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How images actually work: settling a longstanding debate.

Hamlyn, Jim


Jim Hamlyn


As a cultural innovation, image-making is perhaps one of our most enduring forms of new media. The many technical developments necessary for the production of convincing images have emerged over the last 40,000 years, yet there is still widespread disagreement about how images actually function. Why, for instance, are animals largely indifferent to images whereas humans are fascinated by them? Several competing theories are in general circulation but it is a matter of considerable debate whether these adequately explain the mechanisms at work (or at fault) in the substitution of flat objects made of paper, pigment or pixels for the objects they represent. Since the 1960's, Australian art theorist Donald Brook has been exploring the implications of a theory of representation that has been published widely during this period. This work has been positively received but considering its implications it is somewhat surprising that it is not more widely known and discussed. This presentation focuses on a crucial element of Brook's theory which shows how imagistic representations rely not only on systematic sensory discrimination failures but on the procedural principles by which such discrimination failures can be exploited.

Presentation Conference Type Conference Paper (unpublished)
Start Date Oct 29, 2015
Publication Date Oct 29, 2015
Institution Citation HAMLYN, J. 2015. How images actually work: settling a longstanding debate. Presented at the 6th International conference of the image: media materiality; towards critical economices of 'new' media, 29-30 October 2015, Berkeley, USA.
Keywords Image; Representation; Depiction; Philosophy; Theory
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