Lucky you. It was as a semiologist that Barthes b - d was best known, and in simple terms, semiotics is the study of signs, symbols and their meaning. For obvious reasons, academic texts that deal with semiotics and structuralism, and post-structuralism, and deconstructivism tend towards the abstruse. That joke and variations on it are, trust me, the only funny thing that has ever come out of semiotics, structuralism, post-structuralism or deconstructionism. Reading the work of certain semiologists is like trying to argue with a hungry 3-year old who has an MA.
|Published (Last):||2 February 2011|
|PDF File Size:||6.62 Mb|
|ePub File Size:||15.2 Mb|
|Price:||Free* [*Free Regsitration Required]|
Shelves: favorites , essays-theory For Barthes, every photograph, rather than being a representation, is an expression of loss. The photograph, like all art which precedes it, attempts to eternalize its subject, to imbue it with life-forever, to blend the beautiful with the infinite; but it fails, it reminds us only of mortality death is the mother of beauty.
Try though it may, and despite its resemblance to life, the photo can never extend a life which is lost, or a life which is passing. I had understood that henceforth I For Barthes, every photograph, rather than being a representation, is an expression of loss.
I had understood that henceforth I must interrogate the evidence of Photography, not from the viewpoint of pleasure, but in relation to what we romantically call love and death.
I think of the vain art of aesthetic preservation at the end of Lolita: "I am thinking of aurochs and angels, the secret of durable pigments, prophetic sonnets, the refuge of art.
And this is the only immortality you and I may share, my Lolita. Barthesian Time, for the photograph, is instant death. What has been photographed can never occur exactly the same way, for that momentary coincidence is past, but in the photograph it is falsely repeated infinitely. Every photograph is an epitaph. For Walter Benjamin too, as with his successor Barthes, the clicking-photo and the ticking-time are inseparable melodies of the same fugue.
He tells us: " For while the relation of the present to the past is a purely temporal, continuous one, the relation of what-has-been to the now is dialectical Every momentary photo has a following moment which is unphotographed, and another and another through infinite moments until Now. From the singular snap of the camera, there is an infinity of moments, a constant constellation across time, bridging the distance between what-is and what-was.
And as Barthes notes, that distance is immeasurable, it is infinite: you can never retrieve, never relive, that which has passed, that which is gone, that which is dead. A touch of the finger now sufficed to fix an event for an unlimited period of time. The camera gave the moment a posthumous shock, as it were.
Throughout, Barthes provides us with a number of photographs which touch, or fail to touch, him. No matter the photographic subject: political, journalistic, personal, professional or amateur: Barthes approaches each with a reverence and solemnity, like a man walking through a cemetery: head downcast, hands intertwined, heart in his throat.
This photograph belongs to a history which excludes him, which is totally unfamiliar to his image-repertoire because it is outside of Time as he knows it. This image is a private history, but a privacy which is removed from his own, irremediably by time and space. And he sees in her image that-which-was and simultaneously that which has died and that which is going to die.
The girl in the photo is gone, but the woman she has become has a limited mortality of her own, and the photo is a death-knell calling her to the grave, calling her back to the history which she has left behind her. Whether or not the subject is already dead, every photograph is this catastrophe. Every photo is a commingling of love and death, a realm of life lost and life left for losing.
There is a beauty in life which is lost when it pinned down in art, art of any kind, but especially Photography. In photography, nothing is added, it is frozen life, it is death, there is nothing which supports it, nothing which adorn it, we see nothing added, we are only reminded of what has been removed. When we define the Photograph as a motionless image, this does not mean only that the figures it represents do not move; it means that they do not emerge, do not leave: they are anesthetized and fastened down, like butterflies.
The photograph is a conscious attempt to remember, but it cozens us, it tricks us, and it makes us forget. I defer again to Benjamin, in his essay on memory in Proust: When we awake each morning, we hold in our hands, usually weakly and loosely, but a few fringes of the tapestry of a lived life, as loomed for us by forgetting.
However, with our purposeful activity and, even more, our purposive remembering each day unravels the web and the ornaments of forgetting.
Our purposive remembering, our memories which we force-fit into words, into images, die - they are no longer what they were, they have been forced to change mediums, and something is lost: the beauty of life. The photograph only appears a representation of reality, it is only, rather, an expression of loss, of what can never be again. It is often in art that the afflatus of creation is to exorcise, to kill away, that which burns inside the artist, to cleanse the spirit of the past.
But there is a danger in this, in the abundance of photography, that our memories will become extinct. Ultimately — or at the limit — in order to see a photograph well, it is best to look away or close your eyes.
My stories are a way of shutting my eyes.
Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography
Shelves: favorites , essays-theory For Barthes, every photograph, rather than being a representation, is an expression of loss. The photograph, like all art which precedes it, attempts to eternalize its subject, to imbue it with life-forever, to blend the beautiful with the infinite; but it fails, it reminds us only of mortality death is the mother of beauty. Try though it may, and despite its resemblance to life, the photo can never extend a life which is lost, or a life which is passing. I had understood that henceforth I For Barthes, every photograph, rather than being a representation, is an expression of loss.
Books that made a difference: Camera Lucida (Roland Barthes, 1980)
B Camera Lucida French : La chambre claire is a short book published in by the French literary theorist and philosopher Roland Barthes. The book investigates the effects of photography on the spectator as distinct from the photographer, and also from the object photographed, which Barthes calls the "spectrum". In a deeply personal discussion of the lasting emotional effect of certain photographs, Barthes considers photography as asymbolic, irreducible to the codes of language or culture, acting on the body as much as on the mind. The book develops the twin concepts of studium and punctum: studium denoting the cultural, linguistic, and political interpretation of a photograph, punctum denoting the wounding, personally touching detail which establishes a direct relationship with the object or person within it. Neither writer was a photographer, however, and both works have been much criticised since the s.