The split in the life world between object and subject happened some two million years ago somewhere in East Africa. About forty thousand years ago, no doubt in a cave in southwestern Europe, the subject withdrew further into its subjectivity to get an overview of the objective circumstances in which it found itself. But at such a remove, things were no longer tangible, manifest, for no hand could reach them anymore. They could only be seen. They were merely appearances—objective circumstances turned into apparent, “phenomenal,” and therefore deceptive circumstances: in pursuit of an apparition, hands can miss the object. The subject is once again in doubt about the objectivity of its circumstances, and out of this doubt come observations and images.
The universe of traditional images is a magical and mythical universe, and if it nevertheless changed constantly, this was through unintentional coincidence, by accident. This is a prehistoric universe. Only since linear texts appeared, and with them conceptual, historical consciousness—some four thousand years ago—can one rightly speak of a history of images. For only then did imagination begin to serve (and oppose) conceptual thinking, and only then did image makers concern themselves with being original, with deliberately introducing new symbols, with generating information. Only then was an accident no longer an oversight but rather an insight. Images of our time are infected with texts; they visualize texts. Our image makers’ imaginations are infected with conceptual thinking, with trying to hold processes still.
In: Into the Universe of Technical Images. Minnesota, 1985, pp. 11-13.