Review on book: Sight and focus
One of the senses that a human being possess is a sight. Sight enables human beings to see things in the environment (Mertz, 89). It can also be described as vision or eyesight. All human beings have been granted by nature the power of seeing things. This is what enables them to see and make a judgment of what to do. This, however, has been photocopied by different ventures to come up with technology that is similar to the human sight. This includes the motor vehicle sector and more so the photography area. Focus on the other hand can be described as the central attention point or interest placed by an individual or something (Mertz, 89). Without focus, one cannot be able to produce a clear visual definition of something. From the definition of sight and focus, it can be seen that they are interrelated and go hand in hand. In the book Camera Lucida by Roland Barthes, it is more of explaining about imagination and nature of human consciousness. This is viewed from the conclusion of the book when the author says that, “imaginary process relies on intentionality.” The main theme portrayed in the book is the theme of presence and absence. The book is entirely structured as the subject of death. This is seen from its beginning as the writer talks about death as the eidos.
From the book, there is a relationship between presence and absence. Absence can be a kind of presence and presence be a kind of absence. Photography which is used to demonstrate absence and presence in the book is taken to have a kind of direct connection with a form of presence, truth or reality. Roland Barthes is struck by the connection between the representation of photographs which are absent and the presence of truth in it: “what is being produced by the photograph to infinity has only occurred once; what cannot be repeated severally can be done by the photograph.” The represented forms according to Barthes by the photograph refers to something or someone real, but the event does not exist at all but only in the photograph. This can, therefore, mean that a photograph can be categorized as an item which is absented presence. But for Barthes, it’s not absolute truth because it has a significance which is subjective. An assessment done by Barthes agrees on the relationship between truth and photography but in a way that thinks past the binaries of absence equals falsity and presence equal to the truth. In his writing of the book Camera Lucida, Barthes illustrates about photography just to make his audience believe in the past in all of the incongruities that happen. The question that he asked is that how can people view their own historical lives without photography?
According to him, the point that the interior and exterior interplay of our relationships with photography divides the history of the whole world. Barthes says that people want their photos to correspond with themselves even in various postures over time. This shows a notion of more self than solid core. Each time an individual pose for his or her photograph, there is self-assertiveness to the future viewer that the picture will be beautiful. Words like “I am beautiful” or “I am happy” are often used. Though a photograph can never resemble someone. Barthes says that his image never coincides with him for the image is motionless, heavy and stubborn but himself is dispersed, light and divided.
The book Camera Lucida demonstrates interesting ways of viewing photos through punctum and stadium. Punctum illustrates about the wounding and the touch details of the person which brings a direct relationship with the person or the object in the photograph (Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida, pp.27). The punctum provides a detailed explanation and it punctuates the stadium and provides disturbance on it. The experience of the viewer can ground the punctum. Studium, on the other hand, illustrates the linguistics, political and the cultural interpretation of the photograph (Camera Lucida, pp.26). Barthes identified it as the general image interest. The viewer can be told about the historical context, how the photograph is supposed to be viewed and where it was taken from the stadium illustrates directly about what the image communicates, and it expounds it meaning to the general viewer. According to Barthes, a punctum in a photograph is an accident which pricks him, but it also bruises him. A lot of photos do not prick though, but they only portray a polite interest because they are made with the stadium. Barthes further illustrated the punctum in the photograph as the ‘The Winter Garden’ a recognition meaning that ‘This has been’ and ‘This will die.’ The stadium is expanded to be the field of the desires which have no concern and of inconsequential taste.
For instance photos of a posed family, advertisements photos and those in hotel lobbies which do little to disclose the people in them. Barthes says of studium that what he can name cannot prick him. Barthes can read and identify the personal and contextual items within the photograph through punctum and stadium. The family photograph of his mother stands out to be the most punctum; with her recent death is always on his mind. The fact that he pours over and analyses the photographs of his mother shows that Barthes has a desire to recognize and know his mother. The young child image of his mother helps Barthes to understand the relationship between death and photography. Barthes can never deny that every photograph carries a meaning to their referents. About the reality and of the past, there is no superimposition on photography (Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida, pp. 76). It is now many years, and now in the garden, Barthes cannot disprove the presence of his mother before he would ever know her. The concept of erotic photographs was applied by Barthes in explaining photographs. Erotic truly is important in taking a spectator outside the frame of a photograph, but it does not make the central object viewing to be a sexual organ. People mostly think about photography by shaping and thinking as opposed to a recording. This is the reason to as why photography has always been struggling to get a place in the art since it seems to be simple as when one pushes a button in the opening and closing a shutter. Someone who has ever attempted to compel a portrait knows how it is more than a quick snap. According to Barthes, “the great portrait photographers are the great mythologists.”
Camera Lucida not only reflects on photography but also reflects on death. The co-mingle between photography and death provides a perfect way no other art does. Barthes suggests that the past is not called by the photograph but the effect it produces in him is not just to restore what was abolished either by distance or time but to test what he sees existing. The pictures were taken by the photographers and photographs of his mother which Barthes analyses illustrate the relationship between death and time (Camera Lucida, pp81). Thus the photograph of ‘The Winter Garden’ explains the reality that Barthes knew and recognized that at the time she would die.
In more instances, photography is associated with death by Barthes. Photography is a way in which one can experience the reality of death in today’s modern world. People choose to look at photographs of those that they love when they have gone. The reason is that to remember them and also to feel as if they are standing next to them. It also refreshes there memories that they are gone and they won’t be able to come back again. This is the closest one can ever be on that person who is ready gone. Barthes decided to focus on the neglected area of society when he wrote the book of Camera Lucida, the popularly known consumer culture which he saw that it had many sociological and ideological site of control. He was very upset by the death of his mother, and this drove him to write the book Camera Lucida which experienced many critics and also hate after it was published during the year 1980. The book was readily available in the market, and there was a time it became one of the classic books since many people have started to get attracted to it. Barthes died before the book became classic although he grew his title into a nascent field of criticism and historical photography. The field of fine arts started to increase its presence in the 1970s, but coincidentally there was a separation of other disciplines which began to emerge.
Barthes has made something strange with all of his work. He encountered some of the interesting limitations when writing his book Camera Lucida for the historian of photography. The fact that he was focused helped him a lot to succeed. He was very much interested in the actual or real photography. He was determined to locate the name of photography which was unique and very intrinsic to the camera image. The term name comes from phenomenology which means that a photograph is an object which is perceived or can be seen. All throughout the book, Barthes is tied to photograph to death, but he does not seek the materiality related to photography, but he is only concerned with language materiality. Photography is characterized by fatality according to Barthes and that there is always a terrible thing in every photo, for instance, the dead can return to the world (Camera Lucida, pp102).
The correlation of the photography with the death of his mother was best analyzed by Barthes (Camera Lucida, pp126). The frozen instant was reduced by the stopped time of the photograph. A photograph can be defined as the most inadequate record which is imaginable and the sole remaining relic of an individual. Life can continue, and the subject can also change, but the photography will just be the same so long as the image is left behind even when the individual has died. Through the search of photos of Barthes’s mother, he calls them the air which moves from body to soul a name called animula meaning an individual soul which is little and it works best in one person, but the to the other is bad. He manages to find photos which portray the identity and the status of his mother. The moment when he compares the photograph of his mother with a Buddhist defines the new form of hallucination a photograph can provide.
The photography can be very dangerous over simulacrum if it becomes more real and true than the memory of an individual and also if it can replace the loved ones. Barthes wrote that photography might resemble the intrusion in the society of today, of a death which might be symbolic outside the ritual, religion of certain communities thereby bringing literal death towards the end of the book (Camera Lucida, pp175). The paradigm of life and death can be reduced to a simple click whereby the initial pose can be separated from the final print. We enter into a flat death with the photograph. It is in here that the region where there is a piece of a slick paper, the image is taken and the photograph then becomes death. Barthes realized that someone who had never produce offspring had engendered his mother because she had reverted to be like a young child when he was nursing her with some kinds of tenderness when he read the Winter Garden Photograph. Barthes had little reasons to go on when she had died. He wrote that “From that day henceforth, there was nothing left to do except waiting for the total death.
In the books ending, the author seems to be totally alone. He is full memories remembering his mother. There is no doubt that he only see death in the photographs. Ironically after the author completed Camera Lucida, he died after he was run over by a car on the streets of Paris.
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