November 5, 2012

Heteroglossia and Multi-Stable Images

I trust that this blog post will probably not make any sense and will only serve to expose me as not fully grasping any of the content that I will talk about for the next 500 words or so. With that being said let's begin.

While we were reading Mitchell's piece on Metapictures, for some reason the concept or topic that stuck in my brain was the image of the duck-rabbit. I kept thinking about it long after class time and I was hoping of trying to articulate my thoughts on the phenomenon. It has been discussed in our lecture that it can be classified as a multi-stable image, which can be roughly defined as image that can be interpreted as two things depending on the way you look at it. However, you almost have to force your eyes to see it and you can see only one of the interpretations at a time, but once you see each of the two separately that then changes your perception of the image as a whole.

 This got me thinking about heteroglossia, a concept that we had discussed in earlier lectures. Heteroglossia, also defined roughly, is multiple voices speaking out of what is, on the surface, one subject speaking in a text. Is it possible for the term heteroglossia to be extended to visual texts and not just the written word? Could the multiple meanings that we can glean from multi-stable images also be defined right alongside heteroglossia and the multiple voices making meaning in text? Please let me know if I am completely off base with this.


James Lannon said...

As I was writing my post just now I also tackled metapictures and the the multiple layers of meaning / interpretation that accompany them. I really like the connection you made with metapictures and heteroglossia, and agree with you 100%. I see the two as identical aside from the medium in which each exist (metapictures/images and heteroglossia/text). I also see metapictures as representative of various voices/perspectives pertaining to an image, and depending on the role the viewer accepts and what they determine as the subject matter determines their specific understanding of the image, which I think is acceptable to be different from another persons interpretation.

rachel rivera said...

I like how you define multistability; the whole study of the duck-rabbit image is that you can see it in a variety of ways, regardless of how detailed the image is or not. Depending on how we're trying to see it, we can only interpret it one way. I feel like it can be like this when we're talking about interpreting anything, meta or not. When we're told to interpret a piece with a certain angle, we can only see it that way, whether it's art or not.

So, in a way, does thinking "meta" limit our perceptions and interpretations?

George Dean said...

Mitchell states that the “metapicture is a piece of moveable cultural apparatus, one which may serve a marginal role as illustrative device or a central role as a kind of summary image,” this is in point of fact what he called “hypericon” which “encapsulates an entire episteme, a theory of knowledge” (49).
On a different account, Mitchell says Magritte’s Les Trahison des Image are “talking metapictures,” that it is “a representation of the relation between discourse and representation, a picture about the gap between words and pictures”(65). Just because the caption of an image states something doesn’t mean its true. This brings into the account the very connection between image and language; metapictures are depicting and breaking down the relationship between the images themselves and the discussion behind them.

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