Public Lecture on Word and Image – An Eternal Theme from a Designer's Perspective by Michael Renner, The Basel School of Design


The first part of the lecture presents theoretical positions regarding the relationship between conceptual thought (words) and sensuous experience (images). The image-schema, as a dispositional foundation consisting of condensed records of past experiences, is a helpful concept to overcome the dichotomy of word and image. Analogously to the split between word and image, the terms of imagination and figuration describe the predominant myths of the creative process.

In order to assess the relationship between word and image from a designer’s point of view, a close reading of experimental design settings is presented in the second part of the lecture. One experiment addresses the process of drawing considered to fall into the category of imagination. A second inquiry is focusing on the arrangement of existing photographic images as related to a figurative process through the mere recombination of existing elements. An experiment with diagrammatic images is used to reflect on the complementary role of the two mediums in this category of images.

About the Speaker

Public Lecture on Word and Image – An Eternal Theme from a Designers Perspective by Michael Renner

Prof. Michael Renner
Visual Communication Institute,
The Basel School of Design HGK of the University of Applied Science and Art Northwestern Switzerland

Prof. Michael Renner, 1961, experienced the digital revolution first-hand when he went to work for Apple Computer Inc. and The Understanding Business in California in 1986, just after completing his diploma as Graphic Designer at the Basel School of Design. Research and reflection upon the meaning of images in the context of digital tools became the central theme of Renner’s practical and theoretical design activities. Since 1990, he has his own design Studio in Basel with corporate and cultural clients. He started teaching in 1990 in the Visual Communication Institute at the Basel School of Design (HGK FHNW) with an emphasis on Information Design, Interaction Design and Design Research. In 1999 he was named chairman of the institute.

From 2005 until 2013 he was member of «eikones», the Swiss National Center of Competence in Iconic Research and since 2012 he is member of the European research network «What Images Do». His approach to develop research activities in the field of design is based on the aim to further develop existing competencies of image creation. With this aim of gaining knowledge through the creation of images the design process becomes the central research theme and a methodology at the same time. He has lectured and taught workshops in Europe and abroad and is member of the editorial board of visible language.