Routledge (2017)

Authors
Diarmuid Costello
University of Warwick
Abstract
What is photography? Is it primarily a source of knowledge about the world or an art? Many have said the former, because it records the world automatically, others the latter because it embodies human subjectivity. Can it photography be both or must we choose? In _On Photography: A Philosophical Inquiry_ Diarmuid Costello examines these fascinating questions and more. In so doing he introduces some of the fundamental topics and debates about the nature of photography, with the help of photographic images from Paul Strand, Lee Friedlander, James Welling, Jeff Wall, and Gerhard Richter, among others. Tracing the roots of thinking about photography from its discovery, through nineteenth-century debates about its standing as art, to twentieth-century Modernism and post-War cultural criticism, Costello identifies the emergence of a powerful "orthodox" view of photography. The features that make photographs compelling documents are precisely those that put pressure on its standing as art; though they provide a wealth of empirical information, they cannot have the unifying vision we look for in art. He draws on the reflections of photographers and theorists, including Paul Strand, Edward Weston, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Siegfried Kracauer, Andre Bazin and Stanley Cavell to illustrate this fundamental tension. The view comes to fruition in the work of Roger Scruton and Kendall Walton. Whether pure photography is capable of representing fictions, or always presents a transparent window onto the real world becomes the key question. Recently, the orthodox view has come under increasing pressure from a new generation of philosophers who reject the contrast between machine and hand made images that underwrites it. He concludes by examining photographic agency in a digital age. Written in a clear and engaging style, _On Photography: A Philosophical Inquiry_ is essential reading for anyone interested in the philosophy of photography, aesthetics, art, and visual studies.
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ISBN(s) 9780415684491   0415684498   0415684706
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