A multitude of overlaps exists between the visual and legal worlds. One of the most obvious may be the court scene, in which images are presented as evidence and as an emblem. Surveillance videos or photos are supposed to make a perpetration evident, courtroom architecture and robes is intended to lend justice an emblematic appearance. The areas of law and image also overlap in questions of copyright and patent. Ultimately in legal history, there are innumerable cases on the topic of image, image conflicts, forbidden images.
Yet the question of the image regimes of law also owes its current importance in the observation that the legal framework of images is increasingly weakening. The law is on the brink of losing its hegemony over images’ representation and circulation. The present discussion on the power of images signalizes if not a shift of power, at least a loss of power on the side of the law.
The essays by legal experts, political scientists, art historians, philosophers and literary scientists united in this volume illuminate not only the history of a functioning “image regime” but also the results of its disturbances and shift from an interdisciplinary perspective. They are culled from the symposium “Bildregime des Rechts (Image Regime of the Law)”, initiated by Cornelia Vismann and Thomas Weitin, which took place in fall 2005 as part of the art, science and business program at the Akademie Schloss Solitude.
Cornelia Vismann, born in 1961, is a research associate at the Max-Planck-Institute for European Legal History in Frankfurt am Main. She studied legal sciences and philosophy in Freiburg, Hamburg and Berlin. After working as a lawyer in Berlin, she worked as a research associate as the Einstein Forum foundation in Potsdam as well as at the Cultural and Legal department at the Europa-University Viadrina in Frankfurt an der Oder. Vismann was a fellow at the Scientific College in Berlin in 2003, a research fellow at the Internationales Forschungszentrum Kulturwissenschaften, IFK Vienna in 2003-4 and a Leverhulme Visiting Professor in London in 2005-6.
Thomas Weitin, born in 1971, is a research assistant at the German Literary Sciences Institute of the Wilhelms-Universität Münster. He studied German literature, philosophy and journalism in Hamburg and earned his degree in 2002 at the Humboldt University in Berlin. In 2002–2004 he did postdoctoral studies on the “Codification of Violence in the medial shift” at Berlin’s Humboldt University’s graduate college and was a fellow at the Max-Planck-Institute for European Legal History in Frankfurt am Main. In 2005, he was a research fellow at the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, USA. Weitin is presently working on his dissertation project on literature and the legal history of witnesses.