Edited by Ben Blumson (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 2009 defends a version according to which it is experienced resemblance. Schier 1986 is the original source of the recognition theory. Currie 2008, 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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  1. Pictures, Presence and Visibility.Solveig Aasen - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (1):187-203.
    This paper outlines a ‘perceptual account’ of depiction. It centrally contrasts with experiential accounts of depiction in that seeing something in a picture is understood as a visual experience of something present in the picture, rather than as a visual experience of something absent. The experience of a picture is in this respect akin to a veridical rather than hallucinatory perceptual experience on a perceptual account. Thus, the central selling-point of a perceptual account is that it allows taking at face (...)
  2. Visibility Constraints in Depiction: Objects Experienced Versus Objects Depicted.Solveig Aasen - 2016 - Philosophical Quarterly 66 (265):665-679.
    It is widely accepted that pictures can only depict visible things. The paper criticises this ‘visibility constraint’ on the objects of depiction. The constraint is shown to imply that the range of visibilia is settled prior to an investigation of what can be seen in pictures. By contrast to this, I suggest that settling what can be seen in pictures is relevant to settling the range of visibilia. It is what we experience in pictures, and not the objects of depiction, (...)
  3. McIntosh's Unrealistic Picture of Peacocke and Hopkins on Realistic Pictures.C. Abell - 2005 - British Journal of Aesthetics 45 (1):64-68.
    I defend Christopher Peacocke's and Robert Hopkins's experienced resemblance accounts of depiction against criticisms put forward by Gavin McIntosh in a recent article in this journal. I argue that, while there may be reasons for rejecting Peacocke's and Hopkins's accounts, McIntosh fails to provide any.
  4. Expression in the Representational Arts.Catharine Abell - 2013 - American Philosophical Quarterly 50 (1):23-36.
    Understanding a work of representational art involves more than simply grasping what it represents. We can distinguish at least three types of content that representational works may possess. First, all representational works have explicit representational content. This includes the literal content of a linguistic work and the depictive content of a pictorial work. Second, they often have a conveyed content, which outstrips their explicit representational content, including much that is merely implicit in the work, and may exclude certain aspects of (...)
  5. Cinema as a Representational Art.Catharine Abell - 2010 - British Journal of Aesthetics 50 (3):273-286.
    In this paper, I develop a unified account of cinematic representation as primary depiction. On this account, cinematic representation is a distinctive form of depiction, unique in its capacity to depict temporal properties. I then explore the consequences of this account for the much-contested question of whether cinema is an independent representational art form. I show that it is, and that Scruton’s argument to the contrary relies on an erroneous conception of cinematic representation. CiteULike Connotea What's this?
  6. The Epistemic Value of Photographs.Catharine Abell - 2010 - In Catharine Abell & Katerina Bantinaki (eds.), Philosophical Perspectives on Depiction. Oxford University Press.
    There is a variety of epistemic roles to which photographs are better suited than non-photographic pictures. Photographs provide more compelling evidence of the existence of the scenes they depict than non-photographic pictures. They are also better sources of information about features of those scenes that are easily overlooked. This chapter examines several different attempts to explain the distinctive epistemic value of photographs, and argues that none is adequate. It then proposes an alternative explanation of their epistemic value. The chapter argues (...)
  7. Of Photographs.Catharine Abell - 2010 - In Catharine Abell Katerina Bantinaki (ed.), Philosophical Perspectives on Depiction. pp. 81.
  8. Canny Resemblance.Catharine Abell - 2009 - Philosophical Review 118 (2):183-223.
    Depiction is the form of representation distinctive of figurative paintings, drawings, and photographs. Accounts of depiction attempt to specify the relation something must bear to an object in order to depict it. Resemblance accounts hold that the notion of resemblance is necessary to the specification of this relation. Several difficulties with such analyses have led many philosophers to reject the possibility of an adequate resemblance account of depiction. This essay outlines these difficulties and argues that current resemblance accounts succumb to (...)
  9. Pictorial Realism.Catharine Abell - 2007 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 85 (1):1 – 17.
    I propose a number of criteria for the adequacy of an account of pictorial realism. Such an account must: explain the epistemic significance of realistic pictures; explain why accuracy and detail are salient to realism; be consistent with an accurate account of depiction; and explain the features of pictorial realism. I identify six features of pictorial realism. I then propose an account of realism as a measure of the information pictures provide about how their objects would look, were one to (...)
  10. Realism and the Riddle of Style.Catharine Abell - 2006 - Contemporary Aesthetics 4.
    My concern in this paper is what, in Art and Illusion, Gombrich calls "the riddle of style". This is the problem of why people at different times and in different cultures have depicted objects in very different ways. An adequate solution to this problem will comprise an explanation of why depiction has a history. The problem seems intractable because of three common assumptions about the history of depiction that, while independently plausible, are inconsistent. First, we assume that this history is (...)
  11. Pictorial Implicature.Catharine Abell - 2005 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 63 (1):55–66.
    It is generally recognised that an adequate resemblance-based account of depiction must specify some standard of correctness which explains how a picture’s content differs from the content we would attribute to it purely on the basis of resemblance. For example, an adequate standard should explain why stick figure drawings do not depict emaciated beings with gargantuan heads. Most attempts to specify a standard of correctness appeal to the intentions of the picture’s maker. However, I argue that the most detailed such (...)
  12. Against Depictive Conventionalism.Catharine Abell - 2005 - American Philosophical Quarterly 42 (3):185 - 197.
    In this paper, I discuss the influential view that depiction, like language, depends on arbitrary conventions. I argue that this view, however it is elaborated, is false. Any adequate account of depiction must be consistent with the distinctive features of depiction. One such feature is depictive generativity. I argue that, to be consistent with depictive generativity, conventionalism must hold that depiction depends on conventions for the depiction of basic properties of a picture’s object. I then argue that two considerations jointly (...)
  13. On Outlining the Shape of Depiction.Catharine Abell - 2005 - Ratio 18 (1):27–38.
    In this paper, I discuss the account of depiction proposed by Robert Hopkins in his book Picture, Image and Experience. I first briefly summarise Hopkins’s account, according to which we experience depictions as resembling their objects in respect of outline shape. I then ask whether Hopkins’s account can perform the explanatory tasks required of an adequate account of depiction. I argue that there are at least two reasons for which Hopkins’s account of depiction is inadequate. Firstly, the notion of outline (...)
  14. Philosophical Perspectives on Depiction.Catharine Abell & Katerina Bantinaki (eds.) - 2010 - Oxford University Press.
    This volume of specially written essays by leading philosophers offers to set the agenda for the philosophy of depiction.
  15. Philosophical Perspectives on Picturing.Catharine Abell & Katerina Bantinaki (eds.) - 2010 - Oxford University Press.
  16. Philosophical Perspectives on Depiction.Catharine Abell & Katerina Bantinaki (eds.) - 2010 - Oxford University Press.
    Depiction plays as important a role as language in our culture and communication, but its function is still not well understood. This volume of specially written essays by leading philosophers investigate the nature and value of depiction and its role in our understanding of the world. They set the agenda for the philosophy of depiction.
  17. Imagination, Games, Pictures: A Critical Examination of Kendall Walton's "Mimesis as Make-Believe".Thomas Richards Vartan Adajian - 1993 - Dissertation, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
    I critically examine Kendall Walton's Mimesis as Make-Believe, a systematic attempt to model the activities of appreciators of works of art on children's games of make-believe. I argue that crucial features of the games Walton takes as paradigms infect and distort his application of the model to aesthetic questions. Walton's account of pictorial depiction and his extension of the basic game model to dreams and daydreams are argued to be unsuccessful.
  18. On Images: Their Structure and Content by Kulvicki, John. [REVIEW]Zed Adams - 2009 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 67 (3):336-339.
  19. The Objective Eye: Color, Form, and Reality in the Theory of Art by Hyman, John.Zed Adams - 2007 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 65 (4):417–419.
  20. Mothersill and Gombrich on ‘;the Language of Art’.Virgil C. Aldrich - 1968 - British Journal of Aesthetics 8 (4):359-364.
  21. Picture Space.Virgil C. Aldrich - 1958 - Philosophical Review 67 (3):342-352.
  22. Language, Experience, and Pictorial Meaning.Virgil C. Aldrich - 1948 - Journal of Philosophy 45 (4):85-95.
  23. Iconic Turn: A Plea for Three Turns of the Screw.Emmanuel Alloa - 2015 - Culture, Theory, and Critique 56 (3).
    In the early 1990s, W.J.T. Mitchell and Gottfried Boehm independently proclaimed that the humanities were witnessing a ‘pictorial’ or ‘iconic turn’. Twenty years later, we may wonder whether this announcement was describing an event that had already taken place or whether it was rather calling forth for it to happen. The contemporary world is, more than ever, determined by visual artefacts. Still, our conceptual arsenal, forged during centuries of logocentrism, still falls behind the complexity of pictorial meaning. The essay has (...)
  24. Could Perspective Ever Be a Symbolic Form? Revisiting Panofsky with Cassirer.Emmanuel Alloa - 2015 - Journal of Aesthetics and Phenomenology 2 (1):51-72.
    Erwin Panofsky’s essay “Perspective as Symbolic Form” from 1924 is among the most widely commented essays in twentieth-century aesthetics and was discussed with regard to art theory, Renaissance painting, Western codes of depiction, history of optical devices, psychology of perception, or even ophthalmology. Strangely enough, however, almost nothing has been written about the philosophical claim implicit in the title, i.e. that perspective is a symbolic form among others. The article situates the essay within the intellectual constellation at Aby Warburg’s Kulturwissenschaftliche (...)
  25. Seeing-in, Seeing-as, Seeing-With: Looking Through Pictures.Emmanuel Alloa - 2011 - In Elisabeth Nemeth, Richard Heinrich, Wolfram Pichler & Wagner David (eds.), Image and Imaging in Philosophy, Science, and the Arts. Volume I. Proceedings of the 33rd International Wittgenstein Symposium. Ontos: 179-190.
    In the constitution of contemporary image theory, Ludwig Wittgenstein’s philosophy has undoubtedly become a major conceptual reference. Rather than trying to establish what Wittgenstein’s own image theory could possibly look like, this paper would like to critically assess some of the advantages as well as some of the quandaries that arise when using Wittgenstein’s concept of ‘seeing-as’ for addressing the plural realities of images. While putting into evidence the tensions that come into play when applying what was initially a theory (...)
  26. Depiction and the Sense of Reality.John Armstrong - 2006 - Contemporary Aesthetics 4.
  27. Non-Depicted Content and Pictorial Ambition.John Armstrong - 1997 - British Journal of Aesthetics 37 (4):336-348.
  28. Non-Depicted Content And Pictorial Ambition.John Armstrong - 1997 - British Journal of Aesthetics 37 (4):336-348.
  29. Looking at Pictures an Introduction to the Appreciation of Art.John Armstrong - 1996
  30. Hansen's Curvilinear Perspective.Rudolf Arnheim - 1974 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 32 (3):424.
  31. What Goodman Should Have Said About Representation.Douglas Arrell - 1987 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 46 (1):41-49.
  32. Imagination, Perception and Memory. Making Sense of Walton’s View on Photographs and Depiction.Paloma Atencia-Linares - 2017 - Azafea: Revista de Filosofia 19:251-268.
    Walton has controversially claimed that all pictures are fiction because, in seeing a picture one imagines that one is seeing the depicted content in the flesh; and that in seeing a photograph one _literally – _although indirectly – _sees_ the photographed object. Philosophers have found these claims implausible for various reasons: it is not the case that all pictures are fiction; explaining depiction does not require an imaginative engagement and seeing objects in photographs is not tantamount to seeing the object. (...)
  33. "Truth and Falsehood in Visual Images": Mark Roskill and David Carrier. [REVIEW]Michael Austin - 1985 - British Journal of Aesthetics 25 (1):81.
  34. Part of What a Picture Is.Kent Bach - 1970 - British Journal of Aesthetics 10 (2):119-137.
  35. Pictorial Quotation.George Bailey - 1993 - International Studies in Philosophy 25 (1):1-8.
  36. Review: John V. Kulvicki: On Images: Their Structure and Content. [REVIEW]K. Bantinaki - 2008 - Mind 117 (466):486-490.
  37. What is a Picture? Depiction, Realism, Abstraction, by Michael Newall.Katerina Bantinaki - 2014 - Mind 123 (491):944-947.
  38. Beyond Mimesis and Convention: Representation in Art and Science.Katerina Bantinaki - 2012 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 26 (1):114 - 118.
    International Studies in the Philosophy of Science, Volume 26, Issue 1, Page 114-118, March 2012.
  39. Pictorial Perception as Twofold Experience.Katerina Bantinaki - 2010 - In Catharine Abell Katerina Bantinaki (ed.), Philosophical Perspectives on Depiction. Oxford University Press.
  40. The Opticality of Pictorial Representation.Katerina Bantinaki - 2008 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 66 (2):183–192.
  41. Pictorial Perception as Illusion.Katerina Bantinaki - 2007 - British Journal of Aesthetics 47 (3):268-279.
    The focus of this paper is on E. H. Gombrich's claim that pictorial perception is a case of illusion. My aim is to point out that, on the one hand, the interpretation of this claim that is widely accepted in pictorial theory is not supported by Gombrich's analysis of pictorial perception; and, on the other hand, that the interpretation of the claim that I see as more compatible with Gombrich's analysis is not consistent with relevant facts about our relation to (...)
  42. Review of Dominic Mciver Lopes, Sight and Sensibility: Evaluating Pictures[REVIEW]Katerina Bantinaki - 2006 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2006 (4).
  43. Words and Images in Argumentation.Axel Barceló Aspeitia - 2012 - Argumentation 26 (3):355-368.
    Abstract In this essay, I will argue that images can play a substantial role in argumentation: exploiting information from the context, they can contribute directly and substantially to the communication of the propositions that play the roles of premises and conclusion. Furthermore, they can achieve this directly, i.e. without the need of verbalization. I will ground this claim by presenting and analyzing some arguments where images are essential to the argumentation process. Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-14 DOI 10.1007/s10503-011-9259-y Authors (...)
  44. Out of Sight : Resemblance, Illusion and Cinematic Perception.Karen Bardsley - unknown
    In my thesis I develop a theory of our mental, physiological and emotional involvement with motion pictures that accounts for the distinct role of perception in our cinematic experiences. In particular, I present a resemblance view of cinematic perception and depiction that begins with an analysis of motion picture screenings as events in the world to which audience members share perceptual access and to which we can attribute complex visual and auditory properties. By understanding the precise nature of these properties (...)
  45. Picture, Image and Experience. [REVIEW]David N. Beauregard - 2000 - International Philosophical Quarterly 40 (3):382-383.
  46. The Checker-Shadow “Illusion”?Hanoch Ben-Yami - manuscript
    I introduce some distinctions concerning depiction and show that the checker-shadow phenomenon is not an illusion of the kind it is claimed to be. This might also help to think more clearly about other ‘illusory’ phenomena.
  47. How To Do Things With Pictures: Skill, Practice, Performance.Andras Benedek & Kristof Nyiri (eds.) - 2013 - Peter Lang Edition.
  48. Depiction and Convention.John G. Bennett - 1974 - The Monist 58 (2):255-268.
  49. On the Nature of Pictorial Representation.John Gates Bennett - 1975 - Dissertation, University of Michigan
  50. The Truth in Painting.Geoffrey Bennington & Ian McLeod (eds.) - 1987 - University of Chicago Press.
    "The four essays in this volume constitute Derrida's most explicit and sustained reflection on the art work as pictorial artifact, a reflection partly by way of philosophical aesthetics, partly by way of a commentary on art works and art scholarship. The illustrations are excellent, and the translators, who clearly see their work as both a rendering and a transformation, add yet another dimension to this richly layered composition. Indispensable to collections emphasizing art criticism and aesthetics."—Alexander Gelley, _Library Journal_.
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