Digital Commons@RISD Home > Division of Liberal Arts > Contemporary Aesthetics (Journal Archive) > Vol. 17 (2019)
The development of astronomical photography has raised many interesting epistemological, metaphysical, and ethical questions, in addition to questions in aesthetics. One such question concerns the nature of the aesthetic properties possessed by these photographs. In this article I concentrate on one such property, namely representation. That artistic astronomical photographs are representational cannot be disputed, but whether this is an aesthetic property is open to question. In this article, I show that it is an aesthetic property and compare it with the analogous property associated with paintings and traditional artistic photographs. In order to do this, I explain what makes astronomical subjects unique and the effect this has on the way the photographs are produced. I argue that it is in virtue of this uniqueness that representation as an aesthetic property of artistic astronomical photographs significantly differs from the analogous property of paintings and traditional artistic photographs.