SYMPOSIUM: Constructing Memory

The construction of memory is taken through photography not only in a formal and photojournalistic view of the World, but within our intimate family history. Family photo albums are becoming a thing of the past as people are not creating such a physical representation of their lives through a series of photographs as photography progresses more and more into the digital World. Our generation, however, was still able to experience this. Looking through childhood photographs an those taken of my family before I was born creates an idealistic image of the perfect family life; holidays to the seaside, smiling faces at Christmas  However, much needs too be taken into consideration when looking at these images.

A silly little example of this is the fact that me and my older sister spent our lives arguing, however in every photograph we are smiling together. Constructed memory with regards to photography is a simple concept. When taking a photo, we are all told to smile. We smile and laugh and put our arms around people. We look happy, even if a moment before we are arguing. Both before the digital age and now during, the selection of images is another way memory is constructed. The choice of which images to keep and include in the albums, or now which to simply delete on the back on the camera once it has been taken. We construct a perfect memory to be presented to others. Our generation does this through social networking sites. We upload images for all to see, which are our choice. We upload certain photographs with certain people to construct a happy portrait of our lives.

When we look back at photographs taken, I also find it easy to remember the moment around that photograph; a slightly more detailed memory of a moment when I have completely forgotten the one that followed. It is remembered, because there is a constant reminder of  that moment to be found. Aside from photographs we also project our memories onto physical objects; most people if not all will have a selection of items in their homes with sentimental value; items that have memories attached to them as a way for us to hold on to that moment in the same way we use photographs. There is a strong difference, however. A photograph is (as much as possible) an accurate portrail. In many cases a photograph will be a more realistic representation than that of our own memory as we are constantly forgetting things and subconsciously slightly changing our memories because of the influences of the World around us.

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