Flat Death. Time as PUNCTUM. Private/ Public. To Scrutinize. Resemblance. Lineage. CAMERA LUCIDA ro6. Wiki for Collaborative Studies of Arts, Media and Humanities. ROLAND BARTHES. A Barthes Reader. Mythologies. A Lover's Discourse. Camera Lucida. Reflections on Photography. TRANSLATED BY. Richard Howard.
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Once you've read about the history of nude photography, the many ways you can sharpen. the Czech Pascal Baetens The Art of Photography. Camera Lucida by Roland Barthes - Download as PDF File .pdf), Text File .txt) or view presentation slides online. Reflections on Photography. Translated. Mythologizing In Camera Lucida 91 but my "learned" behavior never fully displaced those first impressions 6 of photos as flat paper objects with patches on them.
Barthes reads that image as a text ing at that time and calling "Mom and Dad"; she said that the patches and responds to it by employing the apparatus of sensory perceptions, were her mom and dad. To me Cam- movals". Two shapes-people-in one photograph were looking in my era Lucida obscures the physicality, the whatness, of a photograph, its direction. Yet a mechanical device of prearranged lenses that trap light rays and trick my mind could not hold that adjustment for long.
It still perceived the them into mimesis. My own bias forever prevents me from considering a content of the cards as brownish shapes; they could not be Mom's mom photograph to be purely mimetic and "thematic. And how could they be there in front of me if they were dead? They of a photograph as an object has so far prevented.
I have or the Photographer; "to look," which engages the Spectator; and "to always been aware that when people talk about their photographs they undergo," which involves the target, or the referent. The "Operator's usually resort to metonymy "This is X at the seaside I, on the other hand, usu. The "Spectator's photograph" descends from the "chemical to narration: "This was taken whe n I was here and there.
Thus a given photograph is always seen by Barthes a story, but always prompted by a "pre-text," an object called a photo- as a qualified appropriated object resulting from a process and always graph. The it, the nominality or should I suppose I carried this habit from my native language, an wluc.
Barthes analyzes the effects that photographs ture, it is more habitual to point to "a picture of X. One of the cells of that Polish me. Thus, on sions of the subject-turned-object. But it is the latter that preoccuptes the one hand, Barthes's definition of photography coincides with mine, Barthes when he asserts, "Photography transform[s] subject into object" when he asserts that CL, 13 -a clear and obvious enough assertion, although for me pho- tography also transforms the resulting object the picture i.
In a way it did, for they lived under the spell of superstJUon that t? On the other hand, however, the object resulting from that intersection have one's picture taken meant to die soon. Death, then. Barthes IS -the physical sheet of photographic paper-is overlooked, or rather, quite explicit, albeit metaphorical, on the subject of death.
He regards looked-through, its referent being so ridden with subjectivity and inten- a photograph to be "flat death" CL, Yet it whenever he is being photographed, that ts, whenever he expenences is also at this crossroad that I find myself immersed deeply enough in himself as subject-becoming-an-object, he undergoes a "micro-version Barthes's text to want to continue the pleasure of the text and my own of death: [he is] truly becoming a specter CL, Death is precisely what he seeks in the photograph of himself: Here is why.
Barthes defines the referent as "any eidolon emitted by "Death is the eidos of that Photograph" CL, This notion of death arrests me. It is so obvious that it actually surprises me. It is all this living sound of the wood. CL, 15; emphasis added which the verb intersum means. CL, 77 It seems that for Barthes, then, "noise of Time" counterbalances For Barthes, this is the genius of Photography and its horror: a photo- Death encoded in the photograph of himself.
For me, the stories trig- graph simultaneously testifies to the presence of a thing at a certain past gered by the pictures of my family and me do the same. In this context, moment and to its absolute pastness, its death.
By attesting that what Barthes's concepts of studium and punctum emerge as the "tools" that en- we see indeed existed, Photography partakes in the economy of death able him to view photographs other than those of himself. Rather than and resurrection CL, 82 , and it is in this context that Barthes ana- as "flat death," he sees them from a variety of points of view: as adven- lyzes the Winter Garden photograph his mother when she was five ture, as information, according to their ability to paint, surprise, signify, years old.
His method of analysis, "a casual, even Barthes's goal in looking through the photographs of hts mother after cynical phenomenology," is steeped in a paradox of wanting, on the she died was to find "the truth of the face" he had loved CL, As he one hand, "to give name to Photography's essence" as an eidetic science enters the labyrinth ofthose photographs, he confesses: and recognizing, on the other hand, that Photography, always a "contin- I knew that at the center of this labyrinth I would find nothing but this sole pic- gency, singularity, risk" CL, 20 , participates in what he calls "bana1ity.
The Winter Garden Photograph was my Anadne, not be- [. CL, 73 for "sentimenta1" reasons, as a Spectator who wants "to explore it [. Here, photography's banality and pathos are joined.
He arrives at the notion of satori via the agency Barthes's quasi-phenomenological investigations cancel out the opera- of punctum.
That phenomenological perspec. Barthes likens the novelistic thread of "love and death" that parallels the paradigm of life effect to that of the Haiku: "For the notation of a haiku, too, is unde- velopable: everything is given, without provoking a desire for or even and death he mentions later [CL, 92] - which is no different from my a possibility of a rhetorical expansion" CL, Barthes dreams and writes his vision offering us something like photography itself: I approach myself as I wait for you, today, my love, and for all time, but I know that, with your death, but also in your life, the self I approach is lost and cannot be found.
In the midst of this loss, I experience the madness of a single desire: I love you, I desire you, I want to see and touch your body, I cannot live without you, and, with your death, I am no longer myself, even though I know that, even before your death, and because of my love for you, I already was not myself. Like the punctum about which I soon will tell you, your death has been added to my life, even if, from the very beginning, it already was there.
What is its relation to death, mourning, music, and photography? What does love have to do with the ruin, loss, and dissolution of the self? What does it mean to love a photograph, and in what way does love mean nothing else than loving a photograph is it even possible to love something other than a photograph? Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography, trans. Richard Howard New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, Inc.
All references to the English translation of this text are to this edition and will be cited parenthetically as CL. Since, on occasion, we have modified this translation, we also include references to the original French edition; in this instance, then, the second citation can be found in La chambre claire: Note sur la photographie Paris: All refer- ences to the French edition are given following the English citation and will be cited as CC.
Notes on Love and Photography 5 Barthes, require a reconceptualization of both photography and love? This means, among other things, that this little book on photography is also, and perhaps most essentially and significantly, a text on love and eroticism. Like all lovers, the Barthesian lover therefore seeks to name a world that has never yet existed before his eyes, as if his language might, in calling it forth, touch it for the first time.
This question grew insistent. Barthes not only invents a set of Latinate neologisms but he also ceaselessly marks and remarks even familiar terms in such a way that, in each instance, they break away from what generally has been conceived or meant by them. Perhaps the most elaborate account is provided by Andrew Brown, Roland Barthes: The Figures of Writing Oxford: Clarendon Press, , esp.
As is so often the case with Barthes, each element of his writing—its typographical eccentricities, its rhythm and movement, its echolalia and repetitions, its diction and distribu- tion—works to enact what he wishes to convey.
If Barthes creates a text whose movement and circulation, whose words and names, embody and enact its semantic drift, in this instance it is because he wants to suggest that what makes love and photography love and photography is that neither they nor their amorous or photographic subjects ever remain the same. Dissolving the distinction between one term and another, Camera Lucida proceeds in a way that could be said to belong to the experience of love; it proposes a theory of photographic becoming in which the photograph is a force of transformation: What Barthes engages here, in an extremely systematic and rigorous manner, is nothing less than what produces the difficulty of all contemporary reflections on photogra- phy: But, as he suggests—and here lies his strength and courage—this absence does not result from disappearance or effacement, but, on the contrary, from multiplication and proliferation.
As he puts it, in front of the lens, I am at the same time: In other words, a strange action: I do not stop imitating myself, and because of this, each time I am or let myself be photographed, I invariably suffer from a sensation of inauthenticity, sometimes of imposture comparable to certain nightmares. CL, p. It tells me that I do not exist before my image—that I exist only as an image, or, more precisely, only as a series of images, none of which are ever one.
A Selection, trans. Alan Sheridan New York: Norton and Co.
Notes on Love and Photography 9 because he refuses to imagine himself as someone who, sheltered and protected by a critical, sociological, historical, and even, in the end, an affective distance, rigorously and completely analyzes a photographic corpus. The I who speaks in Camera Lucida contemplates a series of photographs that he holds in his hands without imagining that he is a neutral witness of a relation or bond that has excluded him: They are bound together in a relation that, acquiring a certain privacy or intimacy, reveals itself to be an amorous one: But this risk is also, at the same time, and like the adventure of love, very trivial.
This is why what makes a photographic experience an adventure is precisely the enactment of an incredible feat that works to transform this triviality into a field in which the power of adventure can unfold in unexpected and transformative ways. To say that there can be no photography without adventure means, among other things, that there can be no adventure without a force of animation and transformation.
This is why, we might say, love as another name for the photographic adventure means: This is why the very possibility of love depends on our being able to love a photograph. To love an other, then, to love another living person, means to love a photograph—to love what, wounding us, piercing us, and entering us, can no longer be thought or experienced as entirely other than us. This also is why representation or testimony are never innocent: Instead, Barthes suggests that the essence of photography lies in its affirmation of becoming.
I then experience a micro-version of death of parenthesis: Between life and death, subject and object, subject and image, in a kind of parenthesis, the specter I am becoming declares that the only image or subject that could really be an image or subject would be the one that shows its impossibility, its disappearance and destruction, its ruin.
To look at a photograph therefore means to contemplate the singular adher- ence that transforms me into an image and what the image demonstrates to me without demonstrating anything at all about what it means to be a photographic subject.
The relation between the object and its image, among the image-object, the object-image, and my gaze, links me to the adventure of experiencing the pho- tographic fragment as a mirror that returns me to my own image.
In other words, why am I not there —in the fragment of paper that I hold in my hand or in the place in which the photo- graph was taken? Why am I not there then, in the moment in which the click of the shutter was heard, in the precise instant in which what the image shows me was transformed into this image?
Camera Lucida opens with this ontological desire and, as the text advances, ontology gives way to a space entirely devoted to desire: The entirety of Camera Lucida, in other words, proceeds by seeking a language commensurate with the paradoxical character of the photograph—a language that is guided and interrupted by the desire for the very thing that, always lost, and never comprehended, remains to be mourned: As he would have it—at least initially—the studium is a field of predictability and repetition: Defined as a detail that fascinates, but also as a wound that interrupts the studium, that cuts or pricks the image and the corporeal gaze that would view it, the punctum points directly toward that affective field opened by images—a field that always evokes enjoyment as both pleasurable and wounding.
Emerging with the ghostly force of the supplement, the punctum appears as a kind of transit or relay between the photograph and the viewer that, despite its vio- lence, despite its singularity, nevertheless can be drawn into a network of associations.
Like the language that moves in relation to affect, in relation to desire and mourning, the punctum works in relation to the studium. This concept of a ghost is scarcely gras- pable in its self as the ghost of a concept. Neither life nor death, but the haunting of the one by the other.
This is why, if the studium names a kind of education, knowledge, and civil- ity that produces a general interest, an average effect, it does so in the form of a simulacrum. The studium designates an imposture, a fiction of generality that can only take the form of a myth. Indeed, in the same way that generality is nothing but a masquerade of gener- ality, it is impossible to posit, within any image, a space of absolute transgression.
But just as chance belongs to the amorous repetition, the punctum is far from being pure contingency or pure singularity: That Barthes both preserves and dissolves this opposition between differ- ence and repetition, that he seeks to have it enact the paradoxical character of the photograph, is perhaps even more legible if we trace the way in which it is mobi- lized within his text a little more carefully. For example, it is legible when, in the moment in which he confronts the Winter Garden Photograph, he admits: Thus I could understand my generality; but having understood it, invincibly I escaped from it.
In the Mother, 7. University of Chicago Press, , p. How can we believe in the originality of someone who is not an unprecedented figure in his life but a person who is repeated in the life of others, a figure almost as archetypal as the mother?
In sig- naling originality through the words of another, Barthes stages the paradoxical character of mourning. Effectively, he suggests, the pain or grief that we experi- ence before a loss is always contradictory: At the same time, and like everyone else, we think that our suffering is entirely unique.
And we are not wrong here, because, paradoxically, what is repeated each time that we fall in love or that we lose someone is precisely the radical originality of love or loss.
Photography, like love or death, is the experience of the singularity that is repeated or of the repetition that appears as something singular. The punc- tum and studium do not belong entirely to the image or to the mode of perceiving it—they are neither only attributes of the image nor only a projection of the gaze—but rather are points of connection between the history of the image and the history of the gaze.
This is why the true punctum sometimes comes a little later. As a means of visualizing this paradox, the front cover of the Spanish edition of Camera Lucida presents an image of an antique camera—a machine that reminds us of the daguerrotype or of a cer- tain auratic moment—in the process of copying or taking a photograph.
The camera is there, in the center of the cover, between two large quotation marks that, like citation, love, mourning, or photog- raphy, infinitely reproduce its originality. That he identi- fies this punctum through a series of associations and displacements that evoke his history, his affections, and his inscription within a language, a culture, and a famil- ial network that precede him, means that the punctum emerges in relation to elements of the studium.
If this particular detail moves him, if he registers this par- ticular wound, it is because this wound already is in him, somewhere in his history, even if in a displaced, encrypted, and illegible manner. In other words, the punctum, in all its singularity, in its absolute irreducibility, encrypts an entire network of substitutions that, composing and decomposing it at the same time, prevent it from ever being what it is, from ever being self-identical to itself. It wounds the form of time, intensely and irrecuperably.
This disorder is introduced by the photograph from the very beginning, however, since every photograph is marked by the singular moment in which it was taken, a moment that, because it cannot be reproduced or repeated, because it is not redeemable in the present, inhabits the present like a kind of ghost.
The photograph therefore does not only look backward—it does not only evoke lost time and melancholy—but it also opens onto a future: It is the field of the possible, of what, within the photograph, cannot be said to be sim- ply here and now, but rather evoked, like a promise, in relation to the past and to an unknown future which is still to come, but has, as its horizon, our future death.
This is why, bound together like the copy and its negative, the punctum and the studium are the two fictional poles of photography: Punctum and studium are the two threads that, together, constitute the materiality of photographic language: In this way, every photograph not only shows what it exhibits—not only shows a relation between an observed subject and a subject observing captured on a piece of photo- graphic paper—but also says, exhibit s, or performs what photography is.
Photography is an amorous experience, magical and paradoxical: III There is something uncanny in every photograph—a force of destabiliza- tion, something that leaves us in suspense even as it fascinates us. This perhaps is because, when we look at an image, we encounter, directly in front of us, and no matter how elusive it may remain, the first sign of chance and contingency— again, what Barthes calls the punctum—and, like all encounters with contingency, this one also produces a certain terror and bedazzlement.
But perhaps it is some- thing else altogether: This is why the photograph always appears as a form of haunting which, evoking a material trace of the past, condenses, among so many other things, the relation between the past and the present, the dead and the liv- ing, and destruction and survival. The relation between indexicality and truth or testimony is not a characteristic of the index but a particular mode of reading or perceiving the photographic image that simultaneously brings together a conception of the subject, language, and repre- sentation.
Camera Lucida distances itself from this relation between photography and truth precisely when it signals that the body that poses for the camera is a photographic body, a subjectivity that does not exist before its representation but that instead constitutes itself in the act of sitting in front of the camera.
Far from demonstrating the truth of reference, the indexical character of the photograph stages its phantasmatic being, its presence in the past and its absence in the present. The photograph is an index of the photographed, in the same way that his smell, his fingerprints, or the footprints he leaves in the sand are indices of him.
The index is a sign linked to mourning and melancholy, and never to truth or testimony. To put it differently: Nevertheless, it is precisely because there is no single way to read indexicality that an index—for example, a photographic portrait or a lock of hair—says something different to a detective in a police story than to the protago- nist of a romance novel.
This is why Alphonse Bertillon and Francis Galton sought a mode of ordering what to their eyes seemed evident: As an index, the photograph bears, according to Barthes, a material relation to the body of the photographed, which is why he can suggest that in photography the presence of that body within a unique moment in the past can never be metaphorical.
From the perspective of its most absolute materiality—that is, as a chemical effect produced by light—photography acquires magical traits. What delights and, at the same time, depresses is the double character of the photographic trace. On the one hand, the image is a real non- metaphorical fragment of a body that belonged to the past. This means that from the very beginning the indexical character of photography offers the promise of immortality.
This utopic hope of interrupting or stopping time, of immobilizing the present and freezing it on a two-dimensional surface, is legible in the first uses of photography—particularly in the nineteenth-century custom of taking portraits of the dead—and it remains inscribed within the desire of all pho- tographic technology and, indeed, touches every image the camera takes. This is why a photograph can be considered an index, in the same way that a fossil or a ruin are indices: On the other hand, as a trace, as an emanation of a body, an index—for example, 9.
MIT Press, , pp.
While we have evoked many aspects of these discussions, we also have sought, following Barthes, to indicate our distance from them. Notes on Love and Photography 19 a photograph or a footprint on the beach—never gives us precise information about the body that posed for the camera or that sank its feet in the sand.
Nevertheless, what cannot be neglected here is that we are left only with an absence—before the camera and on the sand. But every index is also the sign of a fatality CL, p.
This perhaps is why photography evokes a greater sense of melancholy than other indexical objects: This promise of surrender that produces the immobile object before the tiny hole of the camera is perhaps what returns this absence most mournfully.
It is also the sense of stability produced by photography when, embalming time, it moves us to imagine, as we contemplate a photographic portrait, that we are before an embalmed body.
This is why there is something uncanny in every photograph—a force of destabiliza- tion, something that leaves us in suspense even as it fascinates us. It is the force of a mark: The force of the photograph resides in its capacity to fascinate us and to leave us defenseless because photography—which often has been associated with the field of the Imaginary—does nothing else than point toward the very center of the Real, toward that place where we remain with- out words or without a gaze.
This is why we so often remain mute in front of an image: Perhaps to see a photograph we do not need to open our eyes to its literal brutality, but neither do we need to close them. Ultimately—or at the limit—perhaps we can view a photograph best when we look at it with our eyes half-closed, as when we look at the sun. When we contemplate this remnant, that is, this photograph, we look at it quickly in order to arrest the gaze in a new fragment, in a detail that Barthes calls the punctum.
But, as a new totality, it signals the violence enacted in every photographic act, and in photographic lan- guage itself. After all, a photograph is a cut that the eye or the camera realizes in the world, even if only in this fragmentary way.
As Barthes suggests, while looking at a series of photographs of his mother and trying to discover her essence in them: Camera Lucida perfectly identifies the ontological violence that characterizes photographic technology and translates it into a kind of grammar that names the effects of the image on the body of the observed subject and of the subject observ- ing: Nevertheless, Barthes reads this photographic violence—perhaps another name for the force of decontextualiza- tion that takes place in any photograph—in relation not only to melancholy or tragedy but also to enjoyment.