Yet it is not (it seems to me) by Painting that Photography touches art, but by Theater. Niepce and Daguerre are always put at the origin of Photography (even if the latter has somewhat usurped the former’s place); now Daguerre, when he took over Niepce’s invention, was running a panorama theater animated by light shows and movements in the Place du Chateau. The camera obscura, in short, has generated at one and the same time perspective painting , photography and the diorama, which are all three arts of the stage; but if Photography seems to me closer to the the Theater, it is by way of a singular intermediary (perhaps I am the only one who sees it): by way of Death. We know the original relation of the theater and the cult of the Dead: the first actors separated themselves from the community by playing the role of the Dead: to make oneself up was to designate oneself as a body simultaneously living and dead: the whitened bust of the totemic theater, the man with the painted face in the Chinese theater, the rice-paste makeup of the Indian Katha-Kali, the Japanese No mask… Now it is this same relationship which I find in the Photograph; however “lifelike” we strive to make it (and this frenzy to be lifelike can only be our mythical denial of an apprehension of death), Photography is a kind of primitive theater, a kind of Tableau Vivant, a figuration of the motionless and made-up face beneath which we see the dead.
—Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida—Reflections on Photography. Translation by Richard Howard. Hill & Wang 1981.