Camera Lucida 1981

Reading Roland Barthes insights concerning the affect of photography prompted me to consider the shroud, passages seem to describe the affect of the decomposition print more than photography. Simply replace ‘photography’ with ‘shroud’ For example,

“Since Photography [a shroud]…authenticates the existence of a certain being, I want to discover that being in the Photograph [shroud] completely, i.e., in its essence, “as into itself…” beyond simple resemblance…something inexpressible: evident…yet improbable (I cannot prove it). This something is what I call the air (the expression, the look). The air of a face is unanalyzable (once I can decompose, I prove or I reject, in short I doubt, I deviate from the Photograph [shroud], which is by nature totally evidence: evidence is what does not want to be decomposed). The air is not a schematic, intellectual datum, the way silhouette is. Nor is the air a simple analog – however extended – as is “likeness”. No the air is that exorbitant thing which induces from body to soul – animula, little individual soul, good in one person, bad in another…The air…is a kind of intractable supplement of identity, what is given as an act of grace, stripped of any “importance”: the air expresses the subject, insofar as that subject assigns itself no importance…And mysteriously, this coincidence is a kind of metamorphosis…suddenly the mask vanished: there remained a soul, ageless but not timeless, since this air was the person I used to see…Perhaps the air is ultimately something moral, mysteriously contributing to the face the reflection of a life value?…Thus the air is the luminous shadow which accompanies the body; and if the photograph [shroud] fails to show this air, then the body moves without a shadow, and once this shadow is severed, as in the myth of the Woman without a Shadow, there remains no more than a sterile body.” [p.107-110]

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