I have just finished reading this book that I began in November!
Tagg looks at how photography has been influenced and how it has influenced history in Europe and North America by examining historical records in the UK and Europe and USA. Taking examples of photographs taken in the 19th century for recording likeness’ of prisoners, photos of slums such as in Leeds that were used to push to challenge the Local Authorities and fight for improved living conditions for the poor. Images taken in the early part of the 20th century to document the results of economic rescission in the rural community of the USA. Tagg analyses both images and back the ground events to produce a strong argument for his book and often makes reference to a French philosopher, Michel Foucault, that who I should perhaps find more about and how his ideas may help in my creativity.
An interesting book, a little heavy and have your dictionary to hand but worth studying as his method of research is good and his idea that arguments that are not fully tested with good background research are weak and likely to be biased. I think Tagg alludes to this when referring to John Berger and Susan Sontag.
A self-portrait of Shaun Mullins as regarded by others
Friend – Carol: “Oxford concise dictionary definition – Personality – the characteristic way in which a particular individual think’s, feels and behaves. It embraces a person’s moods, attitudes and opinions and is most clearly expressed in interaction with other people.
My father – Barrie: “He is a man of high ability when he wishes to exercise it.”
Friend – Graham: “When you take on a task, you determine to complete it.”
My wife – Sarah: “Is self-reflective and keen to learn.”
My father – Barrie: “Despite success in life and work his confidence has a hard job to keep pace and instead of celebrating (boasting even) he appears to denigrate any achievements. Always under selling himself it appears.”
My wife – Sarah: “Can suffer from low morale at times which has a tendency to make him morose and negative however, is easily coaxed out of himself.”
My wife – Sarah: “A true animal lover who responds well to animals as they do to him.”
Friend – Graham: “Your primary weakness is communication – Think about what you want to say, before you open your mouth. Keep your anecdotes SHORT. – People like to be entertained…but they don’t need and cannot absorb unnecessary detail. – You haven’t yet learned the value of silence.”
Friend – Carol: “Interested”
Friend – Graham: “Don’t stand too close to people, when you speak to them. Women, in particular, find this threatening and unpleasant.”
My wife – Sarah: “Is generally of a cheerful disposition and is for the most part positive.”
My wife – Sarah: “Is friendly and enjoys company but can also be quite a private person who doesn’t like to share his inner thoughts and feelings.”
My wife – Sarah: “Is patient but doesn’t suffer fools.”
My father – Barrie: “Socially he is very discerning of people in general, which in one sense is good, but he does not suffer fools gladly and appears to have little compassion for the frailties in many, if not most of mankind.”
Friend – Graham: “You have high moral principles and you stick to them…sometimes too stubbornly…the world is not black and white. But you are extremely trustworthy.”
Camera Lucida, by Roland Barthes, (2000) London, Vintage Classics, ISBN: 9-780099-225416.
Barthes examines, photography, what photography is, and how it works as a medium for art, commercial, social and private use. This is an important book to read, unfortunately it can be a little hard to read, perhaps because of the translation and Barthes academic language; but worth persevering with.
A photograph is never anything but an antiphon (chant) of, “Look see,” “Here it is.” It points a finger at the relationship it hold, it can not escape its denoted meaning. (page 5).
A photograph never distinguishes itself from its referent (what it represents).
A photo is a ‘signifier’
Barthes identifies two elements to a picture that is needed to make it interesting and he named them ‘Studium’ and ‘Punctum’. Words he has taken from the Latin language. ‘Studium’ is the general pleasing or good composition of the picture and Punctum is an element that punctuates through the image, an element that ‘pricks’ / creates an emotional response of some kind. (Page 25 – 28.)
The one thing that I got but didn’t fully realise until now is his idea of studium and punctum, a fellow student helped me with this when he posted a link to a good video explaining this theory. https://phlearn.com/punctum-better-image
I have just read this book ‘Mythologies’ by Roland Barthes, although it was not listed on my OCA book list for Context and Narrative, I am so glad I have read it. I found it difficult to read, as I have to admit I struggled to understand the academic language even with a dictionary. However, I think that I had understood the gist and Barthes ideas of mythology in combination with Semiology is giving me food for thought for subject matter for my next assignment. The first section is a collection of essays about various subject matter that Barthes came across in day to day life that can be associated to modern day myths for example: The world of wrestling, Soap-Powder and Detergents Steak and Chips. But it is the last section, titled Myths Today which is the gold-nugget of information to be read and if necessary re-read until understood. Hard work to read; but a must for all art students.