Right at the outset of the book, the author includes a Polaroid photograph by Daniel Boudinet from 1979. What do you think it was about the image of pillows and drawn curtains that would have enticed Barthes?
Dyer's introduction is full of wonderful points: Barthes' style is "compression and flow." (x) Perhaps Dyer's following statement is ripe for comment: "photography represents the advent of the self as other" (he attributes the sentiment to Barthes here). (xiv)
Consider Dyer's comments about digital photography:
- photograph as a record "of what has been";
- "photography as a technology in the process of becoming past, part of what has been." (xvii)
Section 1: Barthes cannot separate photography from cinema, but decides to figure out what it is apart from the other image-based media (or medium, I suppose, of film). He goes so far as to suggest that it (photography) doesn't exist.
Section 2: The various categorizations of photography, characterizations which could easily be applied to painting. He suggests that the photograph only means what it points to: "it points a finger." it is only a diectic language (that is, meaning is dependent on the context in which it is used). A photograph is always the photograph [of something]. (5) What is Barthes saying about photography as visual semiotics on p. 5? Why do you think Barthes capitalizes Pholography?
Section 3: He decides to look at only a few photographs (ones that he suggests "existed" for him, in order to "formulate the fundamental feature, the universal." (9)
Section 4: Important There are 3 impulses in photography:
1) to do (the Operator - this isn't Barthes)
2) to undergo (the observed subject)
3) to look (the subject observing)
For Barthes, photography is "the return of the dead." (9) He covers photography-according-to-the-photographer (#1 above) as simply a chemical and physical activity, but one outside of his experience. He leaves it alone. (10)
Section 5: Posing for the camera is a problem for Barthes. Photography, unlike painting or drawing, is anything but subtle - at least the artist can imbue the image with some character, whereas photography cannot. (11) "'Myself' never coincides with my [photographic] image." (12) What does Barthes say about painting in history here? What does Barthes mean by the following beautiful phrase: "cameras ... were clocks for seeing."? (15)
Section 6: Barthes constitutes #3 above - the spectator - and admits (simply) that he does not appreciate all photographs. (18)
Section 7: So, then, why the attraction to certain photographs? He talks about "advenience" or "adventure" of a photograph: "This picture advenes, that one doesn't." (19) The photograph that interests Barthes "animates" him. (20)
Section 8: He refers back to earlier sections here, suggesting that he could speak of photography in terms of "material essences" (science) and "regional essences" (perhaps sociology), but instead considers "sentimental" reasons.
I wanted to explore it not as a question (a theme) bust as a wound: I see, I feel, hence I notice, I observe, and I think. (21)
Hopefully the questions above will elicit some sort of discussion. There are (probably) no "right" answers, and I certainly don't know them all, but this is certainly a "rich text." It is a personal text, made quite evident by his observation of photography, or his desires for the photographic referent, as a "wound." His personal story comes out as he continues; Camera Lucida is a deeply personal book.