some days ago i discovered the landscapist blog. what an amount of food for thought, in a way almost intimidating. man & nature # 19 ~ reading a photograph grabbed my attention, and even my illiteracy regarding barthes’ punctum thesis did not stop me from at least trying to follow.

later on, going through my pictures again, i was pondering this idea of the punctum again, trying to find a connection to my own body of work. the picture above maybe comes close – do you discover the punctum?

maybe i should read the original of this theorem. the landscapists interpretation at least seems to be flawed in the sense of ignoring the cultural roots of all our interpretational skills, and my image of the vesak lanterns is an example for this. from perceiving the subject, the odd combination of barbed wire and colorful lanterns, you don’t get the point of the picture even if you know where it was taken and what vesak is – one of the most important buddhist holidays in sri lanka – and this point cannot be photographed or included by omission, but it has to do with some further knowledge.

the picture was taken on the east coast of sri lanka, in a region where tamil villages mix with muslim ones. without influence of racist politicians, all these ethnics and religions coexist with the buddhists, and those are the absolute minority in this region, almost non-existent outside of army and police. an army, which is at war since 30 years with the tamils who form the majority on the east coast. hence the barbed wire. punctum.

but maybe i got this whole idea wrong…

vesak lanterns

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One thought

  1. Camera Lucida seems to be a book that’s worth a read. Or two.

    In general it seems as if the punctum seems to be a deeply personal experience in which the photo and memory are strongly connected (see also the comments on landscapist). Maybe it’s therefore something that is hard to share – or better, it’s something that can only be shared with some explanations.

    Just looking at your photo, the barbed wire and the lanterns certainly make an immediate disharmony in the picture. But only with your explanation one gets the whole of the picture.

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