About this topic
Summary The (analytic) philosophy of photography came into its own relatively recently, in the early 1980's. Since then, philosophical theorising about photography has largely been preoccupied with three issues: 1. Are photographs transparent; that is, is seeing a photograph (and related photographic media, like film and television) a way of indirectly seeing photographed objects? 2. How should one respond to scepticism about photography's aesthetic value? 3. In what does the peculiar epistemic value of photography consist? More recently, attention has turned towards a number of other issues, including: 4. What is the correct ontological category in which to locate photographs? 5. In what does the peculiar affective power of photographs consist? 6. How does digital photography challenge extant answers to questions 1-5. Answering these questions has involved philosophers drawing on related research in aesthetics concerning: pictorial experience and theories of depiction; fictionality; standards of correctness and interpretive norms more broadly; aesthetic value; and artist's intention. But philosophers interested in the philosophy of photography have also drawn on issues further afield, including: issues in the philosophy of action; information-theoretic accounts of mental content; sense-data and the possibility of indirect perception; necessary conditions for perception; and the nature of causation.
Key works The locus classicus for the theory of photographic transparency is Walton 1984. Although Walton's concern is the affect of photographs, the principal influence of this paper, apart from its prompting numerous replies in response to the idea of transparency itself, was its spawning the literature on the epistemic value of photographs. Walton's paper is best understood when read in conjunction with the postscript in Walton 2008, which clarifies a number of subtle issues arguably obscured in various early responses to, and replies from, Walton. Scepticism about photography's epistemic value is vigorously defended by Roger Scruton in Scruton 1981. This paper is likewise best understood when read in conjunction with later clarificatory replies by Scruton, including Scruton 2009. Key works on the epistemic value of photography include: Cohen & Meskin 2004, Abell 2010 and Walden 2005. Key works on the affective nature of photography (in addition to Walton 1984) include: Hopkins 2012, Pettersson 2011 and Currie 1999. Edited collections include: Walden 2010 and a special issue of the Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Costello & Mciver Lopes 2012. Papers in the latter address a number of new issues in the philosophy of photography, suggesting those working in the area are beginning to move beyond the traditional issues of transparency, aesthetic scepticism and epistemic value. Notable monographs include: Maynard 1997 and Friday 2002. Three monographs in the philosophy of film that discuss photography at length are: Currie 1995, Carroll 2007 and Gaut 2010. The latter is especially notable for its theorising about the nature of digital photography.
Introductions Useful survey articles include: Costello & Phillips 2009 and Maynard 2001
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1143 found
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1 — 50 / 1143
  1. The Silence: Non-Discursive Agency in Photography.Gavin Keeney - manuscript
    An essay on non-discursive forms of knowledge that inhabit art photography. A version of this essay appeared in Gavin Keeney, "Else-where": Essays in Art, Architecture, and Cultural Production 2002-2011 (CSP, 2011), pp. 209-26.
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  2. Vertiginous Acedie.Gavin Keeney - manuscript
    Review of “Gaiety is the Most Outstanding Feature of the Soviet Union: New Art from Russia,” Saatchi Gallery, London, England, and “Calder After the War,” Pace Gallery, London, England, April 2013. A version of this essay appeared in the Appendices of Gavin Keeney, Not-I/Thou: The Other Subject of Art and Architecture (CSP, 2014), pp. 157-60.
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  3. 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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  4. The Limits of Art. On Borderline Cases of Artworks and Their Aesthetic Properties.Jiri Benovsky - forthcoming - Springer.
    This book is about exploring interesting borderline cases of art. Jiri Benovsky discusses the cases of gustatory and olfactory artworks (focusing on food), proprioceptive artworks (dance, martial arts, and rock climbing qua proprioceptive experiences), intellectual artworks (philosophical and scientific theories), as well as the vague limits between painting and photography. This book is then about what counts as art and what does not, as well as about the nature of these limits. Overall, Benovsky defends a very inclusive view, 'extending' the (...)
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  5. Life Through a Lens.Dan Cavedon-Taylor - forthcoming - In Sophie Archer (ed.), Salience: A Philosophical Inquiry.
    Kantian disinterest is the view that aesthetic judgement is constituted (at least in part) by a form of perceptual contemplation that is divorced from concerns of practical action. That view, which continues to be defended to this day, is challenged here on the basis that it is unduly spectator-focussed, ignoring important facets of art-making and its motivations. Beauty moves us, not necessarily to tears or rapt contemplation, but to practical action; crucially, it may do so as part and parcel of (...)
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  6. The Body's Truth: Notes on Angelo Novi's Still Photography From Mamma Roma (1962) To.Roberto Chiesi - forthcoming - Teorema: International Journal of Philosophy.
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  7. Philosophy of Photography.Andrew Fisher & Daniel Rubenstein - forthcoming - Philosophy of Photography.
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  8. Literature and Digital Illumination.Lis Lindeman & Gregory O. Smith - forthcoming - Topoi.
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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. Fotografie: moralischer Blick - ästhetische Distanz.Nicola Mößner - forthcoming - In Hauke Behrendt & Jakob Steinbrenner (eds.), Kunst und Moral. Berlin, Germany:
    Photography: morally close or aesthetically removed? Can photographs make a contribution to the moral discourse? And, if so, what kind of contribution might that be? On the one hand, they are often used in morally laden contexts of communication such as media reports about wars etc. On the other, it is said that images are inherently ambiguous which seems to speak against the possibility to use them as a means to communicate focused moral judgements. The following article starts with a (...)
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  11. Invisible Images and Indeterminacy: Why We Need a Multi-Stage Account of Photography.Dawn M. Wilson - forthcoming - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism.
    Some photographs show determinate features of a scene because the photographed scene had those features. This dependency relation is, rightly, a consensus in philosophy of photography. I seek to refute many long-established theories of photography by arguing that they are incompatible with this commitment. In Section II, I classify accounts of photography as either single-stage or multi-stage. In Section III, I analyze the historical basis for single-stage accounts. In Section IV, I explain why the single-stage view led scientists to postulate (...)
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  12. Seeing Through Photographs: Photography as a Transparent Visual Medium.Vivian Mizrahi - 2021 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 79 (1):52-63.
    The idea that looking at a photograph is akin to face-to-face perception and that photographs provide genuine perceptual access to the objects they depict was notoriously defended by Kendall Walton in “Transparent Pictures.” Walton’s main thesis is that photographs are transparent in the sense that we can see objects through them. The main goal of this article is to support Walton’s view by providing a full account of photographic transparency. I will argue that the transparency that characterizes photography is not (...)
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  13. Reproducing Refugees: Photographìa of a Crisis.Anna Carastathis & Myrto Tsilimpounidi - 2020 - London, UK: Rowman and Littlefield International.
    Since 2015, the ‘refugee crisis’ is possibly the most photographed humanitarian crisis in history. Photographs taken, for instance, in Lesvos, Greece, and Bodrum, Turkey, were instrumental in generating waves of public support for, and populist opposition to “welcoming refugees” in Europe. But photographs do not circulate in a vacuum; this book explores the visual economy of the ‘refugee crisis,’ showing how the reproduction of images is structured by, and secures hierarchies of gender, sexuality, and ‘race,’ essential to the functioning of (...)
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  14. The Post-Human Media Semblance: Predictive Catastrophism.Ekin Erkan - 2020 - Rhizomes: Cultural Studies in Emerging Knowledge 36.
    Since the advent of media archeology, a deep-seated bifurcation has found one end of the field arguing for the interventionist and appropriative weaponization of media whereas the other side has championed a “total war” with technology itself, insisting that new media’s military-industrial roots inherently color its drivability. Here, I implore a moment within the cultural history of net.art and post-internet art to examine how contemporaneous queries about control after militarism and decentralization, as prognosticated by Paul Virilio and Gilles Deleuze, are (...)
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  15. Art, Intention, and Everyday Psychology.Joshua Landy - 2020 - Nonsite 1 (32).
    Responding to a set of essays by Walter Benn Michaels, this paper argues that we can solve some interesting puzzles about intention in photography without the need for any fancy Anscombian footwork. Three distinctions are enough to do the job. First, with Alexander Nehamas, we should separate the empirical photographer from the postulated artist. Next we should mark off generic intentions (such as the intention to make a work of art) from specific intentions (such as the intention to critique capitalism). (...)
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  16. The World and the Will: On the Problem of Photographic Agency.John Schwenkler - 2020 - Nonsite 32.
    This essay is my contribution to a symposium responding to several papers by Walter Benn Michaels that bring the work of Elizabeth Anscombe to bear on philosophical problems of artistic representation. In it, I take Benn Michaels's side in a dispute with Dominic McIver Lopes over the difference between Anscombe's view of intentional agency and that of Donald Davidson. I also critique Benn Michaels's reading of a difficult passage in section 29 of Anscombe's INTENTION, where she presents the famous case (...)
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  17. Between Real and Virtual, Map and Terrain: ScanLab Projects, Post-Lenticular Landscapes.Peter Ainsworth - 2019 - Philosophy of Photography 10 (2):269-281.
    London-based company ScanLab Projects is a multi-disciplinary commercial collaboration between architect, artist, coders and designers who utilize technologies surrounding 3D laser scanning in their practice. Inherent in the manner their projects are pitched is through reference to the photographic as technological process. Central to their engagement with the light detection and ranging scanning apparatus is a consideration of the relationality between virtual or digital object and what could be determined as extrinsic or ‘real’ terrain. In Post-lenticular Landscapes, 2017, ScanLab created (...)
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  18. The Polarized Image: Between Visual Fake News and “Emblematic Evidence”.Emanuele Arielli - 2019 - Politics and Image.
    In this paper, a particular case of deceptive use of images – namely, misattributions – will be taken in consideration. An explicitly wrong attribution (“This is a picture of the event X”, this not being the case) is obviously a lie or a mistaken description. But there are less straightforward and more insidious cases in which a false attribution is held to be acceptable, in particular when pictures are also used in their exemplary, general meaning, opposed to their indexical function (...)
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  19. The Divisive Moment.Bernd Behr - 2019 - Philosophy of Photography 10 (1):7-10.
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  20. Photographic Art and Technology in Contemporary India.Aileen Blaney - 2019 - Philosophy of Photography 10 (1):23-40.
    The algorithmic turn in photography raises the question of whether an algorithmically generated image is even a photograph at all. This paradox is abundant on India's urban streets, where the pedestrian or road user is met with giant photo saturated flex hoardings printed with political and community messages and photo-shopped portraits of gods, chief ministers and party workers. In this article, attention to photo-based political posters alongside art practices sharing common elements of digital capture and postproduction contextualizes a reading of (...)
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  21. New Theory Reconsidered: Reply to Scott Walden and Dominic McIver Lopes.Diarmuid Costello - 2019 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 77 (3):313-320.
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  22. Miki Kratsman and Shabtai Pinchevsky: The Anti-Mapping Project.Andrew Fisher - 2019 - Philosophy of Photography 10 (2):243-268.
    This article introduces an evolving project of visual mapping initiated by Israeli photographers Miki Kratsman and Shabtai Pinchevsky under the title of Anti-Mapping. Placing this critical project in the context of the Israel/Palestine conflict, the article examines how Kratsman and Pinchevsky develop complex, strategic and critically sophisticated approaches to visualizing the conditions that produce victims of violence and that place Palestinian villages under threat of destruction. The article explores their strategic, technical and critical approaches to the difficulties of representing particular (...)
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  23. Potential History: Unlearning Imperialism, Ariella Aïsha Azoulay.Alex Fletcher - 2019 - Philosophy of Photography 10 (2):283-288.
    Review of: Potential History: Unlearning Imperialism, Ariella Aïsha Azoulay London and New York: Verso, 656 pp.,ISBN 978-1-78873-571-1, p/bk, £30.00.
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  24. Between Nature and Culture: Jakob von Uexküll's Concept of Umwelten and How Photography Shapes Our Worlds.Joachim Froese - 2019 - Philosophy of Photography 10 (1):11-22.
    This article addresses traditional perceptions about photography's position between nature and culture and concomitant schools of thinking focusing pre-dominantly on the photographic image as a form of visual representation. Aiming to develop an alternative perspective it considers a biosemiotic approach and turns to Jakob von Uexküll's model of subjective sentient worlds that critically dissolves the perceived dualism between nature and culture that has also underpinned most theoretical thinking about photography in the past. Today photography is largely embedded into social media (...)
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  25. Anti-Mapping.Miki Kratsman & Shabtai Pinchevsky - 2019 - Philosophy of Photography 10 (2):229-242.
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  26. This Misery of Light ‐ Light as Destruction in the Work of Lina Selander.Erika Larsson - 2019 - Philosophy of Photography 10 (1):115-131.
    In this article I look at two works by Swedish video artist Lina Selander and explore how underlying visual patterns unfold in these works that are connected to certain worldly phenomena. Borrowing from Jacques Derrida, I describe the tendency of being en mal d'archive as an obsession to structure the world into particular recognizable patterns. I argue that Selander's works can be understood as the unfolding of such structures, the result being that the very impulse itself, the obsession Derrida speaks (...)
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  27. Memory, Bernadette Mayer.Louisa Lee - 2019 - Philosophy of Photography 10 (2):293-296.
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  28. An Argument for the New Theory of Photography: Reply to Costello.Dominic Mciver Lopes - 2019 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 77 (3):311-313.
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  29. Spontaneity and Materiality: What Photography Is in the Photography of James Welling.Dominic McIver Lopes & Diarmuid Costello - 2019 - Art History 42 (1):154-76.
    Images are double agents. They receive information from the world, while also projecting visual imagination onto the world. As a result, mind and world tug our thinking about images, or particular kinds of images, in contrary directions. On one common division, world traces itself mechanically in photographs, whereas mind expresses itself through painting.1 Scholars of photography disavow such crude distinctions: much recent writing attends in detail to the materials and processes of photography, the agency of photographic artists, and the social (...)
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  30. Rephotograph.Gary McLeod - 2019 - Philosophy of Photography 10 (1):89-99.
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  31. Portraits of People Not Present.Bence Nanay - 2019 - In Hans Maes (ed.), Portraits and Philosophy. London: Routledge.
    The aim of this paper is to explore what could be meant by modernist portraiture. On the face of it, there is a real tension about the very idea of modernist portraiture inasmuch as one key idea of modernism is negativity and self-negation, whereas portraiture is, in some very obvious sense, not negation. It is the depiction of the sitter. So there are reasons to think that modernist portraiture, in the strong sense of the term, is a contradiction in terms. (...)
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  32. You Are My Territory.Liz Orton - 2019 - Philosophy of Photography 10 (1):73-88.
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  33. Premenlivá pozícia amatérskej fotografie [Shifted Position of Amateur Photography].Michaela Paštéková - 2019 - Espes 8 (2):47-54.
    The amateur photographer used to be defined as a photography enthusiast or a "photographer of everyday life". Since the 19th century, he has liked to join photo clubs, where he improves his technical skills. Has his position changed fundamentally in the 20th and 21st century? What impact does the growth of the Internet and smartphones have on the amateur photography? And how has the world of art responded to the increase of number as well as visibitity of amateur photographs? In (...)
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  34. Adrian Piper's Aesthetic Agency: Photography as Catalysis for Resisting Neo-Liberal Competitive Paradigms.Gerlinde Van Puymbroeck - 2019 - Philosophy of Photography 10 (1):41-58.
    Contemporary neo-liberal society is ruled by the market. Davies, Chen and Lentin and Titley show that its objectification and categorization founds a competitive notion of agency that disables subjective construction of self and intersubjective understanding of the world. As the market's rules and norms are set by white patriarchy, its competitive paradigm structurally disadvantages others. Art too is objectified and categorized by neo-liberal institutions, equally embedded in white patriarchal market structures and severely limiting democratic public access to a diverse artistic (...)
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  35. Seeing Double: Assessing Kendall Walton’s Views on Painting and Photography.Campbell Rider - 2019 - Undergraduate Philosophy Journal of Australasia 1 (1):37-47.
    In this paper I consider Kendall Walton’s provocative views on the visual arts, including his approaches to understanding both figurative and nonfigurative painting. I introduce his central notion of fictionality, illustrating its advantages in explaining the phenomenon of ‘perceptual twofoldness’. I argue that Walton’s position treats abstract artwork reductively, and I outline two essential components of our aesthetic encounters with the nonfigurative that Walton excludes. I then offer some criticisms of his commitment to photographic realism, emphasising its theoretical inconsistencies with (...)
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  36. Photography After Philosophy.Daniel Rubinstein - 2019 - In .
    Both photography and philosophy are invested in light as a form of intelligence, but while representation is central to photography as a recording practice, for Heidegger it is fundamental to the alienation of human beings from the world, and for Deleuze it is the foundation of political conservatism. This chapter brings together these critiques of representation and demonstrates that photography is both the visual form of Western metaphysics and the means for overcoming the boundaries imposed by the representational paradigm. It (...)
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  37. The Body as a Data Set.Daniel Rubinstein - 2019 - Philosophy of Photography 10 (2):225-227.
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  38. Performing Image, Isobel Harbison.Frida Sandström - 2019 - Philosophy of Photography 10 (2):289-292.
    Review of: Performing Image, Isobel Harbison Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 256 pp.,ISBN 978-0-26203-921-5, h/bk, £32.00.
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  39. Photographic Manipulation in the Health, Clinical and Biomedical Sciences.Catherine Schneider, Sydney Hoffmann & Graham D. Rowles - 2019 - Philosophy of Photography 10 (1):59-71.
    Photography has become a pervasive component of contemporary communication. Recent technological advances in creating and manipulating images have provided renewed impetus to decades-long debates on use of photographs in science. With increase in the potential for inappropriate image manipulation, fears about misrepresentation have heightened concern among journal editors and scholars about the 'accuracy' of published images. We discuss how science has responded to growing concerns surrounding falsification and inaccuracy of photography. We document progress in implementing a variety of complementary approaches (...)
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  40. The Time(s) of the Photographed.Reza Tavakol - 2019 - Philosophy of Photography 10 (2):195-206.
    The relationship between the photographic and optical images and time has been the subject of great deal of debate. Despite their differences, what many of these considerations have in common is their focus on the receiver, whether mechanical, biological, social or the memory and imagination of the observer. My aim here is to shift the emphasis from the receiver to the object or vista that is photographed or viewed and to explore how the constraints implied by our modern understanding of (...)
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  41. Landscape as a Twist of Thought: A Line of Enquiry.Susan Trangmar - 2019 - Philosophy of Photography 10 (2):207-224.
    How can an art practice based upon lens imaging help us to question landscape as a pictorial category fixed in space and time? This article proposes that we practise landscape as an ongoing process that always surpasses human spatial and temporal framing while enfolding the activity of the human within it. Starting with reference to a specific geographic, geological and environmental site, the article tracks a process of situated making using the smartphone camera as the fulcrum of a performative activity.
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  42. Costello on the New Theory of Photography.Scott Walden - 2019 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 77 (3):307-311.
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  43. Socially Latent Images: Eva and Franco Mattes’s Personal Photographs.Kate Warren - 2019 - Philosophy of Photography 10 (2):171-194.
    The age of ubiquitous photography has not only embedded the ability to easily share photographs, it has also constructed widespread expectations of content being shared. Such presumptions of sharing are profoundly influencing our relationship with photography, particularly as the hypervisibility of shared images produces an increasingly unstable invisibility of ‘unshared’ images. These contemporary concerns can be productively explored and theorized by considering the work of artists Eva and Franco Mattes. In recent works that use personal photographs, the Matteses reveal prescient (...)
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  44. #Prank4offices.Philip Welding - 2019 - Philosophy of Photography 10 (1):101-113.
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  45. Where is the Photography of Non-Photography?Ed Whittaker - 2019 - Philosophy of Photography 10 (1):133-150.
    François Laruelle's writing on Non-Photography is examined from its ontological condition to its desired form of a unity derived from the work of Kant, discussing precisely how the logic of transcendence and the ontology of immanence central to Laruelle's theory impact on how the photographic image is incontrovertibly involved with Kant's paradox of appearance and reality. In a context of burgeoning technoscience, which lays bare the meaning of Non-Photography for the seemingly impossible reversion to actual photography, the article goes on (...)
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  46. Go Social! Replies to Abell and Atencia-Linares.Catharine Abell, Paloma Atencia-Linares, Dominic McIver Lopes & Diarmuid Costello - 2018 - Aisthesis. Pratiche, Linguaggi E Saperi Dell’Estetico 11 (2):207-234.
    Dominic McIver Lopes’ Four Arts of Photography and Diarmuid Costello’s On Photography: A Philosophical Inquiry examine the state of the art in analytic philosophy of photography and present a new approach to the study of the medium. As opposed to the orthodox and prevalent view, which emphasizes its epistemic capacities, the new theory reconsiders the nature of photography, and redirects focus towards the aesthetic potential of the medium. This symposium comprises two papers that critically examine central questions addressed in the (...)
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  47. The Ontology of Photography A Reassessment.Mohamadreza Abolghassemi - 2018 - Aisthesis. Pratiche, Linguaggi E Saperi Dell’Estetico 11 (2):49-61.
    This paper explores some issues concerning the ontology of photography. It would appear that photography’s ontology bears some significant specificities comparing with other art forms. First, the study of negative film and printed photograph relations shows us that photography has a multi-layered ontology, since although the latter is ontologically dependent upon the former, it stands autonomously as work of art. Second, I will consider the problem of forgery in photography. It seems that photographs are autographic and allographic, fakeable and unfakeable. (...)
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  48. Chroma Key Dreams: Algorithmic Visibility, Fleshy Images and Scenes of Recognition.Daniela Agostinho - 2018 - Philosophy of Photography 9 (2):131-155.
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  49. Images and Uncertain Worlds.Daniela Agostinho, Ulrik Ekman, Nanna Thylstrup & Kristin Veel - 2018 - Philosophy of Photography 9 (2):99-106.
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  50. Four Arts of Photography: An Essay in Philosophy. [REVIEW]Paloma Atencia-Linares - 2018 - British Journal of Aesthetics 58 (3):327-329.
    Four Arts of Photography: An Essay in PhilosophyLopesDominic Mciverwiley & sons ltd. 2016. pp. 200. £80.50.
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