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Arts and facts : fiction, non-fiction and the photographic medium

In this thesis, I deal with the rarely discussed issue of how the nature of a representational medium—in this case photography—affects or contributes to the classification of works as fiction or non-fiction, and I provide a novel view on the relation between photographs and documentary works. Part I focuses on issues concerning the nature of photographic representation, its special relation with the real and its purported fictional incompetence. Part II takes up issues concerning the nature of fiction and non-fiction with an emphasis on the category of non-fiction/documentary, and examines its application to photography. Firstly, I discuss the claim, put forward by Kendall Walton, according to which photographs, in virtue of being depictive, are or favour fiction. I deny that this is so, although I argue that Walton’s claim is frequently misunderstood. Then, I address the more intuitive claim that photographs favour non-fiction. I argue that, if this is so, it is not because photographs are fictionally incapable. Photographs, I claim, can depict ficta by photographic means. However, this is consistent with saying that photographs bear a special relation with the real: (1) photographs are typically natural ‘signals’; they are handicaps and indices (Green 2007, Maynard-Smith and Harper 2004)—and thereby typically factive; and (2) photographs are documental images, images that support an experience that preserves the particularity of the original scene. These features contribute to non-fiction/documentary. To see how, I discuss various views on the nature of documentary and I propose an alternative account based on Stacie Friend’s ‘Genre Theory’. Finally, I discuss the application of the categories of fiction and non-fiction to photography. I claim that although these are active genres in the medium, it is more accurate to speak about factual and non-factual photography, where the former is a more basic category. This, in turn, is a consequence of the nature of the medium itself.
Date January 2014
CreatorsAtencia-Linares, P.
PublisherUniversity College London (University of London)
Source SetsEthos UK
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeElectronic Thesis or Dissertation

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