I recently acquired my baby pictures from my mother because I wanted to scan and archive them. I started to go through the photos and realized a bunch I can remember having as a child were missing. We moved a lot when I was young so I’m sure they got lost in the shuffle. I realized that I was extremely disappointed those images were lost; there was no back up of them. I have the memory but no artifact; my memory of the event isn’t gone but the proof that it happened was.
I started to also think about how my memory of the event was also informed by the documentation of it, especially when the event was so long ago. Memory is a tricky thing, it’s full of holes and it’s not guaranteed to be there forever. The memory of my moment was framed by the document or artifact of the moment. This is not a new idea; it’s just how history works. But the questions nag, what happens when the document is lost; what really happened; how can we be sure?
We now have a digital world that replicates the images we’ve captured and shared. We have back ups of our files; Our back ups have backups. These documents are not hard to store or move, so in essence, we are loosing less information now. It still remains to be seen what this new way of archiving means. I already have trouble finding what I’m really looking for in the junkyard/mall of Internet search providers. They style of the cuts are mechanical, all of the original information is still there but there is some distortion.
When I approach these found photographs I think about the people in them and the person who took them. Each one is unique; the framing of the shots is various based on the “style” of the person documenting, the event, as well as their interaction with the subjects in the photos as well as both of their relationship to the technology. These photos were not intended to be art but documents of memories. Now that the document of the memories have been lost by the subjects and the photographer, I can’t help but think about how their memory of the moment will change without the framework. Just as I had experienced in my own relationship with my missing photographs, I had a memory of the event and a memory of the documentation of the event. Now that I was missing the documentation I had the realization that not only had a I lost the moment but I had also lost the framework of the moment as well as the physical proof that moment existed.
I find these images at flea markets and antique stores. I sift through them and find the ones that emotionally appeal to me. I quickly scan and grab them intuitively. When I sit down to cut them up I stare at them for a long time and really consider the images. I think about the past and the present and how they relate to the future. I make some stylistic cuts depending on the mood that the image projects to me, which is essentially a projection of myself onto the image. It’s an anonymous collaboration. The document is now skewed. The memory has changed and so has the document. The photograph as well as any other document is never an accurate depiction of truth.
History is collaboration with memory and how artifacts are brought forward.