'Pickman's Model': Horror and the Objective Purport of Photographs

It is commonly held, even among non-Bazinians, that photographs are typically perceived as more objective than other forms of depiction. The implications of this putative feature of photographic reception for the fiction film have been relatively ignored. If photos do have an objective purport, it would explain the power of a common device used in horror movies where a monster is selectively revealed through a degraded image, usually an amateur video recording. However, I argue that a better explanation is forthcoming. It is not the objective purport of photographs that accounts for the peculiar power of these scenes, but the power of our imaginations to picture monsters far more terrifying than those that can be readily depicted. This gives us reason to be skeptical of the idea that the objective purport of photographs contributes significantly to the reception of fiction films.
Keywords photography  objectivity  Lovecraft  horror  transparency
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