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The collective image: a publicity constraint on pictorial representation

Steenhagen, M.; (2012) The collective image: a publicity constraint on pictorial representation. Masters thesis , UCL (University College London).

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When we look at a picture we may see persons in a landscape that is not actually present to us. This is a puzzling phenomenon. We intuitively take pictorial representation to be thoroughly visual, yet how can we see things that are not there? We also intuitively take it that many viewers will see the same persons when they look that picture. But if there is no landscape present, then how could that be correct? This essay aims to strike a balance between both intuitions. Most recent approaches to pictorial representation try to capture the richness of experience that pictures make possible. They do so by assigning a defining role to the visible marks on a picture’s surface. This essay argues that this approach should be abandoned. In the first part it is argued that seeing something in a picture requires a minimal sort of pictorial competence, given the kind of representations pictures are. The second part argues that pictures must be public representations. This poses a challenge that has received too little attention in recent debates. In the third part it is argued that an intuitive assumption about how pictures can be visual representations requires a conjunctive analysis of pictorial representation. It is argued that this analysis fails. Pictures cannot essentially represent the appearance of things. The fourth and last part argues that the conceptual repertoire of potential viewers will determine what a picture could possibly represent. Viewers can only see something in a picture if they would also be able to take themselves to see that thing.

Type: Thesis (Masters)
Title: The collective image: a publicity constraint on pictorial representation
Language: English
Additional information: Permission for digitisation not received
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Dept of Philosophy
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1348204
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