“it is this element which rises from the scene, shots out of it like an arrow, and pierces me”, “for punctum is also: sting, speck, cut, little hold–and also a cast of the dice. A photograph’s punctum is that accident which pricks me (but also bruises me, is poignant to me)”.
Punctum says something about your emotional self; it speaks beyond your cultural, trained self. Punctum can be something small in a work of art (a hand, a dress, an eye) or it can be the entire work, but it is as if you have been punched by emotion.
Barthes described the photograph as ‘the living image of a dead thing.’ This was something that it shared in common with the painting, which had originated – as documented by ancient Egyptian funerary objects – in portraits of the dead. But what was unique to the photograph, according to Barthes, was its punctum, which he defined as the sensory, intensely subjective effect of a photograph on the viewer: ‘The punctum of a photograph is that accident which pricks me (but also bruises me, is poignant to me).’ Barthes contrasted the punctum with the studium denoting a general approach to a photograph that is conditioned by historical and cultural experiences and is not categorically different from how other art forms are approached.Share