Volume 17, 2018

The Inertia of the Visible. Idris Khan's Writing Images, in the Journal of Visual Art Practice (Ed. Christian Mieve), University in Wolverhampton, UK, Routledge, Volume 17. (peer review journal ranking Q2)





'Ruins and traces always await us'

(Cadava 2001: 59)


Inertia is a movement, whose dynamic is self-referential: it arrests and returns to itself. In the following, I will consider this force, which at the same time is propulsive and negative, in regard to the work of the British artist Idris Khan. I will develop the idea that two visual techniques – blurring and repetition – are the means by which inertia is maintained in the visual field. Blurring and repetition duplicate patterns of the visible. Insisting on the surface of the image, they furthermore seem to search for the essence of the visible – beyond the image. Nevertheless, by their failed attempt to break the image, these two pictorial techniques contest the power of the visible to transport information beyond itself. Blurring and repetition have been often employed in a political way to contest the right of the visible/ of the obvious to claim truth: a blurred image is never a scientifically reliable source of information. The indistinctness effect or a repeating pattern infuse doubt: they oscillate and question the validity and the integrity of the image (Steyerl, 2009).


In my article I would like to consider the way in which Idris Khan (b. 1978) is working with these two techniques and the way in which his work contributes to what could be called a contemporary inertia of the visible. I will be taking into consideration, among other sources, the already classic text of Eduardo Cadava (Cadava 2011), Lapsus Imaginis: The Image in Ruins. Relying on Walter Benjamin, Cadava talks about the inherent ruination in the contemporary image, as a trauma of what the visible has been accumulating in recent history. For Cadava, the image ruins the temporal and spatial distinctions that it itself proposes, through a perpetual movement that it contains. I consider Cadava's reading inspiring for the understanding of Idris Khan's work, since the repetition and in-distinctiveness present in his work can be seen as expressing a contemporary political resistance to the image. An inherent inertia in his work functions as a statement of contestation. His photographs and prints reveal to me an endless movement that defies historical time and doubts the image as legitimate document.




'My work has always been about surface.'

(Khan 2016)



In a physical way, Idris Khan's work accumulates meaning by layering material density. Nevertheless his work transposes this cumulated material substance into a virtual register – which he calls 'abstraction'. This procedure is essentially paradoxical: although he adds various material substrata into one image, the image loses progressively physical substance and erodes. The material support of his images as well as the involved procedures for working and transforming matter are manifold. They seem to explore persistently the infinity of possibilities of generating 'image': image results from print, it can also result in other pieces from sound and music, or from sculptural accumulation of matter.

Nevertheless this repertoire of what could seem a systematic dissection of the possibilities of the visible, culminates into a metaphorical image This image is coherent and seems to have forgotten its roots and aims.1


As Khan himself explains, this forgetfulness of the image can seem aesthetic, but it goes actually more deep than that: it talks about the inherent meaning that every image carries with it, an image of images.


'When I make a piece of work I always feel that the most important thing is for it to engage with the viewer on an aesthetic level first. The multi-layered abstraction draws the viewer closer to the picture and then reveals something else entirely. At this point, one can either attempt to understand the words or accept not knowing the complete meaning of the text and fill the void with their own ideas. This moment becomes self-reflective and an exploration of one’s own belonging.'

(Khan 2015).


Khan started his artistic career by working with multi-layered abstracted images, in the form of suprapositions of already realized and found photography.


'When I make my photographs I always start with a digital camera, photographing marks that I make over and over again on a chalkboard. The original concept for the piece was to make a still image. In a way it’s a stop frame animation. The camera is set up in one place and then I write the poem on a chalkboard, photograph it and the rub it out and photograph that. The photographs were then brought into final cut and a short film was made from around 100 still photographs.'

(Khan 2015a).


Khan gained attention for work in which he used digital technology to overlay and combine series of visual or textual material: mainly photographic print of digitally superposed and manipulated images and written quotes (some appropriated, other authored by him). Through this appropriative-collage technique, he builds up a personal art-historical archive. In his early practice, he reproduced Bernd and Hilla Becher's photographs, a late Constable painting, and revisited Chopin's Nocturnes. His preoccupations with ritual, manifested in 'Every.... Page of the Holy Qur'an' (2004), where he scanned and than overlayered all the pages of the holy book – was inspired by his father, a Muslim practitioner.


In his more recent works figurative and recognisable references are effaced. Printed texts are stamped in densely overlaid geometric shapes. In his show 'Overture' at Sean Kelly Gallery New York, in 2015, he works for the first time in Optiwhite, a non reflective glass, upon which he stamps elegantly drawn text lines. These images remind of the early aesthetic of computer machinery, where abstract small holes and signs where stamped on small cardboard pieces. More abundant, almost suffocating, invasive and all-encompassing, these signs-lines infuse the pictorial space – a collectively internalized information space.



'One interesting limit is reached, I think, in the question of where images come from, and where they go.' (Mitchell 2006)


The recent work of Idris Khan with radial stamped text emerging from an center or energetic nucleus (Overture, 2015), literally reminds us of W.J.T. Mitchell's idea of 'image-vortex' (an attribute of the ''metaimage''). Khan's repetitive and oscillating writing stays on the surface of the work and at the same time attempts to penetrate the visible, to find its mechanisms and essential nature. I find it especially relevant for the context of this analysis to follow Mitchell's idea of 'metaimage', in order to better understand Khan's attempt to find the image within the image.


''metaimage' suggests that any picture is at least potentially a kind of vortex or "black hole" that can "suck in" the consciousness of a beholder, and "spew out" an infinite rows of reflections.

(Mitchell 2005: 94-100)


In in an interview with W. J. T. Mitchell by Grønstad, Asbjørn and Vågnes, Øyvind from 2006, published in Image & Narrative Magazine, Mitchell discusses his (at that time) freshly issued What do Pictures Want: The Lives and Loves of Images, at University of Chicago Press.


'When it comes to images, we are in something like the position of savages who do not know where babies come from. We literally do not know where images come from, or where they go when (or even if) they die."

(Mitchell 2006)


In his 2005 appeared captivating book What Do Pictures Want?, Mitchell shifts the perspective from the already established comprehension of the image as a thinking entity, that itself produces conceptual content, to an understanding of the image endowed also with non-human qualities. This non- or in-human image that Mitchell envisions has its own desires, but comes close to the species of plants, animals, minerals and fossils. Leaving behind the familiar and anthropocentric concepts of fetishism and idolatry of images, in his book Mitchell explores concepts such as totemism and animism in regard to images. As he explains (Mitchell 2005), totems are prior to idols and fetishism and are fundamentally alien to our contemporary feelings and were hardly employed as a conceptual tools in contemporary critique. The idea of totemism is accessed by him as an imagistic practice that represents an intimate relationship with nature. As opposed to an idol, which is anthropomorphic, a totem has a non-human, vegetal or animal identity.


'So, while I like very much Mieke Bal's concept of "art that thinks," I don't want to begin with the assumption that it always thinks like us. The principles of vitalism and animism require that we also take account of what are sometimes called "lower" forms of consciousness—mere sentience, for instance, or sensuous awareness, responsiveness, as well as forms of memory and desire. And most of human consciousness is pre- or unconscious'.

(Mitchell 2006)


Endowed with sensuous awareness that goes deeper than philosophical reflection or self-consciousness is for him the metapicture2. The notion of metapicture designates a pre-consciousness. As a theoretical tool, it helps us go deeper into the understanding of the uncanniness of images, their ghostliness or spectrality and their tendency to respond to the presence of the beholder. Mitchell explains that images can not concretely be understood without considering their vitalism and animism.


'And I do not mean by this some kind of regressive return to primitive thought, but (as Levi-Strauss so often insisted) a taking account of the persistence of the "savage mind" at the dialectical heart of whatever we mean by the modern'.

(Mitchell 2005)


Idris Khan's images carry a uncanny, spectral aura. They can hardly be considered 'real' images. Contemplating his images, the viewer is not confronted with a 'read-able' visual content, or any kind of 'representation' of an alien reality through substitution. These images are rather an exercise in communicating knowledge and content in a ciphered and hermetic alphabet, that could itself be seen as belonging to geological, or even meteorological nature. These configurations of signs that seem to develop and follow their own self-generating dynamics of reproduction, remain unintelligible to the observing consciousness. With these images, the viewer looses progressively his system of references. The painting 'Wild Horses... After Twombly' (2012), wax pencil and paint on canvas seems to be a sort of generic image, resulted from stamping text onto a material surface. This procedure created a hybrid visual entity, that could be called a pictorial sculpture. It is the case also with 'Untitled' - a public monument erected in 2011 and cast in Portland cement, black pigment and inscribed with sandblasted text. 'Seven Times' (2010) is also featuring 144 sandblasted oil-sealed blue steel cubes. Due to complex working techniques, these pieces seem to reflect rather the idea of universal 'image', than recognisable techniques, identities and references.

Discussing this quality of images, Khan himself considers his practice connected to a ritual dimension:


'I see it (n.b.: the image) as a ritual which can be both affirmative and negating. Caught in-between the two is the best place to be. The more you stamp, the more you repeat, the more you add, the more you reduce, the more you create – it pushes you to a place away from this world and into a state of mind that leaves the referential and into the abstract'.

(Khan 2016)


Reading Khan's lines we can ask ourselves which can be the significance of the term ritual in the highly conceptual context of his artistic work. Ritual and artistic practice have had a long history of interactions. Theatrical studies and performance art have been thoroughly analyzed through the lens of the 'ritual' in the cultural studies of the past decades (see for example Fischer-Lichte (2012a, 2012b, 2010). Minimalism and Conceptualism (which are recognizable in Khan's work) and the artistic practices, thoughts and environmentally aware philosophies connected to these art historical currents, have also been read through the lens of the 'ritual'.

'Im Rausch des Rituals' edited by Klaus Köpping is dedicated to ritual, understood from an ethnologic point of view as an 'in-disciplined'3 leading term (Köpping, Rao 2008). The volume (and generally speaking the approach of the German anthropologist Klaus-Peter Köpping) establishes a new perspective on ritual seen as a performative and transformative practice. Recently, in the Theaterwissenschaften Department at Freie Universitaet Berlin, ritual is less interpreted as a symbolic language with pre-coded signs, but as a transformative artistic and performative practice (Köpping, Rao 2008: 3).

Interesting in regard to Idris Khan's work, is the here forwarded idea that ritual represents a permanent and performative negotiation with oneself. Ritual is on this argumentative line an instrument for artistic self-understanding and not the re-enactment of a symbolic code. (Köpping, Rao 2008: 7). In this sense, Khan's minimal, hermetic and internalized images can be regarded as the outcome of a ritualistic self-introspection – the meaning that Khan himself suggests to his viewers. His 'images' appeal on the level of a mantric, ceremonial receptivity, that becomes activated during the process of contemplation.

On the other hand, these strange hybrids of approaches and methodologies can be seen as evoking or carrying mixed reminiscences of long forgotten rituals and practices. They can be read as archeological remains of future or past cultures with undiscernable writings, made of dysfunctional blocks of matter or of translucent or almost dissolving screens.

We could read them also as a mix of various methodologies, extracted from different disciplines that use image production as a communicative tool. Both mental and real, actual and virtual, concrete or fake, his works make us think of semiotics, of art history, of media studies, or cultural studies, of ritual, of cultic or totemic art.

In this sense they come back again to the idea of 'metaimage', which, according to Mitchell, does not belong exclusively to a single discipline. The study of the 'metaimage', explains Mitchell, goes beyond interdisciplinarity towards another concept launched by Mitchell in this book: indisciplinarity. 'Just as paleontology requires that its researchers be geologists, biologists, anatomists, and artists' (Mitchell 2006), the 'metaimage' requires more anarchist theories of knowledge. These are for him moments of breakage, failure, or deconstruction of existing disciplinary structures, accompanied by the emergence of new formations.


'Rather than the familiar invocation of "interdisciplinarity," which in my view is a bit too safe and predictable, I prefer a notion of image science and visual culture as sites of what I want to call "indisciplinarity"

(Mitchell 2006).


As the 'metaimage' is a 'picture that is used to reflect on the nature of pictures.' (Mitchell 2015: 94-100), I consider that the notion of indisciplinary analysis, could be an interesting tool of approaching Khan's work.

In Picture Theory (Mitchell 1994), Mitchell names and describes three different kinds of metapictures. Relevant for the analysis of Idris Khan's work is especially the third category: a picture that is framed, not inside another picture, but within a discourse that reflects on it as an exemplar of "picturality" as such. This third meaning implies that any picture whatsoever (and the examples that he gives are: a simple line-drawing of a face, a multi-stable image like the Duck-Rabbit, Velasquez's Las Meninas) can become a metapicture. Mitchell discusses in the interview mentioned above (Mitchell 2006), the notion of the surface of the image. For Mitchell the surface of the image permits the discovery of the 'infinite and indefinite spatial depth' of the image (the 'metaimage'). Mitchell explains that the moment that a surface is marked, it opens an infinity of aspects that a line or color or blurred erasure can provoke.

At this point the importance that Khan is investing in the surface of the image, comes to mind. Khan regards his work as a practice that explores the surface of the images and not the figurative or narrative content that they carry. The surface opens for him a space for perception and reflective thought: 'My work has always been about surface (...) away from the referential and into the abstract.' (Khan 2016). Continuing this line of interests and thoughts, Khan explains: 'A surface depth is a surface that alludes to time.' (Khan 2016)'.

Time seems to be for Khan a means to measure the condensed infinity of possibilities of the image. It also alludes to the fact that any image is in itself a potentiality: a sum of expressed and unexpressed possibilities, that can be activated through perception.

This infinite depth of time contained for Khan in images, can be further understood through the distinction that Mitchell makes between images and pictures in regard to the degree of their persistence.

In What Do Pictures Want? (Mitchell 2005: 13-16), Mitchell argues that images cannot be destroyed, contrary to pictures. For him pictures are material objects that carry or transport images, and these can be destroyed. In this sense it is only images that survive destruction, as they have always the tendency to return in other media, including memory, narrative, and fantasy. The power of images resides for Mitchell in this quality of images to defy time and to be perennial.



'But what we call time is precisely the image's inability to coincide with itself.'

(Cadava 2011: 43)


Mitchell insists on a recommendation regarding the temporal perception of images:


'My general pedagogical aim is to slow down the reception of the image, to encourage prolonged contemplation, second and third looks, reversals of perceptual fields such as figure/ground and surface/depth (…) And the aim of the metapicture is to create a critical space in which images could function, not simply as illustrations or "examples" of the power of this or that method, but as "cases" that to some extent (generally unknown in advance) that might transform or deconstruct the method that is brought to them.'

(Mitchell 2006)


As resulted from the previous paragraph, Khan's images find themselves in an intrinsic movement in which they are generated by a perpetual repetition, blurriness and a consequent indistinctness. These qualities not only shift the meaning from the content of the image, to the image itself, but also determine the impossibility of them being read - in Mitchell's words: their in-disciplinarity.


In relation to these ideas, I would like to recall the text of Eduardo Cadava, Lapsus Imaginis: The Image in Ruins, which practically explains the reason why an image can never be regarded as being complete and constituted. What Cadava calls the lapsus of the image (lat. for lapse, slip, missing) of the image reveals the inherent condition of the image to be perpetual in the process of its constitution. Looking at Khan's photographic prints, sculptures, paintings and three-dimensional screens, we see an image which is simultaneously constructed and effaced and which therefore includes a temporal dimension. Time is the clue of this visual structure. We read in his images a perpetual movement in time between its past, present and future stages - which simultaneously construct spatialy the image and which are simultaneously constructed by the image.


In his seminal text Lapsus Imaginis: The Image in Ruins, Eduardo Cadava is describing a black and white photograph of the bombed-out Holland House Library in London, which was taken on October 23, 1940, nearly four weeks after the air raid that led to the library's destruction. In this image, which represents a destruction localizable in time and space, Cadava reads the very mechanism of the contemporary image.

For him the image exists through the dialectical relationship between a past and a present in a historical and imagistic sense. No image is for him simply itself. Similarly, Cadava understands the present too as not being simply the present, but as a result of the multitude of images that form it "now" and that might come from alien spaces and historical moments. The proof therefore is that any image is always the image of another time (Cadava 2001: 39).

With Walter Benjamin (Benjamin 1999: 462-463), Cadava infers that the image (as historical index) cannot be understood as either indexical or referential: it can never index or refer to a single historical moment or event. This is why the reading of any image is critical and dangerous, as the past and the present are both concerned (Cadava 2001: 39).




'If time ruins the image, this ruined image also interrupts the movement of time'

(Cadava 2001: 44)



We distinguish in Khan's work clues and recollections: effaced industrial heritage emerging not 'from nature' but from a distant reference, for example in Every . . . Bernd and Hilla Becher Spherical Type Gasholder, one panel triptych, 2003, Lambda Digital C print mounted on aluminium. His manifold work constructs homages, art historical memories, traces of once precise sounds: 'Hearing Voices...Schumann's Violin Concerto' (2007), digital c-type mounted on aluminium, 'Homage to Bernd Becher' (2007), digital bromide print, 'Caravaggio...... The Final Years' (2006), digital C-type print, 'Nude Descending Staircase' (2014), digital C-Print on aluminum), 'Struggling to Hear..... After Ludwig van Beethoven Sonatas' (2005) lambda digital C- print, 'Bach.... Six Suites for the Solo Cello' (2006), digital C-type print).

These reviews of distantly contemplated images provoke a sudden oscillation of our viewing experience. One can never be sure if these flickering, trembling but decided images, belong to a register of the past (commemorating something lost) or to a future form, a form of projection. Layers of art historical hints (Nude Descending Staircase, 2014, Digital C Print on Aluminium or Rising Series . . . After Eadweard Muybridge "Human and Animal Locomotion," 2005, five platinum prints) seem to be shreds coated in black and white or sepia screens, effaced and inscribed again. These images turn into texts, that linger on in the attempt to overpass their references.

Beyond their fade imagery, these abstracted signs raise the question of what are our possibilities of response to what stays perpetually invisible in the present? This question is both a philosophical one, describing universal principles and conditions of visibility, but also a political one, as images function as essential political tools. Condensed and cyphered, Khan's images allude to the fact that images themselves have the power to contest and to refuse to witness or to refuse to document and to transport a politically instrumental information. In this respect, we can consider that Idris Khan's images deliver a radical message of dissent: going beyond the narrative content of the image, they take the right to refute and impugn their own role to validly represent a 'picture' of the present.


Idris Khan's images literally show that engaging an image as a political testimony of the historical contexts in which it was produced – would mean a way of distorting the original image connected to a certain time. An accurate response to its nature would be incorporating in our response to the image, a permanent decontextualization that the image itself provokes. The temporality that every image constructs is therefore situated in a joint perspective of the past, present and future. It has the capacity to reveal the politics of consequences and interdependence between events and situations.


Idris Khan's images seem to alert and admonish the viewer not to be tempted to force a meaning into an image that documents, witnesses or reproduces a content. Through their perpetual oscillation and blurring, his images discard the possibility of formation of a graspable, politically concrete and factual meaning of the event or happening that they describe. Khan fundamentally refuses the violence of the documentary image. His images break the linearity of representation of historical time and therefore alert us against the danger 'of believing that we have seen or understood an image' (Cadava 2001, p.41).


Eduardo Cadava (Cadava 2001, pp.43) teaches us that in any image the present, the past and the future cannot be isolated from one another, and that this fusion constructs that which can actually never be grasped within the image. For him the image has a structure that is withholding and withdrawing information, and which encourages us to recognize that the image is bearing several memories at once. For him the image is therefor never closed.


'No history without the interruption of history. No time without the interruption of time. No image without the interruption of the image. If, however, this interrupted image is still an image, then "image" means: the disaster of the image.'

(Cadava 2001, p.44)


Regarding the photograph of the bombed-out Holland House Library in London, Eduardo Cadava talks about the violence and constraint of the viewer when making an effort to determine and impose a meaning on the event recorded in the photograph (Cadava 2001, p.41). Cadava examines the impulse to stabilize the determination of every image's context – an act that involves supposing what is not visible within the photograph – and which is for him fundamentally aggressive.


'The image is always at the same time an image of ruin, an image about the ruin of the image, about the ruin of the image's capacity to show, to represent, to address and evoke the persons, events, things, truths, histories, lives and deaths to which it would refer. Nevertheless, what makes the image an image is its capacity to bear the traces of what it cannot show, to go on, in the face of this loss and ruin, to suggest and gesture toward its potential for speaking.'

(Cadava 2001, p.36).


In relation to this idea we can think also about the 2010 issued Ruins of Modernity (Hell, Schoenle, 2010) which shows through an edited collection of critical texts, how the rhetoric use of ruin images, destabilises the break between past and present and creates visions of the future. Thinking about Khan's series of works from 2004 (among which Every... Nicholas Nixon's Brown Sisters, 2004, Every... Nicholas Nixon's Brown Sisters, 2004 and Every... Bernd and Hilla Becher Gable Sided House, 2004) we find images saturated with representation. They seem to destroy the very distinctions they recall. A condensed overlayed space that is blurring evidence, generates a time that cannot bear testimony. Following Cadava, this type of reading records the abilities of the image. It becomes obvious that images produce historical meaning and therefore have a political agency (in this case Khan's images read other historical images). His work reveals precisely 'the historian's work – which is never a work of memory – is a work of representation in many senses, but it is representation with respect to something that is not representable, and that is history itself.' (Cadava 2001, p.54).


Cadava brings a rather ritualistic dimension in his reading of the images of the past and their political agency, which reverberates in Idris Khan's introvert images. Past is essentially bound not to be recovered, as we experience it in terms of loss and ruin. Cadava inspires for a reading of the past that overpasses the reiteration and enactment of this condition of loss and displacement. He advocates for a learning from the irretrievable images of the past by ritualistically internalizing that the ruins of history and their images are a constitutive part of ourselves (Cadava 2001, p.60).


'The emergence and survival of an image that, telling us it can no longer show anything, nevertheless shows and bears witness to what history has silenced, to what, no longer here, and arising from the darkest nights of memory, haunts us, and encourages us to remember the deaths and losses for which we remain, still today, responsible.

(Cadava 2001, p.36)



Q: To where do you intend to ultimately lead the viewer?

A: To a place of reflection and abstraction and then back again!

(Khan, 2016)


Thinking about this enigmatic movement that is present in Khan's work, we can deduce it represents the result of a force. Sir Isaac Newton's first two laws of physics state that: 'An object at rest tends to stay at rest' and 'An object in motion tends to stay in motion'.

Inertia is the force that lets a body or system stay still if it is still, or keeps it moving if it is moving. 'All bodies are movable and persevere in motion or in rest by means of certain forces (which we call forces of inertia)' (Newton 1687). Newton also writes in the third Rule of his “Rules for the Study of Natural Philosophy” that if you want to overcome inertia, you have to apply a force. (Newton 1687).

'That all bodies are movable and persevere in motion or in rest by means of certain forces (which we call forces of inertia) we infer from finding these properties in the bodies that we have seen. The extension, hardness, impenetrability, mobility, and force of inertia of the whole arise from the extension, hardness, impenetrability, mobility and force of inertia of each of the parts; and thus we conclude that every one of the least parts of all bodies is extended, hard, impenetrable, movable, and endowed with a force of inertia. And this is the foundation of all natural philosophy.' (Newton 1687)

The movement in Khan's work manifests as an image in motion, as a continuous writing that stretches on and on, as a vortex that explodes with rays and vectors of information or even as 16mm films in 'A Memory... After Bach's Cello Suites' (2006) and 'Last 3 Piano Sonatas...after Franz Schubert' (2007). This motion maintains a perpetual constancy and sustains the very structure of his work. It seems indeed that there is no other force that would interrupt the force of inertia.

Thinking about the contemporary (visual) context marked by fissures and accidents, it could be surprising that these works function according to a ritual, interior dimension defined by durable interior movement and permanency.

Overpassing the mechanical dimension of Newton's inertia, Paul Virilio envisions what he calls polar inertia, which characterises the contemporary digital present and which cannot be affected by human intervention. He writes in Polar Inertia (Virilio 1999) about the contemporary inertia, as a discrepancy and collision between technologically generated inertia and biologically induced human movement. He differentiates between on the one hand the acceleration and deceleration in the industrial age (where according to him inertia did not exist) and on the other hand what is happening now, where we are living in an era of light speed. In this era redefined by new technologies, the real time has now superseded real space (Virilio 1999: 44), while the geographical difference between 'here' and 'there' is obliterated by the speed of light. Polar inertia is for him a mass phenomena, that manifests through the impossibility to affect this superhuman movements by human intervention. He also talks about geographical spaces or global action fields, from which the human action has withdrawn, determined by the impossibility to exercise any force in this instantaneous present (Virilio 1999: 71-86).

Discussing his work, Khan reads it through the dimension time. For him, movement does not result from the process of blurring, but on one hand from superposition and compilation in space and on the other hand from accumulation and compression in time. We can think here about Virilio's description of contemporary space-time and the human reaction to it through 'polar inertia'. This abstracted time perception (or timeline – as Khan calls it), passes to be for him a more accurate and realistic image of our experienced reality.


'All the images that are there exist in their original state. They are layered. A compiled image and time and space. The word blur never enters my mind. They are an accumulation of time. A compressed timeline which in turn creates an abstraction of the image, therefore giving the impression of a blur but to be honest they are more realistic to our day to day minds than straight pictures.'

(Khan, 2016)




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Marta Jecu,

August 2016

1See for example his numerous works in the series Every... Bernd and Hilla Becher (2004), which can be regarded as metaphorical images.

2Throughout his work, Mitchell makes a differentiation between picture and image: a picture is a broad category that includes real or imaginary views and aparitions, whereas images are representations or motives that can be seen in various media.

3For an analysis of W.J.T. Mitchell's term 'in-disciplined', see more down.