Imagery of Numerical Figure

By Valeria Guzmán-Verri.

Published by The International Journal of the Image

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Very little attention has been paid to the effect of numerical images in modernity. In the nineteenth century, statistics came to encapsulate what is characteristic of the ‘modern fact.’ Expressed as arithmetical descriptions, as measurements, or in statistical form, numbers appeared to be a warrant of impartiality and transparency in the production of knowledge in the modern world. This paper explains that the numerical image became a controlling means through which to collect, classify, enumerate, and disseminate knowledge in the modern world. It examines the presence and use of numeri- cal image in a diversity of forms of knowledge, such as medicine, economics, and moral statistics. By showing how disparate issues—causes of death, railway timetables, commercial fluctuations, crime and instruction, poverty, and health—are organised under the same printed image, it will be possible to grasp the extent to which this image had come to dominate in the nineteenth century. Ultimately, the numerical image becomes, in itself, a machine for administration and calculation. It renders universally equivalent a diversity of issues: time and distance, money, urban space, and people. By codifying all these aspects in numerical and statistical terms, they become amenable to a single system of regulation.

Keywords: Nineteenth Century, Printed Images, Statistical Tables, Visualization of Information

The International Journal of the Image, Volume 2, Issue 3, pp.21-38. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 2.069MB).

Dr. Valeria Guzmán-Verri

Coordinator of Research / Lecturer, School of Architecture, Universidad de Costa Rica, San Pedro, San José, Costa Rica

Valeria Guzmán-Verri completed a degree in architecture at the University of Costa Rica. Between 1999 and 2004, she worked as an architect and consultant, and in 2000, she received an Honourable Mention at the V Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism in Costa Rica. She obtained a Master and PhD degree in Histories and Theories at the Architectural Association in London. Currently, she is a lecturer and researcher at the University of Costa Rica.