When Images Speak, What do they Say?

Nada Shabout
10 February 2022

“What do pictures want?,” is a question on which W.J.T. Mitchell reflected in his 2005 book of the same title. Fundamentally, the question asserts the notion that pictures have agencies that extend beyond their makers’ and receivers’ intentions. Mitchell states that, “The question to ask of pictures from the standpoint of a poetics is not just what they mean or do but what they want – what claim they make upon us, and how we are to respond. Obviously, this question also requires us to ask what it is that we want from pictures.” The claim thus is for a mutual relationship between pictures and people, both with their agencies and desires. In many ways, images tell us about the world we inhabit.