A section designed for philosophers to address a question to the photographic community and inform their research.
Can anyone suggest examples of photographic art that can be best appreciated using an analogy with music?
Question by Dawn Wilson, Philosopher
Ansel Adams wrote that fine art photographers are like composers. The negative is a score and prints are performances. I am writing a philosophy article where I discuss this analogy. I am persuaded by his view that photographic visualization is like composing a score and that prints are like performances. But I will argue that a negative is already a performance, not a score. For this reason the analogy that Adams proposed works better for electronic-digital photography than chemical-analogue photography. Adams was talking narrowly about modernist fine art photography and classical music, but I am interested to explore wider implications for the analogy. Can anyone suggest examples of photographic art that can be best appreciated using an analogy with music? I previously presented a version of this argument to the London Aesthetics Forum and a recording of the talk is available.
Answer by Lance A.Lewin
I suggest, if we accept the description as outlined by Dr. Wilson, then every photograph can be an example: instead, should the conversation not expand on weather the previous, and the new music-photograph analogy, is a sound parity from the practitioners point of view? For example, the music-photograph parity opens a large space in which to discuss the (sometimes controversial) debates between "classic" and their digitally inspired photographic cousins. Thank you.
Dawn Phillips studied at the University of Durham and wrote her PhD on Wittgenstein’s say-show distinction. She held philosophy positions at Kent, Cork, Southampton, Oxford, and Warwick. In 2011 she became a Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Hull and, also, became Dawn Wilson.
Dawn has published on Wittgenstein early and late, particularly the Tractatus, including articles on logical analysis, clarity, symbolism, the picture theory of language and the expression of thought. With David Connearn, she co-authored an article about Wittgenstein’s House in Skjolden and co-ordinated an international letters campaign for the conservation of the house and its legacy.
She is interested in language, thought and image, particularly in art and aesthetics and the philosophy of photography. Her article, ‘Photography and Causation’, launched a field of debate known as the ‘New Theory’ of photography and was selected as one of twelve classic texts to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the British Journal of Aesthetics.
She recently published ‘Invisible Images and Indeterminacy: Why we need a ‘Multi-stage Account of Photography’ in the Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism and she is co-authoring, with Laure Blanc-Benon, the photography entry for the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. She is writing a book titled Aesthetics and Photography for Bloomsbury, and articles on temporal representation, co-portraiture, and comparing photography with music.
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