- Sep 2020
A picture is often cited to be worth a thousand words and, for some (but not all) tasks, it is clear that a visual presentation-such as a map or photograph-is dramatically easier to use than is a textual description or a spoken report.
"a picture is worth a thousand words" what's in this statement?
a picture doesn't equal a thousand words, but its exchange value is roughly equivalent to a thousand words
similar to a diagram, are images a-signifying? their nature is fundamentally reproductive. if we believe Benjamin's logic, "aura" is lost in reproductions. what this means in practice is that reproductions necessarily cannot reproduce their object of focus. an idea supporting this is derrida's Differance, which identifies a hidden expanse of networked ideas that give meaning to a sign through context and recursive thought
so if a picture is worth a thousand words, it's because an image can't reproduce a thousand words 1:1 (so the image's signification is immanently constrained), but its use value is roughly equal because those thousand words are invoked in the Differance of the image, in other words, the ideology of the viewer.
This feels like a minor breakthrough in my understanding of how image and ideology relate. Taken to its logical conclusion, this line of thought comes to mean that images can be categorically defined as visual ideologies.
Thus Diagram plays in the in-between space of both materiality and it’s non-indexicality, while still reflecting features of the object without trying to stand for it.
Diagrams are useful tools for critical analysis because, while they can never 1:1 represent the entire operational capacity and contextual forces around a functional or material system, they can "reflect" its features and produce new relations. This opens up new lines of thought to connect concepts through recursive thinking.