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Conference Session 6

Saturday 12 June 16.00-18.00
Chaired by Professor Margaret Iversen (Art History and Theory, University of Essex).
Associate Professor Diarmuid Costello (Philosophy, University of Warwick and Co-Director, AHRC ‘Aesthetics after Photography’ Research Project)
The Question Concerning Photography


This paper explores some surprising affinities between Martin Heidegger’s theory of art and Kendall Walton’s theory of photography. I suggest that photography, understood in terms of Walton’s ‘mind-independence’ thesis, reflects the anti-subjectivism of authentic art on Heidegger’s account. In effect, both subscribe to an automatism thesis of sorts. Assuming this is right, I propose that Heidegger and Walton’s accounts are equally contentious, precisely in so far as they do agree, in downplaying the agency of artist and photographer respectively.

Diarmuid Costello is Associate Professor of Philosophy, University of Warwick and Chair of the British Society of Aesthetics. He co-edited Photography after Conceptual Art, Art History, 32:5 (2009); The Life and Death of Images (2008); and Art: Key Contemporary Thinkers (2007). Recent articles have appeared in The British Journal of Aesthetics, Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Critical Inquiry, Rivista di Estetica, and Angelaki. He is working on two longer projects: Aesthetics after Modernism and On Photography.

Closing remarks from Margaret Iversen and Diarmuid Costello, Co-directors of the AHRC Project Aesthetics After Photography