Saturday, February 18, 2012


The ultimate wisdom of the photographic image is to say: ‘There is the surface. Now think – or rather feel, intuit – what is beyond it, what reality must be like if it looks this way.’ Photographs, which cannot themselves explain anything, are inexhaustible invitations to deduction, speculation and fantasy. --Susan Sontag, On Photography

Memory and the concept of it is mutable, constantly in flux.  Depending on the context, who is recollecting, and the condition of circumstances, memory shifts and can be perceived as both accurate and inaccurate from varying perspectives. The perception and experience of memory is fluid, transitory, ephemeral. It is not a black and white matter, it is entirely subjective and is tied directly to personal perception. Our experience of reliving the same memory can be joyful or painful, overwhelming or inconsequential depending on the present moment of perspective.

Memory is scanned constantly in the search for understanding, context, meaning. How many times have you played a situation out over and over in your mind, only to come to a different conclusion? How many times does the memory change with the replay? Another person's perception of the same moment, their memory, can be different as well. But we still look to memory for explanation. This is not to say that there is no aspect of truth in memory, but I would suggest that there is no unchanging, absolute experience.

There are parallels to the idea of the ever-fluid ways in which the photograph (and the idea of the photograph) can be interpreted - or misinterpreted. During an artist talk by Liz Deschenes at AIB, Liz made a comment about the nature of photographs that resonated with me and prompted my own inquiry. So as not to paraphrase, I will quote her directly from this article from Frieze magazine -  "All photographs are simultaneously representational and abstract, constructions that have gone through a series of translations and manipulations." 

It's an interesting alternative to a statement made by Edward Weston, a modernist photographer who is quoted as saying that "Only with effort can the camera be forced to lie: basically it is an honest medium...". 

As with memory, photographic images are often looked to for information. We try to interpret, understand, and categorize. But again, there is no absolute truth, the photographic image is just a fragment, out of context and changeable, and the perspective of the moment shifts that interpretation. There is no set "truth" inherent to a photograph. 

Considering the ephemeral nature of memory and the inherent subjective nature of the photographic image, I started pulling cropped fragments of images I have taken from my archive of work. I chose mostly out of focus areas and printed the images low resolution on translucent fabric. I hang the work in three-dimensional "stacks". The viewer cannot see all aspects of the images from any one angle and has to move around the piece for varying perspectives.  This piece is definitely a "prototype"; there are display issues to contend with and I need to try it out a few different ways before settling on a structure.

Additionally, in the post dislocate from 2/14 and it was a stretch from 2/17, I am thinking of similar ideas produced in a different form from the work above, using both appropriated images from the internet (a source rife with the potential for misinterpretation, something I am continually fascinated by) and older snapshots from my archive. Less about memory, these projects consider the abstract nature of photographic interpretation as well as the following questions - How do we try to glean information from images? How do we understand/misconstrue, interpret/misinterpret and dislocate the components?


  1. I absolutely love this concept. The idea of moving around the images to get perspective is wonderful to me because you yourself might rotate around the sheets left one day but the next day go right, while a separate individual may start from the back (or "end") our often nonlinear thoughts piecing memories together...

  2. Yes, exactly. Thanks so much for your thoughts on it, Ash.