In this essay, I provide a new critical consideration of the works of the semiologist Roland Barthes and the artist Victor Burgin. The influence of Barthes on Burgin’s work is well documented. Equally, Burgin’s prominence as a theorist concerned with text and image offers a productive dialogue with Barthes’ work. The interaction between the two is most apparent in my mind when they discuss the limitless possibilities of the panorama and panoramic vision.
I presented this paper at "The Art of Death and Dying" symposium on October 24-27, 2012. The symposium was hosted by the University of Houston Libraries, in partnership with the Blaffer Art Museum, the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts, the Department for Hispanic Studies, the Honors College and School of Art. Far from being morbid, this was the best, most well-planned, and liveliest symposium I've ever attended. (Soon afterward, I was contacted to be interviewed for a Norwegian docu-series on death, which is just as awesome and metal as it sounds).
I presented this paper at PhotoHistory XV, the 15th Symposium on the History of Photography, on October 21-23, 2011. These symposia are organized by The Photographic Historical Society, the oldest such organization in the world, founded in 1966. During the conference, historians, collectors, photo experts, and dealers from around the world meet at the George Eastman House, the International Museum of Photography & Film in Rochester, New York.
Photographs are artifacts of moments past and forever lost. They provide a “fugitive testimony” to history (Camera Lucida 93). Throughout his work, Roland Barthes examines photography’s mnemonic features that testify to the absence of the subject depicted while simultaneously giving evidence that it existed. Barthes regards architecture as a visible index to the past and explains that ancient societies built structures to immortalize themselves.