The Ethics of the Image
In front of an image we are in front of time, considers Georges Didi-Huberman. But maybe it is much more than that. The way an image is framed, the subtle and complex relationship between what is visible in it and what is hors-cadre, the symptoms and gestures pervading its territory and the perspectives accorded to the eye of the beholder are just a few supplementary elements that turn images into possible case-studies for how they and we think. Images do think – Gilles Deleuze has proven that beyond any (academic) doubt. But they also act, as Jean-Luc Godard has kept telling us for decades now. And therein lies a fertile and ever-expanding territory for study. How does an image re-arrange the world? What is the hierarchy and what are the laws that an image produces? What is the ethics of an image? How to think one without or with the other?
We can no longer analyse images inside the rigid limits of a discipline. An interdisciplinary study is always called to deal with their rich language. It is the responsibility of theory to continuosly challenge received ideas and try to build the right structures within which the thinking at work inside images can be read and prolonged. The texts presented in the following pages were conceived and written around an ongoing project at the Faculty of Letters inside the Babeș-Bolyai University in Cluj that gathers BA and MA students in workshops, seminars and discussions about the ethics of the image. The project was born as an almost Derridean supplement (and a lot of things could be said about what an educational supplement can reveal about education and how it can redefine it – but this is not the place for that) to my lectures on critical theory. One will not be suprised that these supplementary activities have grown larger and larger, culminating in the first edition of a Summer School in August 2014. The authors of the texts presented here chose some of the directors discussed at this event (Fassbinder and Terayama, for example) or confronted others in the hope of proposing some narratives, analyses and hypotheses relevant to the mechanisms of the images of cinema. I would only add, once again under the form of a supplement, that this is also a matter of ethics and critical theory.