Taking Bazin Literally

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  • 1 University of Warwick marioslugan@gmail.com
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Abstract

This article argues against the standard readings of Bazin’s seminal essay “The Ontology of the Photographic Image,” which are based on Charles S. Peirce’s account of indexicality but for reasons distinct from recent influential criticism of this approach in film studies. The article also moves beyond the accounts of Bazin in the analytic tradition, by building on a rare analysis that takes Bazin’s notion of identity between the photographic image and the model seriously. Whereas Jonathan Friday proposes identity to be construed as psychological, the article argues that, under the dual theory of light available to Bazin at the time, identity between the photographic images and object photographed literally holds for some photographs—namely, negatives of objects which emit light. The article concludes with an explanation of why Bazin thought the identity holds for all photographs.

Contributor Notes

Mario Slugan holds a PhD in cinema studies and is currently a postdoctoral associate fellow at the University of Warwick. His interests include film theory, early cinema, and interwar avant-garde. His publications include a contributed chapter to the volume on fiction How to Make Believe (De Guyter, 2015), as well as articles in Slavic Review and Early Popular Visual Culture. His first monograph, Montage as Perceptual Experience, is forthcoming with Camden House (2017). Presently, he is preparing a monograph on Noël Carroll’s philosophy of film for I.B. Tauris.

Projections

The Journal for Movies and Mind

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