Roland Barthes – Camera Lucida

Camera Lucida by Roland Barthes (2000) London, Vintage

This is a book that was suggested to me by my tutor while talking about the initially mind scrambling effect the subject of Exercise 1.2 had on me when I first looked at it.  I have not read the book in its entirety yet and for now have just concentrated on his concept of the “studium” and “puncture”, which deal with the role of the ‘point’ in photographs. I am not sure it has completely undone the scrambling and is clearly not the whole answer but has nevertheless been useful in helping me develop my thinking on this exercise.  More anon in the exercise itself.

I have to confess to a degree of wariness about philosophers writing about photography, or indeed any writing on photography that tends towards the philosophical.  All too often the text can become, to my mind at least, unnecessarily dense and even impenetrable. One particular case is the otherwise important and influential book “On Photography” by Susan Sontag, which I sometimes find to be rather heavy going and lost in a sense of its own cleverness.  I feel though that Barthes approach, although also self consciously ‘clever’ on occasions, is nevertheless quite approachable if read with care and attention, and is refreshingly candid in it the way it opens up Barthes himself and his very personal response to photography to scrutiny.

Not a long book but actually quite deep and well worth adding to your armoury!

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