Wednesday, November 28, 2007

blank faces in blank places

i've been thinking a lot about memory lately.

for the last two weeks i have been scanning fifty to sixty year old kodachromes for my family. looking at these photos reminds me of things from my own past. recalling places and objects that i grew up around is rather odd, since these are images of my father growing up.

photographs are looked at as capturing events, but these fractions of a second aren't accurate. in a general way, most people accept this fact, but continue to look to photographs as a document. no one photographs the things we don't want to remember. we file those away to be forgetten in the back of our minds. memory is always fluid. you continue to alter your memories, confused with media images from films, television, advertisements. books, music, and other's stories also get thrown into the mix. we reconstruct our past, for a multitude of reasons, both good and bad.

there is an excellent article in cabinet magazine on the way in which photographic manipulation can create an entirely different past for those paying for the service.

an example i love:

the first image is of two girls and their mother on the day of their communion. the girl to the left has black shoes that are far more well worn than the girl's shoes on the right, a pair of brand new white dress shoes.

over eighty now, the girl on the left decided to have her sister removed from the photograph. the former is said to have been "less favored" by the mother. the favored of the two has passed away and the woman asks not only for her sister to be removed, but wants her shoes to be placed on her own feet. i can't imagine the injustice of choosing to place import on one child over the other, especially in such an obvious way. through this surely aggressive act, this woman has reclaimed and recreated the love of her mother.

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