Depiction

Edited by Ben Blumson (National University of Singapore)
Assistant editor: Jiachen Liu (National University of Singapore)
About this topic
Summary Depiction is a distinctive kind of representation. The paradigm examples are figurative painting and drawing. Other purported examples are photography, figurative sculpture and maps. The three main competitors to the traditional resemblance theory of depiction are experiential theories, such as the illusion and seeing-in theories, structural theories, which focus on syntactic and semantic properties of pictures such as analogicity, and recognition theories, which focus on subpersonal aspects of picture processing.
Key works The contemporary debate began with Goodman 1968, who argued for replacing the resemblance theory with a structural theory. V. Kulvicki 2006 defends a revised structural theory. The original source of the seeing-in theory is contained in Wollheim 1980. Walton 1990 defends a version according to which seeing-in is imagined seeing and Hopkins 1998 defends a version according to which it is experienced resemblance. Schier 1986 is the original source of the recognition theory. Currie 1995, Lopes 1996 and Newall 2011 defend similar accounts. Novitz 1977, Hyman 2006, Abell 2009 and Blumson 2014 defend the resemblance theory, whereas Greenberg 2013 is a recent criticism. Abell & Bantinaki 2010 is a recent anthology.
Introductions Kulvicki 2006 Kulvicki 2013
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825 found
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1 — 50 / 825
  1. Philosophical Pictures from Philosopher Portraits.John Dilworth - manuscript
    Portraits of Wittgenstein and Hume are used as test cases in some preliminary investigations of a new kind of philosophical picture. Such pictures are produced via a variety of visual transformations of the original portraits, with a final selection for display and discussion being based on the few results that seem to have some interesting relevance to the character or philosophical views of the philosopher in question.
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  2. The Unity of Pictorial Experience.Rose Ryan Flinn - manuscript
    Seeing-in is the experience of seeing something in a picture. This experience is present to the subject as a single, unified experience. It is not like the disjoint experience of visualizing something into a scene that one perceives. This is so despite the fact that, like the latter experience, seeing-in is twofold: it involves being visually aware of two distinct objects – an array of ink-marks, on the one hand, and the depicted scene, on the other – and being aware (...)
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  3. Depicting Movement.Solveig Aasen - forthcoming - Tandf: Australasian Journal of Philosophy:1-14.
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  4. Pictorial free perception.Dorit Abusch & Mats Rooth - forthcoming - Linguistics and Philosophy:1-52.
    Pictorial free perception reports are sequences in comics or film of one unit that depicts an agent who is looking, and a following unit that depicts what they see. This paper proposes an analysis in possible worlds semantics and event semantics of such sequences. Free perception sequences are implicitly anaphoric, since the interpretation of the second unit refers to the agent depicted in the first. They are argued to be possibly non-extensional, because they can depict hallucination or mis-perception. The semantics (...)
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  5. Depiction, Imagination, and Photography.Jiri Benovsky - forthcoming - In Keith Moser & Ananta Sukla (eds.), Imagination and Art: Explorations in Contemporary Theory. Brill.
    Imagination plays an important role in depiction. In this chapter, I focus on photography and I discuss the role imagination plays in photographic depiction. I suggest to follow a broadly Waltonian view, but I also depart from it in several places. I start by discussing a general feature of the relation of depiction, namely the fact that it is a ternary relation which always involves "something external." I then turn my attention to Walton's view, where this third relatum of the (...)
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  6. The Structure of Analog Representation.Andrew Y. Lee, Joshua Myers & Gabriel Oak Rabin - forthcoming - Noûs.
    This paper develops a theory of analog representation. We first argue that the mark of the analog is to be found in the nature of a representational system’s interpretation function, rather than in its vehicles or contents alone. We then develop the rulebound structure theory of analog representation, according to which analog systems are those that use interpretive rules to map syntactic structural features onto semantic structural features. The theory involves three degree-theoretic measures that capture three independent ways in which (...)
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  7. Emojis as pictures.Emar Maier - forthcoming - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy.
    I argue that emojis are essentially little pictures, rather than words, gestures, expressives, or diagrams. ???? means that the world looks like that, from some viewpoint. I flesh out a pictorial semantics in terms of geometric projection with abstraction and stylization. Since such a semantics delivers only very minimal contents I add an account of pragmatic enrichment, driven by coherence and nonliteral interpretation. The apparent semantic distinction between emojis depicting entities (like ????) and those depicting facial expressions (like ????) I (...)
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  8. Depicting Motion in a Static Image: Philosophy, Psychology and the Perception of Pictures.Luca Marchetti - forthcoming - British Journal of Aesthetics.
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  9. Photo Mensura.Patrick Maynard - forthcoming - In Nicola Moeßner & Alfred Nordmann (eds.), The Epistemology of Measurement: Representational and Technological Dimensions. Routledge.
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  10. Seeing Depicted Space (or Not).Mikael Pettersson - forthcoming - In Anna Bergqvist & Robert Cowan (eds.), Evaluative Perception. Oxford University Press.
    What is it to see something in a picture? Most accounts of pictorial experience—or, to use Richard Wollheim’s term, ‘seeing-in’—seek, in various ways, to explain it in terms of how pictures somehow display the looks of things. However, some ‘things’ that we apparently see in pictures do not display any ‘look.’ In particular, most pictures depict empty space, but empty space does not seem to display any ‘look’—at least not in the way material objects do. How do we see it (...)
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  11. Super Pragmatics of (linguistic-)pictorial discourse.Julian J. Schlöder & Daniel Altshuler - forthcoming - Linguistics and Philosophy.
    Recent advances in the Super Linguistics of pictures have laid the Super Semantic foundation for modelling the phenomena of narrative sequencing and co-reference in pictorial and mixed linguistic-pictorial discourses. We take up the question of how one arrives at the pragmatic interpretations of such discourses. In particular, we offer an analysis of: (i) the discourse composition problem: how to represent the joint meaning of a multipicture discourse, (ii) observed differences in narrative sequencing in prima facie equivalent linguistic vs. pictorial discourses, (...)
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  12. Seeing in Mirrors.Alberto Voltolini - forthcoming - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism.
    Notwithstanding Plato’s venerable opinion, many people nowadays claim either that mirrors are not pictures, or that, if they are such, they are just transparent pictures in Kendall Walton’s sense of a particular kind of picture. In this article, however, I want to argue that mirrors are bona fide pictures. For they are grasped via what, as I assume in the article, makes a picture a picture, that is, a representation with a figurative value, namely, a depiction; namely, a certain seeing-in (...)
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  13. How to visually represent structure.Axel Barcelo Aspeitia - 2022 - In Valeria Giardino, Sven Linker, Richard Burns, Francesco Bellucci, Jean-Michel Boucheix & Petrucio Viana (eds.), Diagrammatic Representation and Inference. Springer. pp. 218-225.
    How does the compositional arrangement of elements in a complex image, like a diagram, a picture or a map, represent the structural features of its content? In this paper I argue that they do so iconically, through the exploitation of relations of visual similarity and dissimilarity. I develop the general claim that our interpretation of this sort of images is guided by the implicit defeasible assumption that things that are patently related represent things that are relevantly related in a similar (...)
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  14. Mirrors, Windows, and Paintings.Calabi Clotilde, Huemer Wolfgang & Santambrogio Marco - 2022 - Estetika: The European Journal of Aesthetics 1:22-32.
    What do we see in a mirror? There is an ongoing debate whether mirrors present us with images of objects or whether we see, through the mirror, the objects themselves. Roberto Casati has recently argued that there is a categorical difference between images and mirror-reflections. His argument depends on the observation that mirrors, but not paintings, are sensitive to changes in the observer’s prospective. In our paper we scrutinize Casati’s argument and present a modal argument that shows that it cannot (...)
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  15. Modeling the Meanings of Pictures[REVIEW]Gabriel Greenberg - 2022 - Philosophical Review 131 (3):373-378.
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  16. Constructing film emotions: The theory of constructed emotion as a biocultural framework for cognitive film theory.Timothy Justus - 2022 - Projections 2 (16):74–101.
    In the classical view of emotion, the basic emotions (anger, disgust, fear, joy, sadness, and surprise) are assumed to be natural kinds that are perceiver-independent. Correspondingly, each is thought to possess a distinct neural and physiological signature, accompanied by an expression that is universally recognized despite differences in culture, era, and language. An alternative, the theory of constructed emotion, emphasizes that, while the underlying interoceptive sensations are biological, emotional concepts are learned, socially constructed categories, characterized by many-to-many relationships among diverse (...)
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  17. By What Criteria Are Pictorial Styles Individuated?Hoyeon Lim - 2022 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 80 (1):31-41.
    In this article, I argue that pictorial styles are individuated in terms of different degrees of determinacy. For example, Morandi’s still-life etchings and Monet’s cathedral paintings embody different styles in that in the former, shape properties are differentiated in a fine-grained manner, and in the latter, coarse grained. I develop this view by critically examining John Kulvicki’s analysis of how we interpret pictures. According to Kulvicki, we rarely interpret pictures as differing in terms of features that belong to the vehicle (...)
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  18. Paintings of Music.Michelle Liu - 2022 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 80 (2):151-163.
    Paintings of music are a significant presence in modern art. They are cross-modal representations, aimed at representing music, say, musical works or forms, using colors, lines, and shapes in the visual modality. This article aims to provide a conceptual framework for understanding paintings of music. Using examples from modern art, the article addresses the question of what a painting of music is. Implications for the aesthetic appreciation of paintings of music are also drawn.
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  19. Deep learning and synthetic media.Raphaël Millière - 2022 - Synthese 200 (3):1-27.
    Deep learning algorithms are rapidly changing the way in which audiovisual media can be produced. Synthetic audiovisual media generated with deep learning—often subsumed colloquially under the label “deepfakes”—have a number of impressive characteristics; they are increasingly trivial to produce, and can be indistinguishable from real sounds and images recorded with a sensor. Much attention has been dedicated to ethical concerns raised by this technological development. Here, I focus instead on a set of issues related to the notion of synthetic audiovisual (...)
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  20. What do we see in pictures? The sensory individuals of picture perception.Bence Nanay - 2022 - Philosophical Studies 179 (12):3729-3746.
    When I am looking at an apple, I perceptually attribute certain properties to certain entities. Two questions arise: what are these entities (what is it that I perceptually represent as having properties) and what are these properties (what properties I perceive this entity as having)? This paper is about the former, less widely explored, question: what does our perceptual system attribute properties to? In other words, what are these ‘sensory individuals’. There have been important debates in philosophy of perception about (...)
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  21. Portraits, Facial Perception, and Aspect-Seeing.Andreas Vrahimis - 2022 - British Journal of Aesthetics 62 (1):85–100.
    Is there a substantial difference between a portrait depicting the sitter’s face made by an artist and an image captured by a machine able to simulate the neuro-physiology of facial perception? Drawing on the later Wittgenstein, this paper answers this question by reference to the relation between seeing a visual pattern as (i) a series of shapes and colours, and (ii) a face with expressions. In the case of the artist, and not of the machine, the portrait’s creative process involves (...)
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  22. Iconological Dualism Re-Thought: A New Variation on Two Old Theories.Frédéric Wecker - 2022 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 80 (4):494-509.
    This article aims at defending the old theory of iconological dualism that opposes ‘handmade’ pictures to photographic pictures. I defend a new version of that theory, according to which photographs always enable viewers to have singular thoughts on the things photographed, while handmade pictures by themselves never enable viewers to have singular thoughts but only enable them to have what I call ‘thoughts by depiction’. To this end, I defend the old theory according to which singular thoughts require a special (...)
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  23. Against Imprinting: The Photographic Image as a Source of Evidence.Dawn M. Wilson - 2022 - Social Research: An International Quarterly 89 (4):947-969.
    A photographic image is said to provide evidence of a photographed scene because it is a causal imprint of reflected light, an indexical trace of real objects and events. Though widely established in the history, theory, and philosophy of photography, this traditional imprinting model must be rejected because it relies on a “single-stage” misconception of the photographic process: the idea that a photographic image comes into existence at the time of exposure. In its place, a “multistage” account properly articulates different (...)
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  24. Depicting Movement.Solveig Aasen - 2021 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 99 (1):34-47.
    ABSTRACT The paper addresses an underexplored puzzle about pictorial representation, a puzzle about how depiction of movement is possible. One aim is to clarify what the puzzle is. It might seem to concern a conflict between the nature of static surfaces and the dynamic things that they can depict. But the real conflict generating the puzzle is between the pictorial mode of presentation and what can be seen in pictures. A second aim of the paper is to solve the puzzle. (...)
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  25. A Lesser Being. From Louis Marin to Simondon and Back.Emmanuel Alloa - 2021 - Nordic Journal of Aesthetics 30 (61-62):8-13.
  26. Looking Through Images: A Phenomenology of Visual Media.Emmanuel Alloa - 2021 - New York: Columbia University Press.
    Images have always stirred ambivalent reactions. Yet whether eliciting fascinated gazes or iconoclastic repulsion from their beholders, they have hardly ever been seen as true sources of knowledge. They were long viewed as mere appearances, placeholders for the things themselves or deceptive illusions. Today, the traditional critique of the spectacle has given way to an unconditional embrace of the visual. However, we still lack a persuasive theoretical account of how images work. -/- Emmanuel Alloa retraces the history of Western attitudes (...)
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  27. Reality, Fiction, and Make-Believe in Kendall Walton.Emanuele Arielli - 2021 - In Krešimir Purgar (ed.), The Palgrave Handbook of Image Studies. pp. 363-377.
    Images share a common feature with all phenomena of imagination, since they make us aware of what is not present or what is fictional and not existent at all. From this perspective, the philosophical approach of Kendall Lewis Walton—born in 1939 and active since the 1960s at the University of Michigan—is perhaps one of the most notable contributions to image theory. Walton is an authoritative figure within the tradition of analytical aesthetics. His contributions have had a considerable influence on a (...)
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  28. On the Narrative Potential of Depiction.Katerina Bantinaki - 2021 - Journal for the Philosophy of Language, Mind and the Arts. Special Issue: Image/Images 2 (1).
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  29. The expression of emotion in pictures.Vanessa Brassey - 2021 - Philosophy Compass 16 (9):e12767.
    Philosophy Compass, Volume 16, Issue 9, September 2021.
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  30. The paradox of pictorial representation. A Wittgensteinian solution.Alessandro Cavazzana - 2021 - Studi di Estetica 21 (3):137-155.
    When Wittgenstein claims that "the expression of a change of aspect is the expression of a new perception and at the same time of the perception's being unchanged" (Wittgenstein 1953: 196), he expresses a paradox that Gombrich (Gombrich 1960) modifies in this way: (a 1) the observer x perceives a picture P under a new aspect; (b 1) if x perceives P under a new aspect then x's perception of P has changed; (c 1) but x's perception of P has (...)
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  31. Semantics of Pictorial Space.Gabriel Greenberg - 2021 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 1 (4):847-887.
    A semantics of pictorial representation should provide an account of how pictorial signs are associated with the contents they express. Unlike the familiar semantics of spoken languages, this problem has a distinctively spatial cast for depiction. Pictures themselves are two-dimensional artifacts, and their contents take the form of pictorial spaces, perspectival arrangements of objects and properties in three dimensions. A basic challenge is to explain how pictures are associated with the particular pictorial spaces they express. Inspiration here comes from recent (...)
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  32. Modeling the meanings of pictures: Depiction and the philosophy of language, by John Kulvicki. Oxford University Press, 2020, ISBN: 9780198847472, £55.00, hbk. 176 pp. [REVIEW]Robert Hopkins - 2021 - European Journal of Philosophy 29 (4):1187-1191.
    European Journal of Philosophy, Volume 29, Issue 4, Page 1187-1191, December 2021.
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  33. Twofold Pictorial Experience.René Jagnow - 2021 - Erkenntnis 86 (4):853-874.
    Richard Wollheim famously argued that figurative pictures depict their scenes, in part, in virtue of their ability to elicit a unique type of visual experience in their viewers, which he called seeing-in. According to Wollheim, experiences of seeing-in are necessarily twofold, that is, they involve two aspects of visual awareness: when a viewer sees a scene in a picture, she is simultaneously aware of certain visible features of the picture surface, the picture’s design, and the scene depicted by the picture. (...)
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  34. The role of schemas and scripts in pictorial narration.Michael Ranta - 2021 - Semiotica 2021 (241):1-27.
    The theoretical debate on the nature of narrative has been mainly concerned with literary narratives, whereas forms of non-literary and especially pictorial narrativity have been somewhat neglected. In this paper, however, I shall discuss narrativity specifically with regard to pictorial objects in order to clarify how pictorial storytelling may be based on the activation of mentally stored action and scene schemas. Approaches from cognitive psychology, such as the work of Schank, Roger C. & Robert P. Abelson. 1977. Scripts, plans, goals (...)
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  35. The puzzle of make-believe about pictures: can one imagine a perception to be different?Sonia Sedivy - 2021 - In Art, Representation, and Make-Believe, Essays on the Philosophy of Kendall L. Walton. New York and London: pp. 147-163.
    Kendall Walton explains pictures in terms of games of perceptual make-believe. Pictures or depictions are props that draw us to participate in games of make-believe where we imagine seeing what a picture depicts. Walton proposes that one imagines of one’s perceptual experience of the coloured canvas that it is a different perceptual experience. The issue is whether perception and imagination can combine the way Walton suggests. Can one imagine a perception to be different? To get a clearer understanding of the (...)
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  36. Transparency and Egocentrism.Nils-Hennes Stear - 2021 - In Sonia Sedivy (ed.), Art, Representation, and Make-Believe: Essays on the Philosophy of Kendall L. Walton. New York, NY, USA: pp. 196-213.
    Kendall Walton argues that photographs are transparent; we literally see the things depicted in them, not just the depictions. This intriguing claim has endured numerous criticisms from those I call the ‘egocentrists’, according to whom seeing—literal seeing—requires the conveyance of egocentric information; to count as seeing something, a visual experience of that thing must impart some information, however spare, about its position relative to the viewer. Since photographs fail to convey such information, the egocentrists claim, Walton’s transparency thesis fails. This (...)
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  37. Quotations as pictures.Josef Stern - 2021 - Cambridge: The MIT Press.
    The proposal of a semantics for quotations using explanatory notions drawn from philosophical theories of pictures. In Quotations as Pictures, Josef Stern develops a semantics for quotations using explanatory notions drawn from philosophical theories of pictures. He offers the first sustained analysis of the practice of quotation proper, as opposed to mentioning. Unlike other accounts that treat quotation as mentioning, Quotations as Pictures argues that the two practices have independent histories, that they behave differently semantically, that the inverted commas employed (...)
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  38. Pictorial meaning, language, tradition: notes on image semantic analyses by Kristóf Nyíri.Gábor Szécsi - 2021 - Studies in East European Thought 73 (4):459-473.
    The iconic revolution changing the routine of everyday communication is gradually leading to the creation of a linguistic structure that combines visual and verbal tools in both formal and semantic aspects. Computer and mobile applications today enable high-tech imaging that ensures the spread of iconic communication in mundane interactions and the possibility of a creative combination of verbal and iconic codes for language users who navigate in a world of images in an increasingly confident manner. The iconic revolution that accompanies (...)
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  39. Seeing‐in and Singling Out: How to Reconcile Pictures with Singular Thought.Enrico Terrone - 2021 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 102 (3):378-392.
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  40. The Standard of Correctness and the Ontology of Depiction.Enrico Terrone - 2021 - American Philosophical Quarterly 58 (4):399-412.
    This paper develops Richard Wollheim’s claim that the proper appreciation of a picture involves not only enjoying a seeing-in experience but also abiding by a standard of correctness. While scholars have so far focused on what fixes the standard, thereby discussing the alternative between intentions and causal mechanisms, the paper focuses on what the standard does, that is, establishing which kinds, individuals, features and standpoints are relevant to the understanding of pictures. It is argued that, while standards concerning kinds, individuals (...)
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  41. Pictorial misrepresentation without figurative mispresentation.Alberto Voltolini - 2021 - Studi di Estetica 19.
    As many people have underlined, as regards pictures there are at least two different layers of content. In Voltolini, these layers are: i) the figurative content of a picture, i.e., what one can see in it viz. what the picture presents; ii) the pictorial content of a picture, i.e., what the picture represents, as constrained by its figurative content. As regards ii), there undoubtedly ispictorial misrepresentation. Having the possibility of misrepresenting things is a standard condition in order for a picture (...)
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  42. La densité des images.Alexis Anne-Braun - 2020 - Dialogue 59 (1):123-143.
    RÉSUMÉCet article est une défense de la position exposée par Nelson Goodman dans Langages de l'art. Goodman affirme que les images fonctionnent dans des systèmes symboliques denses. La différence entre texte et image ne se situe pas là où nous l'aurions spontanément cherchée : dans l'expérience perceptuelle que nous avons des images. Une telle théorie de la dépiction peut sembler iconoclaste, voire complètement fausse, et ce, parce que nous y voyons à tort une explication de la représentation picturale. Elle offre (...)
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  43. The Limits of Art: On Borderline Cases of Artworks and Their Aesthetic Properties.Jiri Benovsky - 2020 - Springer.
    This open access book is about exploring interesting borderline cases of art. It discusses the cases of gustatory and olfactory artworks, proprioceptive artworks, intellectual artworks, as well as the vague limits between painting and photography. The book focuses on the author’s research about what counts as art and what does not, as well as on the nature of these limits. Overall, the author defends a very inclusive view, 'extending' the limits of art, and he argues for its virtues. Some of (...)
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  44. Pictures, Propositions, and Predicates.Dominic Gregory - 2020 - American Philosophical Quarterly 57 (2):155-170.
    Do representational pictures have propositional contents? The current paper argues that the characteristic contents of pictures are predicative rather than propositional: pictures characterise things as looking certain ways, and they thereby express properties of visual perspectives. The paper argues that the characteristic predicative contents of pictures are nonetheless able to feature in fully-fledged propositional contents once they are combined with contents of other suitable sorts. Various facts about communicative uses of pictures are then explained. The paper concludes by considering the (...)
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  45. Image, Image-Making, and Imagination.Dominic Gregory - 2020 - In Ananta Ch Sukla & Keith Moser (eds.), Imagination and Art: Explorations in Contemporary Theory. pp. 535-558.
    [Pre-peer review draft available to download.] Our imaginative capacities shape the making of images, while the making of images has the ability to shape our imaginative capacities. What are the connections between vision and mental visual images that allow for this traffic between the contents of our minds and external images? And how are image-makers able to exploit the distinctive powers of imagery, to extend the modes of representation that are available to us, and hence also to extend the resources (...)
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  46. Materials and Meaning in Contemporary Sculpture.Sherri Irvin - 2020 - In Kristin Gjesdal, Fred Rush & Ingvild Torsen (eds.), Philosophy of Sculpture: Historical Problems, Contemporary Approaches. Routledge. pp. 165-186.
    An extensive literature about pictorial representation discusses what is involved when a two-dimensional image represents some specific object or type of object. A smaller literature addresses parallel issues in sculptural representation. But little has been said about the role played by the sculptural material itself in determining the meanings of the sculptural work. Appealing to Nelson Goodman and Catherine Elgin’s discussions of literal and metaphorical exemplification, I argue that the material of which a sculpture is constituted plays key roles in (...)
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  47. A Unified Account: Pictorial, Photographic and Sculptural Seeing as Spectral Seeing.Gary Kemp - 2020 - Theoria 86 (3):341-358.
    Theoria, EarlyView. The account of pictorial representation introduced in an earlier paper of mine is extended to photography and sculpture, and the beginnings of an extension to film is sketched.
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  48. Modeling the Meanings of Pictures: Depiction and the Philosophy of Language.John Kulvicki - 2020 - Oxford University Press.
    John Kulvicki explores the many ways in which pictures can be meaningful, taking inspiration from the philosophy of language. Pictures are important parts of communicative acts. They express a variety of thoughts, and they are also representations. Kulvicki shows how the meanings of pictures let us put them to a wide range of communicative uses.
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  49. Pictorial Aesthetics and Two Kinds of Inflected Seeing-In.Giulia Martina - 2020 - Estetika: The European Journal of Aesthetics 53 (1):74.
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  50. Gary Kemp and Gabriele M. Mras, eds., Wollheim, Wittgenstein, and Pictorial Representation: Seeing-As and Seeing-In.Graham McFee - 2020 - Estetika: The European Journal of Aesthetics 54 (2):293.
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