andreas michael barthes Essay

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Andreas Michael
GLA 602
Prof. Paul Delevati
Photography Time Machine – Barthes Before the existence of photography, portraits of people were mainly made from medium such as sculpture and painting. Portraits were not common among people, because it was only made mainly for the rich and influential people. The problem with the earlier portraits were that the artists that was commissioned to do so, very so often required to idealized and modified the subject in a less accurate fashion. This unnatural representation of the past according to Wicks causes us to have a vague understanding of our human history’s past perceptual realities (392). For Barthes photography is a medium that truthfully embodies the true representation of past perceptual realities. Barthes imposed that the evidentiary, documentary, and history preserving quality of photography is the essence of capturing an accurate portrait. One way to understand Barthes theory we can look at the stars or objects that are outside of our immediate reach, for instance, where our illusion and reality collide together. When we look stars far in the sky, what we see is the reflection of light from the stars travelling billions of years before the moment we see it, and some other stars might be closer to us and have travelled 4 years before we see it. It is merely a past reflection of light that we are experiencing at the precise moment. Barthes considers our visual field or what we are seeing at the moment as “as a set of simultaneously-running, realistic motion pictures that blend into one another” (Wicks 393). What we are experiencing is a collection of different events that are taking different time to reach our eyes, but we are experiencing it at the moment as one collaborative event. Wicks explains this even further, for example when we want to move our hand, and the time that we are thinking about moving our hand this time gap is non-existence, but we experience the whole sensory presentation as on which is all happening right now. When the distance between ourselves and some perceived object increases, the more the immediate perceived reality become an illusion. Photographs is merely the same, as “a photograph allows those light patterns to be perceived at some later date, as if the later perceiver were located in the place of the light-sensitive, photographic paper at the moment when the photograph was taken” (Wicks 395). When we look at a photograph, which is only a mere copy of lights that are reflected from a past object or subject, but we perceive it at moment that we are looking at it. Barthes believes that a photograph of a person can capture what the person looked like in a reviving way, as if we were there at the moment with that person. In reality we know that the person that was photograph can be dead, but the photograph allows us to immerse into the person environment once again as it was like when they were alive, such like time travelling. Barthes argues that these characteristics of photography set it aside from being other form of art such as paintings. To acknowledge the idea that photography is not the same like paintings or other types of art, we have to first acknowledge the fact that despite photography evidentiary quality, “photographs always involve some pigmentation, sizing, cropping, or distortion that varies from what one would otherwise perceive in the object’s immediate presence” (Wicks 396). These unavoidable factors in photography does not conform with what is actually depicted in the past perceptual, the appearance of the objective is preserved, but to a certain extent it is not what is normally seen in the past perception. For instance when adding colors into a black and white photographs, the object look, texture and shapes are preserved, but the color is merely an addition to the past perception. Barthes attitude towards this is that he is against artificial artistic additions to photography. He considers colors