Visualizing Law in the Age of the Digital Baroque: Arabesques & Entanglements, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Visualizing Law in the Age of the Digital Baroque

Arabesques & Entanglements, 1st Edition

By Richard K Sherwin


270 pages | 8 Color Illus. | 5 B/W Illus.

Look Inside
Purchasing Options:$ = USD
Paperback: 9780415612937
pub: 2011-06-17
Hardback: 9780415612906
pub: 2011-06-17
eBook (VitalSource) : 9780203815861
pub: 2012-05-23
from $25.48

FREE Standard Shipping!


Visualizing Law in the Age of the Digital Baroque explores the profound impact that visual digital technologies are having on the practice and theory of law. Today, lawyers, judges, and lay jurors face a vast array of visual evidence and visual argument. From videos documenting crimes and accidents to computer displays of their digital simulation, increasingly, the search for fact-based justice inside the courtroom is becoming an offshoot of visual meaning making. But when law migrates to the screen it lives there as other images do, motivating belief and judgment on the basis of visual delight and unconscious fantasies and desires as well as actualities. Law as image also shares broader cultural anxieties concerning not only the truth of the image but also the mimetic capacity itself, the human ability to represent reality. What is real, and what is simulation? This is the hallmark of the baroque, when dreams fold into dreams, like immersion in a seemingly endless matrix of digital appearances. When fact-based justice recedes, laws proliferate within a field of uncertainty. Left unchecked, this condition of ontological and ethical uneasiness threatens the legitimacy of law’s claim to power. Visualizing Law in the Age of the Digital Baroque offers a jurisprudential paradigm that is equal to the challenge that current cultural conditions present.


Sherwin is perhaps the world's leading scholar of the visual life of law, and this masterful book advances a new perspective on the cultural life of law, what Sherwinn calls a "visual jurisprudence." As Sherwin sees it, the very legitimacy of law in our era depends on the cultivation of visual literacy and an appreciation of the ethical and political dimensions of our visual experiences. Theoretically sohphisticated and lucidly argued this book is an example of interdisciplinary legal scholarship at its best.

Austin Sarat, William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Jurisprudence, and Political Science, Amherst College.

Richard Sherwin's Visualizing Law in the Age of the Digital Baroque is an outstanding piece of thinking and writing. Sherwin is an apt historian of ideas, ranging authoritatively from the Bible to video games, from the Renaissance to Enlightenment philosophers, from the baroque to the 'post-Foucauldian" epoch in which we now live. His project is spectacuarly successful. He develops a thesis that begins with law but utimately analyzes America Society and culture in the 21st century. This is a wise as well as informed book that will find a wide audience among thos interested in cultural studies, law, and visual culture.

Richard Schechner, University Professor, Professor of Performance Studies, NYU

Table of Contents

1.Introduction: Law’s oscillation between power and meaning; 2. Law’s Screen Life: Visualizing law in practice; 3. Images Run Riot: Law on the landscape of the neo-baroque; 4. Theorizing the Visual Sublime: Law’s legitimation reconsidered; 5. The Digital Challenge: Command and control culture and the ethical sublime; 6. Conclusion: Visualizing Law as Integral Rhetoric – Harmonizing the ethical and the aesthetic; Bibliography; Index

About the Author

Richard K. Sherwin is Professor of Law and Director of the Visual Persuasion Project at New York Law School

About the Series

Discourses of Law

This successful and exciting series seeks to publish the most innovative scholarship at the intersection of law, philosophy and social theory. The books published in the series are distinctive by virtue of exploring the boundaries of legal thought. The work that this series seeks to promote is marked most strongly by the drive to open up new perspectives on the relation between law and other disciplines. The series has also been unique in its commitment to international and comparative perspectives upon an increasingly global legal order. Of particular interest in a contemporary context, the series has concentrated upon the introduction and translation of continental traditions of theory and law.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
ART / History / Baroque & Rococo
ART / Digital
ART / Film & Video
LAW / General
LAW / Research
LAW / Media & the Law
LAW / Essays
LAW / Computer & Internet
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Popular Culture
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Media Studies