Punctum is a Duration – Jacques Derrida

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I have been wandering through the pages of Fifty Key Writers on Photography (edited by Mark Durden), and was stopped by Derrida.

He argues that BarthesPunctum is not a point – but a duration. Derrida is taking a phenomenological view – that our experience impacts how we view that ‘moment’ of punctum. It has relation to the past and the present, which means that time has a role in Punctum.

Derrida would therefore argue that artifice and techne are part of that Punctum, and are therefore intrinsic to photography. Logically, therefore, to quote Malcolm Barnard on Derrida:

… there is as much active creation and ‘art’ as there is passive documentary in photography‘ (Fifty Key Writers, pg 79)



Barthes, Roland. 1980. Camera Lucida. New York: Hill & Wang.

Derrida, Jacques, 2010. A Conversation on Photography (edited by G. Richter). Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Durden, Mark. 2013. Fifty Key Writers on Photography. Oxford: Routledge.

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