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, Diarmuid & Mciver 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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1119 found
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1 — 50 / 1119
  1. added 2020-03-21
    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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  2. added 2020-02-20
    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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  3. added 2020-02-12
    The Delighted States: A Book of Novels, Romances, and Their Unknown Translators, Containing Ten Languages, Set on Four Continents, and Accompanied by Maps, Portraits, Squiggles, Illustrations, and a Variety of Helpful Indexes.Laurent Stern - 2009 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 67 (2):249-252.
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  4. added 2020-02-12
    Six Stories From the End of Representation: Images in Painting, Photography, Astronomy, Microscopy, Particle Physics, and Quantum Mechanics, 1980-2000.Flo Leibowitz - 2009 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 67 (2):247-249.
  5. added 2020-02-02
    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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  6. added 2020-02-02
    #Prank4offices.Philip Welding - 2019 - Philosophy of Photography 10 (1):101-113.
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  7. added 2020-02-02
    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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  8. added 2020-02-02
    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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  9. added 2020-02-02
    The Divisive Moment.Bernd Behr - 2019 - Philosophy of Photography 10 (1):7-10.
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  10. added 2020-02-02
    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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  11. added 2020-02-02
    You Are My Territory.Liz Orton - 2019 - Philosophy of Photography 10 (1):73-88.
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  12. added 2020-02-02
    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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  13. added 2020-02-02
    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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  14. added 2020-02-02
    Rephotograph.Gary McLeod - 2019 - Philosophy of Photography 10 (1):89-99.
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  15. added 2020-01-18
    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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  16. added 2019-09-04
    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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  17. added 2019-08-06
    Costello on the New Theory of Photography.Scott Walden - 2019 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 77 (3):307-311.
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  18. added 2019-08-06
    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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  19. added 2019-08-06
    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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  20. added 2019-08-02
    The Return Of Photographs As Genuine Prostheses: In Response To Cohen And Meskin’s Principled Disqualification Of Photographs.Ines Nicole Echevarria De Asis - 2008 - Postgraduate Journal of Aesthetics 5 (1):7-15.
    Kendall Walton argues that photographs, like mirrors and microscopes, meet sufficient conditions to be considered a kind of prosthesis for seeing. Well aware of the controversiality of this claim, he offers three criteria for perception met by photographs like other perceptual aids which makes them transparent –that is, we see through them.1(II) Jonathan Cohen and Aaron Meskin attempt to refute the transparency thesis by arguing that photographs cannot be genuine prostheses for seeing because they fail to meet another necessary condition, (...)
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  21. added 2019-07-07
    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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  22. added 2019-07-07
    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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  23. added 2019-07-07
    Making, Meaning, and Meaning by Making.Dominic McIver Lopes - 2016 - Nonsite:np.
    True to his plan to take photographs to find out what things look like photographed, Garry Winogrand liked to delay processing his exposed rolls in order to scrub the memory of what he had in mind when he tripped the shutter. In a rich and astute essay, Walter Benn Michaels puts Winogrand in company with G. E. M. Anscombe. One through photography, the other through philosophy, each explores, articulates, even plays up, the “difficulties” of making sense of what it is (...)
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  24. added 2019-06-28
    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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  25. added 2019-06-26
    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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  26. added 2019-06-06
    Nancy Anderson and Michael R. Dietrich The Educated Eye: Visual Culture and Pedagogy in the Life Sciences. Hanover: Dartmouth College Press, 2012. Pp. Viii+318. ISBN 978-1-61168-044-7. $39.95. [REVIEW]David Rudge - 2013 - British Journal for the History of Science 46 (4):734-735.
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  27. added 2019-06-06
    The ‘Landmark’ and ‘Groundwork’ of Stars: John Herschel, Photography and the Drawing of Nebulae.Omar W. Nasim - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 42 (1):67-84.
    This paper argues for continuity in purpose and specific results between some hand drawn nebulae, especially those ‘descriptive maps’ by John F. W. Herschel and E. P. Mason in the late 1830s, and the first photographs made of the nebulae in the 1880s. Using H. H. Turners’ explication in 1904 of the three great advantages of astrophotography, the paper concludes that to some extent Herschel’s and Mason’s hand-drawings of the nebulae were meant to achieve the same kinds of results. This (...)
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  28. added 2019-06-06
    Jennifer Tucker, Nature Exposed: Photography as Eyewitness in Victorian Science. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006. Pp. Ix+294. ISBN 0-8018-7991-4. £36.50. [REVIEW]Phillip Prodger - 2008 - British Journal for the History of Science 41 (3):465-467.
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  29. added 2019-06-06
    The Subject in Art: Portraiture and the Birth of the Modern: Book Reviews. [REVIEW]Katerina Reed-Tsocha - 2008 - British Journal of Aesthetics 48 (2):237-239.
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  30. added 2019-06-06
    G EORGES D IDI -H UBERMAN, Invention of Hysteria: Charcot and the Photographic Iconography of the Salpêtrière. Translated by Alisa Hartz. Cambridge, MA and London: MIT Press, 2003. Pp. Xii+373. ISBN 0-262-04215-0. £23.50. [REVIEW]Irina Sirotkina - 2006 - British Journal for the History of Science 39 (2):303-305.
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  31. added 2019-06-06
    Torture and Photography: Abu Ghraib.Andrew J. Mitchell - 2005 - Radical Philosophy Review 8 (1):1-27.
    "Torture and Photography: Abu Ghraib" attempts to think the mutual relationships between torture and photography, addressingissues of objectivity, publicity, and distance. In a world where bodies have been divested of human rights, the objectification of the camera seems the perfect complement. Exploring the "prophylactic" character of film, the author proposes human "touch" as always in excess of this objectified state of affairs. Along with memoranda from the Bush administration on the issues of detainee rights and the role of torture in (...)
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  32. added 2019-06-06
    Artists in the Shadows: Review of Kendall Walton, Mimesis as Make-Believe. [REVIEW]Nicholas Wolterstorff - 1991 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 51 (2):407-411.
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  33. added 2019-06-06
    What’s Special About Photography?Ted Cohen - 1988 - The Monist 71 (2):292-305.
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  34. added 2019-06-06
    J. B. Reade, F.R.S., And The Early History Of Photography: Part I. A Re-Assessment on the Discovery of Contemporary Evidence. [REVIEW]R. Derek Wood - 1971 - Annals of Science 27 (1):13-45.
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  35. added 2019-06-06
    Art in the Hellenistic Age. [REVIEW]J. M. Cook - 1967 - The Classical Review 17 (3):372-374.
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  36. added 2019-06-06
    Roman Literary Portraits. [REVIEW]W. S. Maguinness - 1960 - The Classical Review 10 (1):35-36.
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  37. added 2019-06-05
    The Photographic Gesture.Eli Friedlander - 2014 - Paragrana: Internationale Zeitschrift für Historische Anthropologie 23 (1):46-55.
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  38. added 2019-06-05
    „Para documentar algo que no existe.“ Vilém Flusser – Joan Fontcuberta: una colaboración.Andrea Soto Calderon & Rainer Guldin - 2012 - Flusser Studies 13 (1).
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  39. added 2019-06-05
    On Kendall Walton's Mimesis as Make-BelieveMemesis As Make-Believe. [REVIEW]Noel Carroll & Kendall Walton - 1991 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 51 (2):383.
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  40. added 2019-06-05
    The Painter and the Photograph, From Delacroix to WarholMy Life in Sculpture.Van Deren Coke, Jacques Lipchitz & H. H. Arnason - 1972 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 31 (2):280.
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  41. added 2019-05-21
    I. E. Stefanis: Διονυсιακοὶ Τεχνîται. Σνµβολὲς Στὴν Προσωπογραφία Το Θεάτρον Καὶ Τς Μονσικς Τν Ἀρχαίων Ἑλλήνων. Pp. 616; 15 Photographs. Heraklion: Panepistimiakes Ekdoseis Kritis, 1988. [REVIEW]David Bain - 1991 - The Classical Review 41 (1):245-245.
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  42. added 2019-05-13
    J. C. B. Petropoulos: Heat and Lust. Hesiod's Midsummer Festival Scene Revisited. Pp. Xvii +115; 2 Photographs. Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield, 1994. $39.50. [REVIEW]Stephen Instone - 1996 - The Classical Review 46 (1):152-153.
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  43. added 2019-05-12
    Emerging Technologies and Anticipatory Images: Uncertain Ways of Knowing with Automated and Connected Mobilities.Sarah Pink, Vaike Fors & Thomas Lindgren - 2018 - Philosophy of Photography 9 (2):195-216.
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  44. added 2019-05-12
    A Study of Thin Film Interference.Honey Biba Beckerlee - 2018 - Philosophy of Photography 9 (2):157-163.
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  45. added 2019-05-12
    The Precision of Sensibility: How to Deal with Epistemological Uncertainty?Holger Schulze - 2018 - Philosophy of Photography 9 (2):185-194.
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  46. added 2019-05-12
    ‘Biospace’: The Visual Rhetoric of Space in Micrographs.Max Liljefors - 2018 - Philosophy of Photography 9 (2):165-184.
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  47. added 2019-05-12
    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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  48. added 2019-05-12
    A Portrait of Facial Recognition: Tracing a History of a Statistical Way of Seeing.Lila Lee-Morrison - 2018 - Philosophy of Photography 9 (2):107-130.
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  49. added 2019-05-12
    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. added 2019-04-24
    Ambivalation of the Author’s role in a photographic image.Yuliia Petruk - 2018 - Наукові Записки Наукма. Філософія Та Релігієзнавство 2:17-25.
    This article questions the role of the author in the photographical image. Undoubtedly, the invention of photography has changed our attitude towards ourselves, towards the world. The impact of photography on one’s life is growing with the development of technology, mainly the photo-technology. One cannot but trust technological tools more than oneself, because any technological device nowadays is considered to be smarter, faster, and more precise than any human being. The technology plays a special role in photography, and that is (...)
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