There Are No Visual Media – W.J.T Mitchell

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Mitchell, W. J. T. “There are no Visual Media.” Journal of Visual Culture 4.2 (2005): 257-66. Scholars Portal. Web. 8 November 2015.

Mitchell’s work confronts the assumption that media, such as television film, photography and painting, are exclusively” visual”. He argues, “All the so-called visual media turn out, on closer inspection, to involve the other senses (especially touch and hearing). All media are, from the standpoint of sensory modality, ‘mixed media’” (257). This leads to the questioning of the category of visual media and what is at stake for its persistent dominance. He investigates what may be claimed a purely visual media, painting, but this leads him to explain the arguments for the purity and specificity of media, from Clement Greenberg to Michael Fried. They argue that those in between specific mediums are doomed to “inauthenticity and second-rate aesthetic status” (258). Arguing against this, Mitchell reveals that in the interpretation of a painting there are encoded non-visual senses at work, and he demonstrates that interpretation involves the interplay of multiple senses (259). Further, Mitchell presents the concept of “nesting”, the ways one medium appears inside another, and, “braiding” or “suture”, when multiple senses work in harmony or discord to produce meaning (262). These terms may prove useful in analyzing the interplay between the “verbal” and “visual” in periodicals.