Memento Mori – a form of invocation which explores the notion of ageing and mortality through the decay of memory in relation to the ephemeral but enduring photograph.
Perusing a family photograph album I came across a photograph of my mother as a beautiful young woman at the age of 18, I was reminded of the last time I saw her before she died, a frail old lady of 78.
I was suddenly overwhelmed by my own sense of mortality how long would it be before a member of my family contemplated my photograph and reflected on my passing.
Roland Barthes had been similarly affected by the finding of a photograph of his mother as a young girl. His ultimate response was to contemplate death, the death of his mother and himself. Barthes was of course mourning the recent loss of his mother.
My situation was rather different my mother had been dead for fifteen years. What the photograph made me realise, confronted with the prospect of my own death, was how I had been unable to grieve at the time of her death.
This photograph was important to me as a memento mori, it was the way I wanted to remember her as a she appeared in this photograph rather than rely upon the insubstantiality and frailty of memory, which had already started to fade until revived by this photograph.
The installation prompted by this reflective occasion considers the nature of the snapshot as a memento mori and as a signifier of mortality compared with, the insubstantiality and fragility of memory.
The installation uses an iPad as the means of presentation, representing on the one hand a fading memory and on the other an enduring photograph. The installation is in the form of a peepshow with the intention of creating a sense of intimacy with the image and as a means of concentrating the gaze.
The presentation is in 4 parts, the photograph, the aging of the photograph [18seconds], the decay of the memory [78 seconds] and the reflection of the enduring photograph.
The presentation is accompanied by a sound track by Leila – Underwater. Due to copyright restrictions I cannot include the soundtrack in the video, as an alternative, to hear the soundtrack open the YouTube version here before viewing Memento Mori.
Medium: iPad – Digital animation from original photograph with sound.