Wednesday, 12 November 2014

on memory and mundanity in photography

I am thinking about what I can't remember. I can't remember what I dreamt last night...........

I can't remember who these people were..........

I went hiking with them many years ago, and recently revisited a box of slides where they lay lurking. If I hadn't found the slide I would remember even less. or maybe nothing at all. What I remember, and what I have photographed do not tie up in my mind. Two different stories.

Which got me exploring how other photographers have tackled the subject.

I came across Paul Hockett's work; beautiful monochrome images and a book. Vague and ethereal.

Unexplained and dreamlike.

from the series 'negative memory' by Paul Hockett 2008

negative memory by paul hockett |

And childhood invoked memories from Deborah Parkin

Playtime by Deborah Parkin ( reproduced with kind permission of the author)

Deborah works with large format. 

More of her series on memory can be seen here

The interesting thing about her work, for me, is how it evokes very personal memories of childhood days and the emotions experienced when faced with the trials and tribulations of playground etiquette.

No rose tinted glasses in here.

Hide © Deborah Parkin

And then there are Jackson Patterson's "Recollected Memories".

Using photomontage he explores the narrative that emerges between subject, space and time. Source material includes his own and his family's albums.

he says of his series ........

"Each blended piece possesses its own original story, in addition to the one the viewer takes away"

All of the above I find moving and thought provoking.

from Jackson Patterson's "Recollected memories"

Looking at my own albums, I am lost for a way to express them. 

The more I think about it, the less certain I am that this is a valuable way to spend my time. 

But what does fascinate me is the little things that I see in old photographs, that I had forgotten about and that interest me. An old red thermos flask on a beach in Wales in 1974. My beach towel with fishes on. Things that had long slipped into the recesses of my mind; rediscovered. Ordinary life.

A 'present' for the future. Captured long ago.

There is value in capturing the mundanities alongside the special occasions.

fire exit with portrait. hotel. 2014

Studies at Harvard University have shown that underestimating the pleasure of rediscovery lead to time inconsistent choices. Individuals forgo opportunities to document the present, but then prefer rediscovering these moments in the future to engaging in an alternative fun activity.

books and fox hotel lounge 2014

It is only by documenting the present that we will have the opportunity to rediscover mundane moments in the future.

So what I need to do is take lots and lots of pictures of very ordinary everyday things, and hide them for a number of years, until I have forgotten about all about them.  Then, at a time as yet unspecified,
I will rediscover them before I drop dead and will have so much fun.


'I remember.......'

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