Image and transtextuality.
Image and transtextuality
This enquiry starting grid focuses upon an image analysis in following a perspective, which consists of the relation it has to anything it does not stand for: all of the phenomena, categories or the elements that preceed it and which fundamentally condition it. From this angle, the entire registry of the image unveils a hermeneutical dimension that we shall submit to the layering idea. So, from this point on we shall say that a layered image will always be an impure image, made up of several levels of image, consisting of multiple semnifications, and usually having rich historical references.
It is no longer a surprise that postmodernity, among its often paradoxal forms of cultural manifestation goes espacially towards evoking history, reconstructing it after the roaring period of the modernist avantgarde, when the need for novelty supresses the need for historical continuity. That mechanism finds a powerful ally in Ihab Hassan’s conception, one of the most important theorist among other names such as J.F. Lyotard, Gianni Vattimo etc.
The post modern world - as far as the socio political project perspective is concerned - lives under what Marshal Mc Luhan defined as the „global village” . So it is not at all an accident the fact that contemporaneity proves its highly developed inclninations toward mixing and blending, culturally speaking, for hybrid, be it in matters of temporal to-s and fro-s (blending cultural past with the present) or the intertwining different cultural identities of the moment. The ideea of hybrid or mingling is not uncommon to our topic, the layerd image assuming from the very start such a dimenssion.
In order for you to get better the idea of layerd image we shall bring forward an analysis that Gerard Genette applies on literature domain, but which is thought as applicable to any other research fields. We are talking about analyzing transtextuality, notion included in his study: “Palimpsests. La literature de second degree” and defines it as “anything that comes into a direct relation or a less obvious, more hidden, with other texts. In this respect, transtextuality includes all the layring phenomena of a text.
Considering both notions, the one of “text” and that of “image” as a specifically culturally and qualitatively charged, we may use the French theorist analysis to the image field.
In the mentioned study Gerard Genette presents 5 subspecies: paratextuality, metatextuality, intertextuality, hypertextuality and architextuality. Thus we shall squeeze out of the analysis upon these five subs also the applications they provide, analogically, with the visual arts.
At the text level we can identify it by a text auxiliary signs such as: titles, inter-titles, signatures, illustrations, notes, etc. On the image level, the image title, for instance, is not a part of it directly, yet, it remains related to it such as signature or the author’s notorious-famous name.
At the text level it speaks about the comment relation which unites a text to a second one to which it refers oftenly on critical terms without necessarily quoting it. As for the image level we identify those images that took shape out of the author’s (critic’s one) need to complete it by commenting upon other images or realting his comment upon them. Also, without quoting them necesarily. Often we can find images that use a specific manner of a specific artist into a totaly diffrent context.
At the text level it presumes a relation of co-presence between two or among several texts which actually consists of two texts intertwined. A text is present inside the other. It is easily noticable in the quotation technique. At the image level, the „quotation” of a visual element belonging to a constitutive detail belonging to another image is a sign of intertextuality.
At the textual level it is understood as a balance between hypotext and hyper text in which the latter maintains the structure and even several elements of the former alterating it. A literary example to illustrate the matter would be Daniel Defoe s novel, „Robinson Crusoe” versus Turnier’s „Vendredi ou les Limbes du Pacifique”. At the image level we recognize the „d’apres” theme in which different painters create pastiches that allude to other painters’ works,
maintaining the basic structural composition, the chromatic or other constitutive elements offering new interpretations and conferring them different meanings according to the actual context thus turning the whole assembly into an entire new message.
Gustave Dore: “Dante’s Inferno, The gate of Hell”
Sandow Birk: “Dante’s Inferno, The gate of Hell”
William Blake:”Dante s Inferno”
Tom Phillips: “Dante s Inferno”
At the literary level we see it in the both abstract and general zone of the genre/species which determines the genre of a literary work that influences the manner the work finally turns out in the end. On the visual level we see this subspecies in the visual arts genres: painting, sculpture, graphics etc , or going further to portrayal, equestrian sculpture. Worthy to mention is that intermedia genres do reconsider in debates the problem of architextuality to the extent to wich, for instance, the installation is a hybrid genre in which we find remixed and redefined other genres such as sculpture or video art.
“Ars dantesca combinatoria” is an installation, made by Teofil Ioan Stiop, whose constructing is particularly a transtextual foramatting one. Here we deal with a space in which video art combines to bidimensional image presented non/parietal. The resulted images are the consequence of a sum of graphical signs that belong to the illustrations made for the Divina Comedia along the centuries. They are reassembled back into the context and cut out , basically their existance is constructed on the blanks.
Also, the entire structure of the installation is founded on the mold of the tripartite dantean poem. What it states is it shall remain continuously related to the poem as well as the illustrations it comes out of. In this respect, with the illustrations as paratext to the poem(backing the poem), and hypotext to the installation images that are hypertext to the illustrations, but, yet, paratext, too, to the poem. The whole scenery is constructed on the rules of transitive archtextuality of the installation genre where the advised lecturer in
dantean imagery will instantly reckon the intertextuality of the presented details. As for the message, in order to bring about another layer to the fore ones, the installation makes a connection between the image graphic hypotext (a text unveiling the direct message/ encoded message/ beyond direct expressing words/image/graphic), the Divina Comedia’s world beyond, and the world beyond, the post hystorical world of postmodernity with the purpose of invoking a reenchantment to purify. Everything goes by through all layred inferno
of meannings, through the impure image, through the fire. The graphic elements are burned in the process with a laser plotter (the mark of the highest technology), and impressed by smoke technique (the mark of primeval technology).