Week 2 – The Index and the Icon – A Question of Authenthicity

“The power of authentication exceeds the power of representation” (Camera Lucida, 1980:89 )

According to Barthes, the photograph is there to say what has been, to confirm what it represents, and it is authentication itself. He uses as an example in Camera Lucida a photograph that was presented to him, which he did not recall having taken it. He was in the picture therefore, even if he had no memory of it, there is no way to deny that he was in this place in a certain time.

Barthes describes a Photograph as a “certificate of presence” (Barthes, p. 87), a true authentication and physical proof. When comparing it to language, he stated that language is fictional by nature, and it takes much more to be a true certification. He is right in his context, and this approach is still valid nowadays in many branches of photography. However, with the development of technology and with the digitalization of images, the scenario has changed.

Nowadays it is much easier to transform an image into a representation, with the use of digital editing tools. As a result, the face of photography changed in the art world, and new approaches were born with the digital era.

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

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