sábado, 9 de agosto de 2014

“Guernica” is a punctum by itself

Ricardo Goldbach

The aspect that visually strikes me in "Guernica" – let aside the horror of the message conveyed, or what Roland Barthes called the "studium" – is about the "punctum". "Punctum", as Barthes coined it, is that part of the image, the specific portion of it that emerges and stings the eyes and the feelings of the beholder. It's easier to understand the concept having in mind that "punctum" is the Greek work for "trauma". By the way, this is the root for the English words "point", "puncture" and "poignant".

An image's punctum is the point the eyes are guided to, to where the core message resides. And what comes immediately to my mind is that the whole painting is a punctum by itself.

When two humans meet, the eyes are the first connection point, and this also happens when an animal is close to a human, e.g, our pets, the mouth being a secondary source of expression.

When I stare at "Guernica" my eyes traverse the message conveyor, the profusion of eyes and mouths expressing the terror pounding both humans and animals, a lot of poignant puncti. At a second glance, the image makes me look for something different, as a non-punctum, and then come the two fragile lamps (hope) and, at both extremities of the scene, the two windows – escape routes far from the center of the annihilation stage, no way out.

[as posted at one of the discussion forums of the MOOC "The Camera Never Lies", led by Dr Emmett Sullivan, Royal Holloway and Bedford New College, University of London]