Notes on Images

Having started Michael Fried’s collection of essays ‘Art and Objecthood’, I’ve begun thinking about images and the reasons artists have for making them.

My line of thinking goes as follows: The abstract image. What is it about an image that makes it what it is? I can
think of three criteria:

1. Flatness – as opposed to the three dimensions of an object
2. Border – the limits of the image
3. Stillness – the image doesn’t move, it remains still.

Greenbergian modernism emphasised the flatness of the image, but I feel more drawn to the third criterion, the stillness of the image. What if I could reverse those Greenbergian notions, and work on the illusionism possible with an image? The stillness would be subverted, turned into the illusion of movement. Now, the illusion of movement requires movement on the part of the viewer, just as the illusion of depth requires depth-perception (or at least the conception of depth), from the viewer. Everything that painting lacks, the viewer must supply and allow the painting to appropriate it, which then offers it back to the viewer as if it always belonged to the painting. This is a variation on the illusion of the line between reality and fiction.

So, the illusion of movement can come from texture, a play of light on the surface of the painting that changes when the viewer shifts viewing position. Or it can come from the interplay of certain colours adjacent to one another; here the brain produces the illusion of movement due to the difficulty in interpreting the information our eyes are receiving.

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