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Images of Knowledge

The Epistemic Lives of Pictures and Visualisations

Edited By 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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Framing Quetzalcoatl, Picturing Culture – Iconology and the image of the other in early modern mythography


IDOLATRY: [A] blind woman, with the knees on the ground, offering incense in an incense burner to the statue of a bronze bull. Idolatry, according to St. Thomas, 2.2. quæst. 94 art., est cultus debitus creaturæ exhibitus. The knees on the ground is an effect, and a sign, of religion, with which one demonstrates submission and humility in respect to the greatness of God. […]. And the bull in metal stands for the created things, whether made by nature or by art, to which the blindness of the peoples many time foolishly have given that honour which only pertains to God, from which the name idolatry is born, which means adoration of a false god.

Cesare Ripa, Iconologia1

In this chapter, I examine how early modern mythography used visual criteria to oppose myth and fable to the Christian logos, and by doing this confirmed and reworked what I will call a heterology of images concerned with icons, idolatry and myth. Between 1548 and 1556, Vincenzo Cartari,2 Giglio Gregorio Giraldi3 and Natale Conti4 published books that became standard works on myth in early modern Europe.5 My focal point in the following is the 1615-edition of Cartari’s ← 191 | 192 → The True and New Images of the Gods of the Ancients.6 I am particularly interested in this because it included an “ethnographic” appendix, a Second part of the Images of the Indians added to Cartari,7 compiled by the Paduan antiquarian Lorenzo Pignoria. In line with...

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