Responce to Barthe’s Essay Camera Lucida – English
In Barthe’s essay “Camera Lucida”, we see an analysis of the photo in terms of the studium and the punctum. The studium for the most part produces the unary photo,
which merely reproduces ‘reality’ or a single uniform idea, whereas the presence of a punctum means this cohesiveness is fragmented, disturbed. This punctum may be something outside the control of the photographer, which escapes the encompassing ‘meaning’ of the photo and adds more to it in our subjective view. The punctum, then, is very personal, and could be different for everyone. So in say Timothy O’Sullivan’s Desert Sand Hills, the punctum is the sets of footprints that lead towards me and signal the presence of the person behind the camera, breaking up the unary ‘reality’ of the photo and bringing the method of its production to the fore – the fact that it is not unadulterated ‘reality’ but is a recreation, a representation, carefully set up and staged maybe more than once. It exposes the falsity, the ‘staginess’ of the image, and makes it more interesting, maybe more likeable and accessible, and makes me think or critique, not just observe.