Review Cultures of Vision: Images, the Media, and the Imaginary
In the second chapter Burnett does acknowledge that language has an essential role in creating the "performance of meaning" triggered by a photograph, and that "the visual must be given a verbal explanation" (50). Yet his discussion of the conversational model of interpretation seems to advocate the use of the photograph as "hinge" for further conversation that explores the "gap between self-image and photograph, that is, between identity and comprehension" (50). He fears that the photographic image will become an artifact to be dryly dissected and explicated in verbal terms rather than a catalyst for infinite interpretive discourse.

The third and fourth chapters are where Burnett most strenuously objects to the imposition of elements of linguistic analysis upon film interpretation. He views the division of film into frames as an act that will constrain and diminish the interpreation of the film. He asserts that:

...the framed image extracted from a film, either for purposes of illustration or quotation, valorizes the pictorial and is really the sign of a crisis, the crisis of how to reconstitute processes of visual communication and experience for the purposes of analysis, description, and interpretation. Films are converted into a series of photographs as if they are a text ready to be read....The difficulty with this approach is that few distinctions are drawn between text and film, among notions of textuality, projection, and performance (77).
At this point one might think that Burnett is alluding to complex systems theory, that the various elements or systems that comprise a film cannot simply be totalled and evaluated. He finds textual analysis, which he defines as "an attempt to generate a set of deterministic equations that reveal order and continuity within the discontinuous" (80) an insufficient measure of a film's complexities and instabilities. This insufficiency becomes especially crucial if, as Burnett charges, an interpretation, or "performance of a film into a text will alter the way certain qualities are attributed to the film, and will become the primary interpretive screen through which the film itself will be viewed and reviewed." The text, rather than the film, becomes the locus of discussion about the film (84).

Burnett again voices his concern over the dominance of language in his chapters on video and digitized images. He notes his concern "that many of the debates about media in general (broadcast and lowcast) refer to electronic images as if they are texts. In addition, and to extend the linguisitic metaphor even further, most discussions of electronic images talk about the 'reading' of image-texts as if there were a continuity, at a formal and content level between image and language" (236). Yet later in the same paragraph, Burnett notes that "the last thing I want to suggest is that we are ever 'outside' of language" (236).

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