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Dawn M Wilson, , . Facing the Camera: Self-portraits of Photographers as Artists
2012, The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 70(1): 56-66.
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Introduction: Self-portrait photography presents an elucidatory range of cases for investigating the relationship between automatism and artistic agency in photography – a relationship that is seen as a problem in the philosophy of art. I discuss self-portraits by photographers who examine and portray their own identities as artists working in the medium of photography. I argue that the automatism inherent in the production of a photograph has made it possible for artists to extend the tradition of self-portraiture in a way that is radically different from previous visual arts.In Section I, I explain why self-portraiture offers a way to address the apparent conflict between automatism and agency that is debated in the philosophy of art. In Section II, I explain why mirrors play an important function in the production of a traditional self-portrait. In Sections III and IV, I discuss how photographers may create self-portraits with and without the use of mirrors to show how photography offers unique and important new forms of self-portraiture.

Comment: Argues that the automatism inherent in the production of a photograph has made it possible for artists to extend the tradition of self-portraiture in a way that is radically different from previous visual arts. Demonstrates that automatism need not stand in competition or conflict with artistic agency.

Artworks to use with this text:

Ilse Bing, Self-portrait with Leica (1931)

It is usual for portraits to show a person's head either in profile or in a frontal position, but this self-portrait shows both alternatives simultaneously. It also depicts the presence of two mirrors in such a way that we are in a position to judge that the camera has recorded its own reflection. Thus, we see both the face of the artist and the "face" of the camera: it is a double self-portrait.

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