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Recent publications include essays on digitalization, cyberspace, new media and global criminality as part of a continuing programme of research concerned to map the reflexive transformations of postmodern societies and cultures. He is currently editing with Ian Heywood an original collection of essays with the title Handbook of Visual Culture which will be published by Berg in Lyssna fritt i 30 dagar! Ange kod: play Du kanske gillar. Barry Sandywell Inbunden.

Meditations Marcus Aurelius Inbunden. Inbunden Engelska, Spara som favorit. Skickas inom vardagar. Laddas ned direkt. Skickas inom vardagar specialorder. This substantial and ambitious dictionary explores the languages and cultures of visual studies. Experience has been flattened and disembodied into vision bytes and consumer utopias. Faced with the probability of total dehumanization, we settle back to be terminally entertained cf.

Postman, Driven by the monetary value placed on images of celebrities, the economics of photography has given rise to a nomadic band of mercenary commercial photographers who stalk celebrities in order to steal their. The commodity sold by mercenary photography is, of course, itself an indispensable element of the new global entertainment industries symbolically expressed by magazines like Cosmopolitan, Hello Magazine, Hola! Terminal entertainment is, in fact, an exemplary category of the new morphology of extreme experiences promised and demanded by the logic of the new global media.

The future promises to deliver a seamless web interweaving global imagineering, celebrity culture and planetary-wide entertainment industries. In the context of these cultural and technological changes, we need to understand the implications of the claim that we live in a society where every possible experience — every lived relation — has been rendered spectacular, creating a culture where anything might — at least for 15 minutes — become an event. Corporate advertising has made specularization into a new law of capital accumulation: the more extreme, the greater the audience and the promise of an endless income stream.

This is where the advertising budgets associated with global mega-events such as the Olympic Games, European and World Football now reach figures far beyond the GNP of Third-World countries. If celebrity culture is essentially life in the lens, such exploitable lives have become lucrative sources of capital in an age of citizen media. In the condensed period of two decades the world has been transformed through new light-machineries. The velocity of change needs to be borne in mind. The second generation dispenses with electronics, and it is just beginning at the dawn of the twenty-first century.

The third generation, which harnesses quantum optics, has not quite begun — but it will. With the advent of hypermodernity, what used to be called reality has been progressively transformed into a series of fragmented, decontextualized, decentralized display sites constructed from layers of simulacra. The French theorist Jean Baudrillard described this process as hyperreality. The term is a useful polemical label for a heterogeneous set of processes that generate extreme versions of the real without any origin or stable ground.

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In their social effects, simulacra become more real than the real. Sanitized versions of the past are substituted for the actuality.

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In this displacement the concreteness and persistence of the past disappears. Where the ancient Greeks celebrated their gods at the Games, we now have international festivals designed as mass investment opportunities. What once was a principle of archiving and museum displays now functions as a general cultural law. With the archiving potential of the new communication technologies ICTs we can now access realms of visual culture that were completely unknown to earlier societies and civilizations the transformation of modern museum structures and practices into multi-media interactive sites of virtual experience is a case in point.

Rather, the empire of the visible now reaches into the microscopically small and the unimaginably large instruction in science today takes the form of guided tours through the sub-atomic world disclosed by electronic microscopy and of the cosmically violent galactic worlds revealed by radio-telescopy. We have moved from the society of the spectacle to the imagineered universes of cyberspace. One psychological correlate of this new order is the cultivation of personal and collective mind-sets defined predominantly in apparitional terms: the development of character formations tuned to the demands of mobile, ephemeral appearances, status image, promotional staging, consumer identification, branding, image-pleasures and instant gratification.

The time of experience is reduced to the dictates of the image economy. In ontological terms, durational continuity — the temporality of narrative — collapses into instantaneous event — the time of the image. Subjects become spectators with cameraphones. Students are now clients. Political decisions are hollowed out as the province of fiscal planners and corporate engineers. Somewhat ironically, the form of life of the tourist — gazing, camera in hand, at exotic things and places — becomes a general cultural condition.

Where travel is no longer possible, looking becomes sightseeing. A closely related phenomenon is the blurring of the boundary between real and virtual reality making a movie like The Truman Show an illuminating allegory of late modern social life. Yet another psychological tendency is the increasing preference for more and more extreme forms of distraction. At the beginning of the third millennium we might reasonably claim that the image-commodity, as the cellular form of the new photomediated consumer culture, is rapidly becoming the dominant form of representation of modern specularity.

The simulation of reality through digitalized information technologies has become the most capital-intensive corporate business sector in the world economy. If mass culture has reconfigured every sphere of experience into the staged spectral logics of visual multi-media, it is not surprising that traditional sites of meaning and memory have been morphed into the language-games of visuality where, for example, collective memory — collective commemoration — increasingly takes the form of archives of the moving image. In such an advanced state of dispersion, what passes for the established socio-symbolic order is literally driven by visual logics and their sustaining apparatuses.

If there is no cave in the world that can escape the reach of digitalized media, can we still invoke the edifying or disruptive power of visual experience? Can we even imagine an anti-aesthetic aesthetics and a subversive politics of the image? Is there any form of imagination that can escape the reach of commodity aesthetics? Can the democratic potential of these new formations be exploited? Moreover, these are all machineries that both presuppose and reflexively project definite social relations.

Even the most technical and formalized systems of computerized imagineering remain embedded in a multi-dimensional order of narrative processes. In other words, such apparatuses need to be seen as congealed technopoieic activities that help shape social practices and contexts. Apparatuses like microscopes and telescopes can only accomplish their work within an established world-view, inside the practical space of an established imaginary ontology consider also the advances in astronomy and cosmology today that are only possible through automated photographic technologies embedded in particular forms of social life.

In itself a computer, or even a complex web of computers, does nothing. We thus need to both disconnect and re-embody such obvious material artefacts and instruments within their specific technical, interpersonal, discursive and sociocultural matrices cf. Ihde, , ; Hayles, ; Kittler, ; Manovich, ; Schivelbusch, ; Turkle, , We then approach language as both a machinery of thought and as interpretively engaged experience.

If we are inevitably subject to the web of words that shape our actions, senses, identities and forms of life, to ask other questions, to acquire another way of speaking or language-game is to open pragmatic possibilities of other ways of seeing and acting. The technopoieic principle today extends to the image realms of visual culture and their diverse modes of analogue and digital representation. The last thing orthodox science and philosophy will admit is that they are telling stories and constructing worlds.

Philosophy after all is not screenwriting. Powerful symbolisms and semiotic practices invest the visible world with significance for particular groups, with specific interests defined by definite historical contexts and concerns. The same principle applies mutatis mutandis to the material and technological resources — the technical capital — available to a given community. From this perspective, images are not dispensable vehicles or adjuncts to otherwise independent experiences, just as language is not simply a channel or vehicle of communication; in fact we can no more take-or-leave the operative societal images of the world than we can escape our own skin, time and place.

Our lived experience, our ways of being-embodied, our forms of life are radically mediated by these symbolic forms. It is in this context that we claim that all experience is already semiotically ordered and that whatever passes for knowledge necessarily remains tentative and conjectural. To reveal the work of community in every act of understanding we must problematize the very idea of representation and mirroring that pervades European culture. We are thus not dealing with communication media or channels in the abstract but with signifying energies and force-fields of meaning that.

In what follows we extend the general idea of symbolpoiesis in constructive, social-theoretical directions: all societies define their spheres of relevance and normative activity through symbolic media — among the most important being the realms of art, religion and related visual symbolisms and, today, virtual, multi-media technologies and computer systems.

Language, as Emerson observed, is fossil poetry. The appropriate general strategy here would be to suspend judgement about these forms of vernacular reasoning and epistemic claims and treat them all as methodologically strange, anthropologically complex and discursively problematic performances. Unfortunately, the first effect of the citational form of a dictionary compilation is to violate this contextual principle, by isolating and abstracting words from their social and historical contexts in order to re-assemble them in the interest of other aims and objectives — more precisely, with the aim of defamiliarizing their conventional functions in order to examine how their semantic resonances have been forged into meanings that have come to underwrite definite social and cultural identities.

We can shed some light on the paradox of quotational violence by scanning the inventory of terms of visibility listed above, a series of linguistic snapshots that assumes the form of an encyclopaedic inventory, a typographic construct with manifest verbal and visual aspects. Typography like photography is, of course, itself a specular allegory of seeing, an instance of the word made visible through the writing-machines of scribal and literate cultures — and, like any other sense-making machinery, typographic systems need to be subject to historical archaeology, deconstructive criticism and sociocultural analysis.

How have our common-sense ideas about space and community been shaped by the typographical spacing of print culture? How have our ways of thinking and images of inquiry themselves been predefined by the print revolution? How much of what we assume is native to healthy common sense has been created by the technologies of art, graphic depiction, photography and film?

How have well-established aesthetic norms and conventions been transformed by the new specular topographies of digital media? What if something as apparently innocent as layout and typography turns out to be the vital clue to the inner workings of a whole epoch? Of course, the latter task requires much more than a lexicon of visual terms; it requires an extensive research programme investigating the full range of human visual practices and technologies through which individuals and communities make sense of their worlds.

What follows, then, is a lexicon with a difference. I have already described this Dictionary of Visual Discourse as an exercise in hypertextuality. The epigrams that head this text may well lead you to think that this dictionary of visual terms will be largely an introduction to words, language and symbolism and other dangerous things. It is certainly important to continually remind ourselves that words and vocabularies have their natural habitat in the social life of language, among the interminable — and often arbitrary and undisciplined — fantasies and controversies of everyday life, part of the unnoticed graffiti of ordinary experience.

It seems patently obvious that if we are to understand the ideological work of words, we need to understand the changing social, cultural and historical circumstances in which terms originate, function and change this is now basically accepted as the minimal contextual and hermeneutic principle of all social inquiry.

As the cellular building blocks of cultural semantics, words need to be approached rhetorically as performatively imbricated in the very forms of experience which they themselves index and articulate. Words understood as image constellations bear a reflexive relationship to the social orderings and constructs they make possible and must be explained in both psychogenetic and sociogenetic terms. In other words, there is a thoroughgoing dialectic between thought and action, self-interpretation and self-transformation.

What I am searching for here is a non-form or hybrid artefact — a lexical equivalent of the Galerie von Bildern, photomontage, tableau vivant or diorama. Viewed as questions, the dioramas formed by each entry in this lexicon should also be considered, along with the words on the page, as a kind of complex rebus or calligram. The alphabet itself is a fossil record of such rebus-compositions we know that many of the letters of the alphabet began life as pictograms. There is thus an implicit diagrammatics embedded in the syntax of writing and normal forms of textual reading and understanding that have developed from Graeco-Latin alphabetic culture.

Once denaturalized, the linear typographic text appears as a practical sociological apparatus that renders the world meaningful for a specific community of readers. Understood as a persuasive diagram, alphabetic linearity entails a politics of experience. In principle any constellation of signs that presents itself as a set of verbal entries is a visual artefact and by admitting this we draw attention to non-linear networks that make this and any dictionary a self-deconstructing ensemble. But also note that, like other cryptograms, the significance of many of these verbal scenes and images invariably lies elsewhere, in other parts of the text which are not, at the moment, visible, in allusions, absences, lacunae and oppositional links to other texts both written and unwritten.

Like language itself, visual vocabularies assume a rhyzomatic form, a process of dissemination that practically demonstrates the impossibility of fulfilling the encyclopaedic quest. Each effort at encyclopaedic closure actually produces a kind of phantasmagoria of supplementary words and images, a diagram of its own impossibility. Despite these caveats and provisos, I have come to the conclusion that the terms gathered together here, while.

I would go further and suggest that an idealized model of visuality operates within the filmic or cinematic motif that precedes the technology of popular film by several millennia. The Platonic imaginary of the Cave uncannily prepared a chora for our modern image culture. It is as if the long history of Western European culture had been dreaming of the cinematic machine from its very inception in the Platonic Cave. Even the alphabet is a technology constructed from images of language; perhaps the Western phonetic alphabet should be recognized as the most striking aesthetic machine ever invented even a minimal acquaintance with Greek and Latin inscriptions reveals the sculptural beauty of these scripts.

In effect, the ideological fabric of what is now called modern culture has been woven from words of light and as a consequence the archives of its forms of reasoning, its epistemological obsessions and dominant anxieties are saturated with ocularcentric imagery, representations, apparatuses and aesthetic techniques Cadava, xvii; cf. How have we become complicit with the magic of seeing? Seeing, being seen, appearing and disappearing, viewing and witnessing, representing and modelling, seeking visibility or desiring anonymity have become routinized experiences of modern life dominated by the new electronic technologies.

The reach of the visual, however, is even more profound than the surface ideologies of vision and, in fact, extends to the very presuppositions and ground rules of our most fundamental forms of consciousness and identity behind every possible logic and grammar we find a diagram. This in turn is part of the deep cultural obsession with alphabetic order, visual labelling, stable forms of identity and self-authorizing systems of identification finally realized in the phantasmagoria of perfect cinematic presence.

When the earliest Europeans looked at the world, they looked through image-machines of their own creation. We inherit their discovery: to view the world through discourse. The greatest invention of the human species was the creation of the idea. The traces of these collective imaginings are still embedded in the language-games we have inherited from long-vanished forms of Indo-European culture. That day mythos retreated before logos. Not surprisingly, the story of visual hegemony is necessarily an amnesic history, a tale of loss and forgetting or, if you like, of a selective remembering dominated by abstract visual languages and narratives.

In the long-durational repression of the tactile body and devaluation of oral, olfactory, textual and technical media, we have come to inhabit what can only be called a hypertheorized culture, a disembodied universe dominated by light apparatuses alphabetic and ideographic writing, print, photography, televisual media, video, digital media, cybertechnologies, and so on , fixated upon modes of pictorial representation, linear textuality and metaphors of optical simulation, representation and surface depiction. What began as a query about the dominance of visuality in modern newsprint and advertising, digital media and consumer culture begins to expand into foundational questions that implicate the fundamental language-games of identity and difference.

In watching and viewing the world as a skein of events, we are also necessarily commending powerful forms of privileged selfhood. The design of a whole culture is placed into question. Our senses have been instructed and reconfigured through the cultural powers of envisioning. A related theorem is that the remarkable evolutionary functions of visuality and light-inscription technologies have increased exponentially over the last years to the detriment of other corporeal modalities.

In the late modern world of computer-. There is thus an experiential cost incurred in the very globalization of image-mediated cultures. For example, with the decay of the spoken and written word, viewing images has remorselessly displaced reading as a privileged form of representation. Not surprisingly, some of our contemporaries claim that we live in a world duped by the idea that television — or perhaps televisuality — provides an adequate picture of the world. Yet others question and reject the very idea of perfectly representing the world as an unfortunate consequence of videological culture — with the corresponding deprecation of auditory, tactile and gustatory experience.

Independent thought and action are rendered impossible by the logic of obscene hyperrealism Baudrillard, In the main text I will explore the thesis that the development of Western secular notions of logic, science, reason, coherence, truth, and so on was inseparable from the simultaneous unfolding of a distinctive visual culture and its material armatures.

Paradoxically, ancient myths and theologies went under to be replaced by new heliocentric mythologies. The generative logic at work behind our own global social organizations, economic forms and cultural apparatuses remains videological. If technology is in the driving seat of secularization and globalization, its success is validated by the fact that it forces its users to inhabit a theoreticized mindset that provides the generative terms for new forms of transnational capital.

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Not surprisingly, this oscillation between the primacy of the theoretical and the resistance to theorizing in turn becomes a major topos within contemporary critical discourse the intense debates about the possibility or failure of theoretical representation is one indicator of this unresolved issue. These tensions and their institutional ramifications certainly present themselves as themes for further thought about the rhetorical roots of our language-games.

As information machineries — themselves embodiments of advanced light technologies — have reshaped every aspect of life at the turn of the twentieth century, it appears that any Dictionnaire philosophique — any grammatology of light, any photology — is now unthinkable in abstraction from the technology, politics and ethics of global seeing and its extensive metaphorical protocol and armatures. What began with the enigmatic Platonic allegory of the Cave culminates in the global reach of cyberculture. The full implications of digital visuality undoubtedly lie well in the future: the working through of the Homeric dream of an all-seeing vantage point on things awaits its final consummation in a truly universal symbolism promulgated by the new media apparatuses.

How, then, have we come to interpret being through seeing? How have our most basic language-games been shaped by theoretical concerns with accurate representation? Why was the sense of sight — the theoretical sense par excellence — granted sovereign status in our discourses and intellectual systems?

Dictionary of Visual Discourse

What kind of desire drives the quest for total visibility implicit in photographic and cinematic culture? At source this gnostic flight from the erotic body into the arms of the ethereal Idea lies at the root of the dream of a universal language of knowledge. With the wisdom of hindsight, we now know that this quest for an unalloyed and total Truth has been both inspiring and illusory, an amazing and historically effective metaphor that elides its own presuppositions and origins from within a specific cultural value system.

As unconscious inheritors of this profoundly theoretical view of experience, we have unintentionally become complicit subjects of the illusion of pure envisioning. Here messianic rhetoric, ontotheology and the project of knowledge converge to create an integrated light rhetoric.


The dark void of non-being — the nonexistence of the world — is rent by the light of the divine Word. The ancient mytheme of the all-seeing divinity anticipates a complex future history of modular subjectivity, with each variant of subjectivity aspiring to the status of pure seeing or in later variations, as pure gnosis, sophia, scientia, veda, knowledge, intuition, insight, and, eventually, science.

Where philosophia understood its vocation as the pursuit of wisdom, it was first and foremost the desire to achieve the sovereign consciousness we recognize as the cognitive spectating of Being. Observing and spectating — overseeing — henceforth assume a magical significance. For the contemplative seer, whether poet or philosopher, the inscriptions of being necessarily unfold in the tropes of vision.

Being — in its endless cultural variations — becomes a watchword for the lucid work of signification that makes things appear and draws reality into the circle of intelligibility. Please contact site owner for help. Posted July 10, by Tim Hagan. Cambridge Dictionaryof Christian Theology. Dictionary of visual discourse : a dialectical lexicon of terms.

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Dictionary of Visual Discourse: A Dialectical Lexicon of Terms, 1st Edition (Hardback) - Routledge

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