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Images of Knowledge

The Epistemic Lives of Pictures and Visualisations

Nora S. Vaage, Rasmus T. Slaattelid, Trine Krigsvoll Haagensen and Samantha L. Smith

The authors consider the relationship between knowledge and image, though multi-faceted, to be one of reciprocal dependence. But how do images carry and convey knowledge? The ambiguities of images means that interpretations do not necessarily follow the intention of the image producers. Through an array of different cases, the chapters critically reflect upon how images are mobilised and used in different knowledge practices, within certain knowledge traditions, in different historical periods. They question what we take for granted, what seems evident, what goes without saying. This approach spans across established categories such as «scientific imaging», «religious images» and «artworks», and considers how images may contribute meaning across such categories.

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Epilogue (Matthias Bruhn)

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Matthias Bruhn Epilogue Images Without Knowledge? Just because signs and images can be found among the earliest traces of human culture (or even be identical with them due to the very nature of the trace as a visible marking), that does not mean they are limited elements of a primitive com- munication. On the contrary, many of the basic forms of decoration and design that appeared long before the advent of alphabets or elaborated sign systems have remained fundamental for the conception and communication of ideas and information, and they still serve this purpose in a powerful way that other means of expression and symbolisation can hardly fulfil. Moreover, it becomes impossible to draw clear lines of distinction as soon as the term “visual communication” is to include writings or numbers as well. Shapes and patterns, colours and gestures may be used and perceived differently than spoken or written words, they may be ambivalent and polysemic and provide a different operability than, e.g., mathematical symbols, but even if the mental processing of logical structures and visual patterns was strictly related to separate cognitive functions, the history and evolution of symbolic and expressive manifestations would still show nothing but their permanent transgression. The fact that images can unfold an affective power or a particular physical and psychological quality that can be used to address beholders emotionally, does not imply they have to be a-logical, irrational expressions.1 Designs and patterns of any kind are employed to contain and transport “knowledge”, or at...

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