Experiencing Photographs: Between Perception and Memory 

Wednesday 14th January 2015 | 1600-1800 Senate House, G35

In this talk I explore the peculiar phenomenology of photographic pictorial experience and propose a novel account for the special relation in which photographs seem to put us with respect to objects and events. Firstly, I clarify what we mean when we say that photographs have a special phenomenology and I claim that photographs are a perceptually recognisable category. I discuss some influential views that propose different properties to account for this phenomenology and propose my own view. I claim that the property of “particularity” best explains the visual phenomenology of photography. I compare the case of perceptual and memory experiences to the case of photographs, and I claim that, although photographs resemble perceptual experiences in various respects, they are actually more similar to episodic memories. I suggest that photographs preserve not only visual similarity but also, the particular character of the original scenes.