There is as we know an intricate, fascinating and fundamental difference between what is in an image and what an image is. What is in an image is always something and that’s good because then we can talk about it and smile, but behind, which of course is not behind, there is also the image itself. It is not behind or a background neither fore ground or margins but necessarily traversing all layers of the image. It is after all what the image is and it is no matter what dimension of the image is scrutinized. One could say that what is in the image always strives to hide, conceal or obscure what the image is, but at the same time the moment one tries to reveal, expose or show what the image is, it withdraws, dissolve or becomes something else. What is in the image is always carried by what the image is, but when there is nothing to be carried or supported what the image is calls in sick.
What is in an image implies a form of violence. The more there is in the image the more of what could have been is not. What the image is is also a form of violence, or better what the image is presents itself as fear or anxiety, precisely because it doesn’t offer any form of orientation. It is plain and simply and that is to an equal extent bliss or fear.
Not that we are much into psychologising art or painting but just for fun, what is in the image refers to paranoia whereas what an image is instead has a liaison with schizophrenia, which is to say that for what is in the image meaning is directed to one single location, point or origin – everything means the same – and for what the image is instead everything means everything all the time – there is no destination or orientation to meaning what so ever. However, the reversal is equally important, what is in the image holds on to meaning in order not to dissolve but is always contested and what is in the image always ends up meaning more than it wants. For what an image is the situation is almost identical, since it always means everything it so to say backfires and means only itself as itself. The paranoid image is trying to be pure but ends up being dirty and noisy. The schizophrenic image on the contrary is dirty and noisy but as it in no way is excluding it ends up conveying some thing pure.
We can conclude that what is in an image is always relational and the more it tries the more it removes itself from autonomy. What the image is instead is an ongoing production of autonomy, or rather what the image is is an engagement in processes of autonomization. Just for the fun of it we could also point out that what is in the image is always performative whereas what the image is is not, instead it has or carries autonomy and the price to pay is that it is non-relational and more over temporary or event based.
This is kind of comical because it proposes a causality that says that an image that emphasize performativity at the same time is benevolent to restriction (narrowing) and gives up autonomy. Performativity and autonomy just doesn’t sleep together, full stop. Following the thought through however proposes that what an image is is not performative but instead has or is carried by autonomy and is expanding ad infinitum. What is in the image is a perspective, what the image is is horizon.
Now, autonomy has nothing to do with being against nothing at all. It is neither something hard or selfish, and it is definitely not a resistance group. To have autonomy (which also can be said to be impossible within reality) simply implies (and it isn’t nice) to withdraw from or disown any kind of relation. Autonomy is lonely as shit not because it is empty, on the contrary because autonomy is so goddamn full. Autonomy is a full void, or prominent autonomy is immanence or potentiality.
It goes without saying that there is a relation between information and autonomy. What is in the image is always hooked to information, autonomy is the very absence of information. In politics or something autonomy tend to mean something closer to proud or non-aligned, or in art without support from the government. This is all great but prominent autonomy has nothing to do with either but comes with a price, the moment when something “gains” autonomy it also loses the possibility to convey and opinion. Autonomy doesn’t vote and does certainly not criticise – as that would dissolve exactly autonomy. Autonomy is goddamn costly and mind you has nothing to do with shared authorship or collectivity.
Shit, we have to turn this around one more time. Aha, the price for autonomy is high, but in so far as autonomy is non-relational – which is something very different than to disappear or dissolve – autonomy is an immanent threat to anything that doesn’t have autonomy. Autonomy – when faithful – is a threat to governance, politics, identity, context, signification you name it – and “those” will do everything they can to stab autonomy in the back. But autonomy strikes back carried as it is by both sovereignty and singularity.
What is in the image offer solace, it is something with which you can identify with and talk to your friend about. Autonomy on the other hand offers nothing and gives nothing, it is, but as much as it doesn’t offer or give it also doesn’t claim anything – contrary to any performative regime autonomy let’s you be yourself. Remember autonomy obviously can not be captured, put in a jar and inspected, but in claiming nothing it opens up to the production of everything, infinity and truth.