We would like to propose a 30-minute panel session that addresses the impact of traditional text-image relations in Western thinking and teaching in the arts and beyond, and the potentials offered by digitisation to extend/overcome these settings. Speakers/panellists will be

Speaker I, Switzerland Speaker II, UK

The session will be chaired by Chair, Hong Kong.

In his pre-recorded notes, Speaker I as a philosopher will frame the panel providing a general overview “Entanglements between Words, Texts and Images – Towards a Visual Philosophy” about text-image relations in Western academic tradition, including historical and contemporary examples of text-image hybrids of various cultures and epochs.

Speaker II, a practicing visual artist and writer, will depart from her own creative practice, in which she operates with text-image diagrams.

Bringing together their respective backgrounds and expertise, Speaker I and Ms. Speaker II in spring 2020 jointly taught the course “Liar Lyre – It's not a Lie if you Believe It“ at the their tertiary institution. Using the umbrella term “diagram” the course specifically focused on text-image hybrids to explore the production of truth – or lies – as a transdisciplinary practice across visual arts, literature and philosophy. Conventionally, diagrams facilitate understanding, but here they were suggested as means to uncover conspiracies and forge new ones, satirise knowledge, map visions, mark time and construct new poetic forms.

In the panel, Speaker I and Speaker II will recount their experiences of students exploring different ways of expressing what they meant to say and mapping what they cannot/may not say; how students got emboldened to move laterally across the arts and to employ diverse intellectual materials in the service of their enquiries. They will also reflect how the experience informed and extended their respective personal research/practice.


Each panellist will upload a pre-recorded “position presentation” prior to the conference to a location as identified by the conference hosts. The DEL audience is invited and encouraged to watch these presentations before attending the panel session.

During the panel session as such, both speakers will each briefly recount their core points embedded in a short AV presentation with focus on the experiences/outcomes of their joint course. After, they will briefly exchange some additional thoughts based on opening questions from the Chair, to then engage with the audience on further questions and other contributions.

The entire session is timed to take approx. 30 minutes.


Attendants/participants of the panel session will take away

  • Awareness of text-image relations and understanding of some of their key issues e.g. the (conventionally assumed) entanglements between the rational side of texts and the sensual side of images;
  • Knowledge of core exemplary historical and contemporary text-image hybrids in theory and practice;
  • Approaches, methodologies and tools for research/teaching on and with text-image combinations (in the visual arts).

The case studies and examples used will especially show how the frictions/relations created by text-image combinations and their purposeful application opened access to previously un-tapped knowledges, and what role (digital) technology played within these processes.


The canon of Western thought is characterised by its focus on the word – either as spoken or written text – as main (sole?) format of discourse, and its neglect of images as equally valid tools or media of thought. As processes of digitisation have sufficiently permeated global society and academic/professional discourse, they now begin to reveal new forms of image-based knowledge production, and thus to outline potentials for reversing traditional text-image hierarchies. This will eventually give room to re-discover/re-consider previously marginalised communities and epochs and their respective text-image cultures in their own rights and as background for understanding contemporary hybrid forms of expression.

The academic text-image dichotomy as prevalent in global academia today traditionally considers images subordinate to the written word. All major milestones in the Western history of text-image relations – the evolution of illuminated manuscripts in the 12th century, the integration of woodcuts into printed textbooks or of photographical images in offset printed books – initially challenged the hierarchy between text and image. With Roy Harris it may be argued that such challenge is constitutive for the relation between scriptorial and pictorial signs. They both originated from graphical inscription, yet they clash regarding rationalisation and control on one hand (script) and sensual experience on the other (image).

Text’s current dominance as medium of thought is apparent in the generally (uncritically) accepted notion of the image as mere “illustration” for or subject of the text. Yet, this balance has recently become more dynamic, as, as an effect of global digitisation, the established text-image hierarchy is once again being challenged at least threefold:

  • technology has reached a point at which the production, manipulation and dissemination of images has become (almost) as simple as the production, manipulation and dissemination of text. The technical possibility of any imaginable visual text and image combination – and a continuous stream of practice examples manifesting these creative options – undermines established “laws” of common text-image practices;

  • capacity of imagery to sensually communicate across language/education barriers and growing image literacy of creators/authors and audiences play to the nature and characteristics of a global digitised society;

  • digitisation’s deep permeation of remote and previously “unconnected” geographical/social/cultural communities made accessible other text-image cultures and empowered them to disseminate alternative old and new text-image propositions that put into question the existing order.

As these tectonic shifts happen, they gradually reveal exciting new opportunities in philosophical research and creative practices as well as for teaching and learning in the visual arts. Through the discussion with each other and with the audience the panellists hope to further frame this discourse, to sketch opportunities and pathways for future research and development, and to inspire possible innovative applications in teaching and learning with and from text-image hybrids.