Andrew Reisner: "The ontology of the formal objects of photographs"

  • Date: –16:00
  • Location: Engelska parken – Eng2/1022 and Zoom (contact Irene Martinez Marin for link)
  • Organiser: Department of Philosophy
  • Contact person: Irene Martinez Marin
  • Seminarium

The Higher Seminar in Aesthetics

Andrew Reisner, Uppsala University: "The ontology of the formal objects of photographs"

Paradigm photographs are made by using a camera, taking a single exposure and converting the chemically or digitally encoded information into a visible image. Most paradigm photographs appear to show an instant in time – an instant so short that the captured image appears to be almost untimed. However, this is just an illusion. Photographs are recordings made over time. An apparently instantaneous moment may in in fact be a recording of a very still scene over several minutes. However long the exposure, at least intuitively, the formal object of a paradigm photograph is an event (in the sense of being a timed state-of-affairs). However, objects that are intuitively clearly photographs can be produced in others ways. For example what I shall call ‘compound’ and ‘abstraction’ photographs do not have single events, or in the latter case any events at all, or so I shall argue, as their formal object. I shall begin the talk by arguing that paradigm photographs are one of the most distinctive forms of art, because they are by nature timed recordings represented in a still medium, making them unlike movies and recorded musical performances or manual forms of art, which are not typically recordings at all. I shall examine how this distinctiveness is reduced or eliminated with compound and abstraction photography, and I shall ask whether the fact that different kinds of photographs have different formal objects has any important implications for the analysis of what a photograph is or for the aesthetics of photography.