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Spring Term 2012 Creative Production: Photography Course Code: P4069 Tutor: Paul McConnell

Critical introduction: Topic: “What we stand for”

Memories Memories are an essential part of one’s life. People know who they are because of the fact that they are able to look back. In other words, due to memories people define themselves, they create their individual identity around what they have experienced before. Nevertheless, there is a paradox within the idea of memories: On the one hand, they are a mental way of conservation which is linked to the expectation of timelessness. Once memories are created, they are meant to last forever. However, one never remembers the original situation one has experienced once but only a copy of it. Hence, remembering is a process of copying. Consequently, the more something is remembered the less clear it becomes until it will fade one day. This series of photographs is the attempt to document this paradox. Due to the darkish light conditions in the stairwell it was necessary to use a wide aperture and a slow shutter speed. Consequently, the pictures turned out a bit soft and blurred. From a technical point of view this might have a negative impact on the picture’s quality. However, this impact turns positive regarding the level of content in a sense that memories are likewise rather dimly than clearly contoured. As the subject is quite abstract the value of the series might rather be artistic than documentary. Therefore, the concept deals with the use of metaphors and is based on a specific dramaturgy that can be “read” as follows: The first picture introduces the scenery: A girl, in a thoughtful mood, her eyes half closed, is standing in a stairwell. However, this particular location plays a more important role than just setting the background. First, it is a vintage style, old fashioned stairwell. In combination with its gloomy and yellowed light condition it supports the feeling of nostalgia that people experience when they remember the past. Second, a stairwell is a place where one normally goes through but does not rest. Hence, a stairwell usually is a “proceeding” place and not a “static” one. Capturing the girl spending time at this particular place reflects and unmasks at the same time the fake-timelessness mentioned above. Rebecca Raab

rclr20@sussex.ac.uk


Moreover, regarding the first picture the observer might also ask: “What is she actually holding, for what reason and what is she thinking of?” These questions lead to the second and third picture. They go together in a sense that they show how she interacts with the balloon, respectively her memories. However, the balloon is still not visible as a whole but the observer gets at least an idea of what it might look like. The fourth picture, a close up of her hands holding the cord, is almost a still life that captures how she tries not to lose this unique memory that makes her smile. The fifth picture can be considered as the main one because it captures the moment full of melancholia when the memory becomes as clear as possible in her mind. Therefore the light can be considered as a metaphor for the ability to remember. But the more she things about it (sixth picture) the more blurry it becomes. And, as time moves on and she looks back again (over her shoulder, seventh picture) she has to experience that the memory has lost its power and brilliance even though there might still be a connection (eighth picture). But what is the sense of a memory if one cannot remember it? In that respect, “What we stand for” is answered by “For what for what will hopefully remain”.

Rebecca Raab

rclr20@sussex.ac.uk

Introduction "Memories"  

A critical introduction to the photographic work "Memories"