#Filterdrop: Attending to Photographic Alterations


  • Claire Anscomb




Photography, Digital Manipulation, Body Image, Aesthetic Attention, Epistemic Contact


It is well-documented that the alteration of portrait photographs can have a negative impact on a viewer’s self-esteem. One might think that providing written disclaimers warning of alteration might help to mitigate this effect, yet empirical studies have shown that viewers continue to feel like what they are seeing is real, and thus attainable, despite knowing it is not. I propose that this cognitive dissonance occurs because disclaimers fail to show viewers how to look at the contents of a photographic image differently. Consequently, viewers have the same perceptual experience, where the picture appears to faithfully resemble a direct visual experience of the subject, which conflicts with their changing sense of warrant. However, I argue that the degree of perceived similarity, and so contact, may be subject to change depending on what a viewer is attentive to during their viewing of an image, including subtle but unrealistic signs of alteration.

Author Biography

Claire Anscomb

Claire Anscombreceived her PhD (2019) in History and Philosophy of Art from the University of Kent, where she is an associate member of the Aesthetics Research Centre. Her research interests include hybrid art, the epistemic and aesthetic value of photography, and creativity in artistic and scientific practices. She was awarded the 2021 John Fisher Memorial Prize from the American Society of Aesthetics, and she is the recipient of the 2021-22 British Society of Aesthetics Postdoctoral Award for a project on AI and image-making she is working on in the Philosophy Department at the University of Liverpool. She is co-editor of the journal Debates in Aesthetics and also a practicing artist.


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How to Cite

Anscomb, C. (2023). #Filterdrop: Attending to Photographic Alterations. The Nordic Journal of Aesthetics, 32(65). https://doi.org/10.7146/nja.v32i65-66.140109