Saturday, July 10, 2021

Roland Barthes On Photography (Camera Lucida) - short summary and overview

on Photography (full name Camera Lucida Reflections on Photography)  is a book by literary and cultural critic Roland Barthes , published in 1980 . The book, along with the book of cultural critic Susan Sontag on photography , is considered one of the most important academic review books and photography theory. The book is also considered one of Roland Barthes' great achievements, both stylistically and conceptually.

In the book, Roland Barthes explores the essence of photography, and at the same time recalls his late mother through family photographs. The book focuses on the effect of photography on the viewer and deliberately ignores the photographer himself, the photographic action and the photographed object, which Barth Spectrum calls.

Through a personal discussion about the emotional experience that specific photographs create, Barth considers photography as a non-symbolic medium, which cannot be interpreted simply by codes in language and culture, as one that acts on both body and mind. The book develops two contrasting concepts that describe the experience of observing photography - studio and punctum: the studio indicates the cultural, linguistic and political interpretation that the observer makes, while the punctuation indicates a personal touch, a stab, that a particular detail in photography evokes in the relationship between the observer and the photograph.

Throughout the book, Barthes refers to famous photographs from the 19th and 20th centuries and analyzes them on a personal level, his level of experience. Barthe later refers to family photos of him and his mother. Sometimes the book is read as a personal diary rather than an aesthetic theoretical essay, and all this while in Barth's awareness of the duality that characterizes his writing.

If this was not enough here you can find a much more detailed summary of Camera Lucida by Barthes.

More by Roland Barthes: