Image Studies

Image Studies

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KEYWORDS: Rastor / Realism / Remediation / Renaissance painting / Reproduction

RASTER (see also Vector). The dimensions of a raster image are measured in pixels. Unlike vector images, which are mathematically plotted, raster images have specific pixel resolution and cannot be enlarged without losing quality. Common raster image file extensions include .BMP.TIF.JPG.GIF, and .PNG, but are many  raster file types in existence.

REALISM traditionally refers to a mid nineteenth century artistic movement where subjects are painted from everyday life and in a naturalistic way. The term was coined by the French novelist Champfleury in the 1840s and in art was exemplified in the work of his friend the painter Gustav Courbet. The term is more commonly used to describe any artworks that are painted in a realistic way, especially those with gritty subject matter, but it is also applied as a  stylistic term to any work that is almost photographic in nature, irrespective of subject.

REMEDIATION is, in simple terms, the incorporation or representation of one medium in another. It can be perceived as a simple historical development: photography remediated painting, film remediated stage production, television remediated film, and so on. However, remediation is not always a simple progression in terms of utilising a newer medium, and even if the remediated object attempts to update and emulate the ‘original’,  transition between media is not a simple affair — new meanings and critical considerations arise with any remediation.

RENAISSANCE PAINTING emerged in Italy in the late 14th century, reaching its peak in the late 15th and early 16th centuries in the work of Italian masters such as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raphael. Different schools of painting, based around cities such as Milan, Bologna, Venice, Florence and Rome, demonstrated very distinct regional characteristics. It was thought that the Renaissance marked an abrupt break with mediaeval values, as is suggested by the French word renaissance, meaning ‘rebirth’. However, study of historical sources tells us that Renaissance values, such as humanism and individualism, were already present in the late medieval period and became dominant in 15th- and 16th-century Italy alongside social and economic changes.


Masaccio: The Tribute Money, 1425

REPRODUCTION is the act of reproducing an original, as a copy or a duplicate. It can be carried out, for example, manually (by hand copying), mechanically (by printing press), or electronically (by digital imaging). Reproduction, like remediation, forces a change in the status of the object and  Walter Benjamin’s essay, ‘The Work of Art in the Age of  Mechanical Reproduction’, written in 1936, is still widely read and remains relevant to this discussion. John Berger addresses the implications of the reproduction of artworks in the first part of his 1972 TV series, Ways of Seeing.

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