An image begins and ends with a frame. The very act of creation implies framing, which is how we isolate and extract scenes from the world around to turn them into representations. When intricate, an image itself can be reframed into sub-scenes and new singular images.
With the convenience of 2 billion smartphones used as tools and medium for image consumption, capture, and distribution, the proliferation of images is astronomical.
Our yearning to accumulate and organize visual symbols has a long history traceable from the earliest images found in Paleolithic caves, to Ancient Rome and now Pinterest. By structuring pictorial clusters, we are annotating the evolution of knowledge, its nature, ecology, economy, and archives. Today it is not just that every object, person, and idea is turned into visual captures, it is that we are doing it ad infinitum. Everything is possessed by image and continually refreshed in so many variations of the same thing.
The modern image is not just mechanical, it is spontaneous and viral. Through accumulation, images neutralize each other and conversely, generate a new sort of aura. This phenomenon could be labeled a “simage,” a neologism that stands for the grouping of similar images sharing archetypal, indexing, and relational aspects into singular typologies or paradigms, e.g., images of “bibles,” “trees,” or “babies.” Within these groups each image can stand as a unique item, while still reflecting the scope of the category.
economies of scale are calling for open structures of accumulations
Our understanding of singular images is made possible by the merger of habits anchored in the concrete aspects of form, materiality and quantity, and the subjective aspects of value, quality and relationships. Images can be built, owned, traded, mutated or obliterated.
By contrast, a simage cannot be held. It is immaterial and synthetic. It is ambiguous, pervasive, atmospheric, diffused, and blurry. It is more of a relational “fact” than an image. It is an elemental “node” containing the representational code shared by image subsets. It is the pictorial metaphor of the core attributes common to a body of images, all combined as semantic building blocks, like the leaves of a tree or the pages of a book. As such, the meaning of the whole is different than the sum of its parts. It takes on additional emergent qualities beyond the context of the individual images, and may in that sense be seen as a meta-image that reveals patterns of perception.
The relationship of an image and the simage it belongs to is not unlike the one between town and empire or pigment and cave wall: each reveals the other and yet the relationship remains relative, shifting and conditional.
By casting the spectacular shadow of today’s visual world, the idea of simage reveals new perspectives and interpretations of the world, less as it looks and more as it is: a representational landscape that emerged in the past two decades to evolve into an Escher-like world of augmented dimensions, one that is time-shifted to allow unpredictable mutations on the generative surfaces of our perception matrix.
Related research: Cave To Cloud
Erik Adigard, M-A-D