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Publication Details

Pictures as Vital Signs: Communicative Potential of Visual Messages

(Original title: Obrazy ako vitálne znaky: Komunikačné možnosti vizuálnych správ)
Filozofia, 69 (2014), 1, 52-62.
Type of work: Papers
Publication language: Slovak

Medical context of vital signs which comprises detecting and monitoring “the presence of life” in human body serves as a starting point to our reflection on the varieties of animation or vitality that are attributed to images. The perspective of “vitality” requires a different type of questions addressed to pictures: not what the pictures do (or mean), but what they want, not what is their power, but what is their desire, not what is their value, but what is their vitality (meaning their reproductive potency and fertility). The final example – analysis of a famous recruiting poster – shows how the shift in question works in a concrete picture. It can also open a discussion about the limits of Mitchell's view.


Communication, Iconoclasm, Pictorial turn, Stereotype, W. J. T. Mitchell, “Living picture”

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