Iconic Power pp 187-202 | Cite as

Body and Image

  • Hans Belting
Part of the Cultural Sociology book series (CULTSOC)


The discourses of media and body are usually separate, but media and bodies themselves unite in the experience of images. This anthropological constellation of image, medium, and body is expanded with a fourth factor when we introduce the concept of the gaze. Images emerge only in the act of looking. But then we have to understand looking as the carrier of our entire knowledge about images (Bildwissen). Gazes are the accomplices of bodies that engage with old and new visual media. They are as active as the gazing subject itself. We are used to thinking of gaze and image as separate, and therefore we speak of looking at an image. The present paper, however, develops the idea that images form in adapting the gaze. The complicity between body and gaze leads to the image. This is the reason why the “gaze” is such a frequent topic of many visual media. According to the iconology of the gaze (Belting 2005a: 50–58), the act of looking is not only attracted by images but is also displayed in them, as if images had a faculty of looking themselves or could reciprocate our looks.


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© Jeffrey C. Alexander, Dominik Bartmański, and Bernhard Giesen 2012

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  • Hans Belting

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