[NetBehaviour] Barthes’ Space of Confinement...
marc.garrett at furtherfield.org
Fri Nov 10 10:01:35 CET 2006
Barthes’ Space of Confinement: Affect, Virtuality and the Photographic
Roland Barthes (1981) wrote that cameras “were clocks for seeing” (15)
which show us the passage of time. This has a certain affinity but is
not precisely the same as Bergson’s conception ot duration or durée.
“The Photograph is never anything but an antiphon of ‘Look’, ‘See’ and
‘here it is’; it points a finger at certain vis-à-vis, and cannot escape
this pure deictic language” (5).
However, gesturing with the camera must, like mannerisms, be social as
well as cultural. Barthes structuralism picks up on the embeddedness of
the photograph within interaction by identifying both a literal
“studium” and also a more virtual “punctum” of photographs, “a kind of
subtle beyond” (57), which a text by Tonya Davidson reminded me “refers
to how the photograph becomes performed through the spectator”.
The mobile phone camera is a different performance and the digital
images are complemented by a different spectatorship which looks for the
punctum rather than the studium. The ‘question’ or problem of the mobile
phone image is much more strongly not one of literal content but of what
is/was passing through the moment captured in the time of the image. The
time-image and movement-image do not coincide. Although the moment
captured is past and, as one says, “gone” (where?), the movement or flow
of time and events which passed through the moment continues into the
present of the spectator. In this way, an understanding of mobile phone
images seems to be less dominated by the questions of death and the
irretrievability of the past which preoccupy Barthes (his central
example is a photograph of his dead mother). The image blurs the
distinction between a present spectator alive to the image, and the
liveliness of the past moment captured by the image – its virtuality.
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