Beyond the ontology of the image?

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Abstract

I have argued in my book, Genealogy and Ontology of the Western Image (2012), that the image is not an object or thing but is an utter transparency, the ‘presence of the thing in its absence’. I have said, further, that the image today, in the twenty-first century, is not cut off from the image in its theological past (even if the terms of the debate are very different), but is intimately connected to this past, particularly its Byzantine past, where the question of the image centres on whether or not it can circumscribe the divinity of Christ – whether or not, in other words, it can circumscribe the uncircumscribable and allow to appear that which is, in visual terms, forever hidden. In the present context, I would like to extend the thinking on the ontology[1] of the image begun in the book, in order, precisely, to deepen an understanding of the image, both ontologically speaking and perhaps, with the help of Levinas, beyond ontology. A particular reason for this is that in a so-called secular age the apparently transcendent quality of the image is barely accessible. Indeed, so inaccessible is this transcendence that a common way to approach it is to ignore it, and to view the image as an object like any other object (cf. Aumont 1997: 102).
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
Specialist publicationEither/And
PublisherNational Media Museum
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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