Animated Asphalt: What the Picture wants

Publication: ResearchBook chapter

In What do pictures want? The lives and loves of images (2005) J. W. T. Mitchell writes about pictures as “vital signs”, not signs for living things, but signs as living things (Mitchell 6). With a notion from the German art historian and media theorist Hans Belting this symbolic act can be called “animation”, defined as “an innate (and learnable) ability of our bodies to discover life in inanimate images” (Belting 2012, 188). In this essay I investigate the animation of pictures in dialogue with Mitchell, both by addressing general questions such as: how is animation of otherwise static pictures to be understood? How does animation differ in different media? And in particular by focusing on and questioning the gender positions inherent in Mitchell’s theory. Animation has an erotic component of seduction and desire, and what pictures want, becomes for Mitchell, what women want. There is of course no simple answer to that, but the question will lead to a discussion of representations of women’s desire, exemplified by discursive and visual representations of the vagina.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTania Tender Thyme : Festskrift til Tania Ørum
EditorsFriis Elisabeth, Koch Lene
PublisherForlaget Arena
Publication year2015
Pages35-50
Chapter16
ISBN (print)978-87-92684-45-5
StatePublished - 2015

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