Axel Bolvig

(University of Copenhagen, Denmark)

If a picture is simultaneously available in its entirety, looking at a picture is as temporally linear as language. Does or might a description of a picture reproduce the act of looking at a picture?
(Michael Baxandall).
Till now (art)historians – even Baxandall – solely have been dependent on linguistic description, explanation, and interpretation when dealing with images. However new developments of IT have made it possible for researchers partly to replace linguistics with the visual language of the images themselves. I shall try to argue that we now are closer to a positive answer to Baxandall’s question, but on visual conditions.
Programs like Photo to Movie, iMovie; and Final Cut are or will be means of communication on level with the spoken or written word. It is now possible to create a linear visual description and interpretation of the image(s). Shall this step on IT development represent a version 02 succeeding the establishment of traditional image databases?
The new creative situation is even more challenging regarding images produced and functioning in an illiterate society. At least Danish medieval wall paintings demonstrate a close connection between image and the open mouth of ordinary men and even jesters, who’s experiences stem from a living, noisy, dramatic, spectacular and visual society with lots of storytelling but no books. Such images might best be explained by a ‘video’ with movable images accompanied by speak, sound and music and not by text.