The first part of this thesis delivers a genealogy of the image. It chronicles how the concepts of image, vision and the self evolved in relation to one another in a specific scientific and philosophical context, starting with the early Renaissance, which saw the invention of the perspectivist painting, up to the birth of Positivism and the photographic image. This development entailed a form of reductionism in which “the self” – the role of human psychology, our judgement, our attention and our will – was sidestepped. Within this intellectual tradition there is only a short step, from the understanding of the image as a representation of three-dimensional space on a two-dimensional surface, to the idea of the image as a transparent picture, a window towards the world. By taking this short step one would easily lose sight of the role of the self in the practices of making and viewing images.
In the second part the author offers an alternative to the intellectual tradition described in the first part. The idea of depiction as a neutral “view from nowhere” would support a skeptical attitude towards communication, dialogue and human testimony, and therefore our reliance upon each other and consequently our reliance on ourselves. What was forgotten in this understanding of the image as a view from nowhere, was that the image is an aid in the task cultivating our visual field, an aid in sharing our views. Due to this function of sharing, the image becomes a guide as we find our orientation in this world. I might stand beside another person and see what she sees, but I do not necessarily know her reading of it. The image adds a dimension to this relation, since it does not only show me what the other sees. When an image works properly it also shows how that other person sees, and thus the image becomes an agent.
While the present thesis combines the fields of philosophical epistemology, history of science and visual studies, its main interest is philosophical. It engages with philosophical misconceptions of depiction as a mimetic art form, of knowledge as domestication and of perception as reception of data.
|Publication status||Published - 2014|
|MoE publication type||G4 Doctoral dissertation (monograph)|
- Trinh T. Minh-ha
- Maurice Marleau-Ponty
- Ludwig Wittgenstein
- Visual record
- Werner Herzog