Gerhard Johann Lischka



What do we see, when we look at anything in the world, in our surroundings? To begin with, a picture that corresponds to the vista formed by both our eyes is determinate. In other words, it is a wide format that we do not see as framed, but rather that appears appropriately holistic and round according to the direction of our gaze. Impressions succeed impressions seamlessly, without appearing to us particularly as a picture; we dive into the continuum of being in the world and do not concern ourselves further with pictorialness of the perception of our surroundings. Of course, a momentary state is complemented by the way in which the standpoint, where we find ourselves, is structured, our state of mind, the atmosphere, meaning both the climate and the social setting, etc. Yet we are part of a scene, a three-dimensional picture, which is in turn part of our image of the world.


If we make techno-pictures of scenes, we retreat behind the apparatuses and frame a scene that is, to put it simply, either documentary or staged. In fact, every image we have of the world is a representation composed of colors and shapes and reduced to a surface. This representation is either ornamental or written, realistic or abstract. If a third and fourth dimension is added, the scene itself becomes an installation, a room arrangement, a stage, etc., and the documentary scene is replaced by a staged one. The interchange between two-dimensionality and multidimensionality cannot be mentally fixed, because the zoom of our optical perception is constantly in motion, focussing and registering erratic full pictures and close-ups. We get the picture of the picture.


Since pictures have existed, a picture is not only a picture, but also an ideal formation, a representation of life, of fauna and flora, of things, spaces, people and ideas, a step back, a distancing, and at the same time a representative. Because we see concepts when we observe the world, pictures are also a language, yet they should not be confused with language. Together, pictorial language, vocal language and written language form an incessantly restless unit, a mutually rejecting attraction or an attracting rejection, explaining the world to us and creating it at the same time. The picture dominates language, just as language dominates pictures. In referring to one another, they form a presentation through representation; they are an assessment, exploration and creation of the world beyond the silence of nature (as nature).


Until images started being generated through apparatuses, we kept a certain distance to pictures, or rather they stayed at a distance, because they embodied domination, the numinous; we revered them or they delighted us. Even where images were forbidden, they developed the power of the non-depicted as an inner image, as an idea. The perfect image (God's own) was the model, the original, that captivated everyone and had to be unique. Idolatry and iconoclasm are two sides of the same coin, because they are the image of the other that we cannot be, the separation between "up there" and "down here." The image also marks the border between life and death, between reality and possibility, between subject and object.


Yet is it still possible today to assign images so clearly to the pole of objects? Have not images become a medium that blurs the border between subject and object and assumes an in-between state of the indeterminate, the intermediate, mingling our self with the Other and transforming subjective identity into objective difference? Through the apparative dynamics of growth, we can be called up instantaneously as images ourselves, and we lead our lives in and with images in a reality filtered through the real. As strangers, images turn us into old acquaintances just by way of the media. We discover ourselves in the Other, appearing to us through the media. How can we still speak of an ego of our own here? Or is it the images themselves that first make it possible?


There is no doubt that we generate our own image in dealing with images and that we no longer face only a human counterpart and our mirror image, but an implacable counterpart through and with ourselves. In the monitor image (photo, film, video), we register ourselves as a "realistic" record and no longer encounter ourselves actually or in a reversed mirror image, but rather we see ourselves fixed in many situations or live as mediatized beings. In black&white or in color, on paper or celluloid, as a composition of pixels, we become one pixel among all the other pixels on the screen of humanity on this planet. We pass through ourselves and find our self as part of the others in the emergence and disappearance of corporeal or media presence. The image enables us to get the picture and construct our own imagination.


In the mega-machine of image formation, every symbolic picture is certainly in danger of dissolving into cliches. Like icons, contours that are endlessly diverse and chaotic, even fractal, harden into solid outlines delineating the boundaries of power. This is the conventional image strategy used by exclusive management that builds negatively on the human measure. However, it is contrasted positively by the inclusive construction of our own being-in-the-picture, which begins with an acceptance of mediatization and its de/coding. Yet this autopoetic being-in-the-picture can also be poetically aggrandized, if we take too much delight in the power of artistic inspiration and implementation and see that images through images by way of images so deeply move us that our eyes are opened and we step outside ourselves in a way that evokes the mystery of the world. Then we see that we are confronted in the picture with a picture of ourselves through the others, to be in the picture ourselves in the others' picture.


Pictures are, in the best sense of the word, ambivalent: they are alien and they express the self (our own self or that of the other). We have to understand their language, learn to read them; they are strange to us at first, or they remain strange to us. Yet pictures enable us to put ourselves into the picture so that the pictures speak for us. Every picture is an alien-self-image, in that we find ourselves through the other and we conduct ourselves in such a way that the others get a picture of us. If we remain self-alienated, the picture has power over us as a dominant image. If we use the Other of the picture to adopt our own self, we are in the picture and have, together with language, a sophisticated code for generating reality. As pixels in the picture ourselves, including the exclusivity of images enables us to access a multitude of images and join in shaping them.

Thomas Feuerstein
english | deutsch

Ulrike Mair

G. J. Lischka
english | deutsch

Rainer Fuchs
english | deutsch

Margarete Jahrmann
english | deutsch

Maia Damianovic