Our vocabulary still lacks a word to indicate an image of another image. And it also lacks a word to describe an image made of the fusion of other images. Except for “collage”, we lack the right words to distinguish the different processes of assembling and editing, although images play a central role in our time. We create, edit and share pictures faster than ever seen in the history of humanity. Artists, sociologists, and intellectuals never miss a chance to highlight the importance of the visual in the fields of information, of social organization, but also of psychic perception and development of the present-day subjectivity. The linguistic level reflects the expansion of the visual, which has been swift and, at the same time, is still in progress; but still, the evolution of the language and the creation of new words take more time than what digital connections made us used to. So, with the term “image” we identify a series of visual compounds which are extremely different from one another.

On the other hand, this word comes from the Latin “imago”, “to imitate”. It is a concept that does not best describe the process of photography, which is not merely an imitation, but has a privileged bound with reality. The contemporary visual research goes beyond the simple imitation of reality; it creates further infinite realities (realities of the mind, of dreams, of make-believe, but also absurd, grotesque, minimal realities). After all, the link between images and reality is complex and ambiguous; although the image-imago rests in comfortable visions of continuity (the visual field is unitary and does not present spatial discontinuities) and linearity (images are intended as the recording of a moment, which has a “before” and an “after”), such representation of reality is artificial. It is just narrative fiction, created by the artist in the visual space, that does not consider either the simultaneity of the running of time, or the complexity of the images’ function in the cognitive and perceptive sphere.

In such lack of description of the image-imago, photography has a high value of artistic research: it reuses broken, distorted, segmented, dirty, darkened, stained, overlapped, burnt, faded pictures… such familiar sceneries for the mind! This privileged bound with the mind makes the creation of images a political act (in a wide sense): the multiplicity of images affects and is affected by different ways of thinking and different views on things. They focus on certain meanings and hide others; they shape the limit between what is normal (and does not catch our attention) and what is amazing or disgusting. The space of our thinking emerges in the space of images, and it is the contemporary photographic research that gives us the possibility to understand this infinite visual archive.