পটের চিহ্নতত্ত্ব (Semiotics of Photography)

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Debaprasad Bandyopadhyay

দেবপ্রসাদ বন্দ্যোপাধ্যায়

 Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata

This Bangla paper on the semiotics of photography dealt both with still and movies and published in one and only Bangla journal of photography. There are 7 episodic representations on this topic and all of them were exemplified with photos captured by Avijit Ghosh and Pradip Dutta. Lastly Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow Up was analyzed by deploying Indian Philosophical tools. The salient features of the paper are as follows:

I. The author dramatically opened with file with the concept of commodity fetishism so that the readers could understand the inversion of commodity and money-signifiers in the realm of market. He then introduced the basic structuralist concepts levels of semiotic analysis with a special emphasis to semantics, discourse analysis and theory of reflection.
II. He further extended the commodity fetishism with the explanation of photos of mannequin as reflected in the glasses of shops. He explained two movies of Mrinal Sen (Kolkata 71 and Interview), where the protagonist stripped off the dresses of inanimate mannequin (protagonist perceived ‘them’ as animate beings) as he was refused to get job for his indigenous dress-code. Thus the non-discursive signs of colonialism were also revealed through this ‘violent’ incidence of ‘raping’ the inanimate that was perceived as animate—the concept of semioclasm was introduced. In this way, Marx’s comment on commodity (at a time perceptible and imperceptible) was connected with Rolland Barthes’s concept of myth (at a time true and unreal).
III. The author then returned to the basics of structural semiotics (Saussure’s dichotomies). He dealt with the anthropocentric limits of perception by going beyond realism-idealism polemic. How do we, the Homo sapiens, ‘perfectly’ know signified as object? Therefore he dealt with allegedly “tampered” photos of one superman with minute details of photographic techniques along with the photos of ‘invasion’ in the moon. Everything is signifiers or rather representations(Derrida).
IV. The theory of reflection was understood through the Vedantic concept of ‘ghatakasa-patakasa’ (The subject, inclining to a water-pot by turning her back to the real vast sky, perceives the reflection of the real sky in the pot’s water. If s/he copies this supplement in a canvas, s/he can create a series of supplements—n-numbers of copy’s copies. Where is the transcendental “original” signified?—everything is signifier!). And this order of signifiers was compared with the Plato’s imagined scheme of the cave. These theories of reflection (Plato, Pierce, Saussure and Vedanta) was explained through a popular movie, “Enter The Dragon”, where destroying the mirror-image means the weakening of the apparent enemy (though, according to Buddhist Philosophy, there is no enemy—everyone is “I-self” and it was pronounced by the Lee’s preceptor at the beginning of the film. The ethico-epistemological standpoints were also explained in this paper). To understand the “real” (Lacan) of the image from the perspective of positional subjectivity , a photo of a lady (branded as so-called ”tribe”, Malkangiri, Odissa, India) was shown. The lady was reluctant to be photographed alone, therefore she took her family’s photo with her. This “photo within photo” also led to n-number of reflections or mutual resemblance (cf. Samkhya darsana). Thus, this photo was not confined within the realm of so-called visual anthropology.
V. From apparent structuralist position, the author was gradually switching over to post-structuralist tools. He explained the concept of “representation represents itself” (Derrida) and the concept of simulation (Baudrillard) by describing/explaining the film “Blow Up”. The concept of null-signified was introduced. The author ended up his discussion with the explanation of mimesis, both from the Indian and western perspectives.

Key-words: null-signified, simulation, representation, myth, n-number of reflections,semioclasm, commodity fetishism, positional subjectivity, original-copy,

About Debaprasad Bandyopadhyay

Debaprasad Bandyopdhyay (b. 1965), through his 25 years journey in the realm of institutionalized academics did 27 different types of works, which are someway different from the earlier paradigms or, one might say that those works are not only mere reproductions of his inherited institutionalized cultural capital or a mimicry of a colonially imposed model that leads to intellectual anorexia or rather a type falsification of earlier paradigms. However, that might be not only a lofty claim but it also hid the fact that all our information and knowledge are socially accumulated knowledge that was, it is matter of regret, posed as private property through the sign © and the wisdom is rarely available. Bandyopadhyay’s works and projects are the products of his social milieu. Bandyopadhyay is a local sub-altern public sphere academician, who avoids the technical intelligentsia (followers of Sahib’s models and they are not committed to the persons who are accommodating surplus work-time to them by performing surplus labour) or inorganic intellectuals and thus fails to be a part of academic tribe and its subsequent socialization process. Of course, that socialization process does not lead to legendary Socratic dialogue. He is also a political activist though he has not affiliated to any political parties as he was always talking about the corporatization of political parties within the money-sign-based democratic system. He is a regular participant in TV and radio talk-shows and documentary films, street-corners’ talks and International seminars on socio-political, psychological, linguistic, environmental and economic issues. He also writes editorial columns in newspapers. He is also a part of parallel academics as it is found in West Bengal’s Little Magazine Movement, though that was not counted as the part his academic pursuit by his parent institute. His parent institute justifiably does not believe in the domain of parallel academics as this unorganized sector does not directly contribute in the transactions of formal/organized print capitalist eco-enemy paper-publication. Though the dissemination of knowledge is also observed in this space of these parallel academics as all these writings in public sphere simultaneously influence the classroom-discourse and some of them are translated into English, French and Italian. Not only that, Bandyopadhyay also sought engagement with the people, who, by supplying their surplus labour, are sustaining his livelihood. Bandyopadhyay, a linguist by training and a Ph.D.-holder (1996), a junior lecturer (1999-2011) in an autonomous central government institute in India, tries his best for those from he has received and is receiving the manifestation of surplus labour by executing some self-funded projects on economic issues in West Bengal, India. Recently he has got a consolation promotion to the post of Assistant Professor. He has done following 27 research works: 1. Crippled Creativity: An inquiry into language, psyche, society: 2. VALENCY OF BANGLA VERB AND PROBLEM OF COMPOUND VERBS: 3. Archaeology of Bangla Grammar : 4. CAN COMPUTER SPEAK? 5. FUZZY LOGICAL EXPRESSION IN BANGLA : 6. FOLKLORE AND FOLK-LANGUAGE: MYTH OR REALITY? 7. HISTORICISM IN THE DISCOURSE OF BANGLA LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE 8. ABHABA, ECP, DELETION AND TRACE 9. SVATVA OR MY-NESS AND ECONOMIC ENTITLEMEMT 10. TRANSLATION STUDIES 11. MASCULINITY STUDIES 12. YAYATI & BABAR COMPLEX 13. SOCIO-ECONOMIC SURVEYS IN AGRICULTURE AND INDUSTRY IN WEST BENGAL 14. CONCEPT OF BODY IN INDIAN PHILOSOPHY AND ARCHITECTURE 15. THE CONCEPT OF ERROR (KHYATI) IN MAD-(WO)MEN’S LANGUAGE 16. THE CONCEPT OF PERCEPTUAL TIME AND GRAMMATICAL TIME IN BANGLA 17. BANGLA CALLIGRAPHY, LANGUAGE ART AND LINGUISTIC PEDAGOGY 18. WO(L)D SPACES: NON-EXISTENCE OF WORDS 19. ANEKANTA METHODS 20. SILENCEME: SILENT OTHER IN LINGUISTICS 21. IMAGINED BOUDARIES AND PRE-COLONIAL INDIAN IMAGI-NATION 22. MAKING OF THE INDIAN PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE 23. SEGMENTING THE SUPRASEGMENTALS : MUSICKING IN SPEAKING 24. INTERPRETING GENETIC STRUCTURE BY DEPLOYING LINGUISTIC STRUCTURE 25. GLOTTOPOLITICS OF LINGUISTIC SUBALTERNITY OR AN AGENDA FOR PLANNING FROM BELOW 26. SEMIOTICS OF PHOTOGRAPHY 27. SOCIOLOGY OF CONTEMPORARY ACADEMICS
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2 Responses to পটের চিহ্নতত্ত্ব (Semiotics of Photography)

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