Textuality vs. Iconography

Textuality vs. Iconography, or maybe this is the evolution of our brain.

If I take a picture of these three letters T H E and frame them up. What are you going to see. Your mind would try to make sense of it and would probably try to create a story of some sort. If I post a sentence that says The life of the Siberian boy in a turmoil of emotion… I just placed an image in your head. Your imagination begins to construct a story… So, tell me how is this different from the magic of a photograph. True, picture often speaks louder than words, but, really, we can not pin pictorial imaging against textual.

If I post on a slow motion video, a close up of a slow moving dark water reflecting orange sunset, and create a loop of this video. Bam! The brain begins to create a story, whatever it may be. That story could be about life, about eternity… or anything you can imagine…

This concept of magical story could be applied to any medium. We can not go about and say “Pictue is better than text because it tells a story.” I can say that about anything really. Video, picture, text… I read my classmates’ responses to the readings (John Berger, Ways of Seeing; Vilem Flusser, Photography and History.) and it sparked a reaction, a whole bunch of images in my head, the battle of Russian and English languages mixed inside my head motivated me to write a response. The image and text, even though different mediums in a sense of linearity and technology, they are a part of our communication, both can be visual, yet one is prevalently emerging over the other. Image culture however does not destroy textual culture, it simply consumes it and its elements within and evolves into something new. But image culture of today is by far different from what the image culture of the early humans was. Today’s image culture is not magical, it is almost textual, it is indexical, at is symbolical in a sense of symbolizing the understanding, not trying to explain unknown, magical nature.

So, in turn I want to shift away and propose to the reader this idea, in hopes, maybe to spark a reaction in someone else… (or maybe it won’t – I won’t get my hopes up).

Picture this. The eternal battle… The Gene vs. The Mind! (I am taking this class on evolutionary psychology and it is amazingly applicable to this story). Gene is our physical unit that creates life, that lives inside of everything living on this planet. Plants, Animals, People… Gene can live in many generations of species for millions of years, hopping from one organism to another. Us (humans) and other organisms are just temporary vessels for the gene. But, five minutes to midnight, people evolve consciousness, I think therefore I am. Our revolutionary brain mechanism (designed by the gene itself) begins to shift on its own different direction, away from the evolutionary path of a gene. We no longer just follow evolutionary instincts, we begin to process information through our central processing unit (brain).

So, I can go on and on, but what I am trying to say here is this. There is a huge separation between yesterday’s world, and its people and today’s world and its people. People then (2-3 million years ago) were WAAY different from people today. Some may say “So what. There were people then and there are people now. Nothing changes.” We can not ignore the details to say that we “heard it all,” because, often case, we did not heard it all and possibly never will be able to say that and be truly objective. Same with the communication, the concept of textuality, is shifting towards the concepts of iconography, where we communicate with images. Picture, after all, speaks thousands words. What differs us from us before is the evolution of our communication away from textuality into a multimodal, iconographic, nonlinear world.

This nonlinear world is very much virtual, multimodal, multidimensional. The evolution of our communication is actually creating this virtual synthetic world, where the laws of physics don’t apply. It seems the best to describe it as a parallel artificial universe where artificial intelligence is an extension of our mind, our mirror reflection into an world of electronic impulses, and continuation of our being beyond the physical world, beyond biological processes, towards virtual, visual, electronic, and yes, some may say, magical.

Back in a day, the caveman drew a picture, it meant to serve a purpose of making his hunt successful, it was magical. Later, the text gave a structure to our brain, so we could make a list of how to improve the hunt for food. Today, we are using image again, but it is not the same as the cave drawings, it is a vertual imagined reality that shows us how to hunt successfully. By hunt of course I mean the processes of survival. Our physical bodies today show the instinct reaction to the snakes and spiders, yet we drive our cars without the same fear. This separation of mind and physical processes is parallel to the evolution of communication where textuality is like a physical process and iconographic communication is our evolved consciousness, or the reflection of it.

John Berger, Ways of Seeing;
Vilem Flusser, The Future of Writing;
Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: