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Reproductive Prints as Aesthetic Surrogates

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Reproductive prints allow us to engage with the aesthetic/artistic character of the pictures that are their sources. But prints clearly differ from their sources in various striking ways. How, then, are they able to make engagement possible? I consider various answers. Most treat prints as acting as surrogates for the source: in sharing its aesthetic properties, in resembling it in overall aesthetic character, in being aesthetically transparent to it, or in allowing us to imagine its aesthetic character in sufficiently rich detail. Others do not appeal to surrogacy: the idea that prints testify to the character of their sources, or that they are pictorial variations on them. Each answer faces difficulties, from general principles governing the aesthetic and artistic, or from the facts about reproductive prints and our interactions with them. Those difficulties may not be insuperable, but they have yet to be overcome. Until solutions are worked out, prints pose a puzzle, one that generalizes to other apparent aesthetic surrogates.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2015

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