Self: The Photograph, Memory and NostalgiaAbstract
This enquiry takes the form of a personal reflective narrative within a theoretical framework influenced by the writings of Barthes, Sontag, Benjamin and others. It opens by briefly exploring the historical development of photography and the emergence of the photograph as a as the snapshot in the context of the family photograph. The enquiry considers the relationship between the family photograph and the development of autobiographical memory in turn a detailed exploration of the influence of autobiographical memory and the sense of self. Finally the dissertation explores the emotional influence of nostalgia as a catalyst in the development of a sense of self and place.
This dissertation is part of a larger body of work including a practice based exhibition comprising three installations which explore in turn; the notion of aging and mortality through the decay of memory and the ephemeral photograph; the family photograph and the uncanny nature of the pose based on a selection of family photographs spanning four generations; a simulation of the frailty of memory in which appropriated frames of decaying film stock are combined with familiar images in a dissonant melange of the familiar and the confused.
The enquiry is informed by a series of questions: Is my art practice born out of a sense of self and agency? What are the influence of autobiographical memory and the emotion of nostalgia?
The objective of this dissertation is to explore the influences which have informed my art practice and which give rise to my recurring themes of decay, memory and nostalgia through the medium of photography, in its broadest terms.
My contention is that my practice is born out of a sense of self and agency moulded by the influence of autobiographical memory and the remembered self. I will argue that I am influenced by the cultural background and geography of my childhood the embodiment of which is the family photograph.
My enquiry is composed of two elements, the dissertation and a practice based exhibition. The dissertation will take the form of a personal reflective narrative. The practice component is based on the experimental aspect of my current practice with an emphasis on themes drawn specifically from the substance of my enquiry.
I shall open by exploring a brief history of photography and the emergence of the photograph as a medium and as an intrinsic part of family life whilst considering the influence of the photograph in the development of autobiographical memory in association with the family photograph and the family photograph album. This in turn will lead me to a more detailed exploration of the nature of autobiographical memory and the influence of memory on the development of the sense of self. Thirdly I shall explore the emotional influence of nostalgia as a catalyst in the context of self and place. Finally, I shall introduce the practice and contextual aspect of the dissertation.