Writing of Light or Writing of Shade? Jacques Derrida on Photography

W „Przeglądzie Kulturoznawczym” 2022, nr 3(53) został opublikowany mój tekst Writing of Light or Writing of Shade? Jacques Derrida on Photography

The article presents Jacques Derrida’s reflections on photography. Although the philosopher himself declared his “lack of competence” in matters concerning visual arts and, more broadly, the image because his domain was word/text, he often spoke/wrote about the nature of the image, including the photographic one, as he was often provoked/invited to make such statements. Derrida did not create a coherent theory of the photographic image and it was never his ambition. However, scattered in several texts, his original reflections on the essence of photography – not in the commonly accepted thinking about this medium as the phenomenon of “writing of light,” but rather a medium that uses a kind of “writing of shade” (or sciagraphy) – force us to reflect and think critically. This article presents analyses and interpretations of Derrida’s texts in which the problem of photography is merely a context for broader philosophical considerations (The Postcard, Memoirs of the Blind, Aletheia, Rights of Inspection), as well as those in which photography becomes the basic material of reflection (The Deaths of Roland Barthes, Copy, Archive, Signature, Athens. Still Remains). Derrida’s thinking (even in darkness) turns out to be worth considering as reading his “amateur” texts on photography proves that his voice can be inspiring in this field as well.

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