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Image versus Text

September 07, 2011

Since the beginning of European thought, the media of image and text have represented two different categories offering different access paths to perceiving the surrounding world, creating the identity of this world and finding one’s own place in its bowels. The image is a key unlocking the view of the world in a rapid cadence of perception accompanied by an intensive affect and experience. With the rationalization of the society, development of classificatory ideological mechanisms, social organization processes, systems of unification and control of the individual, the medium of the word has achieved an increasingly prominent position, being able to affect all of its recipients in an essentially identical predictable way.

The image has been assigned to the field of artistic activities, becoming a supplement, an illustration of the textual message. However, early 20th century avant-garde art has returned the image to the public discourse with unexpected vigor. Employing playful approaches based on subversion, avant-garde artists have used the text as image and vice versa. Image and text suddenly appeared as substantially different media, revealing their essence as that of deficient poles. The resuscitation of the image by the avant-garde gradually penetrated the broader spheres of social life until it found its use in the everyday life of the individual in the form of commercial communication, promotional political materials and the building of visual identities of public service institutions.

Are image and text really enemies?

VÁCLAV HÁJEK, visual theorist and journalist (Charles University in Prague)

KATEŘINA PŘIDALOVÁ, graphic designer and design theorist

EVA JANÁČOVÁ, curator

LUCIE LOMOVÁ, comics artist

JAROSLAV VANČÁT, theorist of visual art and communication