clark

Our present means of image-production strike me as still utterly under the spell of the verbal – that’s the main part of the problem with them. They are an instrumentation of a certain kind of language use: their notions of image clarity, image flow, image depth, and image density are all determined by the parallel [unimpeded] movement of the logo, the brand name, the product slogan, the compressed pseudo-narrative of the TV commercial, the sound bite, the T-shirt confession, the chat show Q and A.

Billboards, web pages, and video games are just projections – perfections, perfected banalisations – of this world of half-verbal exchange. They are truly [as their intellectual groupies go on claiming] a “discourse” – read, a sealed echo chamber of lies.

Therefore it becomes more and more important to point to the real boundaries between seeing and speaking, or sentence and visual configuration. And imperative to keep alive a notion of a kind of visuality that truly establishes itself at the edge of the verbal – never wholly apart from it, that is, never out of discourse’s clutches, but able and willing to exploit the difference between a sign and a pose, say, or a syntactical structure and a physical [visual, material] interval.

I take a dim view of the present regime of the image not out of some nostalgic “logocentricity” but because I see our image machines as flooding the world with words – with words [blurbs, jingles, catchphrases, ten thousand quick tickets to meaning] – given just sufficient visual cladding.

T. J. Clark, The Sight of Death, New Haven 2006

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