Art Media and the Sense Modalities: Tactile Pictures

Philosophical Quarterly 47 (189):425-440 (1997)


It is widely assumed that the art media can be individuated with reference to the sense modalities. Different art media are perceived by means of different sense modalities, and this tells us what properties of each medium are aesthetically relevant. The case of pictures appears to fit this principle well, for pictures are deemed purely and paradigmatically visual representations. However, recent psychological studies show that congenitally and early blind people have the ability to interpret and make raised‐line drawings through touch. This shows that pictures are not essentially visual representations. The view that pictures are essentially visual follows from influential views of the nature of depiction and of the nature of vision that are mistaken. By rooting out the mistake, we learn something about pictures, something about vision, and something about the doctrine that art media are individuated by the sense modalities

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Dominic McIver Lopes
University of British Columbia

References found in this work

Categories of Art.Kendall L. Walton - 1970 - Philosophical Review 79 (3):334-367.
Collected Papers.Gareth Evans - 1985 - Oxford University Press.
Depiction.Christopher Peacocke - 1987 - Philosophical Review 96 (3):383-410.
Vision and Painting: The Logic of the Gaze.Norman Bryson - 1984 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 43 (2):219-221.

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Citations of this work

Pictorial Representation.John Kulvicki - 2006 - Philosophy Compass 1 (6):535–546.
Molyneux’s Question.Robert Hopkins - 2005 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 35 (3):441-464.
Image Consciousness and the Horizonal Structure of Perception.Walter Hopp - 2017 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 41 (1):130-153.
Pictorial Colour: Aesthetics and Cognitive Science.Dominic McIver Lopes - 1999 - Philosophical Psychology 12 (4):415-428.
Sculpture.Sherri Irvin - 2013 - In Berys Gaut & Dominic McIver Lopes (eds.), Routledge Companion to Aesthetics, 3rd ed. Routledge. pp. 606-615.

View all 11 citations / Add more citations

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