This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Barthes’ Studium And Punctum Essay

3937 words - 16 pages

The word “photography” derives from two Greek words: Phos (meaning “light”) and

Graphe (meaning “writing” or “drawing”). Thus, photography implies, literally, “writing

or drawing with light”, in turn implying combination of something that occurs naturally

(light) with practices created by human culture (writing and drawing).

Generally, photographs are understood to have a direct connection to what they depict-

providing the impression that they show “reality”. They are often also seen as being able

to preserve a moment in time. In the course of my paper, I will be exploring such issues

through an analysis of the terms Studium and Punctum that Roland Barthes uses in his

book Camera Lucida (or La Chambre Claire) : Reflections On Photography (1980,

London: Vintage). Barthes’ book, is simultaneously an enquiry into the nature and

essence of photography and a eulogy to his (then) recently deceased mother. Published

two months prior to his own death in 1980, it is one of the most important early academic

books of criticism and theorization on photography, alongwith Susan Sontag’s On

Photography (1979, London: Penguin) (infact, Barthes mentions Sontag’s book in the

original bibliography to Camera Lucida, henceforth referred to as CL). Critics and

commentators, ever since the publication of CL, have felt a morbid sense throughout the

book – it seems as if, for Barthes, photographs and photography have only to do with

death and the past. It is said that he tends to focus on photographs only as memento mori.

Sontag in her book says : “All photographs are memento mori” and that “to take a

photograph is to participate in the person or thing’s mortality, vulnerability, mutability”.

(For quotes from Sontag’s book throughout my paper, I would not be able to produce

page numbers because the copy of her book that I could procure was an HTML document

without any page numbers, the content of her book flowed as an uninterrupted whole

without any page breaks.)

In his essay, “The Ontology Of The Photographic Image”, Andre Bazin (1980, “The

Ontology Of The Photographic Image” in Alan Trachtenberg (ed.) Classic Essays on

Photography New Haven, CT : Leete’s Island Books. Again an HTML document without

page numbers) practice of mummification in Egypt. I will now briefly mention Bazin’s

description of this practice in order to present another point of view, differing from

Sontag’s (and apparently, Barthes’ too) memento mori view (though Bazin doesn’t

directly mention photography here due to the obvious historical context as will be clear

when I explain his proposition, but the analogy he draws is quite interesting). He begins

by discussing that this artificial preservation (the practice of embalming the dead

corporeal body) provided the Egyptians with “a defense against the passage of time”.

Terra cotta statuettes were placed next to mummified bodies as “substitute mummies” to

act as “guarantors”...

Find Another Essay On Barthes’ Studium and Punctum

Television Comedy Forms a Framework of the Stereotypical Black Character

1552 words - 7 pages of a punctum as explained by Barthes. Punctum is the event or object that breaks stadium. Barthes’ work in Reflection on Photography describes punctum and stadium. Stadium is the standard, interpretable by anyone. It does not require special attention or questioning to see the stadium. Barthes says, stadium is the “application to a thing, taste for someone, a kind of general, enthusiastic commitment, of course, but without special acuity” (p

Phtography Essay

1760 words - 7 pages opened, as if she has been caught mid-blink, acts as what Roland Barthes describes in Camera Lucida as the “punctum” of the photograph, which is “a certain detail [...] that ‘wound‘ or pierce an individual viewer” (Barthes in Long, p.99). This detail of the girl’s eyes triggers our “internal, non-linear faculties of thought and feeling” to highlight the “inexpressible resonance” and sense of morality (Williams and Newton, 2007, p.207). A haunting

When the Bubble Burst

1539 words - 6 pages By the time I arrived state side from my second tour in the Middle East the housing bubble had already burst. I noticed a drastic change in the way that many of my friends and family were living. Several of my friends that worked in real estate had sold their boats and seconds houses. My own stock portfolio had lost a third of its value. My sister and her husband had defaulted on their home mortgage leaving them scrambling for a place to live. I

phase diagram

4456 words - 18 pages Introduction: Chemical equilibrium is a crucial topic in Chemistry. To represent and model equilibrium, the thermodynamic concept of Free energy is usually used. For a multi-component system the Gibbs free energy is a function of Pressure, Temperature and quantity (mass, moles) of each component. If one of these parameters is changed, a state change to a more energetically favorable state will occur. This state has the lowest free energy

Revolutionary Work of Art

1890 words - 8 pages Walter Benjamin emphasizes in his essay, “The Work of Art in the Age of its Technological Reproducibility” that technology used to make an artwork has changed the way it was received, and its “aura”. Aura represents the originality and authenticity of a work of art that has not been reproduced. The Sistine Chapel in the Vatican is an example of a work that has been and truly a beacon of art. It has brought a benefit and enlightenment to the art

Enlightenment Thought in New Zealand Schools

1594 words - 6 pages In this essay I will be looking at how the political and intellectual ideas of the enlightenment have shaped New Zealand Education. I will also be discussing the perennial tension of local control versus central control of education, and how this has been affected by the political and intellectual ideas of the enlightenment. The enlightenment was an intellectual movement, which beginnings of were marked by the Glorious Revolution in Britain

Psychological Egoism Theory

2240 words - 9 pages The theory of psychological egoism is indeed plausible. The meaning of plausible in the context of this paper refers to the validity or the conceivability of the theory in question, to explain the nature and motivation of human behavior (Hinman, 2007). Human actions are motivated by the satisfaction obtained after completing a task that they are involved in. For example, Mother Teresa was satisfied by her benevolent actions and

How Celtic Folkore has Influenced My Family

1587 words - 6 pages Every family has a unique background that influences the way they live and interact with other people. My parents, who emigrated from Ireland to the States with my three brothers in 1989, brought over their own Celtic folklore and traditions that have helped shaped the way our family operates and lives. One aspect of folklore that has helped shape my family dynamic is the Celtic cross—both its background and what role it has played in our lives

Julia Margaret Cameron

1406 words - 6 pages At a time when women were looked upon as being homemakers, wives, mothers and such the late 1850's presented a change in pace for one woman in specific. Photography was discovered in 1826 and soon after the phenomenon of photography was being experimented with and in turn brought new and different ways of photo taking not only as documenting real time, but also conceptualizing a scene in which an image would be taken. Julia Margaret Cameron will

Evaluation of School Improvement

1403 words - 6 pages The evaluation process should be progressive to incorporate overall planning, implement changes, which contribute to success. In order to focus on school climate and norms, the evaluation design must include the students, instructions, and outcomes to improve communication and building-level concerns to be address in this response. School Climate and Social Norms The school principal, other staff leaders, and personnel set the tone and the

Case Study: The Benefits of Animal Testing

1757 words - 7 pages Nine year old Amy has already had a rough start in life. She was born with an abnormal heart that hinders her everyday activities. Amy is unable to keep up with kids her own age because she often tires out easily. As a consequence, she has very little friends and is often alone. Amy is forced to take different medications everyday just to survive. Amy’s life consists of medicine, doctors, and constant hospital visits. However, Amy is due for a

Similar Essays

Does The Possibility Of The Punctum Disappear In Digital Photography?

1538 words - 7 pages components to understanding the characteristics of photography, one being the studium and the other being the punctum. The studium being what is recognized right away and defined by broad cultural meaning and the punctum being what pierces the studium and evokes an unpredictable personal response. Michael Fried believed that digital photography removed any possibility for an experience of punctum. In Michael Fried’s 2005 essay Barthes Punctum

Analysis Of Photographs: The Controversy

3078 words - 12 pages of the photographs that cannot be named (coded) and yet, manage to leave an impression. Roland Barthes coined a term for this 'impression': the punctum. He contrasts "the punctum, the point", to "the studium, or general knowledge available to every viewer" (Mirzoeff, 1999: 74). According to Barthes, studium denotes cultural, linguistic, and political interpretation of a photograph based on evident signs whereas punctum denotes personally

Roland Barthes’ Camera Lucida Essay

1810 words - 7 pages Barthes deeply studied semiotics, to clear the concepts, he named this phenomenon. The former is studium and the latter is punctum. Barthes describes these terms. “What I feel about these photographs derives from an average affect, almost from a certain training…but I believe this word exists in Latin: it is studium, which doesn’t mean, at least not immediately, “study,” but application to a thing, taste for someone, a kind of general, enthusiastic

The Influence Of Photgraphy In The Sixties

1514 words - 6 pages . Barthes points out that Photographer go to great lengths to make us look life-like and active when taking our pictures.For the viewers of the photographs, Barthes explains that there are two elements involved when viewing a photograph. One element is the studium. The studium is a "kind of education (civility, politeness) that allows discovery of the operator." (page 28) It is the order of liking, not loving. I don't think the studium applies in