W.J.T. Mitchell explores how images provoke their own self-analysis, creating a dialogue within the image itself. He calls this unique type of image “metapictures.” Metapictures refer to their own making, they are self-reflective as they attempt to understand themselves.Matroska ©cybertwigs.com

“Pictures reveal and know themselves, where they reflect on the intersections of visuality, language, and similitude, where they engage in speculation on their nature and history” -W.J.T Mitchell

Self-reflexivity thrives through self-nesting recursive structures, commonly related to “russian dolls,” where one element is nested within another layer of its same form. In other cases, to be self-reflexive is to draw in the viewer to question the structure of the image. In effect, our experiences as viewers often become an extension of that structure. Metapictures elicit a double vision between language and visual experience; they interrogate the authority of language over image. In Ren Magritte’s The Treachery of Images, the relationship between the visual and the verbal is inseparable; without acknowledging the visible element of the picture the text itself also disappears with it, denying it the ability to negate the image in the first place. The beauty of a metapicture is its unfaltering curiosity and playfulness towards perception.

ceci n'est pas une pipe by Rene Magritte

“If I had written ‘this is a pipe’ under my picture, I would have been lying!”

-Rene Magritte