The Art Seminar




MI: Anyway why do only photographs have puncta? Doesn’t it have something to do with involuntariness – what Benjamin called the optical unconscious? The punctum is closely related to the found object, something found as if by chance. The as if is important because it is finally the desire or lack in the beholder that the object answers.

[…] there’s no punctum without desire – which is unconscious, hence the passivity and surprise of encountering punctum. The punctum is neither objective nor subjective, and that’s why Barthes is so vague on this point. The automism of the camera mimics the automatism of the subject, giving access to an unexpected, antirealistic surreality.


MO: The Barthes punctum is a literary device to make us understand how he could feel his kind of pain.


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