em: kevin аτ blackistone.com

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Documentation & Memory

The digital age has seen a vast majority turned into the carriers of massive data storage devices. An until now unimaginable amount of documentation exists of each of our lives in comparatively fine grain and intimate detail from generations past. Much of this is ignored and only viewed as one scrolls through an ever growing back-catalogue of digital images. As opposed to the archives then shifted to social media, these are personally held. Here, I am not concerning myself with the myriad concerns from data/memory sharing whether via social media or cloud-based architectures, but solely the accumulations and personal archives. This makes them primarily something which functions more as a collected visual memory archive.

I would suggest two prior epochs in the expansion of personal data. First is through (the admittedly historically unsteady and non-linear) growth of literacy and the corresponding personal writings. Later, and far more recently, photography. Painting and statuary are not being considered, here, as they never had quite the mass expanse of the others and personal drawing and sketch-work might well be included as tightly connected to the outgrowth of personal writing.

The growth in digital technology and storage has exploded the quantities of both of these (through greater awareness of the skills and the ability to compare and learn, one might argue expansion of quality, too). On the photographic side, the new paradigm sees photography as an expansion of the model of a personal journal, but lacking the intent or awareness that it has become so. It has been suggested that in order to learn and form new memories, the brain has evolved to forget. We, on the other hand, seem to frequently dread forgetting. But the idea that this archive is not itself forgetful would be a flawed one. It is already a pre-curated selection of moments that the individual desired to maintain. It is a somewhat glorified view of one’s life. As it’s been further suggested that the mind is particular to remembering moments of failure due to evolutionary pressures to survive, perhaps this is not such a bad thing and gives us an ability to balance these tendencies by looking back through this curating lens.

Flashbacks [ Memory Lapse ] 2013

A form of time lapse footage in which every image from a computer (this collection itself coming from several other sources) was converted to individual frames. Images appear in only a semi-linear format based on conventions of naming and filing format rather than date. Sometimes these images stagger multiple moments together as the camera would frequently reset (or be reset) causing multiple images with identical names. These arrangement give a jarring quality. Sometimes a theme or a place might come across when several photos from a place or multiple attempts at an ‘good’ image occur, but pictures taken as one-offs quickly flash by to disappear into the deluge. It exists as a reconciliation of the fact that the over 15,000 images it is comprised of could never reasonably be scrolled through, accessed or processed by the brain in a meaningful manner that would not simply compress them to the most personally meaningful.

Hojarasca 2020

Footage ordinarily used as the establishment of environment in the form of stock and b-roll here constitutes the whole of this film layering an album of photography in motion. It is an assemblage of video clips of daily events, ambient environments, textures and forms merged with a musical score produced through synthesis and field recording. Over a decade of imagery recorded as archive and stock here are collected to produce a cross-section of one's life. These patterns are presented as a meditative collage. The pieces do not reinforce each other through any thematic, temporal or linear narrative, but instead are assembled through somewhat happenstantial arrangement. Much as with Flashbacks, many of the clips started in sequence based on variations in file name and directory structure, but then further edited to match aspects of the score. In this way, the pieces are provide a certain level of mimicry to the ways in which memory is not itself stored or recalled in any linear manner.

» January 19, 2020