The term punctum is also used in the art world -- most typically photography, as its first use in this context is most often attributed to Roland Barthes in his essay on photography, Camera Lucida

Punctum refers to that quality of an artistic work that is immediate, salient and demanding. It is what grabs your attention and stirs your emotions. It is how you fall in love with a book, or a painting or a song. To Barthes, "It is this element which rises from the scene, shoots out of it like an arrow, and pierces me."

Contrast to studium: that which is not particularly stirring at first glance, but is appreciated at an intellectual level over time and consideration of an artistic piece.

Punc"tum (?), n. [L., a point.]

A point.

Punctum caecum. [L., blind point.] Anat. Same as Blind spot, under Blind. -- Punctum proximum, near point. See under Point. -- Punctum remotum, far point. See under Point. -- Punctum vegetationis [L., point of vegetation] Bot., the terminal cell of a stem, or of a leaf bud, from which new growth originates.


© Webster 1913.

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