Reflections on Photography's role of suspending time and influencing memory.

Mnemosyne (Marie Spartali, 1844-1927), 1868,

Mnemosyne (Marie Spartali, 1844-1927), 1868,

Through out my current line of enquiry I have frequently returned to the idea that photography has some kind of responsibility of suspending time. Whilst I chose to photograph my grandmothers possessions at that precise moment it was subconsciously for a reason. The cabinet of curiosities (as I now refer to it as) holds a distinct parallel to that of a museum. A museum is a space where I have always thought of as timeless. Whether it is showing items from the past future or present whatever timeline it refers to is in a state of suspense to encapsulate the mind of the viewer. Is this what I have done with my studies of my grandmas's cabinet?

"In domestic culture, photography conventionally has a place as a time machine" (David Bate) But what time is this machine accounting for? For me photography stopped the time that these items were placed in the cabinet of curiosities. Although not placed there att he same time the cabinet is the museum and my act of image making is creating the memory archive for me to look back on in the future. As a severe dyslexic my own way of remembering text is to write notes and draw images reflecting to the words I am reading. In the same way do I photograph to remember times and events within the familial space? Is this relied on too much for memory in general? and how will this modern digital archive effect the memory of future generations? 

Geoffrey Batchen in his essay "Forget Me not" refers to the writing of Nancy Martha West when she talks about Kodak and its advertising slogan: 

“[Kodak] enables the fortunate possessor to go back by the light of his own fireside to scenes which would otherwise fade from memory and be lost.”  2 (Summer 1992), 135–140; and Nancy Martha West, Kodak and the Lens of Nostalgia (Charlottesville: University Press ofVirginia, 2000).

Similarly to this idea that the camera and in the case of Kodak I imagine it is talking about the Box Brownie gives the user the power to make images to remember things which without an image would be forgotten. How does this translate into the modern day snapshot image? We now have the camera phone where these memories can be made instantly and stored on the cloud, in image libraries or various other options for the digital archive. Will these digital archives last for ever? Like the jpeg image will the quality reduce over time and like an old sun bleached photographic print fade away. Is that memory then gone? Or is it just that print that has been erased? 

I feel that these modern day archives mean that we are no longer relying on our natural memory to record events or places we have been and solely rely on the mechanical archive or digital memory bank to record these special moments for us. Another example of this is at live music events you see hundreds and thousands of people stood with here mobile phone in the air recording whole sections of songs or the entire gig. They are watching the event throughout he eyes of their smartphone. Have they even witnessed the event? Or have they only seen what the camera phone wants to record? The archive of the "prosthetic memory" (David Bate)



- David Bate (2010) The Memory of Photography, photographies, 3:2, 243-257, DOI: 10.1080/17540763.2010.499609 

-FORGET ME NOT PHOTOGRAPHY & REMEMBRANCE ,Geoffrey Batchen, 2004 Princeton Architectural Press,