Why Draw Pictures that Already Exist?
Photo-based Drawings and the Presence Phenomenon
It is widely held that, due to its causal nature, photography is the visual medium best suited for enabling individuals to form a sense of perceptual contact with distant or deceased subjects, and so to mitigate against the loss of the subject. Yet, a number of artists, who have meticulously recreated photographs by a slow, laborious process of drawing, have reported that this manual activity has afforded a richer sense of connectedness with the distant or lost subjects. In this article, I produce a phenomenological analysis of this experience, which I term the “presence phenomenon”. To explain this phenomenon, I employ recent work from philosophy of perception and philosophy of mind to argue that the act of drawing, unlike looking at a photograph, presents affordances for bodily action that, in combination with the realism of the work, trigger sub-doxastic associative mechanisms that produce an enhanced sense of connection to the subject.
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