IntroductionImage and Gaze

The aesthetic emotion, which gives rise to the impression of beauty, is undoubtedly universal in humans.

Edgar MORIN (2013, p. 13)

The proliferation of images in the modern world increasingly forces us to select photos from among a vast set. The task of choosing images to illustrate an article, a book cover, a poster, or one that represented an event or a voyage used to be entrusted only to professionals in the fields of publishing, communication, archives, or professional photographers and collectors. Today, it is incumbent on each of us to decide what we wish to preserve and what to forget, what we wish to send, post on the Internet, delete forever, or to archive (in the improbable event of us ever revisiting it). Managing photo archives is a real bane for many us1. The step of selecting images has always been assumed to be delicate and of great importance. In the professional context, it is entrusted to those who are renowned as experts or in a position of authority.

Let us pause for a moment to examine the mechanisms that are activated when we make decisions about sorting and selecting images. Where does the beauty of the image fall in our hierarchy?

It would seem that the primary mechanisms that are activated when selecting photographs can be divided into three broad categories:

– why the document is of interest, that is, its ability to draw and hold our attention by relating the document to contexts familiar to us;

– the surprise factor, that ...

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