Reading Question 1/23

“Ultimately, what I am seeking in the photograph taken of me (the intention according to which I look at it) is Death: Death is the eidos of that Photograph.” (Barthes,15)

“The camera obscura, in short has generated at one and the same time perspective painting, photography, and the diorama, which are all three arts of the stage; but if photography seems to me closer to the theater, it is by way of a singular intermediary (and perhaps I am the only one who sees it) : by way of Death.” (Barthes,31)

“Now it is this same relation which I find in the Photograph; however “lifelike” we strive to make it (and this frenzy to be lifelike can only be our mythic denial of an apprehension of death), photography is a kind of primitive theater, a kind of Tableau Vivant, a figuration of the motionless and made-up face beneath which we see the dead.” (Barthes, 31-32)


Technically this is only three sentences, although lengthy, I thought they were all good explanations on Barthes thought process on photo in relation to death. As readers, we are made aware in the introduction that the death of Barthes mother had a great impact on him and has been argued that this is the reasoning for Barthes relating photography to death throughout the book. The quotes above showcases his beliefs that death is the idea of photography and that theater and photography are linked closely together and represent death. He explains that theater and photography strive to be “lifelike” and they are the imitation of the dead. As soon as a moment has passed, it’s dead, according to Barthes.

Because of my interest in social media, I started to wonder what Barthes would make of it. How does social media play into this idea of death? I can’t help to think about snap chat or Instagram where people post “stories” of multiple photos and instances. Is it just a timeline of death? Are we fighting against this moment of “death”? Or what about when videos are posted as well? I have to wonder if his perspective would change or stay the same.