On the nature of the studium:
- In his subjective examination of multiple photographs, Barthes describes the duality created by the “co-presence” of the studium and the punctum.
- The studium is coded, and can be understood as the rhetorical meaning of the photograph.
On the nature of the punctum
- The punctum is a sudden ‘prick’ when recognizing something in a photograph that triggers a deeply personal meaning or memory. “The punctum, then, is a kind of subtle beyond—as if the image launches desire beyond what it permits us to see” (59).
- The punctum is not coded. “Yet the punctum shows no preference for morality or good taste…” (43).
- The punctum is expansive. “However lightning-like it may be, the punctum has….a power of expansion. This power is often metonymic” (45).
- The punctum is not a result of the photographer’s artistic composition or intentions. “Certain details may ‘prick’ me. If they do not, it is doubtless because the photographer has put them there intentionally” (47).
- The punctum is consuming of the viewer’s attention. While the studium is an “idle gesture,” reading the punctum “is at once brief and active” (49).
- The punctum often reveals itself after viewing the photograph. “I may know better a photograph I remember than a photograph I am looking at, as if direct vision oriented it language wrongly, engaging it in an effort of description which will always miss its point of effect, the punctum” (53).
- The punctum escapes language (satori). “The photograph touches me if I withdraw it from its usual blah-blah…to say nothing, to shut my eyes, to allow the detail to rise of its own accord into affective consciousness” (55).
- The punctum is an addition. “It is what I add to the photograph and what is nonetheless already there” (55).
On the nature of film:
- The punctum cannot exist in film. The constant movement of still frames does not afford the pensiveness necessary for recognizing a punctum.
- However, film is still expansive. Barthes states, “…the screen is not a frame but a hideout; the man or woman who emerges from it continues living: a “blind field” constantly doubles our partial vision” (57).
- This “blind field” can be thought of as a de-framing of the photography, moving the material image into the spectator’s mental image.
On pornographic vs. erotic photographs:
- The blind field is the difference between pornographic and erotic photographs. “The erotic photograph…takes the spectator outside its frame…” (59).
Barthes, Roland. Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography. New York: Hill and Wang, 1981. 42-60. Print.
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