Pedagogy of the Written Image

Jonathan Lahey Dronsfield


"Text, it is Jean-Luc Godard’s “ennemi royal, principal." Text, it is on the side of death, “les images c’est la vie et les textes, c’est la mort”. Twenty years later and the war is not over: “Une image est paisible. Une image de la Vierge avec son petit enfant sur son âne n'amène pas la guerre, c'est son interprétation par un texte qui amènera la guerre et qui fera que les soldats de Luther iront déchirer les toiles de Raphaël.” Godard’s story is not just of the history of cinema, it is one in which text has won out to the extent that TV and the computer too make of the image something subservient to text. “Since Gutenberg” the text has triumphed in this way. “There was a long struggle, marriage or liaison between painting and text. Then the text carried the day. Film is the last art in the pictorial tradition... Take away the text and you’ll see what’s left. In TV nothing is left.” It is obvious from these lines of demarcation, lines which divide the art of the image from what would declare war on its most sacred icons and defeat its technologies, a conflict in which there is just the one aggressor, a division which makes of the relation between image and text nothing less than a matter of life and death, that for Godard text is indeed the enemy..."

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