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Essay: The Death of the Author, Roland Barthes

Posted on by Ben Hodson

After reading the essay by Barthes, we were requested to find an image which represented our understanding of the text.  I found myself getting overly confused and going round in circles in my head.

As I understand it the text can be summerised by the section: "The birth of the reader must be at the death of the author". The notion that the role of the reader/viewer/audience is more important in the understanding of a text (image/writing/film etc.) then the author (creator/originator/inventor).

I feel I have a basic grasp of the text, (although I had to read it several times), but I found selecting an image incredibly difficult.  This is partly due to the fact I am an originator of my own "text" and I found it hard to put more emphasis on the reader.

After much deliberation I found myself being drawn to the idea of reclaiming already used imagery.  ONe of the most interesting artists that have been working in this area (in my opinion) is Richard Prince.

Prince re-used the imagery in Malboro cigarette adverts and re-printed them.  Removing the context and a lot of its associations.  To me this leaves the image open to purely the understanding of the viewer.  As some might argue that Prince isnt even the author of the work.

Richard Prince Untitled (cowboy), 1989 Ektacolor photograph 127 x 178 cm © 2008 Richard Prince