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  A depiction of something. The term \'image\' can be regarded as the product of three processes.

The first of these is the philosophical critique of representation. For some time, the concept of representation was often considered to be coincident with a model of pictorial representation summed up by the word \'resemblance\'. But this stance has now been all but rejected in favour of a notion that there are many forms of representation — pictorial, linguistic, mental, and so on — which cannot be reduced to one another.

The second process is the interpretation of images. Not surprisingly, this process is most often associated with art, which is often considered to be the major archive of images, and makes an appeal to iconographic traditions (cf. art, geography and). However, other interpretative traditions, such as hermeneutics, can also be drawn upon.

The last process is the manufacture of images. Images have been produced in profusion over many centuries. But, increasingly, it has become possible to mass produce them in their thousands and millions through the medium of print, film and television. Whole industries — like advertising and design — have grown up whose purpose is to tend the mass-produced image. In other words, images have increasingly become just another aspect of modern production, rather than something special to be brought out and displayed on high days and holidays (see situationists). Whether they have lost some of their special qualities as a result is a source of impassioned debate.

Perhaps the most important recurring motif in work on images has been suspicion. From Plato\'s famous analogy of the cave where the unenlightened are confined, through religious icons, to many works of art, the concern has been that images bear false witness, are somehow inauthentic shadows of reality. Modern considerations of the image have increasingly attempted to avoid this kind of stance, opting instead for the notion that images are just one more means of constructing reality — not simply reporting back on it — and as such have a rich and varied history and geography. Images are, in other words, the chief currency of modern visual cultures. But, in a world where photographs can be so easily altered, where reality can be so easily re-imaged, it also becomes imperative to retain a critical edge: images have their own rhetoric which has to be acknowledged (Mitchell, 1994). Nowhere has this been made clearer than in the feminist literature (see, for example, Pollock, 1996) which has had to cope with the damage that images can do to female bodies in cultural arenas as diverse as arts, advertising, and pornography (see feminist geographies).

These considerations become even more relevant because human geography is itself a provider of potent images which circle and, indeed, have constituted the globe. From early maps and atlases through multitudinous graphs and diagrams, to the output from today\'s geographical information systems, human geography is a discipline which deals in, even lives and dies by, images.

Of, course, not all images are visual. imaginative geographies can be conjured up by words as well, from newspaper headlines to the most intricate novelistic evocation. Some writers would go further again; believing that what is needed is to write new images of thinking itself. For example, the French poststructuralist philosopher Deleuze wants to replace the dominant fixed images of thought with new images of flow and movement like the rhizome. (NJT)

References Bryson, N. 1992: Word and image: French painting of the ancien régime. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Gombrich, E. 1977: Art and illusion. A study in the psychology of pictorial representation, 5th edn. Oxford: Phaidon. Jordanova, L. 1989: Sexual visions. Images of gender in science and medicine between the eighteenth and twentieth century. New York: Harvester Wheatsheaf. Lutz, C.A. and Collins, J.L. 1995: Reading National Geographic. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Mitchell, W.T.J. 1994: Picture theory. Essays on verbal and visual representation. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Nead, L. 1997: Mapping the Self: gender, space and modernity in mid-Victorian London. Environment and Planning A 29: 659-72. Pointon, M. 1993: Hanging the head. Portraiture and social formation in eighteenth century England. Newhaven, CT: Yale University Press. Ryan, J. 1998: Picturing Empire. Photography and the visualisation of the British Empire. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Pollock, G., ed., 1996: Generations and geographies in the visual arts. London: Routledge. Silverman, D. 1997: Qualitative research. Theory, method and practice. London: Sage. Stafford, B.M. 1996: Good looking. Essays on the virtue of images. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Schwartz, J.M. 1996: The geography lesson: photographical construction of imaginative geographies. Journal of Historical Geography 22: 16-95.



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