The Geometry of Pictorial Reference

Gabriel Greenberg
University of California, Los Angeles
September 13, 2013  3:00-5:00 pm  BUCH A202
Abstract: Pictorial images, like photographs, drawings, or maps, bear the relation of pictorial reference to those objects which they are of or about. Extant treatments tend to focus on the meta-semantic or foundational aspects of this phenomenon: what conditions in the world must hold for pictorial reference to arise? This talk, by contrast, focusses on the semantic or descriptive aspects: given that pictures refer, what is the structure of this picture-object relation? I argue for a contextualist and projection-based framework for understanding pictorial reference. In particular, I defend three, interconnected theses. (1) A typical picture refers to a vast (possibly infinite) array of objects. (2) Pictures refer via contextually determined assignments of picture regions to objects. (3) Pictures locate their referents in depicted space, in part, by lines of projection that link picture regions to spatial locations. Such an account reveals important choice points and desiderata for any foundational theory.