ALP Conference Abstracts

Maarten Steenhagen

Models of Sound Reproduction

Sound recording and playback technologies have far-reaching consequences for our perception of the audible world. The basic structure that recording and playback technologies facilitate is straightforward: there’s a sound at time t1 and a sound at time t2, with a technological intervention in the middle. But how do these sounds relate? Here I discuss three rival ontological models: (1) the continuity model, (2) the difference model, and (3) the repetition model. I will argue that only the repetition model can be correct. According to this model, the sound we hear when we play back a recording is the exact sound that occurred earlier in time, and now exists once more. Sound recording technologies, so understood, have two consequences: (1) the sense of hearing is more expansive than often thought; (2) abstracta, of some form, can exist as part of the everyday world.

Jenny Judge

The Surprising Thing about Musical Surprise

The phenomenon of musical surprise — being taken aback by the appearance of a particular rhythm, melody or harmony — is commonly explained by musicologists in terms of the thwarting of unconscious expectations. Philosophers too tend to invoke unconscious expectations in order to explain perceptual surprises, such as discovering that what one initially took to be a fruit-bowl is actually a fruit-bowl façade. I argue here that this explanatory strategy is misguided. Contrary to a common assumption across psychology and philosophy, surprise does not, after all, license an inference to the existence of a prior expectation. Perceptual surprise — and music surprise in particular — emanate from thwarted conscious assessments of the present. No future-tensed states are involved, and there is no need to postulate unconscious states either. I consider objections and offer replies.

Bence Nanay

Global aesthetics

Many aesthetically relevant properties of works in the visual arts are perceived (like the strong brushstrokes). Some others are not (like the artist’s intention or the social or art historical context) – these are represented by means of beliefs, presumably. But some further aesthetically relevant properties of visual artworks are represented by means of mental imagery and these can be crucial in our engagement with the visual arts. This can happen in a variety of ways: in the case of still photographs, paintings and sculptures the temporal imagery represents the moments before and after the represented moment. In paintings, photos and film, the parts of the depicted scene that fall outside the frame are represented by means of mental imagery. Often we are also prompted to have mental imagery of something within the frame (say, the six foot tall Harvey). And in some works of conceptual art, the perceptual engagement with the work is deliberately replaced with the engagement by means of mental imagery. Different artistic traditions utilize mental imagery of different determinacy, with pictorial and literary modernism often opting for triggering ambiguous mental imagery.

Anya Farennikova

Art of absence

Can absence of art be art? Is art of absence a form of conceptual art? I discuss experiences of absence elicited by present or absent artworks, and present a model of how we aesthetically appreciate absences. I then show that art of absence can be accommodated within formalist approaches to aesthetic experience.

Cain Todd

Transparency, Imagination, and Time in Aesthetic Experience

The main aim of this paper is to explore some connections between imagination and time in aesthetic experiences, where such experiences are not confined solely to an engagement with works of art. In the process, I will examine how aesthetic experiences differ significantly from perceptual experiences in respect of their transparency, their employment of attention, and their affects on temporal representation. This will lead to a discussion of some implications for how we should characterise aesthetic experiences in general, as well as how to understand the normative dimension of the judgements that are held to express them.

Catharine Abell

Depiction, Systems of Representation and Resemblance

Some claim that what distinguishes pictures from other representations are the features of the systems of representation to which they belong and not, as is more commonly thought, the kinds of features in virtue of which they have the contents they do. The diversity of systems of depiction may appear to support this view. For example, we will assign very different contents to a given picture depending on whether we take it to belong to a linear perspective or a curvilinear perspective system of representation, suggesting that members of the two systems have the contents they do in virtue of different kinds of features. I seek to undermine this line of reasoning by examining what is required for a system of representation to be depictive. I argue that the relevant requirements show that, insofar as certain systems of representation are depictive, their members have less determinate contents than are sometimes ascribed to them. Acknowledging this, I argue, makes clear that the diversity of systems of depiction poses no impediment to analysing depiction by appeal to the kinds of features that determine pictures’ contents.