virus: Simulacrum

Bill Godby (
Mon, 13 May 1996 00:42:14 -0400

I just came across this after making the comments about simulacrum, it's
very complementary to what I was trying to say.

For Barthes the eye is only capable of seeing if the subject who is looking
has mastered an
understanding of inner vision as well. The eye reflects the tensions of a
relationship which cannot be
defined through the image as external or the thought as internal. This
brings up the crucial question of
context. If the image is the fulcrum of a context-dependent interpretation
of the relationship between
seeing and understanding then images lack specificity. They are the "site"
of a continuous process of
reinterpretation produced out of the historical context of presentation and
performance. This
"instability" which is at the heart of postmodernist reflections of the
variability of meaning in all texts,
foregrounds images as processual - there is no fixed moment of projection or
apprehension. (This
would have a dramatic effect on the notion of the photographic archive and
on presumptions of
photographic truth.)

These comments are from "Camera lucida: Roland Barthes, Jean-Paul Sartre and
the photographic image" by Ron Burnett, published in The Australian Journal
of Media & Culture vol.6 no2 (1991).

Bill Godby