Images Avant la Lettre. The Mystery of Ink Blots in Psychology, Design and Art


  • Michael Renner University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland; Academy of Art and Design-IDCE



avant la lettre, Rorschach test, disposition, projection, individuality


The paper starts out with a figure of speech –avant la lettre– and points, through a review of literature, to a variety of disciplinary explanations regarding processes before language was ever spoken. This leads to three categories regarding the relationship of images and language in the context of visual arts and visual communication. Some images depend on the linguistic message, some are framed by a linguistic message, and some are independent of a linguistic message. Images which are independent of language are used in the paper to differentiate processes avant la lettre in two case studies. The first case study is an in-depth discussion of the projection of individual traits through the ink-blot images of the Rorschach test. The 10 plates of this psychometric test are supposed to reveal processes avant la lettre that are characteristic for an individual psyche. The second case study shows how ink-blot images are used to train communication designers and how the projection of individual traits is a means to develop a unique result. To conclude the discussion, projection, as a process avant la lettre, is employed in order to describe the effect of ink-blot images as a dimension of any aesthetic experience.




How to Cite

Renner, M. (2022). Images Avant la Lettre. The Mystery of Ink Blots in Psychology, Design and Art. Img Journal, 4(7), 262–281.