While the advent of the digital era and the rapid evolution of technology have led to major change in the coordinates of the visible world and the relationship between word and image, experience and representation, new research methods have become necessary to explore the reasons behind the increasingly extensive production and circulation of images. One of the founding fathers of this vast field of study that has established itself on an international level as visual culture, W.J.T. Mitchel has contributed to the great turnaround in theoretical interest in the “society of the spectacle” and, coining the expression “pictorial turn”, has promoted a philosophical approach since the 1990s that attributes images with the same value of interpreting reality as that attributed to language.
Here the reader will find a collection of sixteen of his most recent essays, ranging from media aesthetics to semiotics, in which the author examines the cultural dimension of images and the places and ways in which they manifest themselves, drawing upon ideas and terms that have now earned their place in the critical vocabulary. With the successful distinction between “image” and “picture”, where “image” means the mental representation or pure form of figures, clearly distinguished from the “picture” through which it is revealed, that is to say a material object that can be burned, broken or ripped, such as a painting or sculpture.
Rich in incursions into the history of art, cinema and photography, but also into politics and biocybernetics, this volume lays the foundations for a “science of images” in which the visual becomes a fundamental link between humanistic research and empirical sciences.