Chris Ball (Notre Dame University/CRASSH)
In the eras of both film-based and digital photography the role of indexicality in establishing the veracity of the image has been paramount in photo theory. There is a need, however, for expanding the ways we think about indexicality in photography. In addition to the familiar concepts of the trace, citation, reference, social diacritics, interactional cues, and artists' intentions, the indexicality of photography may be better understood through appeal to less direct, or more densely mediated, modalities of indexicality. These include qualia (hypostatically abstracted -nesses), dicentization (the upshifting of icons into indexes of contiguity), and propositionality (the assertion of messages subject to truth claims). This talk explores the early history of criminal photography, the war photojournalism of Robert Capa, and the ethnographic documentation of Gregory Bateson. These visual examples open up questions of the propositionality of photography and the aesthetic and metaphysical bases for the realism of the photograph.