Roland Barthes' "Camera Lucida" has become one of my favourite pieces of writing on photography. I can only describe the way he writes about photography as the most beautiful way I have ever seen anyone write/heard anyone speak about the medium. He is entirely enthralled but also tortured by the visual image. I don't think he is alone in this. The book starts as so;
"One day, quite some time ago, I happened on a photograph of Napoleon's youngest brother, Jerome, taken in 1852. And I realized then, with an amazement I have not been able to lesson since: "I am looking at eyes that looked at the Emperor." Sometimes I would mention this amazement, but since no one seemed to share it, nor even to understand it (life consists of these little touches of solitude), I forgot it."
The quote has sat with me for so long that I need to write about it or tell someone about it, what it makes me think of.
I love how he describes that once you are amazed by something you cannot lesson that amazement. The act of realisation allows for amazement, often I find myself realising something that seemingly obvious, but that doesn't cease the amaze me.
And then what? Well I want to share it...but as Barthes so wonderfully puts, sometimes others don't share or understand 'you'. And you are touched with solitude, not enough to provoke loneliness, just enough to know the uniqueness of your thoughts and their subjectivity.
So what are we to be amazed by? The lens shares a viewpoint that only the person behind it can discover. A photograph an insight into how others view the world. It is commonly discussed in photography how subjective a photograph is. Not often does the image portray what was "really going on" but just an interpretation of that. Once the photographer looks through the lens, chooses a viewpoint, crops and composes the image, it is subjective. Does our subjectivity isolate us from each other?
I am not interested that Barthes has seen eyes that have seen the EMPEROR, but more the idea that through image we feel connected to each others viewpoints and that perhaps this lessons the solitude?
Vivian Mier "April 7, 1960, Florida"
[I'm currently obsessed with Vivian Miers work, but i'll saver her for another post...
And yesterday I discovered Sarah Vaughn, life will never be the same again.]