Week 3 – False Indexes

The concept of hunters and farmers made me think about how I come up with ideas and to what extent they lean towards constructed or simply capturing moments as they occur. Within the context of my current work it’s a bit of both, I have to go out and search for the base images I need to construct a composite work, the initial hunting is only the start of a longer cultivation to come to a final idea expressed through the image.

Tom Hunters’ staged images resemble earlier paintings in their composition and meaning. Although it is unnecessary to know what is being referred to as the images have a strong narrative, knowledge of the painting alluded to, adds to the meaning and effect of the work. This is an aspect I am very aware of as over reliance on encoding an image with ideas or expectations on the viewers visual literacy of old paintings can leave the work stranded and mostly meaningless. Or it risks being elitist, and the audience limited. In the words of Stuart Hall, ‘If no ‘meaning’ is taken, there can be no ‘consumption’.’ (Hall, et al. 1980, p. 117)

Tom Hunter, Death of Coltelli, 2009

Delacroix and his depiction of the Death of Sardanapalus is the source of inspiration for Hunters, Death of Coltelli.

Delacroix, Death of Sardanapalus, 1827

This composite from my ‘bring out the dead’ series is an example where I think the image has come together successfully. The base image of the deadbox has enough presence to suggest something disturbing, where death is implied by what appears to be part of an animal visible. The iconography added to the image, even if unfamiliar hints at a journey into darkness. If nothing else, there is a sense of unease with the image. Notes or captions could be used to orientate the viewer and further aid interpretation.

In contrast, this was an unsuccessful attempt at creating intertextuality where the iconography, biblical mythology and the base image fail to gel into a narrative. I thought this image would work and I could make an interesting allegory but that was misjudged, although I gained some more insight and experience in what does and does not work, at least in this theme.

I intend to build on this work as I don’t think I have really explored the theme sufficiently. The WIP from module one was formative and testing the idea rather than a final product. This forms a part in exploring why and how people can tune out what they don’t want to see or acknowledge and how to construct messaging that can bypass that aversion but still raise a question.


Hall, S., Hobson, D., Lowe, A., & Willis, P. (Eds.). (1980). Culture, Media, Language: Working Papers in Cultural Studies, 1972-79 (1st ed.). Routledge. https://doi-org.ezproxy.falmouth.ac.uk/10.4324/9780203381182

HUNTER, Tom. 2011. ‘Unheralded Stories Series, 2008-2009 | Tom Hunter’. [online]. Available at: http://www.tomhunter.org/unheralded-stories-series/ [accessed 11 Feb 2021].

‘The Death Of Sardanapalus | Louvre Museum | Paris’. 2021. [online]. Available at: https://www.louvre.fr/en/oeuvre-notices/death-sardanapalus [accessed 11 Feb 2021].

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