Memory is ‘the faculty by which the mind stores and remembers information’ source. There are three main distinctions of memory
– Implicit vs. Explicit memory.
– Declarative vs. Procedural memory.
– Semantic vs. Episodic memory.
Until recently human memory had to rely on what was in the head, supplemented by a few photographs and stories people told each other. In the digital age this has all changed with a constant stream of digital imagery capturing events as they occur in the moment and being shared by social media mechanisms. Memory as a solid fact seems to be dissolving in to multiple interpretations all backed up by differing images.
This essay is based on a reading of the following digital article by Jason Kalin. All quotes are from this article. The article has stimulated many thoughts and ideas about the impact digital imagery has had on the idea of memory. At first rephotography did not appeal to me at all but the reading and reflecting on it now illuminates a powerful contribution to ontological representation, time and my own ideas of what memory is.
Remembering with Rephotography: A Social Practice for the Inventions of Memories. by Jason Kalin 07/2013, digital article p 168-179 referenced Tallis June 4th.
Rephotography, rather than a representation of memory, suggests a practice of actively constructing and inhabiting memories and their times and places while also incorporating them into the present as active forces
The particular photographic practice I study has been referred to as rephotography. With rephotography, a prior, often much older, photograph of a person or place is physically held up in or digitally blended into a present-day photograph of that person or place from the perspective of the prior photograph. By making the past and present appear simultaneously, rephotography brings into being multiple possibilities of people, places, and memories, of private lives and public displays.
rephotography as a hauntological orientation to remembering that has the potential to create a con/fusion of places and times, producing, circulating, and accumulating the messiness of memory so that there is never a last image or last time or last memory, but rather only a last in a flow of images, times, and memories—illuminating not the ultimate meaning, but a meaning for the time(s).
Hauntological is a powerful evocation of what rephotography does to a memory of place. Even prior to digital imagery there has always been something haunting about photographs of people from previous generations. Life flows and never stops despite ‘now’ being all there ever is!
Photographs are not autonomous artifacts existing outside the context in which they circulate; rather, they acquire social meaning and significance through their material, rhetorical circulation.
This answers the question does there need to be context and or words to go with a photograph? The answer could be you want to let the viewer decide what the image means. Equally you may wish to guide the viewer in which case context and words become important. This is something important to reflect on in my project.
Where photographs circulate—Flickr, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter—is articulated with how photographs circulate—digital cameras, camera phones, and smartphones, along with the digital networks that connect them—is articulated with why photographs circulate—to document more extensively and intensively the ordinary moments and mundane memories of everyday life.
Facebook has more than 1 billion active users who upload 100 million photos every day (). Similarly, Flickr recorded its 6 billionth photograph in August 2011 ().
What is clear from this data of 7 years ago is that a strong human need is being met. Most of these images are mundane but there is a compulsion that makes us human beings want to capture a piece of time and store it.
As memory appears in public, a public appears in memory. Or, as we invent our memory images and places, these memories build new worlds that we may inhabit.
As a mnemonic and social practice, rephotography, by layering the old and the new, expresses a style of engagement with the past, a visual style and aesthetic, that reorients the time and place of memory.
Rather than focusing on these subtle distinctions, rephotography, I argue, is most aptly described as a form of ontological montage wherein ontologically incompatible elements coexist within the same time and space. Manovich situates ontological montage within the broader category of spatial montage, the placing of two images side by side within a single frame. Spatial montage displaces traditional temporal montage, which sequences images across frames. According to Manovich, spatial montage is form of compositing that retains an aesthetic of montage—both seamless and layered. As viewers we are forced to consider both the layers of memory and the seamlessness of memory—how past secretes, and secrets, the present, and how the present accretes the past. The combination of seamlessness and layering provokes a response from viewers wherein the seamless continuity of the past to the present becomes complicated by the presence of layers: We see what has been, what is, and what could be simultaneously.
How past secretes, and secrets, the present, and how the present accretes the past. Beautifully put. In Gestalt Psychology the idea is that in any moment everything about us is present in that moment. The past has accreted to form what we are and it is all there in that moment. This will stimulate more reflection for my project.
Moxey’s paradox of perspective, notes that perspective may refer to “either one point of view among many, or the point which organizes all the others” (Moxey as cited in [ 7], p. 114)
Rephotography thus reinforces the nature of memory as a distributed rather than localized phenomenon.
By bringing the viewer back into the perspective of the past within the present, rephotography both arrests and mobilizes memory, combining that-has-been with that-which-is.
Rephotography as a visual and social practice for remembering allows individuals to walk differently through physical place and to walk along different paths in their memories of those people and places.
There is no place that is not haunted by many different spirits hidden there in silence…. Haunted places are the only ones people can live in” (, p. 108). Thus, rephotography is best understood as hauntography to emphasize how any perspective upon the present is haunted by its own past. Hauntography—hauntological montage—retemporalizes memory by inventing memory images and places that mobilize perspectives and bodies to perform acts of personal and public remembering.
Rephotography as hauntography engenders a social practice for remembering best characterized as a loosely conjoined heap—memories as hypotactic layers, memories as paratactic seams of spaces and times, of images and places, enfolding and unfolding—a running style of memory. Memories always on the run.