How Images Actually Work: Settling a Longstanding Debate

By Jim Hamlyn.

Published by The International Journal of the Image

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published Online: January 8, 2016 $US5.00

DOI: 10.18848/2154-8560/CGP/v07i01/13-21

As a cultural innovation, image-making is perhaps one of our most enduring forms of new media. The many technical developments necessary for the production of convincing images have emerged over the last 40,000 years, yet there is still widespread disagreement about how images actually function. Why, for instance, are animals largely indifferent to images whereas humans are fascinated by them?Several competing theories are in general circulation but it is a matter of considerable debate whether these adequately explain the mechanisms at work (or at fault) in the substitution of flat objects made of paper, pigment or pixels for the objects they represent.Since the 1960’s, Australian art theorist Donald Brook has been exploring the implications of a theory of representation that has been published widely during this period. This work has been positively received but considering its implications it is somewhat surprising that it is not more widely known and discussed. This paper focuses on a crucial element of Brook’s theory and explores how recent research in the field of cultural anthropology strongly supports the theory that imagistic representations rely not only on systematic sensory discrimination failures but on the procedural principles by which such discrimination failures can be exploited.

Keywords: Simulation, Representation, Perception

The International Journal of the Image, Volume 7, Issue 1, March, 2016, pp.13-21. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published Online: January 8, 2016 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 451.644KB)).

Jim Hamlyn

Established Member of The IDEAS Research Institute, The Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, Scotland, UK