Summary. Hans Belting, An Anthropology of Images: Picture, Medium, Body. Princeton: Princeton University Press, pp. Human beings make images. Reading An Anthropology of Images: Picture, Medium, Body by Hans Belting has been remarkably similar to my experiences recording a. Jonathan Miller. Illinois Institute of Technology. Hans Belting, An Anthropology of Images: Picture, Medium, Body. Princeton: Princeton University Press,
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Strumenti E Metodi by Elisa Bignante. Recently, there has been some insistence on the need to include images as objects of study within geographical research inspired by non-representational theories.
While discussing photography in urban studies, Gillian Rose recently identified the shift towards a consideration of images as more than representational: The geographies of embodiment, multisensoriality and practice, thus, include work on images, provided that those images are thought of as performative, relational, corporeal and affective.
The leitmotif of this book, well emphasized by the subtitle chosen for the English version, is in fact the relationship between bodies and images, and in particular, the idea of considering the human body to be a living medium for images.
For Belting, art history has alienated the image from the body. An Italian image theory reader Pinotti and Somaini,for instance, includes Belting among scholars like W.
Mitchell, Gottfried Boehm, James Elkins, Louis Marin and David Freedberg, while presenting the polyvocal reflection on the set of problems inherent to the image which animates contemporary debate.
Bans this review, however, I do not wish to directly engage with the already much discussed and criticized contributions of an influential scholar for example, see Wood, Instead, I would like to direct an oblique gaze on this book by adopting the perspective of the map scholar.
Cartography is very often neglected in image studies. One of the main contributions of visual studies, with respect to art history, imagew been to widen the horizon of the image and the canon of the media taken into consideration. As Elkins suggests, theoretical advancement in art history or image theory could imagess contribute to the understanding of those miages images. My contention is that recent theoretical approaches to maps and mapping and, in particular, so-called post-representational cartography have been much less impregnated by updated image studies.
Even the map, in my view, needs to be freed. This anthropological approach enables Belting to see the image as a phenomenon, both internally and externally; physical images on the walls are entangled with the living repertoire of images in our bodies our minds as parts of our bodies.
Belting argues that the interactions between our bodies and external images include a third parameter, namely the medium which hosts the image. The medium is a sort of oof body that images need in order to become visible, and image perception animates pictures as though they were living things, or different kinds of bodies.
An Anthropology of Images: Picture, Medium, Body
For Belting, while semiotics has separated the words of signs from the words of bodies, the notion that pictures are images embodied in media brings our body, a living medium of its own, back into the discussion. What, then, if we apply this shift from the semiotic, to the sensory realm, to the perception of maps? What happens when we replace the word pictures with maps in this sentence?
Can we compare it with research on embodied mapping for hana, see Perkins, ? It is worth noting that, for Belting, the body analogy also functions in the case of digital media and the disembodiment of images through virtual experiences. Following Belting, this is just another form of body-experience for which historical parallels exist page In his view, an anthropological perspective is useful to reject proclamations that, with digital technology, we have put an end nelting the previous history of images.
Following Belting, digital technology can suggest ways of reconsidering the entire concept of images, including past ones. Effectively, this is what is happening in the realm of map studies. A belring myriad of mapping practices is now stimulating the rethinking of maps in general. As Kitchin, Perkins and Dodge noted, the anthtopology of new mapping technologies over the past twenty years has been followed by a productive period of philosophical development in mapping theory.
Images happen, take place, and are each time negotiated. This is very true for our mobile and globalized society, where images and maps travel and migrate with the bodies in each individual archive. In our bodies, even though we bring together the personal and the collective imagination and imaginarywe adapt, transform and recreate imported images without fixed laws; it is the individual who manipulates the collective imaginary with his personal imagination.
What if we substitute the word images with maps in this sentence? The study of the memory of maps, already carried out in the research on memory and spatial cognition, could be developed from an additional anthropological perspective, with different methodologies. In one passage particularly influenced by geographical concepts, Belting reflects on the places of images the places in which images live and on the idea of visiting pictures in those places from the traditional public locations of the museum or the theatre, to the realm of new ephemeral pictorial media.
The book includes four additional chapters devoted to specific case studies, which are somehow based on the assumptions derived from the first two chapters.
In the third chapter, Belting demonstrates how the medieval coat of arms was the precursor to the panel portrait, in the sense that both are intended as hanss of the body, or second bodies for the owners respectively a genealogical body and an individual body on the basis of their uses in action.
It is interesting, here, that Belting accords corporeality to the heraldic sign, and not only to the physiognomic portrait.
What if one accords some form of corporeality to maps? Belting investigates, in the fourth chapter, the ancient cults of death, contending that the deep, original relationship between image and death has fallen into oblivion, but needs to be revived in order to understand the body-image nexus. In fact, images in ancient times primarily served as vessels of embodiment and not simply as means of remembrance while replacing the lost bodies of the dead.
Those image-place holders of the bodies of the dead needed to be called to life by an act of animation. Subsequently with the classical Greek concept of the imageimages have become incapable of embodying life; the image has itself become dead, and a distance has been created between the beholder and the physical image. Are maps dead objects? Do they embody lost places or are they merely lifeless means of remembering those past places? Do we animate them with our gaze, or look at them with a distant eye?
Of interest here, again, is the ability to confront literature, painting Giotto, Masaccio and Michelangelofilm TV Dante by Peter Greenaway and cyberspace in a very uninhibited manner.
What if we learn to discuss maps and mapping with a greater ability to compare them with other types of images as in Aitken and Craine, ? The hermeneutic juxtaposition of images with very different backgrounds is a method normally used by image scholars, but it is less adopted in map theory.
The fifth chapter of the book, finally, is devoted to photography, and emphasizes how an anthropological approach contests the specificity of the photographic medium. An approach focused on the anthropological uses of imagfs for instance, the use of images to take possession of the world helps to open up not only the boundaries between different epochs, but also the boundaries between different media; both perception and images are inherently intermedial.
An Anthropology of Images: Picture, Medium, Body
Photography, then, is not an anthropologically new kind of object, and might be considered in the larger horizon of the life experience of beltibg. If the media and techniques follow historical linearity, the images conform to anthropological patterns. Reflecting on intermediality and drawing from image theories on intermediality seems crucial at a time in which cartography has become part of the wider phenomenon of geovisualization, and ranges from GIS imagew map art and even GIS as map artand from map-based infographics to map-inspired design.
In my view, some of those inspiring statements, should be confronted with map research. This confrontation would breathe life into a field that is already very vital, but could be further animated beltung we open up the cartographic realm to be free for inhabitation using image theories. Theories of Mapping Practice and Cartographic Representation.
Anderson B and Harrison P The promise of non-representational theories.
AN ANTHROPOLOGY OF IMAGES BY HANS BELTING – Society & Space
Non-Representational Theories and Geography. Cosgrove D Cultural cartography: Maps and mapping in cultural geography. New Frontiers in Cartographic Theory. London and New York: The Lives and Loves of Images. Perkins C Performative and embodied mapping. Amsterdam, London and Oxford: Rose G Visual culture, photography and the urban: Space and Culture 2 3: Rossetto T Mapscapes on the urban surface: Notes in the form of a photo-essay Istanbul, The Art Bulletin Society and Space is an international, interdisciplinary scholarly and political project.
Through both a peer reviewed journal and this editor reviewed open access companion website, we publish articles, essays, interviews, forums, and book reviews that examine social struggles over access to and control of space, place, territory, region, and resources. We seek empirically grounded and conceptually robust contributions that interrogate and challenge the ways in which modes of power, difference and oppression differentially shape life chances on our planet.
We welcome work that engages with and furthers a range of critical epistemological approaches, puts theory to work in innovative ways, and consciously navigates the fraught politics of knowledge production within and beyond the academy. Published September 2, Hans Belting, An Anthropology of Images: Picture, Medium, Body, trans.
Elkins J The Domain of Images.