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When we look at a picture, we can often see the two-dimensional lines and colors on the surface that comprise the picture and what the picture depicts—what it is a picture of—which is typically a three-dimensional object such as a person or a landscape. Depiction is a special kind of pictorial representation, which many think is mediated by resemblance between the picture and what is depicted (although this is contested by some philosophers). An example of non-depictive pictorial representation is the traditional representation of saints. This does not rely on capturing how the saint looked (for that is often unknown) but, rather, employs a symbol system, wherein the objects near to or carried by the saint determine the saint's identity.

Many pictures depict things that exist ...

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