Wednesday, December 12, 2018

'The Family Album: Questioning Memory.\r'

'The Family Album: Questioning Memory. â€Å"After 17 historic period I’m back in yarn-dye and in on the whole along, my depot has been playing tricks” (Otsuka, 2006:33). wherefore do we take fleshs for family phonograph record phonograph albums? We take them to commemorate people as they were. Traditionally in portrait moving picturegraphy, it has been a rouse of argument whether a frivol away bum or put up non reveal the true sense of a person, their genius or inner self. To me the photograph is merely coat †a likeness -, it is what the photographer or archivist complimentss to be seen, and h gagas no deeper resonance.In addition, non only do we want to re member, we want to ack like a shotledge our lastence, and in the future, be ourselves recorded as an essential break open of the family unit. It is non only ab tabu(predicate) belonging, provided ab emerge leaving a discover of ourselves that will be around long later we argon g no np atomic number 18il: photographs argon tokens of immortality. The family album twain represents what has to be continued and perpetuates the myth of the ‘happy family’, which piece of ass be construed in multiple itinerarys depending on the spectator and their motives.The portrayal of the ‘happy family’ is reliant on the various stages of edit †the photographer decides who is included or left out, supposes the subjects where to stand or sit, and when to say â€Å" quit! ” The collator wherefore decides which photographs ar worthy of going into the album and which will be left in a box, or thr admit off. The editing and archiving follow sensed ideologies of family register, reflecting the editor’s k right offledge purpose and ad hominem assurepoint. Claire Grey believes that history is al ways a in-person account (Holland Spence, 1991: 108).But do these photos help us come back or do they alter or inter channel the rea l memories of what happened and who the people in the photos really were? In this essay, I will attempt to explain why I believe that the memories imbedded in the family album ar concepts, falsehoods. I am going to tone at realises from six photographers as hearty as my own family albums to ascertain the accuracy of storehouse generated by trope. In looking at a family album, do I take oppositewise people’s and family member’s recollections and apply them to my own history? corporate remembrance coffin nail twist the accuracy and frequently construct altered variations. As stories pass from one generation to the next, they are prone to fabrication and exaggeration. Lorie Novak states, â€Å"Our own images are lots tied up in family legend with conversations astir(predicate) family photographs frequently accompanied by embellishment and invention. Photographs and the narratives they inspire can suit substitutes for memories of existent burdens” (Hirsch, 1999: 26-27).She also wondered whether the study omitted from her own family album influence her memories and studied this c at a measurept in her work (Hirsch, 1999: 15). possibly this is the same for Ingrid Hesling, who, at the age of 16, found out that she was adopted †I wonder if this new teaching changed her memories or merely her perception of her memories: it would appear those that were at once fond became bitter. She questioned her full(a) tikehood tip her to get work victimisation a combination of rare family photos, text and her own contemporary images.Her work is an probe into how reminiscence board can be altered depending on how you relate to the history behind it and the images documenting it. Analysing Numbers ( practice 1), the pith is displace at one time to the smiling chela clutching her toys, an image interpreted from the family album, wherefore to the accomp some(prenominal)ing photo, and finally to its contents, the amount †which symbolically do not reach 16 †and the text. The emptiness behind the child and the di side in the midst of her and the add up †enhanced by the strong horizontals †metaphorically represents the separation from the truth.The child and toys m new(prenominal) connotations of family, comfort and sept, whereas, the numbers suggest conformity, lack of individuality and belonging, †being a number without identity. The subject matter is not immediately obvious until the text (both at bottom and out of the image) is included. The sign impression of happiness is underscored and so submerged by a sense of unease, of anger and of betrayal. The original photo should evoke happiness and the viewer becomes mad when the opposite occurs. Is this family image therefore a fabrication, plainly because the way we see the memory has changed?Were things left out of the Hesling family album images in order to conceal the truth from her? In my own work, I use the fam ily album aesthetic frequently. I seek out, analyse old family photographs, and try to apply them to my work. It fascinates me when I find images of myself as a child that I pretend neer encountered out front. I automatically try to locate any memories associated with the image, contempt the fact that they do not exist for me, as I was too young, and attempt to remember stories I may have been told about the photograph.But this is not a true memory †it is assimilated from my family’s corporal memory. Jo Spence said that clear-cut for memories within family photographs, was im feasible (Holland Spence, 1991:203). Trish Morrissey is a photographer who looks at ‘the family album as lying’, carefully constructing the conventions and cliches of the domestic snap shot; thus, move reality by the act of staging. In this way she has created a generic family album, to which anyone can relate: her family album has become e rattlingbody’s family album an d countless others now share the memories.Anne McNeill states in her essay on Morrissey’s work that the images in the ‘shoe box’ are not the ‘official’ history of the family, only â€Å"the ones that got away” (Morrissey, 2004:23). This is an interesting concept, in that the family deem some images a lot important than others: ‘proper’ images are displayed on natural elevation of the TV or framed for the wall, whereas the pictures that could be perceived as being much ‘real’, of general life, are put away in a box or packet to be perused at times of reminiscence.I am attracted to Morrissey’s work because of the question nature of her images. In kinsfolk 20th, 1985 ( construe 2), with her sister in the other role, she meticulously recreates the original connection between the subjects as well as the peripheral details. However, in contrast to roughly family photos, the people in her images seldom smile, forcing the viewer to concentrate on the gestures and body style and use them to interpret and reveal hidden tensions between family members. Such underlying tensions tell more(prenominal) of the history and context than smiling faces.Staging allows the viewer to witness Morrissey in the act of constructing photographic mean. Colour draws the inwardness to the immature subject, her expression, and thus to the contrasting expression of the older woman. The designation includes the date †confirmed by the style and counterfeit †however as it is known that the images are hypothesize and were taken more recently than the title states, this inclusion generates more questions than answers. She questions the truth of the family album. Her images constructed as generic examples, using, and harmonise to, her memories and the original photos.But how accurately can these be recreated when person-to-person memory and current emotions are present? The reconstructive memory becomes a new history of her and her sister. Then we greet it is, and always has been, about her kind with her sister, and this in turn, makes the viewer question the validity of all family album images: the allusion to unavowed family tension and the fallacy of the ‘happy family’. She questions the legitimacy of the entire tradition of the family album. Tim Roda is another artist who recreates ad hominem histories using his memories.Roda uses his family to recreate definitive life-changing memories and hours from his life: his son assumes his childhood role and he becomes his have. This strikes a chord with me as my current work revolves around the ideas of role coke †child becoming adult and vice versa. Roda’s Untitled (Figure 3) initially caused me confusion and distress, as if a facilitate from a horror film: it is dark, shadowy, and menacing. It is plainly and unapologetically staged, tho why? It makes me ask questions. What is it about?It is a narrative, only when is it fact or fiction? The photographic tv camera is used to record a moment in time that labyrinthine senses between memories and constructed commentaries, yet it is a backing of real pointts for the people taking part in the image making. Although his family are the immediate subjects, the work is fill with metaphorical reverberations of family history and childhood memories. Initially the patch leads the viewer to the man. What is he doing? Then the attention is drawn to the child with sharp shears, then to the birds hanging from the ceiling.These birds exit a context to the image and place it someplace that is recognisable. The man appears to have been hunting and is subsequently preparing the tool for cooking. The scene suggests that that they are country people, perhaps lamentable and living off the land: the tiro now teaching the boy by passing on traditions and skills. But is this a true memory or a corrupt, idealised memory? How some(pren ominal) of it has been overdraw or changed from the reality of the past? How would we know? Miyako Ishiuchi, in contrast, photographed her late get down’s belongings.She never got on with her mother that was distraught at her death, leading her to create a series of images as a memorial and tri preciselye: a catalogue of own(prenominal) belongings, objectified in the images, however subjectified in the photographer’s mind. In this way Ishiuchi sought-after(a) to create an stirred up connection, a sense of personalised closeness and history, she never had when her mother was alive. The image is slightly off means: does this reflect the true relationship? Despite this, the images run clinical and objective: the daughter becoming the photographer and archivist of her mother’s possessions, using them to create a pseudo family album.Although Figure 4, an image from the Mother’s’ Series, is skeletal and ghostly, its forensic detail alluding to d eath, it is very dewy-eyed and beautiful, with connotations of family love and loss †in some ways a memento mori. It is aesthetically pleasing, like still life, but ‘still death’. The image is deeply personal and yet it holds universal meaning. She strives to seize a point of contact between the past and present. The meaning of this single image is not obvious when viewed on its own, however becomes clearer when viewed with the others in the series.It is a highly emotive collection of images, reminding me of my own mother’s death, my relationship with her and how I dealt with her possessions and my memories of her after she died. One of my favourite photographers of the moment is Chino Otsuka. She has approached the questioning of the family album image in a new and unique way. At first glance, 1976 and 2005, Kakamura, japan (Figure 8) appears to be an actual family album photograph, perhaps of a mother and daughter, maybe a holiday snap. However, once you are made aware of the digital alteration, it becomes much more interesting and poses many questions about the context.Otsuka includes verses in her book, which help to explain her intentions: â€Å"One by one, I retrieve fragments of memories and paste them all in concert” (Otsuka, 2006:37). This has effigy meaning: the ‘pasting’ both psychological as well as physical. The final image is a construct both as a photograph and as a memory. At first glance, she could be taken for the child’s mother, sister, or aunt. It makes me question familial roles and place within the family. She has created time travel: â€Å" onetime(prenominal) becomes present, the present becomes the future, back and forth, travelling in time” (Otsuka, 006:31). This makes us question, if we could go back, what would we do, say or change? In actuality Otsuka photographed herself in 2005, replicating the correct light conditions, and then digitally compositing the new image next to herself as a child. The original image was perfectly symmetrical, with the child in the centre. The addition of the adult shifts the symmetry. But what balance has changed? Is it merely the symmetry or is it rather the balance of power and control? Here because the adult and child are the same person, the family album becomes a mockery.She speaks of memory, â€Å"Until I look for it, it will hide forever […] ripe when I have forgotten it, it comes into sight and when I finally catch it I realise how much of it has escaped” (Otsuka, 2006:39). She is questioning her own memory and realising her memory lies to her. Even the recreation of the memory will in the end be corrupted. Here she categorically states that nothing can be received at face value. The unpatterned truth may in fact be corrupt, but to accentuate her belief in this imposture she has tainted it further.She may in fact remember the original memory but has replaced it with a falsehood. This event nev er happened, could never happen, it is an impossibility: a optical paradox. As my attention is drawn first to the child, then the woman, then the shadows, I seem to be searching for a reason to disprove the truth of this image. why is the knowledge that it is fake not enough? Am I still so programmed to accept the photograph as truth, that I must find substantiation that the photograph is a lie? How then do these photographers’ interpretations of the family album reflect in my response to the images in my own?Through family photos, I place myself within my family’s history. If they, as I believe, mean nothing, then how does that in turn affect how I view my history and my memories? ‘Christmas’ (Figure 9) was taken at my father’s parents flat in Glasgow, in1972. It is not unusual in any way. It does not differ greatly from other family album images. In fact, the majority of families have very similar images in their collections. I, at three years o ld, stand between my grandparents, seemingly being presented to the camera, with my mother and father (and the dog) at the back.My father, an amateur photographer, would have proudly taken the photo using the self-timer, explaining the not-quite perfect stance of the subjects. I assume it is an individual image, and not part of a series, although through the nature of editing †as spoken about previously -, other images, taken at the same time, may have been toss away or lost. This means that I am futile to build a picture of the whole holiday: it is merely a captured moment in time. My eye is first drawn to myself, perhaps looking for recognition, then to my Grandparents and my mother †all three of whom are now dead -, then to my father.The image was taken in the tradition of family portraiture to commemorate the family being together (our family lived abroad and only visited Scotland occasionally). You would expect this to be a happy time, however, my grandfather and I †who reputedly enjoyed and sought out being photographed †are noticeably uncomfortable. On closer inspection, I can see that we are not in fact the happy family my father wished to depict. It reminds me of Trish Morrissey’s work, where the tensions between family members are apparent despite the fake smiles attempting to cover up the real feelings.However, this image was intended only for family viewing, so why the faking? altogether the people in this picture will have been aware of the reality. Who are they faking for? I presume it can only be the tradition of smiling for the camera and a subconscious conveyance to future generations of family and friends that we were the prototypical ‘happy family’. Certain things in the image sparkle my sensory memory, such as the material of the seat, the curtains and carpet, but I have no visual memory of this time.Roland Barthes wrote about his sensory memory being triggered by an image: â€Å"[my mother] is hugging me, a child, against her; I can waken in myself the rumpled softness of her kink de chine and the perfume of her rice powder” (Barthes, 1982: 65). I found an image of myself aged six that I had previously not seen, and although I do not remember the photograph being taken, I do recall the texture, colour and smell of my dress, and associated images of my Mother controversy over the sewing machine making it. ar all these fake memories?Even if I cross-referenced with psyche else that was there, their memory would be different as it is as personal to them as my memories are to me. To me this is the truth, as it is all I have. Is it better to have some believed memory, no matter how untruthful, than no memory at all? Looking to my own, more recent, family album images I have noticed that the family album has recently begun to change in style and content, partially due to the onset of digital cameras and computers. It is no monthlong merely portraiture but also has a d ocumentary style. Gone are the formal (or informal) posed portraits of individuals and family groups.People now take more pictures of their friends and family candidly, when the subject is unaware of the image being taken. These may not be intended for the ‘official’ family album, but are most family’s more personal ‘shoe box’ pictures. This raises the question of whether the memories associated with these images are cerebrate to differently by both the photographer and the subject. are these recalled memories more ‘real’ than formal, posed images? As picture taking changes in our digital and computer based society, so does the way we take, edit and construct images for the family album.There are now fewer mistakes made when taking images. Only a few years ago, films were shot and printed, and all the images were kept, even the mistakes (cut off heads, fingers in shot, badly exposed, etc), whereas, now, with digital technology, the ed iting is done in camera. The ‘bad’ or unsatisfactory shots are deleted and re-shot before printing (if they are printed at all). There is now also a pickle profusion of images, whereas before, due to cost of film and printing, families were more selective with their image taking, and consequently saved every image, however ‘bad’.Images now, are more apparent to be kept on disc, losing the tactile select we associate with photographs. The family album is becoming no longer a literal book of images. They are broadcast throughout cyberspace on social networking sites. Has this condition the family album less value? Certainly the elongate family can now have instant memory access to the family album, but are they really interested in any other images but their own? Why do we insist on sharing our most personal family moments with anyone and everyone?Again, I think it is about portrayal the ‘perfect, happy family’ as well as spreading our i mmortality as far and wide as contingent before we die. These modern methods of image dissemination neutralize the importance and relevance of the family album as a historical document, and we cynically become blase about images in general. In Umberto Eco’s book, The Mysterious fervency of Queen Loana, the protagonist is struck with almost sweep through memory loss, and in attempting to reconstruct his personal history, he comes to realise that he cannot rely on other people’s remembrances.He is delivern a photograph of his parents, and states, â€Å"You tell me that these two were my parents, so now I know, but it’s a memory that you have stipulation me. I’ll remember the photo from now on, but not them” (Eco, 2005: 24). He then retreats to his old family home and spends all his time in the attic, attempting to regain his memories, but only discovers that memory once lost cannot be regained, merely re-learnt: â€Å"Our memory is never fully ‘ours’, nor are the pictures ever unmediated representations of our past. [… we both construct a fantastic past and set out on a detective trail to find other versions of a ‘real’ one” (Hirsch, 1997: 14). Similarly, Mier Joel Wigoder speaks of placing this photograph (Figure 12) of his father and grandfather on his desk, in place of an image of himself and his father that never existed. It is not his memory as he was not there, but it is a memory he wishes he had. He has invented a memory (or a fantasy? ) for himself based on a photograph taken before he was born. However, it is possible that all memories are created in this way.I have looked at other people’s family photos and used them to be active my own memories of similar times, places and people. As Heather Cameron says, â€Å"Our memory [… ] is a constant process of writing and rewriting, miscegenation out, overlapping images and distortion. It shifts and flows and moves without a fixed foundation” (Cameron, 2002:6). granny knot Goldin believed that by taking photos of her friends and family, she would be able to concur her own memories of them and not be influenced by the memories of others (Goldin, 1986:9), but even in her candid style that seems impossible. Annette Kuhn states, â€Å"Family photographs are supposed [… to evoke memories that might have small-scale or nothing to do with what is actually in the picture. The photograph is a prop, a prompt, a pre-text [… ] but if a photograph is somewhat contingent in the process of memory production, what is the status of the memories actually produced? ” (Kuhn, 2002: 13). When I recall some memory or look at old photos of myself when I was young, I could unless as easily be remembering a particular thing because my Mother had related it to me when she was alive. However, I may be seeing these memories through go tinted glasses, editing out the bad times before I can rec all them.Personal family photos are not the only ones to generate an emotional response, and photographers such as Morrissey use this to effect. September 20th, 1985 (Figure 2) elicits an emotional response in me, making me laugh by triggering my own personal memories, remembrance of my own family album images and experiences: creating a transportable memory. Everyone has some images similar to this in their collection. It makes us measure our own memories and question them. The family album forms the basis of a pictorially gilded game of Chinese Whispers, as family stories and histories are passed down the generations.Memory is ever changing dependent on the viewer or narrator’s state of mind and intentions, and these stories, intentionally or not, become distorted, exaggerated or even fabricated. This is not memory †it is learning, and the learning gradually replaces the real memory until, finally, it is all lost in the past and the faked history becomes legend. Eve rything is not always as it seems in the family album. Smiles are often faked (even in unhappy, tense situations), and everyday tensions and power struggles between family members are hidden, the very act of taking a posed photograph is essentially faking the memory at its conception.Thus family albums can be seen as fiction, a infixed story rather than, if there is such a thing, an objective history. The photograph can merely show what was in front of it at a particularised moment in time, but the mind takes this information and runs with it, creating stories around the image †â€Å"In short, to remember is to reconstruct, in part on the basis of what we have learned or said since” (Eco, 2005: 25). ———————†Figure 2: Morrissey, T. 2004. September 20th, 1985. Figure 3: RODA, T. 2004. Untitled.Figure 4: ISHIUCHI, M. 2002. (‘Mother’s’ Series). Figure 7: ISHIUCHI, M. 2002. Mother’s #24. Figure 8: OT SUKA, C. 2005. 1976 and 2005, Kakamura, Japan. Figure 9: PIPE FAMILY ALBUM. 1972. Christmas Figure 12: WIGODER FAMILY ALBUM. 1942. Louis and Geoffrey Wigoder walking down Westmoreland St, Dublin, 1942. Figure 1: HESLING, I. 2000. Numbers. Figure 11: BEST FAMILY ALBUM. 2008. Untitled. Figure 6: ISHIUCHI, M. 2002. Mother’s #33 Figure 5: ISHIUCHI, M. 2001. Mother’s #55 Figure 10: BEST FAMILY ALBUM. 2007. Untitled. ———————†3\r\n'

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