Seeing Depicted Space (or Not)

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What is it to see something in a picture? Most accounts of pictorial experience—or, to use Richard Wollheim's term, ‘seeing-in’—seek, in various ways, to explain it in terms of how pictures somehow display the looks of things. However, some ‘things’ that we apparently see in pictures do not display any ‘look’. In particular, most pictures depict empty space, but empty space does not seem to display any ‘look’—at least not in the way material objects do. How do we see it in pictures, if we do? This chapter offers an account of pictorial perception of empty space by elaborating on Wollheim's claim that ‘seeing-in’ is permeable to thought. It ends by pointing to the aesthetic relevance of seeing—or not seeing—empty space in pictures.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEvaluative perception
EditorsAnna BERGQVIST, Robert COWAN
Place of PublicationUnited Kingdom
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9780198786054
ISBN (Print)9780198786054
Publication statusPublished - 31 May 2018


  • Aesthetic experience
  • Cognitive permeation
  • Empty space
  • Pictorial experience
  • Seeing-in


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