Following feedback from my tutor, I have decided to rewrite the assignment, taking on board the suggestion that I concentrate on producing images of photographs with the storage devices they occupy. Therefore the new version of A5 is attached below, with a revised artist’s statement which reflects the altered frame of reference.
Revised artist’s statement
We pick up a photograph and are instantly transported back to when it was made. It induces a memory which surrounds the act of making the picture; a memory which is not significant in its own right, being generally banal and unimportant, but one that is part of our personal history. The same memory pops up every time we look at that image; it is etched in our minds – an association that we cannot unmake. (Rancière, 2009)
But what of those memories longer term? As outlined in assignment 1, they tend to fade with the passing of the people who made the photographs and we are left with the material traces. Until recently, these have generally consisted of negatives, printed images and albums, but they themselves hold symbolic meaning as both anchors to our family past and as signifiers which hold clues about the people and the lives they led. These signs instantly anchor the images in the time in which they were made.
However, current and future generations will preserve their memories on the computer and the Cloud in online libraries such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, which can be accessed anytime, anywhere, so long as the owner can recall where they were stored, but which cannot be physically handled and passed down the generations. In effect, the Cloud is has become the custodian of our images. They are more accessible as anyone can look at them online, unlike in the past where the keeper of the family archive was the only person who could access the images without having to ask. But there is a price to pay.
In this series, photographs from my family archive for each decade from the 1920s are placed alongside the objects which contain them and rephotographed. The viewer is invited to consider what we are losing by the transfer of our photographs from paper to digital media. The cherished and much thumbed family album, with its marks, missing photographs and written notes has been replaced by an impersonal screen and I question whether, in this loss of materiality and its associated indexicality, an important element of our collective history is disappearing too.
Death of the photo album
Notes for specific consideration in tutor feedback
- My intention is to rephotograph the images in a studio setting to get completely clean copies. The current versions have been subject to my amateur Photoshop efforts and I know there are some bits that could look better.
- Print sizing – the intention is to print them at A3 on matt paper at life size, if possible. Thus the borders will vary depending on the size of the objects.
- 3. Just a thought – might it be better to show the insides of the albums, rather than the covers?
- Although the images are given decadal dates, I have left these off the prints themselves, having explained the sequence in the artist’s statement.
- I’m still pondering on the title.