Pictures and their Use in Communication: A Philosophical by David Novitz

By David Novitz

Ours is the age of the image. photographs abound in our newspapers and magazines, in storybooks and at the modern pages of guide manuals. we discover them on billboards and postage stamps, at the tv monitor and within the cinema. And in all of those situations photos tell us: they clarify, they make clear, they elucidate - and every now and then, too, they entertain and pleasure us. pictures at the tv display have all yet changed the published note as a resource of knowledge in regards to the global; and these days, too, photograph books and comedian strips are consulted even more quite simply, and with less highbrow attempt, than the broadcast note. There may be no doubt yet that photographs have come to play a crucial position in conversation. It moves me as peculiar that, in what's not anything under a visible age, philosophers have had so little to claim concerning the visible photograph and its use in verbal exchange. infrequently whatever has been performed to provide an explanation for the best way photographs are used to notify us; the way they impression our considering, our attitudes and our belief of the realm. My target during this paintings is to fill this hole, and in so doing to supply a possible account of pictorial communication.

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H. Pirenne, Optics, Painting and Photography, pp. 121-3. 6 Hochberg, op. , pp. 49-50. 7 D. Denham, Narrative of Travels and Discoveries in Northern and Central Africa, London, 1826. 8 Melville J. Herskovits, Man and His Works, New York, 1948; and M. H. Segall, 24 PICTURES AND DEPICTING understood, and that the exercise of certain acquired skills is necessary in picture perception. Better documented evidence has been presented by a number of psychologists who have explored the fact that Africans in certain parts of Africa experience difficulty in understanding pictures.

One could perhaps be excused for supposing, in the face of these obstacles, that the non-conventionalists have won the day. There is, however, one further possibility. Perhaps we should resist the tendency to think that the depictor has to achieve his two aims by performing distinct and separate tasks. My claim will be that the depictor's aim is unified in the sense that to satisfy it he has only to perform the single task of producing an arrangement of lines and colours in a way which enables an audience to recognize that this arrangement is a picture of some or other object or scene.

26 It is enough to insist that a sufficient condition for regarding a particular practice as a convention is that it should be a solution to a recurrent coordination problem which is accepted by all or nearly all the members of a given society. 4. The Problem of Picturehood Now, one way of showing that conventions often enter into, and play an important part in, the activity of depicting, is by demonstrating that this activity necessarily gives rise to certain recurrent coordination problems. But, of course, to show that this is the case is not to show that conventions necessarily enter into depicting; for, as we know, a solution to a coordination problem need not be conventional.

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