pp. 1- 16.
Heid egger, M. n 977 ) Qu estion Concerning Tochnolcgv and Other Essays, rr,
W . Lovitt. New York: Har pe r & Row.

Husser ]. E. (197 0<)) Logic al In ves tjg<lU?~5, tr. J.N. Findlay. London: Routl edge & Kegan

Pau l; Atlantic Highl an d s, NJ: Humamtles Pres s.

';;~S : I M A G E S


doing this , mu st we not look ou t for useful equipme nt in it s u se rTh e peasant
coman 'Nears her shoes in the Iicld. O nlv here are thev what th ev are . Thev
,,\ : .} )

arc all the m or e genUinely so, the less the peasant wom an thinks abou t th e

sholO S wh ile she is at wo rk, or looks at th em at all, or is even aware of them .

V·le choose as exam ple a common sort of equipm ent - a pair of peasant shoes .
\ Ve do not even n eed to exhib it actual p ieces of this sort of useful ar ticle in She st an d ~ and walks in the m . Th at is how ShOl~S act ually ser ve. It is in this
o rder to desc ribe them . Everyone is acq uainte d with them. But since it is process of th e use of equip ment th at 'we mu st act ually encoun ter the
a matter her e of direct description, it may be well to facilitat e the visual charact el' of equipment.
realization of them . For this purpose a pictorial representat ion suffices. \Ve As long as we only imagine a pair of sho es in general , or Sim ply look at th e
shall choose a we ll-known painting by Van Gogh , who painted such shoes empty, unu sed shoes as th ey m erely stand the re in th e picture, we shall
several times. But what is there to see here? Everyone kno ws what shoes never discover 'what the eq uipmental bein g of th e equipme nt in truth is.
consist of. If they are not wooden or bast shoes, th er e will he leath er sa les and From Van G ogh 's painting 'A e can not even tel l where these shoes sta nd.
upp ers, join ed togeth er by thread and nails. Such gear serves to clothe the There is no thing sur ro undi ng this pair of p easant shoes in or to whic h th ey
feet . Depend ing on the use to which th e shoes are to be put, wh ether for might helong - on ly an undefin ed space . Th ere are not even clo ds of soil
work in the fi eld or for dancing , ma tter and for m will differ. from the field or the field -p ath sticking to them , which would at least h int
Suc h stateme nts , no doubt co r rec t, on ly exp licate w hat we alrea dy kn ow. at their use . A pair o f peasant shoes and noth ing more. And yet.
The equipmenral quality of equipment consists in its usefulness. But wh at From the dark opening of th e worn insides of the shoes the toilsom e tread of
abo ut this usefuln ess itself? In conc eiving it , do we already conceive along the worker stares forth . In the stiffly rugge d heaviness of the shoes there is the
with it the equ ipme ntal character of eq uipment? In order to succeed in accumulated tenacity of her slow trud ge throu gh the far-spr eading and ever­
uniform furrows of the field swcpt by a raw wind . On the leather lie the
dampness and richness of the soil. Under the sales stre tc hes th e loneliness of
the field-path as evening falls. In the shoes vibrat es the silent call of the earth,
its quiet gift of the rip ening grain and its unexplained self-refusal in the fallow
desolation of the wintry field . Thi s equipment is pervaded by uncomplaining
WOITy as to the ce rtainty of bread , the wordless joy of having once more
withstood want, the trem bling befor e the impending childbed and shivering
at the surrounding menace of death .This equipm ent belongs to the earth, and
it is protected in the world of th e peasant wom an , From out of this protected
belonging the equipme nt itself rises to its resting-within- itself.
~ut perhaps it is on ly in th e picture tha t we not ice all th is about th e shoes.
~he peasant woman , on t he oth er hand , Simply wears th em . If on ly thi s
Simple wear ing wer e so Sim p le. W hen sh e takes off her shoe s lat e in th e
e\:ening , in deep hut healthy fatigue , and reaches o ut for them again in th e
still dim dawn , or passes th em by on th e day of rest, she knows all this
\\'Jtho ut noticing or re lleeting. The equipment al b eing of t he equipment
consists ind eed in its usefuln ess, But this usefulness itself rests in th e
a~llndan ce of an essent ial Being of the eq uipme nt . We call it reliability. By
Virt ue of this reliability the peasant woman is made privy to th e silent call
of th e ear th; by vir tu e of the re liability of the eq uipment she is sure of her
World. Worl d and ea r th exist for her, and for th ose w ho are with her in her
Vincent Van Gogh,
~o<~ c o f being , only thus - in th e equipmen t. We say ' on ly' and th er ewith
A Petr of Shoes: 188 7.

Source: Van Gogh

all into erro r; for the reliabili ty of the eq uipme n t fir st gives to th e sim ple
Museum. Amsterdam.
World its secur ity and assures to th e ear th th e freedom of its steady thrust.
T~ e equipmental being of equipm ent , reliability, kee ps gathered with~ itself all
Mart in i -I ("id,~ t· l . from · Th ~· o r ig In d" th e ..·.·(-'l"l ~) f art', in g cW L' Wr:rJll8 ~ · R t, ~, !}~(! and I:Jtp w uJL'd /..d nron, t.hmgs according to the ir mann er and exte nt. The usefulness of equipm ent is
Lo ndo n : H. o u ll t ' dg\~, 1Y'J ; , PI" ! , ~ ()1. H.q)1-oclu<:Q{ ...vrth p, :rmb ~ J()n o f 'I ~~' I r;T 8.: Fr;m ci .~ Bo oks. nevertheless on ly
Co pyri ght i.e, 19 77 . 1 9 ~ 'i h)· I )a\'id t-er-rell Kre ll. Re prrntcd by r l.· rm i~ ... ion .)1" J J .lI"p t ~ rC()JJ in .s Pu blisher s.
, the essential consequence of reliabilit ,y. The for mer vibrates
; 30 : I M AGE S P H E NOM ENOLOG Y : l 3 i

in the latter and would he nothing without it . A sing le piece of equipm ent is The essen ce of art wou ld th en be th is: th e truth of bei ngs setting itself to
w orn out and used uP i but at th e same time the use itself also falls int o disuse, work . But until now ar t presum ably has had to do with th e beautiful and
wears away, and become s usual. Thus equiprncntalit y wastes away, sinks into beauty, and no t w ith truth .The arts th at p rod uce su ch works ar e called th e
m ere stu ff. In such wasting, r eliability vanishes. This dwindling, however, [inc art s, in contrast with th e appli ed or industrial ar ts that manufacture
to 'which usc-things owe their boringly obtrusive usualness, is only one equipment . In fine art th e art itself is not bea utiful, bu t is calJed so because
mo re testim ony to the original essence of equipmc ntal being. Th e worn- out it prod uces th e beauti ful. Tr uth, in contrast , b elongs to logic. Beauty,
usualness of the equipment then obtrudes itself as the sole mode of heing, however, is re served for aesth etics.
apparently peculiar to it exclusively, Onl y blank usefulness now r emains
visible. It awakens the impression that th e orig in of equipment lies in a mere [... J
fabricating that im presses a form up on some matt er. Nevertheless, in its The work, therefore, is not th e reprod uction of so me par ti cul ar ent ity that
gen Uinely equipme ntal being, equipment stems from a mo re distant source. happens to b e at hand at any given tim e; it is, on the contrar y, th e
Matter and form and their distin ction have a deeper or igin. repr odu cti on of things' genc ral esse nce. [. . . J
Th e r epose of eq uip me nt resting within itsel f consists in its reliability. O nly
in this reliability do we discern what equipm en t in truth is. But we still
kn ow nothing of 'what we first sought: the thi ng 's thingl)' chara cter. And we
know no thin g at all of what we really and solely see k: the workly character
o f the work in the sense of th e 'wor k o f ar t . MAURICE MERLEAU-PONTY
O r have we already learned some thing un...vitt ingly - in passing, so to speak ­
ab out the work-being of the work? The painter 'ta kes his body with him ,' says Valery. Indeed we cann ot imag ine
how a mind could paint. It is by lendi ng his body to th e wo rld th at the ar tist
Th e equipme ntal qu ality o f equipme nt was discove red . But how ? Not by a
changes the world into paintings.To understand these transubstantiati ons we
d escri ption and exp lanati on of a pair of shoes actually pr esent ; not by a
must go back to th e working, actual body - not the body as a chunk of space
re por t ab out the pro cess of making shoes; and also no t by the observation
or a bundle of funct ions but th at body which is an in tertwining of vision and
of th e act ual use of shoes occurri ng here and th ere; but only by br inging movem ent .
our selves befor e Van Gog h's painting.Thi s painting sp oke . In th e near ness of
the work we wer e suddenly som ewh ere else than we usually tend to be. I have on ly t o see something to know how to r each it and deal w ith it , even
if [ do not kno w how this happens in the ner vous machine . My mobile bod y
T he ar twork lets us know what shoes are in truth . It would be the worst
makes a differ ence in th e visible world, being a p art of it ; that is why I can
self-decep tio n to think th at o ur descr iption , as a subjective action, had first
steer it through th e visible. Co nver sely, it is ju st as true that vision is
depi cted everythi ng thu s and th en pr ojected it into th e painting. If anything attached to m ovemen t. We see onlv what we look at. W hat would vision be
is qu estionable here , it is rather that we exper ienced too little in the Without eye m ovem en t? And ho w"co uld th e m ovem en t of the eyes brin g
nearness of th e work and that we expr essed th e experience too cr udely and things to gethe r if th e m ovement were bli nd ? If it were o nly a reflex ? If it did
too lit erally. But above all , the work did not , as it might seem at first , ser ve not have its antennae , it s clair voyance? If vision were n ot prefigur ed in it ?
m erely for a better visualizing of what a piece of equipme nt is. Rath er, the
equipmcnta lity of eq uipment first expressly comes to th e fore through the In principl e all my changes of place figur e in a corner of my land scape ; th ey
work and only in the wo rk . are recorded on th e map of the visible. Everything I see is in prin ciple within
my reach , at least with in reach of my sight, and is marked upon the map of
What happen s here? W hat is at work in th e wo rk?Van Gogh's painti ng is :~e the '! can .' Each of the two maps is complete. Th e visible world and the
disclosure of what the eq uipme nt, th e p air of peasan t shoe s, is in tr uth .l his World of my motor projects are each total parts of th e same Being.
being emerges int o the un concealm en t o f its Being. T he Gre eks called ~e
un concealme nt of bein gs alet he ia . We say 'tr uth ' and think littl e eno ugh In This ext rao rdinary over lapping , which we never think about sufficientl y,
using thi s word . [f there occurs in the work a disclosure of a par ticular forbids us to conc eive of vision as an op era tion of th ought that would set up
being , disclosing what and how it is, th en th ere is he re an occu r rin g, a
happ enin g of truth at work .
In the work of ar t the t ru th of beings has set itself to work . 'To set' means
here ' to b ring to stand .' Some particular ~ ~ing , a pair of peasan t shoes, ~l~~I-~c, . j\1etl~:au , pnnt).• TFu: Prim~uj' f!.( rl!rt:"·r·~ Jl'm . N ()f· t ~wc~~l;.'r n Um..·~:n-j t~
Studi o...In Ph en o m c.:ru.;]og)' and
-X I~t entJ a l Phi lcs o phv, Evanston, 11 .: No rt bwe su-r n UIlI"'Cl'Slty Pres.... ) 19 64 , pr. 16 2- 9 . CopYri ght t~ 1964­
com es ill thc work to stand in the light o f us Being. Th e Bein g of beings hy Nor-th "''''cs t c rn Un ivcr~ i t i' P ress. R e pr od uce d wit h rt~rn lh sj o (J o f Nor t h west er n Llntvc r-xitv Press,
come s into the steadiness of its shin ing. Orig initll;. Coer! ~t l'eJpr i ~ :!-, Ed ition s Galllmard , Paras. Rcpre>clu<:t·d w ith p(·rmis:iion .
i3 2 : I M A G E S PHENOMENOLOG Y ; 1.3 3

before th e mind a picture or a represen tatio n of th e world, a world of itS pulp and carnal o bver se [son envcrs charnel] exposed to view for th e fir st
immanence an d of idealit y. Im mersed in the visible by his bodv, itself visible ·.¥Ie In thi s sen se , Giacom etU2 says ene rg etically 'What interest s me in all
J '
the see-er do es not app: opr iate what he sees; he m er ely ap p roache s it b~.
tI ." .
aintings is re semblance - th at is, what is r esemblance for m e : so me thi ng
looking, he opens hims elf to th e wo rld . And on its side, thi s world of Which ~'hich makes m e discover m ore of th e world.' And th e imagin ar y is much
he is a part is not in itself, or m atter. My m ovement is not a decision made farthe r away from th e actual because th e painting is an analogue or likeness
by th e mind , an abso lut e doing which would dec ree, from th e depths of a nlv acco rd ing to th e body; because it doe s not present the tmnd with an
subjective retreat , some chan ge of place m iraculously exe cuted in extended ~C(~l s jOn to rethink the const itutive rel ations of things ; bec ause, rather, it
space . It is th e n atural co nsequence and th e maturation of my vision . I sav of ot1'ers to our Sight rregard/, so th at it might join wi th them , the inward traces
a thing that it is m oved ; but my bodv m oves itself, m y m ovement deploys of vision , and because it offers to vision its inw ard tapestries, th e im aginary
it self. It is not ignorant of itsel f; it is' not blind for itse lf; it radiates from' a tc>:tu re of th e real. 3
self. .. .
[ . .. J
Th e en igma is that m y body sim ulta neo usly see s and is seen . Th at whieh
In painti ngs them selves 'we cou ld see k a figure d phil osophy' of vision - its
looks at aU thin gs can also lo ok at itself an d r eco gn ize, in what it see s, the
iconogra phy, pe rha ps. It is no accid ent, fo r exa m ple, that fre quent ly in Dutch
'other side' of it s po wer of looking. [. . ·1 paintings (as i ~ m any o thers) an t~ mpt)' inter ior is 'digested ' by th e 'ro und eye
of the mirror." Thi s pr ehurnan wa y of seeing things is t he painter 's way. Mort'
I" ·1
com pletely th an lights , shadows, and reflecti on s , th e mirror im age
[... ) Since things and mv bod y are made of the same stuff, VISion must
anticipates, within things, the labor of vision. Like all other t echnical objects,
somehow t ake place in th em ; th~ir manifest Visibility must be repeat ed in the
such as signs and tools, th e m irro r ar ises upon th e op en circuit [that goes ]
body by a secr et visibility. ' Natu re is on th e inside,' says Cezanne. Q uality
light , co lor, depth , which are th ere before us, are th er e only because th~;
from seeing body to visible bod y. Every technique is a 'technique of the body.'
.A. technique outlines and am plifies the m etaphysical str ucture of our flesh.
aw aken an echo in o ur body and because the body welcom es th em .
The mirror appear s because I am seeing-vi sible [voyanr-visible), because the re
T hings have an int ernal eq uivalen t in m e ; th ey aro use in m e a car nal fo rmula is a reflexivity of th e sensible ; the mirror tra nslates and reproduces th at
of th eir pr esence. Why shouldn 't these [corresponden ces] in their tu rn give reflexivity, My outside com ple te s itsel f in and through th e sensible .
r ise to so me [ext ernal] visible shape in whi eh anyone else would recog nize Everythin g I have th at is mo st secre t goes into thi s \'ISaBe, thi s face, thi s Oat
those m otif s which supp or t his own insp ection of th e world ?' Thus there and closed entity abo ut whi ch my r eflection in th e water has alread y made
appears a 'v isible' of th e seco nd po wer, a carnal essence or icon of th e first. me puzzle. Schilder'' observe s th at , smoking a pipe befor e a mirror, I feel th e
It is not a faded copy, a trompe l'oei], or an oth er thing. Th e animals painted sleek, burning surface of the wood not only wh ere my Hngers ar e but also in
on th e walls of Lascau x are not th ere in th e sam e way as the fissures and those ghostlike fingers, those me rely visible Hnger s inside th e mirror. Th e
limeston e formations . But th ey arc not elsewhere. Pu she;l for war d here, held mirr or 's ghost lies outside rnv body, and by th e same toke n my own bodv 's
back th er e , held up by th e \~· all 's m ass th ey use so adroit ly, th ey spread 'invisibility' can invest the o{her b~dies I se e." Hen ce my bod; ' can a ssu~e
around the wall without eve r br eaking from th eir elusive moorings in it . I s l~gm e nts derived from the body of another, just as my su bstance passes into
would be at grea t pain s to say where is the painting I am lo oking at . For I do them; man is mirror lo r m an . The m irror itself is th e instrument of a universal
not look at it as J d o at a thing ; I do not fix it in its pla ce . My gaze 'wanders :nagic that changes things in to a spec tacle, sp ecta cles into things, mysel f
. !
in it as in the halos of Being. It is more accurat e t o say th at I sec according
to it , or with it, than that I see it:
lOtn anoth er, and another into myself. I... J Whcre in the realm of th e
und.C'rstanding can we place these occult operations , together wit h th e
Th e w or d ' im age' is in bad repute becau se w e have th oughtlessly bel ieved ~otl o ns and idols they concoct?What can we call th em ? Consider as Sart re
(lid in Xat/sea, the smi le of a long-dead kin g which continues to ex ist and to
that a design was a tracing, a cop y, a sec ond thing, and th at the m ental irnag:
was such a design , belonging among ou r private bri o-a-br ae . But if in fact It reproduce its elf [de se produire et de se reprodulle] on th e surface of a canvas. It
IS too littl e t o say that it is th er e as an image or essen ce; it is th ere as its elf, as
is nothing of th e kind, then neither the design nor th e p ainting bel ongs to
th e in -it sel f any m ore th an the image do es.Th ey ar e th e inside of the o utside ;~at ~vhich wa s always most alive about it, even now as Llook at the pa inting.
and th e o utside of th e inside, wh ich the duplicity of feeling [Ie senti r] m akes he. worl d's instant' t hat Cezanne wanted to paint, an instant long since
possible and without w hich w e would never unde r stand th e quasi p resence passed away, is still thrown at us by his paintings.8 His Mount Saint Victor is
and im minent visibility whi ch m ake up the who le proble m of th e im aginar )'­ 7a~ lc and rema de from on e end of th e world to the o ther in a way tha t is
The picture and the acto r 's mi micry arc not devices to be borrowed from ~:'f~rcl ~ t from, .but no ~ess ~ergetic than , ~a~ of the ~ ar~1 .roc~ a bov~ A.ix .
th e real world in orde r to signify pro saic thi ng~ wh ich ar e abs ent. l-or the :~c ncc and e xisten ce , Imagm ar)' and real, VI SIble and inv isibl e - a pamtmg
, im agi nal"y is much ne ar er to , an d much far ther aw ay fro m, t he actual -" llllx e s up all our catcvo r ics in laVing out its oneiri c unive rse of car nal
J , .. ~p..; ~n.lnY b o d Y as a diagram of the 1''"_
.. _C .llle
u " '" L . acuuai,
, ' ~ L ....
W illI _11 • ..
('sse nces,O
" f encctivc
If . II'k'"encsscs , of ,mute m ean ings
. .
I _,,-!-: I MAG ES

NOTES mind? Our answer is.that the majority of psychol ogists ignore this primary
1, Footnote remov ed. knowledge and prefer to build explanato ry hypotheses concerning the
2, G. Charbonnier, Le tnonoloqu e du peintre (Paris, 1959 ), p. 172 . natur f of the image . I These like all oth er scientific hypotheses, never possess
3. Footnote removed . more t han a certain probability: th e data of reflection are certain.
4 . ' . .. tme philosophi c f1gu d e . .. ' .
All new ~tu(lies of the image should therefore begin with a basic distinction:
5. P. Claudel, lntr oduction fa pemwre holiandatse (Paris, 1935).
that it is one thing to describe the image and quite another to draw conclusions
6. P. Schilder, The Ima8e and Appearcmce 1
the Human Body (London, 1935;
regarding its nature. In going from one to the other we pass from certainty
New York, 1950) , pp. 22 3-24). [. . . J
to probabi litv, The first duty of the psychologist is obv iously to formulate
7 . Cf. Schilder, Image. pp. 281-82 - Trans.
into concepts the knowledge that is immediate and certain.
8. Footnote remov ed .
So we shall ignore theories. 'vVe want to know nothing about the image but
what reflection can teach us. Later on we shall attempt, as do other
psychologists, to classify the consciousness of the image among the other
DESCRIPTION types of cons ciousness, to find a' famil y' for it , and we shall form hypotheses
JEAN-PAUL SARTRE concerning its inherent nature. For the pr esent we only wish to attempt
a 'phenomenology' of the image . Th e method is Sim ple : we shall produce
Despite several preconceptions , to 'which we shall return shortly, it is images, reflect upon them, describe th em ; th at is, atte m pt to determine and
certain that when I produce the image of Peter, it is Peter who is th e' object to classify their distinctive characteri stics.
of my actual consci ousness, As long as that co nscio usn ess remains unaltered,
I could give a description of the obj ect as it app ears to me in the form ofan *
image but not of the imag e as such .To determine the properties of the image The ver y fir st refle ctive glimpse shows us that up to now we have been
as image I must turn to a new ac t of consciousness; 1 mu st rqleet . Thus the guilty of a double error. We believed, without giving the matter any
image as image is describable only by an act of th e seco nd d egree in which thought , that the image was In cons ciou sness and that the object of the
attention is turned a"vay from the object and dir ected to the manner in image was i n the image. 'vVe pictured consc iousness as a plac e p eopled with
which the object is givcn. It is this refl ecti ve act whi ch permits the judgment small liken esses and these likenesses were the images. No doubt but that this
' I have an image.' misconc eption arises from our habit of thinking in space and in terms of
Space. Thi s we shall call: the illusion of immanence. The clearest expression of
It is neccssary to repeat at this point what has been known since Des cartes : this illusion is found in Burne, where he draws a distinction between
that a reflective consciousness gives us knowledg e of absolute certainty; that impressions and ideas:
he who becomes aware 'o f having an image ' by an act of reflection cannot
deceive himself. There have been psychologists, no doubt, who maintained 'n lo.' e perception" which enter with most force and violence, W~ may name impressions,
that a vivid image could not be distinguished from a faint perception. By Ideas I me an the faint images of these in thinking and rea soning... I

Titchener even cites some experiments in support of this view. But we shall
see further on that such claims rest on an error. In fact, the confusion is These ideas are none other than what we called image s. Now Hume adds
impossible; what has come to be known as an 'image' occurs immediately as Se\'cral pages further on:
such to reflection. But it is not a metaphysical and ineffable revelation that
concerns us here. If this cons ciou sness is imm ed iately diStinguishable from ~Il But to fo rm the idea of an obje ct, and to form an idea simp ly IS th e sam e clung; the re fere nce
others, it is because it presents itself to reflection with certain traits, ce:~n of the idea to an o bject being an extran eou s deno mmation , or which in Itself it be ars no
characteristics, which at on ce determine the judgment 'I have an image. 1hc lnark or ch aract er. Now as 'tis impossible to form an idea of an o bject , t hat " po sses t of
act of reflection thus has a content of immediate ce r tainty which we shall cal! ~IU ant ity and 'lu ality, and yet is possest of no pI-ease degr~e 0 1 either; It follows, that there
JS an eq ual irnp osslbihty of forming an idea , that i:, not limited and confin ed in both these
th e essence of the image .This essence is the same for everyone; and the first task
patticu lar«, '
of psychology is to explain this essence , to describe it, to fix it.
Why, then, should there be so many diffe re nt t heo ries concerning this Ac:ctwding to this view my actual idea of chair has but an extraneous r elation
immediate knowledge on which all psychologi sts should cenainly be of one to an eXisting chair. It is not the chair of the external wor ld, th e chair r just
perCeived; it is not the chair of straw and wood by whi ch r am able to
lean . Pall} Sa r tn~> from rs;
P.'>'yd~ol(}!1J· 1 thc. JmaJ~imJlJ (m . Nt~W YU1'k : Ph ilo sophi cal Library. 194 8 , pp. l --8. ~l Stingui s h my idea from the idea of a table or an inkwell. But, my actual
Reprod uced w ith pe rrn ixxio n of Tayle r & Pr -ancts .
ldea is ne vertheless an idea oj ehai!". What can this m ean but th at, for Hum e,
i "'5"": I M A G E S PHEN O M E N O L O G Y ; , 37

th e idea of chair and th e chair as an idea are o ne and th e same th ing. 10 have ,;halr, the o ~ j ect o f my perception an d th at o f my im age are id entical: it is
an id ea o f chair b to have a chair in consciousn ess. That this is so is show n by that chair of st raw o n whi ch I am se ated . O nly co nsciousn ess is related in two
the fact th at wha t is tr ue of th e object is also tru e of th e idea . If th e obje ~t different way s to the same chair. The cha ir is envisioned in both cases in its
m ust have a de ter mi ned qu antity and quality, so must th e id ea , concrete individua lity, its cor po rea lity. Only, in one of th e case s, th e chair is
'enc ountered ' by conscio usness; in the o ther, it is not. But th e ch air is not
Psych ol ogi Sts and philosophers have in th e m ain ad opted thi s p oint of View.
in cons ciousness ; not even as an im age. Wh at we find here is not a sem blance
It is also the point of view of common se nse. When r say that ' I have an
of the chair which sud de nly w orked its way into consciousness and whi ch
image' of Peter, it is beli eved that r now ha ve a ce rtain p icture of Pet er in rnv
bas but an ' extr insic ' relation to the exi sli ng ch air, but a certain type of
conscio usness, Th e obje ct o f m y actual conscio usness is just th is pictu r; ,
consciousness , a synthetic organi'lat ion , which ha s a direct rela tion t o th e;
'w hile Peter, th e man of flesh and bone , is reache d but ve ry indirectl y, in an
existing chair an d whose ver y essence co nsists pr ecisely of bein g related in
'extri nsic ' m anner, becau se of th e fact that it is h e who m the picture
this or that m anner t o th e existing chair.
re p resents . Likewise, in an exhibition , I can look at a po r trait for it s Own
sake fo r a lo ng ti me wi tho ut noticin g th e inscription at the bottom of the And " hat exactly is th e image ? EV idently it is n ot th e chair: in general ,
pict ure ' Por trait of Pet er Z... .' In oth er words , an im age is in here n tly like the object of the image is n ot it sel f an im age . Shall we say then that
the mater ial ob ject it re p re sents . the image is the total synthetic organization , co nsci ousness ? But this co n ­
, ci o u~ nes , is an act ual and concret e n ature, which exists in and for it self
W hat is su rprising is that the radical in co ngruity between co nsc iousne ss and
and whi ch can always occur to r eflecti on w ithout anv interrnediarv, The
thi s co nce pt io n o f the image has never been felt. It is d oubtless du e to the
word im agt~ can th erefore only ind icate th e rel ation 'of cons ciousn~ss to
fact that the illusion o f immanence has alway s been taken for gr anted .
the obj ect; in o ther word s, it m ea ns a ce r ta in m anner in w hich the obj ect
Otherwise it wo uld have been noticed th at it was im possible t o slip these
makes it s appearan ce t o co nscio usn ess , or, if o ne p refers , a certain way in
m at eri al portrait s into a conscious synthetic st r uct ur e with out dest roying
which cons ciousness presents an object to itse lf. Th e fact of the matter is
th e str uctu r e, w ithout br eaking the contact s, ar resti ng the flow , b reaking
that th e expressi on 'm ental im age ' is co nfusing. It would b e b etter to say
th e co ntin uity. Co nscio usness wo uld cease being trans par en t to itself; its
'the conscio usness of Peter as an image ' or 'the im ag ina t ive consciousness
un ity wou ld b e b roken in every direction by unassimilabl e, opa gue sc reens.
of Pet er.' But since the word im age is of long standing we cannot rej ect
The works of m en like Spaier, Buhler and Flach , in w hich th e im age is shown
it completely. H owever, in order to avoid all am bigu ity, we must r ep eat
to be supple by being full of life , suffused wi th feeling and knowledge are
at this p oint th at an image is nothing el se than a relationship . The
useless; for bvJ turning th e im age into an organism th ey/ did n ot m ake it an)'
~ ~
imaginative con scio usne ss I have of Peter is no t a co nsci ousness of th e
the less unassirni labl e by con sciousnes s. It is for t his reason that ce r tain
image of Pet er: Peter is directlv r each ed , m v atten tion is not directed on
lo gical minds, like F. Moutier," have felt that the ex isten ce of m ental im ages an im age , but on an ob jec t .t ' ,
must be deni ed if the integrity of the m ental synt he sis is to be saved . Such a
r adical soluti on is contr adicted by thc dat a o f introsp ect ion . I can, at will, Thus, in th e woof of the syn the tic act s of Conscio usn ess th ere appear at
think of an im age of a horse , tree or house . But if we acce pt th e illusi'?ll of times certain structures which w e sha ll call imagina tive co nscio u sness .They
imman ence , we are necessarily led to construct th e wor ld of the mind out are born, develop and disappear in acco rdance w ith laws p rop er to them and
o f objects entirel y like those ~f the ex t ernal world, but w hich Sim ply obey \~~hich we shall try to ascerta in . And it wo uld be a grave error to con fuse thi s
J i/Terent laws.
h~ e of th e imaginative conscio usne ss, which last s, becomes organized, an d
chsrnte grates, w it h t he object of th is co nsciousness which in th e m eantime
Let us ign ore th ese theo ri es an d see what refl ec tion teach es us, so that 'we
can well remain im mutabl e .
may, r id ourselves of th e illusion of imman ence.

'W hen I perceiv e a chair it would be ab surd to say that the chair is in ~)'
p er ception . According to the terminology we have adopted , my p er cept1 ()~
is a ce r tain co nscio usness and th e ch air is th e obj ea of th at co ns ciousness. 1_Cf. our critical stu dy L'lma8 ination, Alcan, 1936 .
N ow I shut my eyes and ] produce an im age of th e cha ir I have just 2- ~I Treouse if Huma n Natu re. Oxford , 194-1 , p. 1.
3_lhjd, p. 20.
p ercei ved . The cha ir, now occurring as an image, ca n no more en te r m CO
co nscio usness th an it could do so as an object. An im age of a chair is not, 4 _F. Mou n or, l. opbaste de Broca. These de Paris. Steinheil, 1908. Cf. P: 244 : ' We
and can not be a cha ir, In fact, whe ther I per ceive or imagine that cha ir of ~) s ()llltely den y t he existe nce of images:
st r aw on whi ch I am seat ed , it al w a;.. ~ rem ains o utsid e of conscio usness- In J. Cases may he cite d in which I produce an image of an object which has no real

both case s it is t her e , in space , in that roorn , in fr ont of {he desk . N ow --- and ~ x.i 5tc n(:e o utsi de myself. But the chim er a does not e xist 'as an image _' It exists
this is what rd k ctiotl teaches us above all -, w hethe r I sec or imagi ne that I)cithcr a, such no r othe r wise.
l 3 ~~ : IMAG E S PHENOMENOLOGY ; 13 9

the corp oreal object. Th erefore, if im agination mobilizes mo des of implicit
knowledge , it does so not so m uch by takino the initiative in an unpredictable
outbur st as by following the cour se of a p re\ious exp erience undergon e by the
The adve nt of r epresentation occurs w ith the upsurge of space and tilne. body on the plane of pr esen ce .
In agr eem ent with Heid egger's interpretation of Kant, we shall attribute As a result, the essentia l function of imagination is to conver t thi s
this up surge to the tr anscendental im agination . Th e em pirical imagination experience into some thi ng visible, giving it the status of re presentatio n. 'We
prolongs this movement, converting appearan ce into obje ct. Th e trans_ uld sa}' that representation is that wh ich makes u s think of, but we should
co ­
cendental imagination prefigures the e mpir ical, mak ing th e e m pir ical lace the em phasis on th e evocat ive capaci ty sugges te d hy the 'think : not on
possible.Transcend ental imagination expresses the possibility of representation, ~e conn ective capa cit y sugges ted by th e ' of' (a capacit y be longing to th e
while em p ir ical ima gination accounts for a give n representation 's bodv) . Th e cr ucial m att er is always th e transition from presence to
m ean ingfuln ess and its int egra tion into a to tal representation o r a wo rld. As rep; esentation . On both th e em pir ical an d the tr anscendental le.vel s,
transcendental , th e im agination sees to it that th er e is a given; as empirical, imagination is a fo rce whic h stri ves for Visibility. The transcendental
imagin ation makes ce r tain that th is given , enr ich ed by possibles, po ssesses a imaginat ion having opened up the area in w hich som ething given can appear,
mean ing. the empi r ical im agination fills ou t thi s field . This is done w ithout
What is the source of these possibles? How do they int ervene in the for m of multipl ying th e given . Instead , images are elicited to form a qu asi given .
an image?That which imagin ation actually contri butes to percep tion by way These images are not , st ric tly speaking, images of th e visible. Howeve r, they
of extending and anim ating appearances is not cre ated ex mlulo. Imagination put us en ro ute toward th e visible by conti nually appealing to perception for
nourishes re pres entation with modes of implicit kn owledge [Ies savoirs] decisive conl1r mat ion . For we mu st realize that th e modes of implicit
previou sly constituted in lived experience . Mor e pr ecisely, imagination plays knowledge w ith whi ch ima.gination seeks to do minate app ear ances ar e
a du al role . It mobilizes such knowledge , and it conver ts what is acquired by neither perceptual n or conceptual.Th ey exist in a prior form in whi ch they
exper ience [l'acquisJ in to som ething visible . In the former case, we must can be an nexed to a re prese ntati on .
consider knowledge as an aspect of im agination . For knowledge is a vir mal When we perceiv e, th ese modes of knowl edge are not evoked as
state of the image, whose in te ntional corr elate is the possible. Imagination knowledge, that is, as supplementar y inl ormatio n added to the p erc eived
mobili zes the knowledge which it furni shes to represen tation . Humc 's analysis from the outside , or as a gloss adjoined to a text. They are there as th e very
is rel evant here . Imagination constitutes the associations which fo rm the meaning of th e perceived object, given with it and in it. Tills proxim it y of
indispensable commentary on present impression s and which enable us to knowledge to the p er ceived is the wo rk of im agin ation , for knowledge thu s
know an object . Th e only problem is that Hume's analysis is warped by the integrate d shou ld b e t erm ed an 'im age.' If I know th at snow is cold , I can
sensati onali st prejudice which inspir ed it. Associations appe ar as a mechanical actualize th e memory o f expe rie nces that I have had of this co ldn ess; but
miracl e , because they are effected bet ween ideas that are th e residues of when I see sn ow, it app ears col d t o me without my etfe ctin g thi s
heter ogeneou s impre ssion s. Synthesis is achieved tllrough habit, which , even actualization . This mea ns, fir st , th at th e cold is not known by an inl1 uence
though natural (not pr em editated or organized by a t ranscendental act ivity), :;ohich woul d summon up a pr eviou sly consti tuted kn owl edge of cold .Yet it
still re mains somewhat ar tificial. To avoid this ar tificiality, we mu st look to IS .not felt in the way th at wh ite is seen (though we may, instructed by

th e expe r ience of presence, in w hich w hat Hu sserl calls ' passive synthesis pall1ter s, doubt that vvhit e it self is seen , and it cou ld b e shown that white is
operat e ~ naturally by w eans of the body. J Thus, throu gh our body, we are on not itself seen without the aid of im agin ation) . Thi s so r t of immedi ate
an even level with the obje ct, though with out fully realiZing it. We acqu ire a presenc e , non conceptual and yet non sensu ous , is the ' ima ge ' of cold whi ch
familiaritv with th e object which no act of thought can supplant and which is accon;ranies th e per ception of snow and renders it elo quent . My implicit
indispens~bl e for all knowledge by acquaintance [connaissanceI. In affirming knO\\'k dge is conver ted into an abstract and yet real pr esence if something
this , we are on ly takin g Hume at his word . But we refuse to interpret habit as ~~n s.uo~~ which is adumbrat ed but not who lly given . Th e sam e holds for th e
a mechani cal means of associatin g ideas. Rath er, we envisage habit as the organ s: robohc images in which com prehens ion is occa sion allv made determinate .
of an inner condition and , in accordance with its etymology, of a mastery of In ,Sart.r e 's exam ple, th e tumu ltu ou s and end less seaoJ is an im age of th e
prr~l c tariat ; it gives neith er a true no r an obj ective co mpre hen sion of th e
Mik el D ufeen ne, fr om < Rcp resenr eu o n and Jmagl !"'".ati oo · ) In The PJu.o(Jmcnoloar tf Ae.sr.baJc Expel renee, object deSign ated by it . 2 Co m prehe nsion in the for m of an image is an im age
tr Ed.. .var d S. C asey, NOTthW C,:."1"c:rn Un l'\'enit y Stud H ~ "'" In Phcl1{Jmt:n o] ug)' an d Exist en rta l Ph i lo so phy of comprehension , ju st as the cold of unfelt snow or th e flavor of a ro ast
Evanston , Jr.: North",..~ s tc.nl Llru..'~ ~ t" s:ty Pr ess , 197 3. pp. 34 :;- 53_ C opyri ght (C;J 1973 bv No r th..vc-xtcr n evoked. by a fam ishe d. m an is th e image of an unsen scd sensuou sn ess [un
Uru ve.r ~l t)" P ress Repr odu ced Wifh pcr -rnisstcm of No r th w est er n Un b:e r :-tll}' Pr e ss. On~jnaBv
Nl ~n (lmblOh't! r f. de I'l·xp~nen.< ~' ~'~lhbr (l [j e , Pr (~ss c ~ Llni.... crsita ire» d e Fra mx -, 19 S3. Rcprod u t: (~d ~"' i (h
senSible non .~ "nt l ) . } Second , the <.:old can be anticipate d only because it has
pc r rn lss ron. already b een kn ow n . When me mory takes the form of an im age,
; LO'I rvlAGES

an ticipation becomes reminiscence. Finally, the image adheres to perception 2. See Jean -Paul Sartre, The Psychology qf lmaglnat,on, trans. B. Frechtrnan (New
in constituting the object. It is not a piece of mental equipment in york: \Vasmngton Square Press, 1966), pp. 133fT.
consciousness but a 'Nay in which consciousness opem itself to the object, 3. \Ve shall, perhaps, be criticized for juxtaposing the ex amples of a man who
prefiguring it from deep within itself as a function of its implicit knowledge: pcrceiycs co.ld. in the Whiteness. of.sllo~ and of a famished man who dreams of
Therefore , the world is present to us in flesh and blood only because it is at food. But it is incorrect to restrict ImagInation to the second case , Insofar as the
the same time implicitly present in images.To unfold the empirical content of snOW is not in contact with my skin, its coldne ss is as absent as food is to the
these images, we must appeal to the modes of implicit knowledge wEich famished . The whiteness alone is given to me. O f course, it is the whiten ess 1"
con stitute expe r ience. However, in p erception such modes of knowledge. snow, for perception goes immediate!y to the object, and its coldness is then
rem ain in a lat ent state of ,empty intentions.' Consequently, we cannot assert given with , ~e . obj ec~. ~et the coldness is "" given ~n the same \"'ay as th e
that perception is composed of sensations to which judgment adds modes of whiteness: it IS nnphCit, r.e., a m anner ofbemg absent ill presence. In contrast,
knowledge . Modes of implicit knowledge ar e not known fconnu] as such. the food which obsess es the famished man is rad ically absent . Nevertheless, it
Rather, as latent in the form of images, they are incarnate in objects. In this is present enough to m ake his mouth wat er. Without being deluded, he at least
reaJjze~ the implicit savor and taste of meat and thus enters th e universe of
manner, im ag ination comes to the aid o f perception. Th ere is an irrecusable
given whi ch eli cits and di re ct s the im agination: pe r ception is not wholly' food. In the first case, we have an absent pr esence ; in the second , a pr esent
imagination. Bu t this given is onl y appearance, since it is contemplated and not absence. It is the context prov ided by the world which determines whether the
lived. Under its transcendental aspect, the imagination allow s the given to image is illuso ry or valid . All dep ends on the extent to which th e image adheres
ar ise, but as empirical, it restores on th e plane of representation a degree of to perception. In both cases, however, the image is som ething implicit which
blossoms forth on the basis of th e real- whethe r to confirm or to hetray it.
the density and warmth of presence. Th us, instead of saying that the imaginary
IS a qua si present, we pr efer to say that the imagination Jilmi shes a quasi
+. This is a well -known phr ase of Mallarrn e, the French sym bolist poet.
present, the equivalent of Jived Significations at the level of representation. It (Translato rs note).
is in thi s fashion that , for example, the word.JI Oll"Cr designates' l' absent e de tout
bouquet. " But the designatum is nevertheless a flower 'w hose look, fragrance,
jocund spontaneity, or naive pride exists in the margin of our consciousness.
Imagination, guided hy the t ext , creates a po ssible flower whi ch blossoms
forth from the word which names it. Similarly, the imagination mak es the
stone of a monument appear in its hardness, ob stinacy, and coldness. These
DON tHO£: :5
qualities are present as a halo around what I sec, enriching my perception It has frequently been noted that scientific 'seeing' is highly visuali sti c, Thi s
without encumbering or altering it. is, in part, because of h istorical origins '" arising in early Modern times in
the Renaissance, Leonardo da Vinci played an important bridge role here,
'vVe can now verify the ultimate unity of the transcendental and empirical with th e invention o f what can be called th e ' engine er in g paradigm ' of
imagination. The empirical imagination, which exploits the concr ete vision. t His depictions of human anatomy, particularly those of autopsies
knowl edge [Ie sQl'oir concret I that structures p erception , can be clarified only which display musculature , org ans, tendons , and the like - 'exp lode d ' to
in term s of the transcendental , w hich found s the possibility of seeing. The show parts and interrelationships - were id enti cal with the same style when
unity of the two makes the amhiguity of imagination evident - an amhiguity he depicted imagined machines in his technical diaries. In short, his was not
whi ch is finall y that of the h um an condition itself. In fact , imagination ?nly a \\oay of seeing which anticipated mod ern anatomi es (later copi ed an d
appears to possess at Once the two faces of nature and mind [esprit]. It Improved upon by Vesalius) and modern draughtsmanship, but an approach
belongs to the bodv~ to the d ecree b
that it animates the modes of implicit which thus visualized both exteriors and interiors (th e exploded style).
knowl edge inherited fro m th e exper ience of p resence, whil e op ening up 1.1X)nardo was a 'handcraft ima gist.'
reflection to the degree that it allows us to substitute the p erceived for the
lived. !n this latter rol e , imagination interrupts the intimacy of presence by ·r.he move, first to an almost exclusively visualist emphasis, and second to a
introducing not so much an absence as th e distance within presence "...hich kind of 'analytic' depiction , was faster to oc cur in some sciences than in
constitutes representation, in te r m s of which the object confronts us at a other s. In astr onomy, analytic drawing of telescopic sightings was accurate
distance , open to a look o r t o jud gment.

()iJJ1 I!ldt\ fro m E :l1'atlJ~ng H erroeneuctcs, I' ISI...ahs m In Scien ce. N or thwcst et-n Unn·crdry Studies in

NOTES Ph~~n ~m1 -::tH : logy ~ri.d Lx ist cn na ! H111o:-:,o phy, E v anst on, iI.: North\'.·t~ s t l.~ r n U ni w~rSll) Pr-os,s , 1998,

I . Sec Edmund H usscrl , Ano!J·sen r ut p()$siven Sy nt heSiS, cd , M. Fleischer (T he Pp. 1; 9 63 Cnp)' T lghc~;;' 19 9 8 by No rth",..es tern Lln ivcrsu v Press. Re prod uce d w id.. r-H~rmis s[ o n o f

Hagut:: N i jhol]", 19 6 6) , pa ssim . (Translatm"s not e). :-';{) l· ! h wl~s tl:rn Un l v~ ~ni lt)" Pn.· ~~ .

) 4.2 : I M A G E S PHE NO,"IE NO L O GY ; 1<1 .3

early on and is being redi scovered as such today.Th e 'red spot ' 00 Jupi ter Was , ed al role . Lat our's insight that exp er im ents deliver inscriptions helps
already depict ed in the seventee nth century. But her e, visual obser vations and :~gge st the he rmeneutic analogy, which works well her e. W riting is language
depictions we re almost the only sensory dim en sion which could be utiliz ed through ' techn ology' in th at w ri tten langu age is inscribe d by som e
Celestial phenomena wer e at first ope n only to visual inspec-tion, at most technologically em bodied m eans. I am suggesting that th e sophisti cated ways
magnifi ed through op tical instrumentation. It would be much later -- the in which science VIsualizes its phenomen a is another mo de by whi ch
middl e of the twentieth centu ry - th at astronomy would expand beyon d the understan ding or interpr etive activi ty is em bodied . Whether the technologies
optical and reach heyond the Ear th with instruments other than optical ones. are tr anslation tec hn olog ies (transfor ming nonvisual dim ensions into visual
Medicine, by th e tim e ofVesalius , shifted its earl ier tac tile and even olfacto ry ones), or more isomorphically visual from the outset, the visualization
ob serva tio ns in autopsy to the visualizations a]a cia Vinc ian style , but processes th rough techno logies are science 's par ticular hermeneutic means.
co nt inued to use diagn ostics which includ ed palpitation s , osc ultatio ns , and First , what are th e epist em olog ical ad van tages of visualization? Th e
other tactile , kinesth eti c , and olfactory o bser vat ions . In th e medical traditional answer, ofte n given w ithin science as well , is that vision is th e
sciences, th e shift to the pr edominantly v i~ual mode fo r analysis began m uch 'clearest' of th e senses, th at it delivers greater distinctions and clarities, and
later. The inven t ion of bo th photogra phy and X-rays in the ninet eenth this seemS to fit in to th e histories of per cep tion tracing all th e way back to
ce ntu r y help ed these scien ces become m or e like th eir other n atur al science the Gre eks. But thi s is sim ply wrolla . My own earl ier researches int o
peers. auditory phen om ena show ed that e ven measurable o n physiolo gical bases,
Hermen euti cally, in th e pe rceptua list styl e of in terpr etation em phasized hearing del ivers within its dimension distin ctions and clari ties which equal
her e - th e pr ogress of 'her mene utic sensor y translat ion devices' as they and in some cases ex ceed those of visual acuity. I" ,I It is sim ply a cult ural
might be called - ima8 i1l8 technolop ies have become dominantly visualist , prejudice to hold tha t visio n is ipso fact o the ' bes t ' sense.
These devices mak e non visual sources into visual ones . Th is, th rough new I argue, r ath er, that wh at gives scientific visualization an advantage ar e its
visual p rob es of interiors, fro m Xvrays, to MRI scans, to ultrasound (in repeatable Gestalt f eatures w hich occur within a technologically produced
visual form) and PET processes, has allowed m edi cal scien ce to deal with visible for m , and which lead to the ri se and im por tance of imaging in both
bodies become transpar ent. 2 its ordinary visual and specific h ermen eutic visual displ ays. And , her e, a
More abstract and semio tic -like visualizations also are p ar t of science's phenomenological understandin g of percepti on can actually enh ance the
sight . Grap hs, oscillograph ic, spectrogra phic, and o ther uses of visual hermeneutic process which defines th is science practice .
he r me neut ic devices give Lat our reason to claim th at such instrumentation Let us. begin with one of the simplest of thes e Gest alt features , th e
is simply a com plex wscr iptio n-makin8 device for a visualizable result. This appearance of a figur e against a ground . Pr esented with a visual displ ay,
vector to ward forms of 'w riting' is rel ated t o, but different fw m , the var ious humans can ' pick out ' so me feature which, o nce chosen, is seen against the
isomorphic depicti ons of im aging. [. . .) variable consta nt of a field or groun d . It is not the 'o bject ' w hich pr esents
While all this instrumentation designed to turn all phenomena into this figu re itsel f - rath er, it is th e interaction of visual intentionality that a
figure can appear against a g round .
visualiza ble form for a 'r eading' illu strat es what I take to b e on e of science's
deeply entrenched 'her mene ut ic pra ctices,' it also poses something of a I~ astr onomy, for example, sighting come ts is one such activity. Wh eth er
problem and a ten sion for a st ricte r ph en om en ological understanding of SIghted with the naked eye, telescopic obser vation , or tertiary observations of
perception. telescopic photographs , the Sighting of a comet comes about by noting the
movement of a single object against a field which remains relatively m ore
Although I shall outline a more complet e notion of perception bel ow, here
Constant . Her e is a determined and trained figure! ground p erceptual activity.
I wan t to underline the feat ures of perception whic h are the source of
This is also an in terest -determm ed figure / ground obs ervation . While ,
a po ssible tension with scienti fic 'seein g ' as ju st described. Full human
~mpi ricany, a co met may be accident ly discover ed , to recognize it as a come t
perception , following Merleau -Pooty, is always mu ltul imensionol a~d
IS to have sedirnented a great deal of previous informed perception.
syn esthetic , In shor t , we ne ver just see someth ing but alw ays expe r ience it withlO
th e co m plex of sensory fields. Thus the ' reducti on' of perception to a These pheno m enological features of comet discovery stan d out by no ting
monodim en sion - th e visual - is already an abstraction from the lived ~hat the ver y structure of figur e ! groun d is not somethi ng Simp ly 'given' but
experi ence of act ive percep tion withi n a wo rld. IS constJt l1u d by its context and field of signifi cations. To vary our set of

Does this visualizing pr actice within sc ie nce thus reop en the way to a division nbsen 'ahIes, on e could have ' fixed' upon any single (or sm all group) of sta r s
of science from the Iifeworld? Doe s it m ake of science an essen tiallv reductive and attended t o these instead . Figu res 'stan d ou t' relat ive to int erest ,
practice ? I shall argue against ~i s by w ay of att emp ting to /show th at atte ntion , an d even histo r y of pcrcci vabilit y win ch in cludes cult ural or
visualizat ion in the scien tific sense IS a deeply hermeneuti c practice which plays a macroperceptu al j eawres as we ll, [. . . J
; 4 4 : I MA GES

When on e adds to this mix the var iability and cha ngea bility of instrum ents
or technologies, the process can rapidly change . As Kuhn has p ointed OUt,
with increased magnifications in later Mod ern telescop es, there was an
explosion of p lanet discove ries due to the availability of detecta ble' disc
size,' whi ch differentiated plan ets from star s much more easily. l

[· · ·1 ;,~

If laboratories (and other controlled ob servational prac t ices) are wher e one PSYCHOANALYSIS
pr epares inscriptions , they are also the pla ce wher e object s are made
' scienti fic ,' or, in this context, made readable. Things, the ultim ate r eferential
obje cts of scie nce, are never just naively or sim ply ob ser ved or taken , the)'
m ust be prepared or constituted . And , in late Modern science , this consti tut ive The Gaze
7: I jacqu es Lacan
pr ocess is incr easingly pe rv aded by technolog ies.
But , I shall also argue tha t the results ar e oft en not so much ' textlike,' but The Ali-Perceivin g Subj ect
are m ore like rep eatable, variable perceptual Gestalts. Th ese are som et imes Christian M etz
called (images' or e ven pictur es, but because o f th e vestig ial remains of
modernist epistemo logy, I shall call th em depicuons. Thi s oc curs with 7:3 Woman as Image (Man as Bearer of the Look)
Lau ra M ulvey
increasing so phistication in th e realm o f ImaOIllB technologies w hic h often
do minate con te m p ora r y scientific hermen eutics. Cindy Sherman's Untitled Film Stills
7:4 j oan Copjec
To produ ce the bes t res ults, the now technocon stitutcd objects need to
stand for th with th e g reatest p ossible clar ity and within a cont ext of Tw o Kinds of Attention
variability and re peatability. For th is to occur, th e cond itions of instrumen­ 7:5 Anton Ehrenzweig
tal transpare nc Y need to be enhanced as well. Thi s is to say that the
instrumentation, in operation, m ust 'withdr a...v ' or itself b ecome transparent
so th e thing may sta nd 0 u t (wi th chosen or multiple features). Th e me ans by
w hich the d epiction becomes ' clear' is co nsti tute d by th e 'absen ce' or
invisibility of th e instr um entatio n .
Of co urse, the instrumentation can never totally disapp ear, Its 'echo effect '
will always rem ain within the medi ation. T he mallet (b rass, wood , or
r ubber) makes a difference in th e so und p rodu ced . Tn p art, this b ecomes a
reason in late Modern science for the del iber ate introd uction of multirarianr
instr ument ation or meas urem ent s. Th ese Instr umental phenomenological
variations as I have called the m also functi on as a kin d of m ult ipers pectival
equival en t in scie nti fic vision (which driv es it , n ot unli ke other cult ural
pr acti ces , tow ard a more p ostmoder n visua l model) .

1. Footno te removed .
2. Footno te removed .
3. Thom as Kuh n, Structure ?ISciem!fic Bevolutions, 1962, Chicago: Uni versity of
Chicago Press. pp. 115-16.

well as the unconscious containing imagery, 'the image "c ontain s"
As consciou sness, primary processes that can be analysed', such that images
u~n be treated as sY~I?~oms of individual an.d soci al ~sychic pro cesses
~AUmon t, 1997: (4). Zizek and others use cinema to Ill ustrate psycho­
( alytic theory, in addit ion to using psychoanalytic theory to illuminate the
~ea ni!Jg of film (1992). Freud (1995) analysed Leonardo da Vinci's paint ings
as traces of the latter's neurosis, but m~xe co m ~ o n l y cultu!al imag~s such as
films are analysed as sym p~o;ns ~f SOCial condl.tlons. Psycnoanalysl.s has had
a great influen ce Oil femm' ~ t film scho larsh.lp (COWIe, 1 9 ~ 7; ~"v~rma n ,
1988), which among other Issues has examined how ~he -irnplication of
IN T RO D U C T IO N viewers in the gaze is diffe rentiated by gender. Laura Mulvey (7.3) di ffers
from Metz in arguing that ci nema does invite the view er; to identify with the
Psychoanalysis has always had a specia l relationship with images because active male protagon ist who moves the narrative alo ng, but not with wo man,
of the role of images in the unconscious . Freud (2.8) found evidence of the who appcars passively, as spectacle. Mu lvey'S analysis of class ical narrative
prim ary psychic processes, meaning the repressed, unconsciou s mind in the film exposes it as a site in whi ch male scopo phi lia (the perversion li nked to
mental imagery of dreams. (See Section 9, Image asThought.) In his 'return the exacerbation of the scopic drive' (Aument, 1997: 91)) turns women into
to Freud', Jacques Lacan (7.1) reworked the form of the psyche along fetishes and obj ects of sadistic voyeurism in order to assuage-male castration
structuralist terms, cla iming that it consists of an j maginary, symbo lic and anxieties. Cinem a is sympt omatic of gender inequal ity. Her ico noclastic
real order. Very simply put, 'imaginary' refers to a psychi c register or realm attitude to cinem a, even in its revised form (M ulvey, 1981), has,c,erta'inly
of images, 'symbolic' to language and the law-l ike orderi ng of society, and been challenged wi thin psychoanalyt ic feminism (Stacey, 1988):'Yef it doe'g
the ' real' to the unobtainable sense of fulln ess that escapes symbolisation. express a co nsistent fem in ist co ncern that 'med ia ima ges not only
misrepresent women (Friedan, 1963: 28-3 1) but also shape them into
The form of the self corresponds not to the Cartesian subject. the unified and
self-aw are cogito (1.12, 1.13), but is radically spli t betw een the three orders, something other than they are, as male fantasies of femi ni.nity: 'Ho ld still, we
and hence is an ex-centri c subject. In an effort to becom e a unified self, the are going tci do your portrait, so that you can begin looki ng like it right away'
(Cixous, 1981 : 263).
subject attempts, always unsuccessful ly, to make itself whole by means of
'acts of identification' wi th images or discourses (Stavrakakis, 2004: 23). Cindy Sherman's photographic self-portraits seem to comment di rectly on
Sign ificant ly, l.acan defines identif ication as 'the transformatio n that takes the social construction of femininity through media images. Joan Copjec's
place in' the subject when he assumes an image' (Lacan, 1977: 4). The (?.4) analysis of them, however, ind irectly undermi nes 'M ulvey's attack on
prim ary, pre-Oedipal, imaginary identification with an image is both cinema, Copj ec conc urs wi th Mulvey's v iew that the cl ose-up of the
fictional and opti cal. In the 'm irror-stage' the infant 'm isrecognises' its woman's face stands apart from the fil m's representation oft imeand space,
uncoordinated, undifferentiated self in its reflection , raking itself to be a but not that her face simply becomes a fetish for the male gaze. Nor does
coherent whol e. Imaginary ident ification s are thus ~ey to the subject's failed ~he accept that the photogr aphs represent the splitti ng of the female subject's
attempts to overcome its ex-centricity, or alienation fro m itself. Identification.betwe en her actual place In-the masculi ne or phall ic symbol ic
orger of the film and another imagined identit y, as a 'real' wo man. Rather,
Christian M etz (7.2) wo rks from Lacan's approach to posit that there is a
the photographs affirm that femi ni nity exists only as image, appearance or
particul ar act of identification that occurs in cinem a spectatorship, on the
masquerape (Riviere, 1 98 ~). At the same, time/ though, they affirm the value
basis of the 'already constituted ego' that allows the viewers to identify with
of Sherman's lov e for herself as a wom an and the cinem atic image of herself
themselves. Hisview contrasts with the common-sense noti on that, viewers
as an O ther, as an object of desire. On this reading, the ci nematic image is
identify primarily w ith characters. The gaze itself, the act of looking, .is a.n
not sympto matic of misrepresentation and oppression but ill ustrative of the
objec t of desire for the scopic drive, or urge to loo k, the source of whi ch IS
possibility of-the split subject fi ndi ng love by recognising that w hol eness (as
the biological visual system (Aumont, "1 997: 90). The scopic drive is one of
woman, as subject) is unobt ainabl e.
several human drives, which gains partial satisfaction in spectatorship. Lacan
first discussed the scopic drive in relation to painting , but the point has been From a non-Lacanian perspective, Anton Ehrenzweig (7.5).does.n6t read art
taken up subsequently, primaril y in relation to fi lm. as a symptom but exami nes the unconscious struct ures that organise
artworks. Ehrenzw eig was both influ enced by modern artists such as Paul
In l.acanian terms, ci nema viewers' identification wi th the gaze is another
Klee (l O. l) who tri ed to allow unconscious processes to emerge in their
attempt to occl ude the 'splitness' of th.e subjec t, as they are actually
Work, and. also influ enced artists such as Robert Morris and Robert Smithson
identifying with onl y one of the many drives of ~ h c psyche. ln that s<:ns e,.
10 do the same. The vi ewer of a painting should, like the modern arti st and
ci nematic identification is one of the many fantasises, wh ich may consIst at
irnases or di scourse, in which the subject hopes; vainly, to achieve fulln ess. the analyst allow the prim ary processes of the unconscious to come to the
psv<?hoanalysis ble nds w ith ideol ogy cr itique as a ' hermeneutics of fore in order to appreciate its full aesthetic eifeci. Eh renzwei g's psycho­
suspici on". when it becomes.o. tool to analyse th~ fantastic identifications of analytic appro ach to images, his 'polyphonic', 'unconscious scanning'
subjects, such as w ith the false f~lln es ~ promised by advertjsing images becomes a hermeneutics of appreciation rather than suspicion .
(W illiamson, 1978) and as substantiated 111 the wo rk of Slavoj Ziz ek (1989).


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Cixou s, H . (1981) 'The laugh of the Medusa', in E. M arks and I. de Cou rti vron (eds),

New French Femin isms, tr, K. Co hen and P. Coh en. New York : Schocken. pp. 245 - 64.

Cow ie, E. (1997) Representing the Woman: Cinema and Psychoanalysis. Lon don:
But what is th e ga%:e?
M acmillan.

Freud, S. (1995 ) 'Leonardo da Vin ci and a mem or y of his childhoo d' , in P. Gay (ed.),
I sbaJl set out fro m thi s first poin t of annihilation in w hi ch is m arked, in th e
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introcluce ano ther reference, th at whic h analysis assumes in redu cing th e
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tutes it as a prin ciple , nut only of id ealization, but of meconnaissance, as - using
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a term that takes on new value by heing referred to a visible dom ain - scotoma ,
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Zi zek, S. (ed .) (1992) Everything You Always Want ed to Know About Lacan (But Were
J am stating he re only the r elation o f the preconsciou s t o th e un conscious.
Too Afraid to A sk Hitchcock) , I.ondon: Verso.

The dynamic tha t is attached to the co nsciousness as suc h, the attention

the subject brings t o his o wn text, rema ins up to th is po int, as Freud has
str essed , outside th eo ry and , strictly speaking , not yet ar t iculate d.
It is here that I propose th at the interest th e subject takes in his own split is
bound up with th at whi ch determines it - namely, a privileged object, w hich


Hans Holbe in: Th e Ambassadors, 15 33 .

SOu rce: Th eNation al Gallery. London.


has emerged from some prima] separation , from some self-mutilation induced Vision is o rdered according to a mode th at may ge nerally be called the function
by the very approach of the real, whose name, in our algehra, is the objet a. ofimages.This fun ction is defined by a point-by -point corresponde nce of two
unities in space.Whatever optical intermediaries may be used to establish th eir
In the scopic relation, the object on which depends the phantasy from which
relat io n , whether their im age is vir t ual, Or real , the point-by -point
the subject is suspended in an essential vacillation is the gaze. Its privilege -_
corr esp onden ce is esse ntial.Th at whi ch is of th e mode of the image in the field
and also that by which the subject for so long has been mi sunderstood as
of vision is therefore re ducible to the simple schema that enables us to establish
being in its dependence - derives from its very structure.
anamorphosis , that is to say, to the relation of an image, in so far as it is linked
Let us schematize at once what we mean. From the moment that this gaze to a ~ w'fa ce, with a certain point that we shall call the 'geometral ' point.
appears , the sub ject tries to adapt himself to it, he becomes that punctiform Anyth ing that is determined by this method , in which the straight line plays its
object, that point of vanishing b eing with which the subj ect confuses his OWn role ofbcing the path of light, can be called an image.
failure . Furthermore, of all the objects in which the subject may recognize his
Art is mingled 'w ith science here . Leonardo da Vinci is both a scienti st , on
dependence in the register of desire, the gaze is specified as unapprehensible.
account of his d iopt ric constructions, and an artist. Vitruvius's treatise on
That is why it is, more than any other object, misunderstood (meconnu), and
architecture is not far away. It is in Vignola and in Alberti that we find the
it is perhaps for this reason, too, that the subject manages, fortunately, to
progressive interrogation of the geometra] law s of perspective, and it is
symbolize his own vanishing and punctiform bar (trair) in the illusion of the
aroun d research on perspective that is ce ntred a privileged interest for the
consciousness of seewg oneselfsee oneself, in which the gaze is elided.
doma in of vision - whose relation with the institution of the Cartesian
If, then, the gaze is that underside of consciousness, how shall we try to subject, which is itself a sort of geometral point , a point of perspective, we
imagine it ? cannot fail to see. And, ar ound the geometrai perspective, the picture - this
[.. ·1 is a very im po r tan t function to which we shall return - is organized in a way
that is qu ite new in the history of painting.
We can apprehend this privilege of the gaze in the function of desire, by
[.. .J
pouring ourselves , as it were, along the veins through whi ch the domain of
vision has been integrated into the field of desire. Now, in The ;/mbassadon - I hope everyone has had time now to look at the
reproduction - what do you see? What is this strange, suspended, oblique
It is not for nothing that it was at the very period when the Cartesian
object in the foreground in front of these two figures?
meditation inaugurated in all its purity the function of the subject that the
dimension of optics that I shall distinguish here by calling 'geometral' or The two Hgures are frozen, sti ffened in their showy adornments. Between
'flat ' (as opposed to perspective) optics was developed . them is a series of objects that represent in the painting of the period the
symbols of vanitas. At the sam e period , Cornelius Agrippa w ro te his De Vanitale
* SCientJamm, aimed as much at the ar ts as the scie nc es, and these objects are all
In my seminar, I have made great use of the function of anamorphosis , in symbolic of the sciences and arts as they were grouped at the time in the
so far as it is an exemplary structure. 'W hat does a simple, non-cylindrical trivium and quadri vuun, What, then, before this display of the domain of
anamorphosis consist of? Suppose there is a portrait on this flat piece of appearance in all its most fascinating forms is this object, which from some
paper that I am holding. By chance, you see the blackboard, in an oblique angles appears to be flying through the air, at others to be tiltcdrYou cannot
position in relation to the piece of paper. Suppose that, by means of a series know -- for you turn away, thus escaping the fascination of the picture.
of ideal threads or lines, I reproduce on the oblique surface each point of the
Begin by wa lking out of the room in which no doubt it has long held your
image drawn on my sheet of paper. You can easily imagine what the result
attention. It is then that turning round as vou leave - as the author of the
would be .,. you would obtain a figure enlarged and distorted according to
Itnam orp hoses describes i; - you apprehend in this for m ... \Nhat? A skull.
the lines of what may be called a perspective. One supposes that - if I take
away that which has helped in the construction , namely, the image placed in Thi s is not how it is presented at first - that figure , which the author
my own visual field - the im pressio n I will retain, while remaining in that compares to a cuttlebo ne and which for me suggests rather that loaf
place, will be more or less the sam e. At least , J will recognize the general com posed of two books w hich Dali was once pleased to place on the head
outlines of the image - at best, I will have an identical impression. of an old woman , chosen del iberately for her wretched, filthy appearance
and , ind eed , because she seems to be un aw are of the fact, or, again , DaH's
I will now pass around something that dates fro m a hun d red ye ars earlier,
soft watches, w hose significatio n is ob vio usly le ss phallic than that of the
from 1 ; 33, a re production of a painting that, I th ink ; youall know _. Hans
object depicted in a flying position in the fo reground of this pi cture.
Holbein's The Ambassadors, It 'will serve to refresh the memories of those
w ho know the picture 'Nell. Those who do not should exa m ine it attent ively. All th is shows t hat at th e very heart of t he p er iod in wh ich the subject
I shall co m e back to it sho rt ly. emerged and geometral optics was an object of research, Holbein makes
! ~~ 2 : I M A G E S PSYCHOANALYSIS; 153

visible for us here something that is sim ply the subject as annihilated -_ (th r form.ation of the ego) get.s certain of its ~ain characteristics: the child
annihilated in the form that is, strictly speaking, the imaged embodiment of seO itself as an other, and beside an other. This other other is its guarantee
the minus-phi [(- <P)] of castration , 'which for us, centres the whole that the first is really it : by her authority, her sanction, in the register of the
organization of the desires through the framework of the fu ndamen tal drives. sVTl1boJic, subsequently by the resemblance between her mirror image
But it is further still that we must se ek the function of vision. We shall then ~d the child 's (b oth have a human form). Thus the child 's ego is formed by
sec eme rging on the basis of vision, not the phallic svrnhol , the anamorphic identification w ith its lik e, and this in two senses simultaneously,
ghost, but the gaze as such, in its pulsatile, dazzling and spread out function, rnetonymically and metaphorically: the other human being who is in the
as it is in this picture. glass, the own r eflection whi ch is and is not the body, which is like it. The
child identifies with itself as an object.
This pi cture is simply what any picture is, a trap for the gaze.