IMAGES Journal for Visual Studies

events: Visual studies today: The power of images


Philipp Jeandrée
The Pictorial Turn Unnoticed...? What Visual Studies has to Offer to Political Thinking

The present paper makes an attempt to reevaluate the conceptual indifference of political theory towards the implications of the pictorial turn. Even though there is an increasing (however marginal) interest amongst different political science disciplines in visual culture (film and photography in particular), current debates around the nature, desires and configurations of the image within the field of visual studies (and image studies) seem to go widely unnoticed by many political theorists. Against this backdrop, I argue that a more nuanced understanding of the efficacy of images, and their distinct way of creating meaning, would help political sciences to synchronize their budding pictorial interests with the theoretical achievements of contemporary visual studies and to readjust a political concept of the image that is all too often reduced to an object of ideological suspicion. A more differentiated concept of images as gestures, events, experiences, etc. would therefore help to broaden the political understanding of the "lives and loves of images" and ultimately allow for a stronger recognition of the speculative, imaginative and affective dimensions of politics – as social practice and as academic discipline.