Friday, September 21, 2012

MA Exhibition - Serendipity - Family Photograph

Serendipity – a homage to the family photograph album, the “snapshot” and the uncanny nature of the pose based on a selection of family photographs spanning five generations, intended to invoke memory and nostalgic emotion.

Following the invention of photography the family photograph album quickly became an essential part of family life as a means of storing paper prints but more than that, as a repository for memories,  a source of nostalgic reflection and trigger for story telling. 

The nineteen fifties saw the arrival colour photography and with this the 35mm colour transparency  which because of their small size, to be shown as a projected image. A symbol of the genre was the Kodak Carousel slide projector, another form of family photograph album. The darkened room and the sound of the slides changing evoke nostalgic memories for a whole generation.

The installation comprises digital projected images of old black and white photographs re-photographed from the family album to show elements of the textual information that accompanied the photographs in the album.

The installation simulated the walls of a room and the pages of a photograph album superimposed on these are the projected images from a Kodak Carousel projector overlaying and merging with the black and white images, occasionally giving rise to serendipitous juxtapositions and third images. The image selection emphasises the banality and commonality of the pose despite being separated by up to five generations in time.

The viewer will be prompted to consider their personal relationship with, and their experience of, the photograph as a means of spontaneously making new memories from old memories. Confronted by the banality of the pose in many of the images the viewer will be prompted to reflect upon similar poses within their own collection of photographs.

When viewing a family photograph album, the images are but single frames from a view of life which can be reconstructed into a variety of narratives be pendant upon the viewer’s relationship to them. A photograph captures the moment which immediately becomes the past. The imagery is fuel for the imagination, we see not only what is signified by the photograph but we recall related memories and emotions and our mind creates new images, our images.

To add an additional dimension to this installation a narrative sound track by family member, Bill Turner aged 80, my mothers’ second cousin, in conversation with me and my brother reflects on photographs from the family archive, not necessarily those being shown. The commentary demonstrates the role of the photograph as a record of social history and an aide memoir.  The objective of the installation is to explore how family photographs shape our memory by triggering remembering and random thoughts, whilst prompting the viewer to consider how they remember their own family photographs and related memories.

Medium: Projected digital image of original photographs, analogue  projected colour transparency [slide], with commentary.

This is a slide show compiled from stills from the presentation, for a full length video [6min 34sec] of the presentation see here.

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