From Jacques Racière’s The Future of the Image (translated by Gregory Elliot):
The imprint of the thing, the naked identity of its alterity in place of its imitation, the wordless, senseless materiality of the visible instead of the figures of discourse–this is what is demanded by the contemporary celebration of the image or its nostalgic evocation: an immanent transcendence, a glorious essence of the image guaranteed by the very mode of its material production. Doubtless no one has expressed this view better than the Barthes of Camera Lucida, a work that ironically has become the bible of those who wish to think about photographic art, whereas it aims to show that photography is not an art. Against the dispersive multiplicity of the operations of art and games of signification, Barthes wants to assert the immediate alterity of the image—that is, in the strictest sense, the alterity of the One. He wants to establish a direct relationship between the indexical nature of the photographic image and the material way it affects us: the punctum, the immediate pathetic effect that he contrasts with the studium, or the information transmitted by the photograph and the meanings it receives. The studium makes the photograph a material to be decoded and explained. The punctum immediately strikes us with the affective power of the that was: that —i.e. the entity which was unquestionably in front of the aperture of the camera obscura, whose body has emitted radiation, captured and registered by the black chamber, which affects us here and now through the ‘carnal medium’ of light ‘like the delayed rays of a star.
Fortunately, Racière repudiates a hierarchical distinction:
…the semiologist who read the encoded message of images and the theoretician of the punctum of the wordless image base themselves on the same principle: a principle of reversible equivalence between the silence of images and what they say. The former demonstrated that the image was in fact a vehicle for a silent discourse which endeavored to translate into sentences. The latter tells us that the image speaks to us precisely when it is silent, when it no longer transmits any message to us. Both conceive the image as speech which holds its tongue. The former mad its silence speak; the latter makes this silence the abolition of all chatter. But both play on the same inter-convertibility between two potentialities of the image: the image as raw, material presence and the image as discourse encoding a history.