image + text

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I'm reading W.J.T. Mitchell's Picture Theory. It's central concern is the image/text relationship,  which Mitchell interprets as a site or a force-field of historical tension and conflict. The history of culture is in part the  story of a protracted struggle for dominance between pictorial and linguistic signs, each claiming for itself certain proprietary rights on a "nature" to which only it has access.


This wonderful image by casually, krystina  in the Flickr group incorporates text within the image. So  it is a rupture from both those in the literary culture who reject the image within the literary text (English Romantic poets) and those in the visual culture (modernists)  who repudiate text in the picture. It transgresses the the tradition that conceives of the relation between words and images in political terms, as a struggle for territory, 

What we have with this particular picture here is an image/text. Michell says that:
language and imagery are no longer what they promised to be for critics and philosophers of the Enlightenment-perfect, transparent media through which reality may be represented to the understanding. For modern criticism, language and imagery have become enigmas, problems to be explained, prison houses which lock the understanding away from the world. The commonplace of modern studies of images, in fact, is that they must be understood as a kind of language;  instead of providing a transparent window on the world, images are  now regarded as the sort of sign that presents a deceptive appearance of naturalness and transparence concealing an opaque, distorting, arbitrary mechanism of representation, a process of ideological mystification
The  image here in this post is a graphic, a  pictorial representation, a concrete, material object. It  suggests a middle  ground between the mutual resistance of photography and writing; a ground that mixes media  It is in Mitchell's words an image text 

It  transgresses the modernist ut pictura theoria with its concern for purity, flatness and anti-illusionism without embracing kitsch that modernists like Clement Greenberg had banished from serious art. This decentering  of modernist abstraction opens up the alternative modernist traditions---surrealism, dadaism and constructivism.

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This page contains a single entry by Gary Sauer-Thompson published on January 19, 2009 11:18 PM.

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