I was doing some more reading of Barthes’ Camera Lucida today, and though it has been shared by countless others, here is a rather crucial excerpt.
The second element will break (or punctuate) the studium. This time it is not I who seek it out (as I invest the field of the studium with my sovereign consciousness), it is this element which rises from the scene, shoots out of it like an arrow, and pierces me. A latin word exists to designate this wound, this prick, this mark made by a pointed instrument: the word suits me all the better in that it revers to the notion of punctuation, and because the photographs I am speaking of are in effect punctuated, sometimes even speckled with these sensitive points; precisely, these marks, these wounds are so many points. This second element which will disturb the studium I shall therefore call punctum; for punctum is also: sting, speck, cut, little hole – and also a cast of the dice. A photograph’s punctum is that accident which pricks me (but also bruises me, is poignant to me).
-Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida, p. 26
From this I am compelled to constantly revisit my work in light of it. Do my images allow for a punctum or are they pure studium? The studium would be my intention, process, rationale and message, but the punctum remains beyond my control (and it must for it can only be determined by the individual viewer). It is that special something-ness that makes one linger at a particular image longer than the others, and recall it to mind when day-dreaming. I cannot consistently produce this any more than I can produce a rainstorm, but maybe my image making needs to focus on creating the conditions in which a punctum can make its mark.
|my most recent compilation in progress, representing every one of my 91 Facebook “friends”|