Discussion with Stella on ‘Pixels’

mickyatesCoursework, Critical Research Journal, Digital, Film, Ideas, Philosophy, Photography, SSWeek4, SurfacesStrategies 1 Comment

Prompted by a conversation with Danny, I dug out a conversation I had with Stella on Pixels, Film and Phenomenology. Here it is:


Dear students,

We discussed earlier today an article I wrote on the term “Pixel” published in the journal Philosophy of Photography in 2012.

Stella Baraklianou 2012 Pixel Philosophy of Photography

I was planning to send it to the students during the webinar that concluded earlier today, but I thought it may be of interest to share it with all of you on the module as many others may be working in this area between digital/analog.

Hope you enjoy and look forward to speaking with more of you soon,

Best wishes, 



Thank you – I found this very interesting.

It made me wonder whether, in fact, digital photography is actually more akin to the way human sight works – rods, cones, the continuous electrical impulses of neurotransmitters – than analog, chemical photography, which relies on a ‘fixing’ reaction?

The biggest difference of course is that we humans record / see continuous high-resolution ‘video’ not stills. Our brain actually cuts out some of this ‘digital’ video feed as it cannot cope with the full information load in real time.

Any thoughts, please?

Best, Mick


Hi Mick,

I am so glad you had time to read through it.

I would say that yes, potentially digital does have perhaps a more closer analogy of the human eye.

But overall, I would be cautious using analogies between the functions of the the way the human eye sees, or in fact, any eye perception, because what is translated through the rods, cones etc is equally translated through the phenomenology of our perception.

There is a huge amount of literature around this, perhaps the most important contribution is Martin Jay‘s ‘DownCast Eyes’, (1993, University of California Press) and many, many others.

Thank you much for your feedback, it’s useful as I would like to continue the research,

Best, Stella



That you for the fast response.

Ah, the joys of phenomenology 🙂 I think it is fair to say that phenomenologists in their various forms would cast the understanding of most things in terms of human consciousness, depending on their particular discipline or political persuasion – a point hard to disagree with, of course.

That said, I admit my view of art and visualisation in general is influenced by Nelson Goodman, being a logician at heart.

I remember glancing at Martin Jay’s work, though it did seem rather more encyclopaedic than definitive to a particular logic (other than to stress the importance of vision, of course). Thanks for bringing it up, and I’ll add it to the list. My bookshelf is groaning since I started this course …

Yes, it is hard to tie down any philosophy of vision in terms of our current technical understanding of it, so I agree it is dangerous to infer that ‘digital=eyesight’. That was not my intent.

Rather, it was to consider, as chemistry can ultimately be reduced to physics, whether digital is our ‘current best technical approximation’ for human eyesight, rather than chemical, analog processes per se. I think that has bearing on your pixel work.

In any case, thanks for a fascinating conversation.

Best, Mick

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  1. Pingback: Perception: the Analogue, the Digital and the Eye | Yatesweb

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