Presentation on theme: "1 Class 11: Pictorial Art Pablo Picasso, Three Musicians (1921)"— Presentation transcript:
1 Class 11: Pictorial Art Pablo Picasso, Three Musicians (1921)
2 Malcolm Budd: “How Pictures Look” Thesis: What makes one picture a depiction of another is that there is isomorphism between the viewer’s visual field representation of the picture, and what is (or would be) the viewer’s visual field representation of the scene it depicts, were the viewer seeing it from the proper angle. Class 11: Pictorial Art
3 The Nature of Depiction Class 11: Pictorial Art “What distinguishes pictorial representation (depiction) from non-pictorial representation?” (154) Naïve idea: What makes a depiction a representation is that it represents its subject by virtue of looking like what it depicts. -The concept of one thing looking like another is altogether too vague, and so allows for too many counterexamples.
4 The Nature of Depiction (cont’d) Class 11: Pictorial Art Marcel Duchamp, Nude Descending a Staircase (1913)
5 The Nature of Depiction (cont’d) Class 11: Pictorial Art There are two ways in which a picture may be of something: (1)“Relational” – That a picture is a picture of a woman depends upon there being or having been a woman of whom it is a picture. The picture must stand in relation to an actual thing, which it depicts. (2)“Non-Relational” – That a picture is a picture of a woman does not depend on there being or having been a woman of whom it is a picture. It is not required that the picture stand in relation to any actual thing.
6 The Nature of Depiction (cont’d) Class 11: Pictorial Art “What is constitutive of something’s being a picture is its being a picture in the non-relational sense, and […] this is what distinguishes pictorial representation from all other kinds of representation.” (155) A theory of depiction must explain what it means to be a picture of something in a non-relational sense, explaining likeness without being based on one thing’s looking like another.
7 Depiction Is Not “Looking Like” Class 11: Pictorial Art If A looks like B, then B looks like A. Looking like is a symmetrical relation. A looks (exactly) like itself. Looking like is a reflexive relation. But depiction is neither symmetrical nor reflexive: -I am not a depiction of my portrait. -A picture does not depict itself. -Many things look like one another without either one depicting the other.
8 Depiction Is Not “Looking Like” (cont’d) Class 11: Pictorial Art
9 Depiction Is Not “Looking Like” (cont’d) Class 11: Pictorial Art “[I]t inflicts no harm on the idea that it is of the essence of a picture that it looks like what it depicts, since it shows only that looking like is not fully constitutive of depiction, not that it is not a necessary condition of it.” (156) A picture is not only drawn to look like what it depicts, but also with the intention that it should be seen to look like it. What is crucial is not that A look like B, but that A be seen to look like B. To see A as a depiction is to see it as looking like B. However, it is not true that if you see A as looking like B, you thereby see B when looking at A, nor do you see A as looking like A.
10 Depiction Is Not “Looking Like” (cont’d) Class 11: Pictorial Art When a viewer sees a picture as a depiction of its subject, he is visually aware of the presence and character of a marked surface in front of him. -Consider Scruton: The viewer of a picture, like the listener of music, does not have false beliefs about the object of his attention.
11 Visual World vs. Visual Field Class 11: Pictorial Art “I shall understand the distinction [between visual world and visual field] in such a way that my visual field is a proper part of my visual world and I shall extrude depth from the visual field and assign it a place only within the complete visual world.” (157) Visual World: At any time, the complete way the world is represented to me by my visual experience. Visual Field: An abstraction from my visual world, lacking the third dimension – the distance outwards from my point of view.
12 Visual World vs. Visual Field Class 11: Pictorial Art “It would be a misunderstanding of the distinction between my visual field and world to conclude, as has frequently been done, that whereas my visual world contains a circular object, my visual field contains a different item, one that is elliptical.” (158)
13 Visual World vs. Visual Field (cont’d) Class 11: Pictorial Art The distinction between visual world and visual field is between a complete and a partial account of how my visual experience represents the world as being. As a viewer, I interpret my visual field in particular ways. The visual field is not a two-dimensional entity that I see. “[A] representation in my visual field is the manner in which the world is in some way visually represented to me in two of three spatial dimensions.” (159)
14 Nicolas Poussin, Echo and Narcissus (1627/28) Visual Field Isomorphism Class 11: Pictorial Art A picture looks like what it depicts only with respect to properties of the spectator’s visual field. “So when you look at Poussin’s Echo and Narcissus it is not so much your visual world, as your visual field that resembles the one you would have if you were to see from a certain point of view a handsome youth enraptured by his reflection.” (159) Ultimately, what you are comparing are two visual fields – that experienced when seeing the painting, and that experienced when seeing the scene that it depicts.
15 Visual Field Isomorphism (cont’d) Class 11: Pictorial Art
16 Visual Field Isomorphism (cont’d) Class 11: Pictorial Art Regardless of whether you see the cube as a representation of a wire framework, or of a transparent block, whether you see face aaaa or face bbbb as being in front, your visual experience contains two components: -A visual awareness of the lines as lying on the drawing surface. -The same representation of lines in your visual field. “What happens when you switch from seeing the schematic cube as a picture of a wire framework to seeing it as a picture of a transparent block […] is that what you experience your visual field representation as being isomorphic with changes.” (160)
17 Visual Field Isomorphism (cont’d) Class 11: Pictorial Art First, you see the structure of lines as being isomorphic with the visual field representation of a wire framework, and then with the visual field representation of a transparent block. “It is a matter of your seeing the lines as looking to be isomorphic [with a particular visual field representation].” (161)
18 Visual Field Isomorphism (cont’d) Class 11: Pictorial Art Two things are true of your visual experience when you see a picture and see what it depicts: -You are visually aware of the presence before you of a marked surface. -You see the structure of the surface as being isomorphic with the structure of the visual field representation of the picture’s subject, when seen from a certain point of view (that from which it is depicted). This is not just a matter of realizing that this is the case, but a visual experience.
19 Class 11: Pictorial Art Hans Holbein, The Ambassadors (1533)
20 Visual Field Isomorphism (cont’d) Class 11: Pictorial Art The skull is isomorphic with the representation in the visual field of a skull, but you only see it as isomorphic when you see it from the proper angle. Likewise, you only see it as a depiction of a skull from that angle, not when looking at the painting straight on.
21 Visual Field Isomorphism (cont’d) Class 11: Pictorial Art Tableaux Vivants: When looking at a tableau vivant, you can see the tableau as: -Looking like the scene the picture depicts; or -Looking like the picture, itself. To be struck by the tableau’s likeness to the picture, itself, requires seeing it as a two-dimensional surface – the perceived resemblance excludes the third dimension. “Now this is just the converse of what I have called pictorial seeing: in the one case, a flat surface is seen as a depiction of a three-dimensional scene; in the other, a three- dimensional scene is seen as a representation of a picture.” (163)
22 Objections Class 11: Pictorial Art 1)For many, the pictures in the visual field representation of the picture surface is strikingly unlike what it depicts. -The isomorphism included in the theory concerns the relations between elements of the two visual fields – there may, indeed, be great differences. 2)Can’t we just restate this theory and say that the viewer sees the picture as being like a given visual field representation? -The visual field representation of the picture surface can (and usually does) lack features of the visual field representation of what is depicted: detail or color.
23 Objections (cont’d) Class 11: Pictorial Art -The visual field representation of the picture surface has features that the visual field representation of what is depicted does not: brush strokes or cross-hatching. A black-and-white photograph does not depict its subject as being black and white: the lack of color is understood by the viewer as something not depicted by the artist. Cross-hatching in a drawing is used to represent tone, but the lines, themselves, lack pictorial significance. “[T]o see the pictorial content of a picture it is often necessary to abstract from various details of the picture- surface, ignoring those aspects of the marks that are not representations of depicted features…” (164)
24 Objections (cont’d) Class 11: Pictorial Art Though every feature of the depicted object may have a perceptible feature in the depiction, “a perceptible feature of the picture need not be representative of any feature of the depicted object.” (164) A picture may be more abstract than its subject, depicting only certain elements of an object and omitting others. “The less the depicted detail of the visible structure of a state of affairs, the greater the abstract nature of the picture; the greater the level of abstraction, the less definite the nature of the subject as depicted.” (164)
25 Objections (cont’d) Class 11: Pictorial Art 3)If this theory applies at all, it applies only to certain types of depiction – those that are fairly close relations in optical perspective – but not, say, pictures in reverse perspective. -This objection does not distinguish between an object’s having a certain form and seeing a picture as a depiction of an object which is depicted as having that form. -A picture in reverse perspective is a distorted depiction of an object, not an undistorted depiction of a mis-shapen object. -In extreme cases, like Holbein’s anamorphic skull, the depiction may not be seen as a depiction at all.
26 Representing Fictional Subjects Class 11: Pictorial Art A depiction of a unicorn is a depiction of a unicorn, because we know what something like a horse with a horn would look like, and we can therefore perceive the resemblance by this account. A picture of an impossible tribar is such that, if we look at any of its joints, it is isomorphic with the visual field representation of a joint of two bars. “Pictures of impossible objects or worlds are merely configurations which are composed of elements so designed that the spectator is strongly encouraged to see different sets of marks as depictions, but which resist integration…” (166) But the isomorphism still holds.
27 Class 11: Pictorial Art
28 Naturalistic Depiction Class 11: Pictorial Art A naturalistic picture is one in which the subject’s visual appearance is accurately depicted. Problems 1)There is no such thing as the visual appearance of an object or scene. The appearance an object presents to the viewer depends upon: -The point of view from which it is seen. -The manner in which it is illuminated. -The mental and visual apparatus of the viewer. -The nature and condition of the medium through which the object is seen.
29 Naturalistic Depiction (cont’d) Class 11: Pictorial Art -How the viewer focuses his eyes. -How the viewer distributes his attention. 2)A picture can be naturalistic in rendering one aspect of the world and not in another, and a picture can be overall more naturalistic than another, but less naturalistic in its treatment of some particular aspect of its subject matter. Naturalism is not only comparative, but relative to specific features of the world and their depiction. -For a schematic picture (like the cube), there will be relatively few points of perceived resemblance; for a detailed picture, there will be more.
30 Naturalistic Depiction (cont’d) Class 11: Pictorial Art -If a viewer is aware of the appearance of some feature in the visual field representation of the depiction matching up to some feature in the visual field representation of the depicted scene, to that degree the viewer experiences the picture as depicting that feature naturalistically. The more vividly a viewer imagines the missing third dimension, the more intensely naturalistic he find the picture’s depiction of distance. -Various tools of depiction by the artist will contribute to heightening the viewer’s imagination in this regard.
31 Advantages Class 11: Pictorial Art 1)This theory explains depictions of objects (or parts of an object) from different points of view (Cubism), from a non-fixed point of view (Cézanne’s watercolors), from an indefinite point of view (a panoramic landscape), or from a point of view only minimally determined (a child’s drawing). 2)A viewer who has no idea what a certain state of affairs would or might look like cannot see a depiction as a depiction of that state of affairs. 3)If I can recognize a stylized picture as depicting a certain object, then I can recognize another depiction of another object in the same style.
32 Advantages (cont’d) Class 11: Pictorial Art 4)This theory explains how pictures satisfy the ‘requirement of localization’ (for each depicted part in a depicted object, if a viewer sees that part depicted, there must be an answer to the question whereabouts in the picture he sees it depicted). 5)This theory allows for a naturalistic intuition despite that there are indefinite styles in which the artist can depict a given scene. 6)Because the theory does not require isomorphism for every element in the depiction with every element in the depicted subject, it allows for indefinite elements in the depiction.
33 Advantages (cont’d) Class 11: Pictorial Art 7)By focusing on the artist depicting a visual field, rather than the visual world, the theory explains the naturalistic artist’s attempts to produce a two-dimensional ‘likeness’ of a three-dimensional world. 8)This theory explains how some pictures (or parts thereof) can be more or less recognizable as depictions of their subjects. 9)This theory explains how a perceived isomorphism of structure provides the appropriate foundation for imagining seeing a picture as an instance of seeing face- to-face what is depicted.
34 Advantages (cont’d) Class 11: Pictorial Art 10)That a picture looks like what it depicts provides the necessary bridge between (i) our interest in looking at pictures, and (ii) our interest in looking at the world, and between (iii) a picture’s ability to invoke responses in us, and (iv) similar responses invoked by looking at the world.
35 Questions & Problems (1)Is Budd’s theory intuitive? Does this sound like what we do when we look at pictures? If so, does it also sound like what we do when we watch movies or plays? (2)Is our interest in looking at pictures the same as our interest in looking at the world? Don’t we focus as much on the non-representational elements as much as we do the representational ones? (3)Do representations with depth (whether real, as in sculptures and friezes, or apparent, as in 3-D images) prove problematic for Budd’s theory? Class 11: Pictorial Art
36 Richard Wollheim: “On Pictorial Representation” Thesis: Popular theories of representation (including those of Walton and Budd) fail to accommodate our strongest intuitions on the matter. Representation is essentially a perceptual activity – an appropriate experience grounded in “seeing-in” by a suitable spectator. Class 11: Pictorial Art
37 Easy & Hard Cases Class 11: Pictorial Art Any philosophical theory of representation must explain both easy and hard cases. Hard cases are totally resistant to stipulation: -I cannot simply stipulate that trompe l’oeil paintings are not representations, but most abstract paintings are.
38 Minimal Requirement Class 11: Pictorial Art Any theory of representation must preserve our strongest intuition about representation: -Pictorial representation is a perceptual (specifically, a visual) phenomenon. 1.If a picture represents something, there will be a visual experience of that picture that determines that it does so. This is the “appropriate experience”. 2.If a suitable spectator looks at the picture, he will, other things being equal, have the appropriate experience. (Skeleton) Minimal Requirement:
39 Minimal Requirement (cont’d) Class 11: Pictorial Art Suitable Spectator – a spectator who is suitably sensitive, suitably informed, and (if necessary) suitably prompted. -Sensitivity and information include a recognitional skill for what is represented. -Even if a spectator is suitably sensitive and informed, he may still require prompting, thing by thing, about what the picture for him represents: without this prompting, he will not have the appropriate experience.
40 Class 11: Pictorial Art
41 Semiotic Theories of Representation Class 11: Pictorial Art Semiotic Theories – ground representation in a system of rules or conventions that link the pictorial surface (or parts thereof) with things in the world. -Linguistically-oriented semiotic theories model the rules of representation on the rules of language: representational meaning depends upon pictorial structure. Problem: Pictures lack structure in the relevant sense. There is no non-trivial way of segmenting pictures into parts functionally or according to the contribution that parts make to the whole.
42 Semiotic Theories of Representation (cont’d) Class 11: Pictorial Art Semiotic theories of representation do not allow for the “appropriate experience”: -Any semiotic theory (linguistically structured or plausible) includes perception in that the spectator must be visually aware of the picture surface. -Plausible semiotic theories include perception in that the spectator must have the relevant recognitional skills to apply the rules of perception. -But no semiotic theories allow for any further perception: all the spectator has to do is apply the rules to the surface of the picture.
43 Semiotic Theories of Representation (cont’d) Class 11: Pictorial Art So, on any semiotic theory, the grasp of representation is fundamentally an interpretive, not a perceptual activity.
44 Amplifying the Minimal Requirement Class 11: Pictorial Art If further theories of representation are to be tested, the minimal requirement needs to be amplified: they will need to say, for every representation, what the appropriate experience is like. Additional intuition: If a spectator lacks the appropriate recognitional skills, he can acquire them by being appropriately prompted. -One gains the recognitional skill through an experience in which one is visually aware of the thing that one is thereby able to recognize. -We can fold this into the minimal requirement for theories of representation.
45 Amplifying the Minimal Requirement Class 11: Pictorial Art (Amplified) Minimal Requirement: 1.If a picture represents something, there will be an appropriate experience of it that determines that it does so. 2.If a suitable spectator looks at the picture, he will (all things considered) have this appropriate experience. 3.This appropriate experience will be (or include) a visual awareness of the thing represented.
46 Resemblance Theories of Representation Class 11: Pictorial Art Resemblance Theories – ground representation in a resemblance between the pictorial image and what it represents. -Resemblance theories of representation may or may not require that resemblance between something pictorial and something extra-pictorial be experienced. -Clearly, only the latter sort of theory will satisfy the minimal requirement (even in its skeletal version). -These latter theories require that the pictorial image is experienced as resembling the subject, not that it actually does.
47 Resemblance Theories of Representation (cont’d) Class 11: Pictorial Art -Resemblance theories of representation can be further divided according to the terms between which the resemblance relation holds. -The crucial issue regarding disagreements about the resembling term rests on whether the resembling term is something on the pictorial surface, or something in the spectator’s experience. -Note: Remarks such as “That looks like a Saint Bernard” operate within a theory of representation, which they presuppose.
48 Resemblance Theories of Representation (cont’d) Class 11: Pictorial Art -For Budd, when something in the visual field is experienced as resembling something else, so too is the corresponding part of the pictorial surface. -For Peacocke, there is an additional relation between a picture and what it represents: experienced resemblance. Christopher Peacocke – The visual field of the spectator has both representational and sensational properties, but only the sensational properties provide the resembling term. Malcolm Budd – The visual field has only representational properties, so these provide the resembling term.
49 Resemblance Theories of Representation (cont’d) Class 11: Pictorial Art -The resembled term (another visual field) fixes not only what is represented, but also how it is represented – what properties it is represented as having (position, lighting, etc.) -Peacocke’s theory specifies that that the experienced resemblance between two visual fields is specifically in respect to shape. -Budd’s theory seems to avoid being this restricted by specifying that the experienced resemblance be one of structure.
50 Resemblance Theories of Representation (cont’d) Class 11: Pictorial Art These resemblance theories pass the skeletal minimal requirement, insisting on an appropriate experience. But these theories fail the amplified minimal requirement, as they do not require a visual awareness of the represented visual field: they only require a dispositional skill for recognizing what the representation is of. Is the amplification of the minimal requirement – the appropriate experience will be (or include) a visual awareness of the thing represented – excessive?
51 “Seeing-In” Class 11: Pictorial Art Seeing-in is logically and historically prior to representation: -Logically prior – we can see the Man in the Moon or the Virgin Mary in my grilled cheese without presuming a representation thereof. -Historically prior – certainly our ancestors experienced “seeing-in” before they thought to decorate their caves. Twofoldness – “Looking at a suitably marked surface, we are visually aware at once of the marked surface and of something in front of or behind something else.” (221) -I experience twofoldness in two aspects: the pictorial surface, and what it represents.
52 “Seeing-In” (cont’d) Class 11: Pictorial Art As a phenomenological description, the theory of seeing-in is meant to describe how this particular experience, in virtue of what it is like, does what it does – it is not meant to describe how to experience the experience.
53 “Seeing-In” (cont’d) Class 11: Pictorial Art Problem: Granted that seeing-in grounds representation, doesn’t experienced resemblance ground seeing-in? That is, when we see something in a surface, isn’t this in part because of a resemblance that we experience between it and something else? Consideration (1): As Budd notes, the surface of any picture can contain elements (like cross-hatching) that, though visible, make no contribution to the representation. -If seeing-in rested on experienced resemblance, we would need an antecedent way of filtering out such elements. -If it does not, we need not.
54 “Seeing-In” (cont’d) Class 11: Pictorial Art Consideration (2): If experienced resemblance is basic, we must be expected to attend to each identifiable pictorially significant element at least in so far as we experience it as resembling something. -If a theory of experienced resemblance does not require that pictures be capable of systematic segmentation, and if pictorial elements can cover both small groups of marks and the surface between them, it risks becoming a theory within, not a theory of, representation. -If seeing-in is prioritized, all that is required is that we are visually aware of the surface, and how detailed this awareness must be is an open matter.
55 “Seeing-In” (cont’d) Class 11: Pictorial Art Consideration (3): If experienced resemblance is prioritized, not only are we required to be aware of what properties the pictorially significant elements have, but to infer from these properties how the corresponding object is represented, or what properties it is represented as having. -But, of course, such inferences can be wild.
56 The Scope of Representation Class 11: Pictorial Art The scope of representation falls under two parts: 1)Ontological: There are various kinds of things that can be represented, and these varieties of representation can be cross-classified.
57 Class 11: Pictorial Art Particular Particular Kind Object Event
58 The Scope of Representation (cont’d) Class 11: Pictorial Art 2)Constraint: What can be represented is limited. -Representation is not limited to what can be seen face-to-face; only what can be seen in a marked surface. -“[P]ictures can represent a man as singing and a woman as listening to him; they can represent kings as seeing things that are not given to the human eye; they can represent a man as renouncing all earthly goods but one, and why; and they can represent a woman as hearing news the greatness the terribleness, of which she struggles to take in.” (224)
59 Class 11: Pictorial Art “Can you see the columns?” “Yes.” “Can you see the columns as coming from a temple?” “Yes.” “Can you see them as having been thrown down?” “Yes.” “Can you see them as having been thrown down some hundreds of years ago?” “Yes.” “Can you see them as having been thrown down some hundreds of years ago by barbarians?” “Yes.” “Can you see them as having been thrown down some hundreds of years ago by barbarians wearing the skins of wild asses?” “… No.”
60 The Psychological Dimension Class 11: Pictorial Art “What this thought-experiment primarily shows is the central phenomenological feature of seeing-in, which is its permeability to thought, whether the thought is directly caused by the marked surface or is party prompted by another.” (224) It is tempting to think that imagination grounds seeing-in. Consider Walton’s theory of make-believe: “I see the pictorial surface, I imagine seeing a face, and of my seeing the surface I imagine it to be an experience of seeing a face.” (224) -If the core experience of representation is imagining one perceptual experience being another, in what way does the original experience retain its content?
61 The Psychological Dimension (cont’d) Class 11: Pictorial Art Where we are not imagining one perceptual experience to be another perceptual experience, we do not run into these problems: each will retain its own content. In Wollheim’s theory, imagination is only ancillary to seeing- in: -In some cases, the suitable spectator identifies with the spectator-in-the-picture, who has a repertoire of beliefs, desires, attitudes, and so on – to imagine him, centrally, or from the inside. -Consider Scruton’s “Understanding Music”
62 What About Intentions? Class 11: Pictorial Art If we feel the need to include intentions in this account: “[T]he experience of seeing-in that determines what it represents, or the appropriate experience, is the experience that tallies with the artist’s intention.” (226) Explaining this in terms of the suitable spectator, rather than the artist’s intentions, however, allows for failure by the artist, in which case there will be no suitable spectator. -In such a case, the work represents nothing. -Representational meaning depends not on intention as such, but on fulfilled intention.
63 Questions & Problems (1)Given Wollheim’s arguments about excluding discussion of intention from his account, would Levinson’s “Hypothetical Intentionalism” mesh with his account? (2)Wollheim’s “minimal requirement” (both the skeletal and amplified versions) is supposed to be built on intuitions – is it intuitive? (3)Is Wollheim’s new theory intuitive? Does this sound like what we do when we look at pictures? If so, does it also sound like what we do when we watch movies or plays? Class 11: Pictorial Art