it is a double-side print. It is used in books printing, but also to simply comply an economical and ecological paper use. It may also creates an effect visible against the light – when side recto completes side verso and the other way around.

as a front/back of a single sheet of a paper.

a notion, which within numerous questions which it brought up, is a conceptual attempt of constructing a complex definition of the image seen from a multidisciplinary point of you. That simple statement brings up various problems pointed out since the dispute about images had started. In last two decades the discourse around images become popular and caused frequent misappropriation, generalization and simplification of its definition. Through a certain critique of these, we can start thinking about the image as not only the part of human visual sphere, it is not only what is visible. It is not as well and iconic sign, characterized by strong resemblance to the reality. Finally the image is not an artifact, it doesn’t belong exclusively to the art history discourse[1]. It lays in between and its ephemeral nature can’t be described from a single perspective.

marclayChristian Marclay, Installation view of “White Noise,” Kunsthalle, Bern, May 21 – June 28, 1998. © Christian Marclay. Courtesy of Paula Cooper Gallery, New York.

appears as a looped form : what is a recto of which verso ? How this predefined order evaluates a content of each ? How the roles can shift ?

Deceptively suggest a certain materiality of an image, as a front and a back. Both have a predefined function and a content expected by the viewer. As in recto/verso, printing it is respectively fulfilled with the information. In an analogue photography recto shows the representation, verso can reveal the brand of paper or keeps a personal traces of the more symbolic function – simply a date or names, a place where the photography was taken written by hand on a back. Without verso, recto loses its very basic information function. And if the recto is absent, hidden, not visible ? In Christian Marclay’s White Noise installation, the viewer confronts overwhelming collection of images, apparently photography of musicians. Apparently, because the viewer can’t see the recto side of an image. By his decision the artist pins all images “facing” the wall. What happened here ? How roles shifted ? Can we still simply talk about the materiality of the image ?  Recto becomes the visible aspect of the image and verso might be concerned as the invisible, the unpresentable. The image can be turned in hands, in our minds and simply shift it cultural significance.

marclay_whitenoise_imageChristian Marclay, Installation view of “White Noise,” Kunsthalle, Bern, May 21 – June 28, 1998. © Christian Marclay. Courtesy of Paula Cooper Gallery, New York.

However, we can’t deny the corporeality of the image. The medium, which can be symbolical or virtual (canvas, photography, digital file, video, human mind) – becomes its body. This body is at least double-sided. This body can be also perceived from different perspectives.

this duality suggested in a tension in the image itself. It appears between its representative nature and the unpresentable, the cultural and the historical capital. It is an internal dynamic of the image caused by an iconic contrast between the representation and the embodiment[2].

it is also a duality existing in an image considered as further than representative – as a symbolic unit, a result of individual and collective process of symbolization[3].

implicates the complexity of the image, which completes the language and human speech or even pervade it.

magritteRené Magritte, The Palace of Curtains, III, 1929. Oil on canvas, 81.2 x 116.4 cm

it is a theoretical construct which reverses the image physically, symbolically and conceptually.

draws the user/reader/spectator/thinker attention on the process of the perception. Recto and verso points out at least two layers of the image. To “see” then it means to posses the ability to move between them[4].



[1] H. Belting, Antropologia obrazu. Szkice do nauki o obrazie, Kraków 2007, pp. 25-31.
[2] H. Boehm, O Obrazach i widzeniu. Antologia tekstów, Kraków 2014, pp. 184.
[3] H. Belting, Antropologia obrazu. Szkice do nauki o obrazie, Kraków 2007, pp. 25-31.
[4] Ibidem.


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