A section designed for philosophers to address a question to the photographic community and inform their research.
A question for artists working with digital tools
Question by Kate Thomson-Jones, Philosopher
Answer by Lance A.Lewin
Professor, my current research and writing are solidly placed within the context of your question, and I look forward to getting the opportunity to present my work-in-progress for peer review in the near future. Allow me to share a few words regarding your question. This is a very thought-provoking question, as practitioners, we are seldom asked: for me, the first thought that comes to mind is integrity: as in the integrity of the photography-artist. Unfortunately, it is all too common to communicate or interact with photographers that thwart any attempt to reveal to the spectator (or viewer) how a particular pictorial composition was constructed. In my own experience, this was because the photographer was trying to pass off the work as a construct or design within the “classic tradition” (Barbara Savedoff 2000), where in fact, likely a great deal of the composition was AI assisted, (e.g., pre-sets, sky replacement software and composites for three examples). As such, the very idea to identify the processes used to create photographic work (and we are mostly speaking of post-production workflows) is vital in providing extra context for interpretation: technical-context aids in interpretation, or at least, in its appreciation.
Kate Thomson-Jones is Professor of Philosophy at Oberlin College. Her main research area is aesthetics and she teaches philosophy of art, philosophy of film, philosophy of music, value theory, and a community-based learning course, Philosophy in the Schools (PHITS). She has published articles on digital art, ethical art criticism, imagination, formalism, film narration, and empathy in film. She is the author of Aesthetics and Film (2008), coeditor of New Waves in Aesthetics (2008), and editor of Current Controversies in Philosophy of Film (2016). Her most recent book is titled Image in the Making: Digital Innovation and the Visual Arts (Oxford University Press, 2021).
For the most part, my inspiration from behind the viewfinder comes from a richly filled combination of studying the pioneers of photography in the mid to late 19th Century and masters of the 20th century, (e.g., Julia Margret Cameron, Alfred Stieglitz, Ansel Adams and Bob Kolbrener, for just four examples) while also studying art history, drawing and design, all in the pursuit of developing my own artistic narratives.
Though a lot of my work cannot be deemed as “Straight Photography”, nonetheless, I stay clear of trends that can lead to what some refer to as hyper-reality and composite alternatives, instead, maintaining a photographic canvas that balances between modernist and pictorial aesthetics that evoke a sense of reality and authenticity. Please, visit my website to learn a little more about my perspectives behind the lens and teaching philosophy. visualizingart.com