It has been almost six months since a group of visual image information professionals launched the Image Consulting Cooperative (http://sites.google.com/site/iminteg/) and inaugurated Imagin’ – a blog (http://imagin-ablog.blogspot.com/). During this time I have frequently reflected about such issues as what is an image, how are images used, are images different in the digital rather than analog format, and why do we care? What’s so important about assisting others in the use and creation of images, visual information, and associated tools? Why is the work of the Image Consulting Cooperative important?
Images have been around for a very long time. We have all encountered Pliny the Elder’s tale from Naturalis Historia of the contest between the ancient painters Zeuxis and Parrhasius to determine which of the two was the greater artist. Zeuxis revealed his painting of grapes which were so realistic that the birds flew down to peck at the fruit. Zeuxis then asked Parrhasius to pull back the curtain to reveal his painting only to discover that the curtain was the painting. Where upon Zeuxis is reported to have said, ‘I have deceived the birds, but Parrhasius has deceived Zeuxis.’
The online Oxford English Dictionary (Draft revision, June 2010; accessed, September 7, 2010) provides us with eleven definitions and many variants of the word “image” including:
· An artificial imitation or representation of something, esp. of a person or the bust of a person
· The aspect, appearance, or form of someone or something; semblance, likeness.
· A mental representation of something (esp. a visible object) created not by direct perception but by memory or imagination; a mental picture or impression; an idea, conception.
· A representation of something to the mind by speech or writing; a vivid or graphic description.
· Computing. An exact copy of an entire disk or (less commonly) a file or set of files, usually made for the purposes of backing up data.
W. J. T. Mitchell in his article in the New Literary History, “What is an Image,”
Of course, these typologies are both fluid and change over time. The image of the work becomes a work. The image is the work. Julie F. Codell’s new article, “Second Hand Images: On Art’s Surrogate Means and Media” published in the latest issue of Visual Resources