Aesthetics for Birds

Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art for Everyone

Ben Blumson on Self-portrait with Lens Cap On


Three framed black photos.

This is entry #51 in our 100 Philosophers, 100 Artworks, 100 Words Series.

Philosopher: Ben Blumson, National University of Singapore

Artwork: Self-Portrait with Lens Cap On, Johnny Manahan, 1972

Words: Johnny Manahan’s photographs are monochrome squares in the tradition of Malevich or Rauschenberg but in the medium of photography.

There are many examples of the informational content of photographs outstripping their intentional content – an accidentally taken photograph, for example, conveys information about a scene without having been intended to depict that scene. But Manahan’s self-portraits are illustrations of the reverse, since they are intended to depict Manahan, but – since the photographs would have been the same, even if his appearance had been different – they carry no information about his appearance.

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