Intensive Course: Pictorial Experience: A Philosophical Approach to Virtual Reality | UH

Master’s Level Intensive Course

May 12  – 16, 2014 | University of Helsinki | ECTS: 5

Duration: 5 days

Students: 24 (max)

Teachers: Jūratė Baranova (Lithuanian University of Educational Sciences) | Laura Junutytė (Lithuanian University of Educational Sciences) | Liv Hausken (University of Oslo) | Regina-Nino Kurg (Tallinn University) | Kārlis Vērpe (University of Liepaja)

Registration: contact Regina-Nino Kurg via

Purpose of the course: The aim of the course is to introduce theories of pictorial experience in contemporary philosophy. The main focus is on the concepts of ‘picture’ and ‘image’.

Course description: After W. J. T. Mitchell introduced the idea of a “pictorial turn” in the humanities in 1992, the understanding of the role of pictures and images in our everyday life has become a central topic in many philosophical debates. Although it is evident that we are surrounded by images more than ever before in the history of humankind, we still do not have a sufficient understanding of what pictures are, how pictures affect their perceivers, what are the adequate interpretative schemes of pictures, how pictures function in both aesthetic and non-aesthetic contexts, etc.
The course is divided into five parts. The main concepts discussed during the course are the ‘image’ and ‘picture’. On the first day, the emphasis is on the pictorial experience of cinematic images that is explained from the perspective of Gilles Deleuze’s film theory. Accordingly, the notions of the ‘movement-image’, ‘action-image’, ‘fact-image’ and many others are discussed. The main topic of the second day is the process of making paintings, e.g., how the painter makes invisible forces visible in a picture. On the third day, the emphasis is on the photographic portraits. In connection with this, two cases will be discussed: biometric passport photography and cognitive brain imaging. The main topic of the fourth day is the experience of seeing something in a picture. Here Richard Wollheim’s and Edmund Husserl’s theories of seeing-in are examined. The same topic will be continued on the fifth day with emphasis on the difference between seeing something in reality and seeing it in a picture. The main focus here is on theories according to which we see things themselves in pictures and not images of them.

Grading: The course is taught in the form of lectures and seminars where students are expected to read articles and excerpts from selected texts. Students will also watch an Italian Neorealism movie beforehand (see the Reading list). Students are graded on the basis of active participation in the lectures and seminars (20%), a student presentation (40%) and a written text (40%). The course consists of five days of classes organized around various topics of pictorial experience: two lectures in the morning and an afternoon seminar with students’ presentations every day. Each student is expected to make a presentation based on one of the texts from the reading list (a text will be assigned to the student). The final written essay should deal with a relevant topic chosen by the student, and should not exceed 10 pages in length. The topic of the written text will be discussed and decided with teachers during the course.

Monday, 12th of May

10:00-11:30 (lecture)
“Film theory: from Bazin to Deleuze” (Jūratė Baranova)

12:00-13:30 (lecture)
“Gilles Deleuze: Cinema of fear” (Jūratė Baranova)


15:00-17:00 (seminar and students’ presentations)
“André Bazin and Gilles Deleuze: Two approaches to Italian Neorealism”

Tuesday, 13th of May
10:00-11:30 (lecture)
“Alternative Overcoming of Representation: Francis Bacon” (Laura Junutytė)

12:00-13:30 (lecture)
“Deterritorialising Cosmos of Paul Klee” (Laura Junutytė)


15:00-17:00 (seminar and students’ presentations)
“How can one make invisible forces visible?”

Wednesday, 14th of May
10:00-11:30 (lecture)
“’If you look like your passport photo, you are too sick to travel.’ Biometric passport photography” (Liv Hausken)

12:00-13:30 (lecture)
“Imaging the brain in a visual culture of portrait photography” (Liv Hausken)


15:00-17:00 (seminar and students’ presentations)
“The photographic portrait: conflicting discourses”

Thursday, 15th of May
10:00-11:30 (lecture)
“Edmund Husserl’s theory of image consciousness” (Regina-Nino Kurg)

12:00-13:30 (lecture)
“Richard Wollheim’s theory of ‘seeing-in’” (Regina-Nino Kurg)


15:00-17:00 (seminar and students’ presentations)
“Theories of ‘seeing-in’”

Friday, 16th of May
10:00-11:30 (lecture)
“Kendall Walton’s transparency thesis” (Kārlis Vērpe)

12:00-13:30 (lecture)
“Seeing things themselves” (Kārlis Vērpe)


15:00-17:00 (seminar and students’ presentations)
“The difference between seeing something in reality and seeing it in a picture.”

Reading list:

Seminar, 13th of May | “André Bazin and Gilles Deleuze: Two Approaches towards Italian Neorealism”

Cardullo, B. (Ed.). (2011). André Bazin and Italian Neorealism. Continuum International Publishing, pp 42-73

Deleuze, G. (1986). „The Crisis of Action-Image“. In Cinema 1: The Movement-image. London: Athlone Press, pp 197-215

Deleuze, G. (1989). „Beyond the Movement Image“. In Cinema 2: The time-image. University of Minnesota Press, pp 1-24

Obligatory: Vittorio de Sica, “The Bicycle Thief” (1948)

R. Rossellini: “Stromboli” (1950), “Europa 51” (1952), “Rome, Open City” (1945); Michelangelo Antonioni: “The Eclipse” (1962), “The Adventure” (1960), “Story of a Love affair” (1950); Luchino Visconti “Obsession” (1943), “The Earth Trembles” (1948), “Rocco and His brothers” (1960); Vittorio De Sica, “Umberto D.” (1952)

Seminar, 13th of May | “How can one make invisible forces visible?”

Deleuze, G. (2003). “Painting and Sensation” In Francis Bacon: The Logic of Sensation. Continuum, pp 34-43

Deleuze, G. (2003). “Painting Forces” In Francis Bacon: The Logic of Sensation. Continuum, pp 56-64

Deleuze, G. (2003). “The Painting before Painting” In Francis Bacon: The Logic of Sensation. Continuum, pp 86-98

Deleuze, G. (2003). “The Diagram” In Francis Bacon: The Logic of Sensation. Continuum, pp 99-110

Deleuze, G., & Guattari, F. (2005). A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. University of Minnesota Press, pp 337-350

Seminar, 14th of May | “The photographic portrait: conflicting discourses”

Freeland, C. (2007). “Portraits in painting and photography” Philosophical Studies, 135(1), pp 95–109

Wilson, D. M. (2012). “Facing the Camera: Self-portraits of Photographers as Artists” Journal of Aesthetics & Art Criticism, 70(1), pp 56–66

Sontag, S. (2005). “The Image-World.” In On Photography. Farrar, Straus and Giroux,
pp 119-141

Seminar, 15th of May | “Theories of Seeing-in”

Wollheim, R. (1980). “Seeing-as, seeing-in, and pictorial representation.” In Art and Its Objects: Second Edition with Six Supplementary Essays. Cambridge University Press, pp 205-226

Brough, John. (1992). “Some Husserlian Comments on Depiction and Art”
American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly, LXVI (2, Spring), pp 241-259

Sonesson, G. (1989). Pictorial concepts: inquiries into the semiotic heritage and its relevance to the interpretation of the visual world. Lund University Press, pp 270-282

Seminar, 16th of May | “The difference between seeing something in reality and seeing it in a picture.”

Walton, K. L. (1984). “Transparent Pictures: On the Nature of Photographic Realism”
Critical Inquiry, 11(2), pp 246–277

Wiesing, L. (2011). “Pause of Participation. On the Function of Artificial Presence”
Research in Phenomenology, 41(2), pp 238–252

Sartre, J. P. (2004). The Imaginary: A Phenomenological Psychology of the Imagination. London: Routledge, pp 4-24

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