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Walton - Kendall Walton"Transparent Pictures On the Nature...

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Kendall Walton “Transparent Pictures: On the Nature of Photographic Realism” 1984 1. Photography is commonly thought to excel in realism. Andre Bazin thought it is extraordinarily realistic. 1.1. Photographs of a crime are more likely to be admitted as evidence in court, and are more effective in extortion and pornography, and may seem more an invasion of privacy. 1.2. The photographs of Mathew Brady have more immediacy and realism than the etchings of Goya. 1.3. Edward Steichen: photography is a supremely realistic medium. 2. Dissenters to this idea point to distortions in the photographic process and the control of the photographer, observing that photographs are colored by the photographer’s interests. 3. Many see photography as culmination of the post-Renaissance quest for realism as it has mastered perspective, shading, and mundane details. 4. But this would only give photography more of what other pictures have, and if realism resides in this, some paintings are as realistic as photos. 5. And photos are not necessarily realistic in these ways, as some are blurred etc. 6. Bazin says that the photographic image is identical with the object photographed. 6.1. But it is false that a photo of Half Dome is Half Dome. 6.2. Nor is one under the illusion of seeing the real Half Dome when looking at the photo. 6.3. The photo’s flatness, etc., makes it obvious it is a photo. Photos look like photos. 6.4. And theaters come closer to illusion than film.
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