The Theatricality of the Punctum: Re-Viewing Camera Lucida

Authors

  • Harry Robert Wilson University of Glasgow

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.21476/PP.2017.31126

Keywords:

roland barthes, camera lucida, performance, theatricality, practice-as-research

Abstract

I first encountered Roland Barthes’s Camera Lucida (1980) in 2012 when I was developing a performance on falling and photography. Since then I have re-encountered Barthes’s book annually as part of my practice-as-research PhD project on the relationships between performance and photography. This research project seeks to make performance work in response to Barthes’s book – to practice with Barthes in an exploration of theatricality, materiality and affect. This photo-essay weaves critical discourse with performance documentation to explore my relationship to Barthes’s book. Responding to Michael Fried’s claim that Barthes’s Camera Lucida is an exercise in “antitheatrical critical thought” (Fried 2008, 98) the essay seeks to re-view debates on theatricality and anti-theatricality in and around Camera Lucida. Specifically, by exploring Barthes’s conceptualisation of the pose I discuss how performance practice might re-theatricalise the punctum and challenge a supposed antitheatricalism in Barthes’s text. Additionally, I argue for Barthes’s book as an example of philosophy as performance and for my own work as an instance of performance philosophy.

Author Biography

Harry Robert Wilson, University of Glasgow

Harry Robert Wilson is a performance maker and researcher based in Glasgow. He has an MA and an MPhil in Theatre Studies from the University of Glasgow. Harry has shown performance work at Battersea Arts Centre (London), the Arches, Buzzcut Festival (Glasgow) Summerhall (Edinburgh), DCA and GENERATORProjects (Dundee) and DEFIBRILLATOR Performance Art Gallery (Chicago). Harry has taught on the Theatre Studies course at the University of Glasgow and on the Contemporary Performance Practice course at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. He is currently undertaking an AHRC funded, practice-as-research PhD project at the University of Glasgow exploring the relationships between performance and photography.

References

Barthes, Roland. 1972. Critical Essays. Translated by Richard Howard. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press.

Barthes, Roland. 1976. Sade, Fourier, Loyola. Translated by Richard Miller. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Barthes, Roland. 1977. Roland Barthes by Roland Barthes. Translated by Richard Howard. New York: Hill and Wang. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-349-03518-2

Barthes, Roland. 1990. S/Z. Translated by Richard Miller. Oxford: Blackwell.

Barthes, Roland.1993. Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography. Translated by Richard Howard. London: Vintage.

Barthes, Roland. 2005. The Neutral: Lecture Course at the Collège de France, 1977-1978. Translated by Rosalind Kraus and Denis Hollier. New York: Columbia University Press.

Barthes, Roland. 2011. The Preparation of the Novel: Lecture Course and Seminars at the Collège de France (1978–1979 and 1979–1980). Edited by Natalie Léger. Translated by Kate Briggs. New York: Columbia University Press.

Batchen, Geoffrey, ed. 2009. Photography Degree Zero: Reflections on Roland Barthes’ Camera Lucida. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Bleeker, Maaike. 2008. Visuality in the Theatre: The locus of looking. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230583368

Bottoms, Stephen. 1988. “The Tangled Flora of Goat Island: Rhizome, Repetition, Reality.” Theatre Journal 50 (4): 421–446. https://doi.org/10.1353/tj.1998.0100

Bottoms, Stephen and Matthew Goulish, eds. 2007. Small Acts of Repair: Performance, Ecology and Goat Island. London: Routledge.

Briggs, Kate. 2015. “Practising with Roland Barthes.” L'Esprit Créateur. 55 (4): 118–130. https://doi.org/10.1353/esp.2015.0053

Cull, Laura. 2012. “Performance as Philosophy: Responding to the Problem of ‘Application’.” Theatre Research International 37 (1): 20–27. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0307883311000733

Fitzpatrick, Andrea D. 2007. “The Movement of Vulnerability: Images of Falling and September 11.” Art Journal 66 (4): 84–102. https://doi.org/10.1080/00043249.2007.10791285

Fried, Michael. 2008. Why Photography Matters as Art as Never Before. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Lepecki, André. 2006. Exhausting Dance: Performance and the Politics of Movement. London: Routledge.

Rabaté, Jean-Michel, ed. 1997. Writing the Image After Roland Barthes. Philadelphia: Pennsylvania University Press.

Scheie, Timothy. 2006. Performance Degree Zero: Roland Barthes and Theatre. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. https://doi.org/10.3138/9781442678354

Schneider, Rebecca. 2011. Performing Remains: Art and War in Times of Theatrical Reenactment. London: Routledge.

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Published

25-06-2017

How to Cite

Wilson, H. R. (2017). The Theatricality of the <i>Punctum</i>: Re-Viewing <i>Camera Lucida</i>. Performance Philosophy, 3(1), 266–284. https://doi.org/10.21476/PP.2017.31126

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