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An image is a visual representation of something. It can be
two-dimensional In mathematics, a plane is a Euclidean space, Euclidean (flatness (mathematics), flat), two-dimensional surface (mathematics), surface that extends indefinitely. A plane is the two-dimensional analogue of a point (geometry), point (zero dimensi ...
,
three-dimensional Three-dimensional space (also: 3D space, 3-space or, rarely, tri-dimensional space) is a geometric setting in which three values (called ''parameters'') are required to determine the position (geometry), position of an element (i.e., Point (m ...
, or somehow otherwise feed into the
visual system The visual system comprises the sensory organ (the eye) and parts of the central nervous system (the retina containing photoreceptor cells, the optic nerve, the optic tract and the visual cortex) which gives organisms the sense of sight (the a ...
to convey information. An image can be an artifact, such as a photograph or other two-dimensional picture, that resembles a subject. In the context of signal processing, an image is a distributed amplitude of color(s). In optics, the term “image” may refer specifically to a 2D image. An image does not have to use the entire
visual system The visual system comprises the sensory organ (the eye) and parts of the central nervous system (the retina containing photoreceptor cells, the optic nerve, the optic tract and the visual cortex) which gives organisms the sense of sight (the a ...
to be a visual representation. A popular example of this is of a
greyscale In digital photography, computer-generated imagery, and colorimetry, a grayscale image is one in which the value of each pixel is a single sample (signal), sample representing only an ''amount'' of light; that is, it carries only luminous inten ...
image, which uses the visual system's sensitivity to brightness across all wavelengths, without taking into account different colors. A black and white visual representation of something is still an image, even though it does not make full use of the visual system's capabilities. Images are typically still, but in some cases can be moving or animated.

# Characteristics

Images may be two or three- dimensional, such as a
photograph A photograph (also known as a photo, image, or picture) is an image created by light falling on a photosensitivity, photosensitive surface, usually photographic film or an electronic image sensor, such as a charge-coupled device, CCD or a acti ...
or screen display, or three-dimensional, such as a
statue A statue is a free-standing sculpture in which the realistic, full-length figures of persons or animals are carved or Casting (metalworking), cast in a durable material such as wood, metal or stone. Typical statues are life-sized or close to ...
or
hologram Holography is a technique that enables a wavefront to be recorded and later re-constructed. Holography is best known as a method of generating real three-dimensional images, but it also has a wide range of other Holography#Applications, applic ...
. They may be captured by
optical Optics is the branch of physics that studies the behaviour and properties of light, including its interactions with matter and the construction of optical instruments, instruments that use or Photodetector, detect it. Optics usually describes t ...
devices – such as
camera A camera is an optical instrument that can capture an image. Most cameras can capture 2D images, with some more advanced models being able to capture 3D images. At a basic level, most cameras consist of sealed boxes (the camera body), with a ...
s,
mirror A mirror or looking glass is an object that Reflection (physics), reflects an image. Light that bounces off a mirror will show an image of whatever is in front of it, when focused through the lens of the eye or a camera. Mirrors reverse the ...
s,
lenses A lens is a transmissive optics, optical device which focuses or disperses a light beam by means of refraction. A simple lens consists of a single piece of transparent material, while a #Compound lenses, compound lens consists of several simp ...
,
telescope A telescope is a device used to observe distant objects by their emission, Absorption (electromagnetic radiation), absorption, or Reflection (physics), reflection of electromagnetic radiation. Originally meaning only an optical instrument usin ...
s,
microscope A microscope () is a laboratory equipment, laboratory instrument used to examine objects that are too small to be seen by the naked eye. Microscopy is the science of investigating small objects and structures using a microscope. Microscopic ...
s, etc. and natural objects and phenomena, such as the
human eye The human eye is a sensory organ (biology), organ, part of the sensory nervous system, that reacts to light, visible light and allows humans to use visual information for various purposes including Visual perception, seeing things, Balance (abil ...
or water. The word 'image' is also used in the broader sense of any two-dimensional figure such as a map, a
graph Graph may refer to: Mathematics *Graph (discrete mathematics), a structure made of vertices and edges **Graph theory, the study of such graphs and their properties *Graph (topology), a topological space resembling a graph in the sense of discre ...
, a
pie chart A pie chart (or a circle chart) is a circular statistical graphic, which is divided into slices to illustrate numerical proportion. In a pie chart, the arc length ARC may refer to: Business * Aircraft Radio Corporation, a major avionics ...
, a
painting Painting is the practice of applying paint, pigment, color or other medium to a solid surface (called the "matrix" or "support"). The medium is commonly applied to the base with a brush, but other implements, such as knives, sponges, and ai ...
or a
banner A banner can be a flag or another piece of cloth bearing a symbol, logo, slogan or another message. A flag whose design is the same as the shield in a coat of arms (but usually in a square or rectangular shape) is called a banner of arms. Also, ...
. In this wider sense, images can also be ''rendered'' manually, such as by
drawing Drawing is a form of Visual arts, visual art in which an artist uses instruments to mark paper or other two-dimensional surface. Drawing instruments include graphite pencils, pen and ink, various kinds of paints, inked brushes, colored pencils, ...
, the art of painting,
carving Carving is the act of using tools to shape something from a material by scraping away portions of that material. The technique can be applied to any material that is solid enough to hold a form even when pieces have been removed from it, and ...
, rendered automatically by
printing Printing is a process for mass reproducing text and Printmaking, images using a master form or template. The earliest non-paper products involving printing include cylinder seals and objects such as the Cyrus Cylinder and the Cylinders of Nabo ...
or
computer graphics Computer graphics deals with generating images with the aid of computers. Today, computer graphics is a core technology in digital photography, film, video games, cell phone and computer displays, and many specialized applications. A great deal ...
technology, or developed by a combination of methods. A volatile image is one that exists only for a short period of time. This may be a reflection of an object by a mirror, a projection of a
camera obscura A camera obscura (; ) is a darkened room with a aperture, small hole or lens at one side through which an image is 3D projection, projected onto a wall or table opposite the hole. ''Camera obscura'' can also refer to analogous constructions su ...
, or a scene displayed on a
cathode ray tube A cathode-ray tube (CRT) is a vacuum tube containing one or more electron guns, which emit electron beams that are manipulated to display images on a Phosphorescence, phosphorescent screen. The images may represent electrical waveforms (osci ...
. A fixed image, also called a
hard copy ''Hard Copy'' is an American tabloid television show that ran in Broadcast syndication, syndication from 1989 to 1999. ''Hard Copy'' was aggressive in its use of questionable material on television, including gratuitous violence. The original ...
, is one that has been recorded on a material object, such as
paper Paper is a thin sheet material produced by mechanically or chemically processing cellulose fibres derived from wood, Textile, rags, poaceae, grasses or other vegetable sources in water, draining the water through fine mesh leaving the fibre e ...
or
textile Textile is an Hyponymy and hypernymy, umbrella term that includes various Fiber, fiber-based materials, including fibers, yarns, Staple (textiles)#Filament fiber, filaments, Thread (yarn), threads, different #Fabric, fabric types, etc. At f ...
by
photography Photography is the visual art, art, application, and practice of creating durable images by recording light, either electronically by means of an image sensor, or chemically by means of a light-sensitive material such as photographic film. It i ...
or any other digital process. A
mental image A mental image is an experience that, on most occasions, significantly resembles the experience of 'perceiving' some object, event, or scene, but occurs when the relevant object, event, or scene is not actually present to the senses. There are ...
exists in an individual's mind, as something one remembers or imagines. The subject of an image need not be real; it may be an abstract concept, such as a
graph Graph may refer to: Mathematics *Graph (discrete mathematics), a structure made of vertices and edges **Graph theory, the study of such graphs and their properties *Graph (topology), a topological space resembling a graph in the sense of discre ...
, function, or imaginary entity. Different scholars of psychoanalysis as well as the social sciences such as Slavoj Žižek and Jan Berger have pointed out the possibility of manipulating mental images for ideological purposes.

## In culture

Images perpetuated in public education, media as well as popular culture have a profound impact on the formation of such mental images:
"What makes them so powerful is that they circumvent the faculties of the conscious mind but, instead, directly target the subconscious and affective, thus evading direct inquiry through contemplative reasoning. By doing so such axiomatic images tell us what we shall desire (liberalism, in a snapshot: the crunchy honey-flavored cereals and the freshly-pressed orange juice in the back of a suburban one-family home) and from what we shall obstain (communism, in a snapshot: lifeless crowds of men and machinery marching towards certain perdition accompanied by the tunes of Soviet Russian songs). What makes those images so powerful is that it is only of relative minor relevance for the stabilization of such images whether they actually capture and correspond with the multiple layers of reality, or not." - David Leupold, sociologist.
The development of synthetic acoustic technologies and the creation of
sound art Sound art is an artistic activity in which sound is utilized as a primary Artistic medium, medium or material. Like many genres of contemporary art, sound art may be interdisciplinary in nature, or be used in Cross-genre, hybrid forms. According t ...
have led to a consideration of the possibilities of a sound-image made up of irreducible phonic substance beyond linguistic or musicological analysis.

## Still or moving

A ' is a single static image. This phrase is used in
photography Photography is the visual art, art, application, and practice of creating durable images by recording light, either electronically by means of an image sensor, or chemically by means of a light-sensitive material such as photographic film. It i ...
, visual
media Media may refer to: Communication * Media (communication), tools used to deliver information or data ** Advertising media, various media, content, buying and placement for advertising ** Broadcast media, communications delivered over mass el ...
and the
computer industry A computer is a machine that can be programmed to Execution (computing), carry out sequences of arithmetic or logical operations (computation) automatically. Modern digital electronic computers can perform generic sets of operations known as C ...
to emphasize that one is not talking about movies, or in very precise or pedantic technical writing such as a standard. A ' is typically a movie (
film A film also called a movie, motion picture, moving picture, picture, photoplay or (slang) flick is a work of visual art that simulates experiences and otherwise communicates ideas, stories, perceptions, feelings, beauty, or atmosphere ...
) or
video Video is an electronic medium for the recording, copying, playback, broadcasting, and display of moving visual media. Video was first developed for mechanical television systems, which were quickly replaced by cathode-ray tube (CRT) ...
, including
digital video Digital video is an electronic representation of moving visual images (video) in the form of encoded digital data. This is in contrast to analog video, which represents moving visual images in the form of analog signals. Digital video comprises ...
. It could also be an animated display such as a
zoetrope A zoetrope is one of several Precursors of film#Modern era, pre-film animation devices that produce the illusion of motion by displaying a sequence of drawings or photographs showing progressive phases of that motion. It was basically a cylindr ...
. A
still frame In filmmaking, video production, animation, and related fields, a frame is one of the many ''still images'' which compose the complete ''moving picture''. The term is derived from the historical development of film stock, in which the sequential ...
is a still image derived from one
frame A frame is often a structural system that supports other components of a physical construction and/or steel frame that limits the construction's extent. Frame and FRAME may also refer to: Physical objects In building construction *Framing (con ...
of a moving one. In contrast, a
film still A film still (sometimes called a publicity still or a production still) is a photograph, taken on or off the set of a Film, movie or television program during Film production, production. These photographs are also taken in formal studio settings ...
is a photograph taken on the set of a movie or television program during production, used for promotional purposes.

# Two-dimensional (2D)

A two dimensional (2D) image is a visual representation of something that is represented using only two spatial dimensions. Many 2D images are in the shape of rectangles. A common process by which 2D images have historically been displayed is called rasterization. As of 2021, 2D images are the most common types of image.

# Three-dimensional (3D)

Three-dimensional (3D) images are less common than two-dimensional images. Three dimensional images feed into the visual system’s perception of depth to more accurately portray visual information. Common physical forms of 3D images include
hologram Holography is a technique that enables a wavefront to be recorded and later re-constructed. Holography is best known as a method of generating real three-dimensional images, but it also has a wide range of other Holography#Applications, applic ...
s.

# Literature

In literature, imagery is a "mental picture" which appeals to the senses. It can both be figurative and literal.

# See also

*
Cinematography Cinematography (from ancient Greek κίνημα, ''kìnema'' "movement" and γράφειν, ''gràphein'' "to write") is the art of Film, motion picture (and more recently, electronic video camera) photography. Cinematographers use a lens (o ...
*
Computer-generated imagery Computer-generated imagery (CGI) is the use of computer graphics Computer graphics deals with generating images with the aid of computers. Today, computer graphics is a core technology in digital photography, film, video games, cell phone a ...
*
Digital image A digital image is an image composed of picture elements, also known as ''pixels'', each with '' finite'', '' discrete quantities'' of numeric representation for its intensity or gray level that is an output from its two-dimensional function ...
*
Fine-art photography Fine-art photography is photography created in line with the vision of the photographer as artist, using photography as a medium for creative expression. The goal of fine-art photography is to express an idea, a message, or an emotion. This stand ...
*
Graphics Graphics () are visual perception, visual images or designs on some surface, such as a wall, canvas, screen, paper, or stone, to inform, illustration, illustrate, or entertain. In contemporary usage, it includes a pictorial representation of dat ...
*
Image editing Image editing encompasses the processes of altering images, whether they are Digital photography, digital photographs, traditional Photographic processing, photo-chemical photographs, or illustrations. Traditional analog image editing is kno ...
*
Imaging Imaging is the representation or reproduction of an object's form; especially a visual representation (i.e., the formation of an image An image is a visual representation of something. It can be two-dimensional, three-dimensional, or som ...
*
Mental image A mental image is an experience that, on most occasions, significantly resembles the experience of 'perceiving' some object, event, or scene, but occurs when the relevant object, event, or scene is not actually present to the senses. There are ...
*
Photograph A photograph (also known as a photo, image, or picture) is an image created by light falling on a photosensitivity, photosensitive surface, usually photographic film or an electronic image sensor, such as a charge-coupled device, CCD or a acti ...
* Pictorial script *
Satellite image Satellite images (also Earth observation imagery, spaceborne photography, or simply satellite photo) are images of Earth collected by imaging satellites operated by governments and businesses around the world. Satellite imaging companies sell ima ...
*
Drawing Drawing is a form of Visual arts, visual art in which an artist uses instruments to mark paper or other two-dimensional surface. Drawing instruments include graphite pencils, pen and ink, various kinds of paints, inked brushes, colored pencils, ...
*
Painting Painting is the practice of applying paint, pigment, color or other medium to a solid surface (called the "matrix" or "support"). The medium is commonly applied to the base with a brush, but other implements, such as knives, sponges, and ai ...
*
Visual arts The visual arts are Art#Forms, genres, media, and styles, art forms such as painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture, ceramics (art), ceramics, photography, video, filmmaking, design, crafts and architecture. Many artistic disciplines such as ...
* * *

# References

{{Authority control Photography Digital photography Computer graphics Graphic design Vision