- Editing the Image: Strategies in the Production and Reception of the Visual
We owe to philosopher Jacques Derrida the notion that 'discourse and inscription (writing-painting)' may appear either as 'useful complements or useless supplements to one another' (Dissemination, 1981). The same could perhaps be said of the arcane processes of editing text and image, or their conflation image/text. This volume containing papers presented at the 39th Annual Conference on Editorial Problems held at the University of Toronto in 2003, presents multiple examples to demonstrate that editing - text, image, film, video, performance, sculpture, architecture (singular and plural) - is also a supplemental act that exhibits its negative correlatives: scission, excision, excoriation, détournement, substitution, exclusion, elision, rejection - not to mention censorship - and that this may be less often proof positive supplement to the foundational matrix of the original image/text than the object/subject of interpretation and revision. This is to say, more simply, that editing - like translation - is simultaneously a form of rereading and rewriting, and as the editors of this volume affirm, we all do it . . . more and less, for better or worse, economically compensated or not, depending on our roles and inclinations.
The structure of Editing the Image provides fine insights into the spatial and political coordinates of the editing problem itself: a conference on editing, reflections on/of editing from a variety of perspectives across [End Page 442] the terrain of cultural production, and the business of collectively editing a book of thematically connected, intellectually rich, yet startlingly divergent essays. With this in mind, the reader could approach this book as yet another 'editor,' reading from front to back: the dust cover bearing the familiar mushroom image of a nuclear explosion in the Nevada desert circa 1953 (the ultimate act of editing), the back cover bearing the list of contributors, another possible result of editing. Another reader could begin with the conclusion (also a form of editing), and then move to the introduction - editing again - followed by the ten chapters. This reviewer benefited from reading the excellent introduction by Cheetham, Legge, and Soussloff, which makes convincing claims for the heterogeneity of the volume and its subject - editing the image - followed by Linda Hutcheon's afterword that provides a rationalization for this heterogeneity: '[The editors] strategically defined the notion of visual editing broadly enough to provoke artists, art critics, museum curators, and art historical scholars to think through what this term, usually considered a textual one, could mean in their world.' Tracing the contours of the chapter contents of the book, several essays of which alone are worth the price of the text, is an engaging exercise, one that renders some arresting proposals about visual studies, ekphrasis, parergonal reading (beyond the frame), and the editing of text and image in an expanded field.
This volume provides some fascinating insights into editorial (supplemental) processes across the disciplines, despite what appears to be the editorial concerns of shaping the book with so much apparently disparate material written by individuals representing different yet overlapping fields: the essays by artists (John Greyson, Lisa Steele, and Kim Tomczac); essays assaying the depth (and breadth) of visual culture (Lianne Mactavish and Catherine M. Soussloff); art history (Todd P. Olson and John O'Brian); ancient (Aegean) history and classical scholarship (Sturt W. Manning); curatorial studies and museology (David Carrier, Reesa Greenberg, and John Onians), and essays with a deconstructive edge (Linda Hutcheon and Fred R. Unwalla). The editors have paired these essays thematically under six subheadings signifying their concern for overlapping discursivity: 'Editing Identity,' 'Editing the Body of History,' 'Spectacular Editing,' 'Aura and Edit,' and 'Institutions of Art and Editorial Practices,' followed by Conclusions 'Editorial Afterthoughts' by Linda Hutcheon, and an 'Envoie, What Remains: The Nachleben of the Invisible,' by Fred U. Unwalla, chair of the Executive Committee on Editorial Problems. Unwalla's nachleben (afterlife) is arguably what remains of any editorial process, and this book represents an afterlife worth pursuing. The only concern this reviewer had in reading...