Iconic turn

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As Iconic turning or iconic turn is called analogy to the concept of " linguistic turn " the move to visual studies , the scientific rationality by analyzing images manufactures.

Basics and boundaries

"Iconic turn", "pictorial turn", "imagic turn", "visualistic turn"

The terms are modeled on the "linguistic turn" described by Richard Rorty in 1967 . The linguistic turn denotes a reorientation of philosophy from the philosophy of consciousness to language analysis. It is assumed that philosophical problems can only be solved in the context of language analytical procedures. The corresponding turning point in the field of images is intended to give image analysis a comparable fundamental role for scientific rationality, and refute Ernst Robert Curtius' thesis that " image science [...] is [effortless] compared to book science".

Imagic turn (turn to illustration), Ferdinand Fellmann , 1991: With the emphasis on imagery, it is no longer fixed systems of symbols, but rather relational structures that prove to be suitable for giving the theory of mind an appropriate foundation. Images should be interpreted as embodiments of the competent consciousness.

Pictorial turn , William John Thomas Mitchell , 1992: Mitchell, trained by McLuhan, Foucault and Goodmann, tries, based on Erwin Panofsky's iconology , to rehabilitate thinking in and about images. He orients himself to the materiality of the picture and would like to combine the turn to the picture with social and political questions.

Iconic turn (Ikonische Wende), Gottfried Boehm , 1994: “The talk of the iconic turn was a sympathetic, thoughtful attempt, the idea of ​​absoluteness, the aura of art that is deeply embedded in German tradition, against the consumption of images through their media understanding to save ”. Boehm's Iconic Turn is based on the hermeneutics of Gadamer and Imdahl.

While Mitchell is oriented towards the use of images in everyday culture and the sciences, Boehm's question is more fundamental when, following the “linguistic turn”, she asks how images create meaning, whether they have their own logos . The starting point is the finding that

  • So far, no “science of the image” comparable to general linguistics has developed;
  • a "shift from linguistic to visual information, from word to image and - most disturbingly - from argument to video" is taking place and with it
  • a "return of images" can be noted.

An interdisciplinary engagement with the world of images, which integrates the knowledge and methods of philosophy , religious studies , theology , ethnology , art history , media studies , cognitive science , psychology and natural sciences , etc. is required.

Visualistic turn (Visuelle Wende), Klaus Sachs-Hombach , 1993: The linguistically conveyed forms of human self and world reference always presuppose non-linguistic sign relationships. Viewed in this way, the linguistic turn was a media turn that was only implemented to a limited extent. With the visualistic turn, the unfinished project of the media turn could be completed within the framework of a general image science.


Conceptually, the “iconic turn” has its origins in the work of Konrad Fiedler from the 19th century, who first described seeing as an active and self-determined activity (“visibility structure”) .

In the 1980s sparked Vilém Flusser with his Kommunikologie a critical examination of the technical images in the telematic society from. Flusser does not yet use the term “iconic twist”, but with his work on the philosophy of photography (1983) and the universe of technical images (1985) he prepares the ground for a re-evaluation of the image in the post-modern era. He criticizes the tendency associated with the iconic turn to not use images as models of orientation in the real world, but to use concrete experiences in the real world for orientation to and in images, as a new form of idolatry . Johan Huizinga already points to a similar increase in the importance of communication through images and the increasing importance of iconic programs in the late Middle Ages (e.g. the image programs of the church windows, which radiate an immediate presence of the saints) compared to the spoken word, which was not widely used at the time down. The little-researched phenomenon of belief in images can also be studied in the peep box pictures of the 18th century, in the example of television or in modern Powerpoint presentations.

Further development

In philosophy, the preoccupation with the image has continued to have an effect since the concept of the iconic turn or, more comprehensively, the “visual turn”; B. Oliver R. Scholz ; Image. Presentation. Character. Philosophical theories of pictorial representation. (1991); Gernot Böhme Theory of the Image (1999) or Emmanuel Alloa: The translucent image. Contours of a media phenomenology (2011).

In terms of the history of science , the visual conditioning of science is examined (see: Sybilla Nikolow and Lars Bluma: The circulation of images between science and the public. A historiographical essay, in: Frosch and Frankenstein. Images as a medium for popularizing science, ed. Bernd Hüppauf / Peter Weingart, Bielefeld 2009, pp. 45–78, examples: Caroline A. Jones and Peter Galison eds .: Picturing Science Producing Art. (1998) and Barbara Stafford : Body Criticism. 1991).

These suggestions were taken up in the field of historical image science. Especially in art history , art criticism and the analysis of visual media, the term media icon and its modifications are based on the foundations of the iconic turn.

See also


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b c picture questions. In: Iconic Turn. Hubert Burda Foundation, May 24, 2007, accessed on August 7, 2012 .
  2. Emmanuel Alloa: Iconic Turn. A Plea for Three Turns of the Screw. In: Culture, Theory & Critique 2015. Retrieved September 13, 2015 .
  3. ^ Ferdinand Fellmann: Symbolic pragmatism . Hermeneutics according to Dilthey. Rowohlt, 1991, ISBN 3-499-55508-5 , pp. 26 .
  4. Ferdinand Fellmann: Inner images in the light of the imagic turn . In: Klaus Sachs-Hombach (Ed.): Images in the Spirit: on the cognitive and epistemological function of pictorial representations . Rodopi, Amsterdam 1995, p. 21.1 .
  5. ^ William J. Thomas Mitchell: The Pictorial Turn . In: Artforum . Rowohlt, March 1992, p. 89 ff .
  6. a b Willibald Sauerländer : Iconic turn? A request for iconoclasm. 2004.
  7. Cf. the letters of both authors in: H. Belting (Ed.): Bilderfragen . Munich 2007.
  8. Klaus Sachs-Hombach: The image as a communicative medium . Elements of a general image science. Herbert von Halem, Cologne 1993, ISBN 3-931606-70-8 .
  9. Vilém Flusser: A New Imagination. In: Volker Bohn (Ed.): Bildlichkeit. Frankfurt 1990, pp. 115–126, here: pp. 118 ff.
  10. Götz Dahlmüller, Wulf D. Hund , Helmut Kummer: Politische Fernsehfibel. Class communication materials. Strategies for viewers. Reinbek 1974.