Genealogy and Ontology of the Western Image and its Digital Future
By John Lechte
Routledge – 2012 – 202 pages
With the emerging dominance of digital technology, the time is ripe to reconsider the nature of the image. Some say that there is no longer a phenomenal image, only disembodied information (0-1) waiting to be configured. For photography, this implies that a faith in the principle of an "evidential force" – of the impossibility of doubting that the subject was before the lens – is no longer plausible. Technologically speaking, we have arrived at a point where the manipulation of the image is an ever-present possibility, when once it was difficult, if not impossible.
What are the key moments in the genealogy of the Western image which might illuminate the present status of the image? And what exactly is the situation to which we have arrived as far as the image is concerned? These are the questions guiding the reflections in this book. In it we move, in Part 1, from a study of the Greek to the Byzantine image, from the Renaissance image and the image in the Enlightenment to the image as it emerges in the Industrial Revolution.
Part 2 examines key aspects of the image today, such as the digital and the cinema image, as well as the work of philosophers of the image, including: Roland Barthes, Walter Benjamin, Gilles Deleuze, Jean-Paul Sartre and Bernard Stiegler.
‘Setting himself an ambitious task, John Lechte has strategically compressed the ontology of what he calls ‘the western image’ into this reasonably small book. And, as might be expected, substantial terrain is covered in order to arrive at the image’s digital future.’ – Mark Guglielmetti, Philosophy of Photography
Introduction: ‘Genealogy’, ‘Ontology’, ‘Western Image’ and the ‘Digital’ I. Genealogy and Ontology (Paradigms) 1. The Image in Plato and the Greek World 2. The Byzantine Image 3. The Renaissance Image 4. Transparency and Opacity: The Image in Rousseau, Diderot, Hume and Kant 5. The Industrial Image II. The Image in Photography and Cinema and its Digital Future 6. Some Fallacies and Truths Concerning the Image in Old and New Media 7. Barthes and Benjamin on the Photographic Image and Time 8. The Image and Beauty in Relation to Visual Digital Art 9. The Time-Image
John Lechte is professor in Sociology at Macquarie University, Sydney, where he teaches and researches in social and European cultural theory. He has published widely on issues relating to the image and the arts and is well known for his books on Julia Kristeva and his widely acclaimed Fifty Key Contemporary Thinkers.