Past Presence

The starting point for this work was the phenomenon of unreliable memory.

It is observed in some studies that as much as 40% of early childhood memories could not have occurred. Young siblings sometimes experience transposed memories. Eyewitness testimony in adults is notoriously unreliable, even very recent events and descriptions are vulnerable to unwitting invention and embellishment. Researcher Elizabeth Loftus has shown that memories can even be implanted, indistinguishable from 'authentic' memory to the subject, as well as on an MRI brain scan. Can authentic memory therefore be said to exist?

Accessing memory appears to be a constructive process. The mind recreates places and experiences in the moment of recollection. So how much if any, of our memories reflect objective truth?

What does it mean to our sense of self when memories can become merged and augmented with fragments of imagined places, adjacent memories and stories, both internally authored and received? How can we understand the past when so much of it is uncertain, unreliable, illusory—or subject to alteration as we apply our own choice of interpretation or context that transforms the meaning of the memory subjectively. If memories are constructed anew each time we recall them, how does this process affect their veracity?

The camera too, is instrumental in transforming a moment of objective truth into a false representation, altered irrevocably by the viewer's interpretation.

These questions, framed as a collision between objective reality and subjective interpretation are the themes this work seeks to explore.

This series was begun by returning to places of distant memory, places recalled from my childhood but never revisited.

The camera recorded each scene as a digitally stitched panorama. The images were then transposed onto medium format celluloid as black and white negatives.

Scraps of carefully chosen materials treated with silver nitrate were exposed individually to the negatives in the darkroom, creating a fragment of the whole scene on each. The pieces were then collaged in layers back together, physically rebuilding each landscape of memory. An act of remaking the past.

Once complete, each reconstruction was photographed digitally and returned back into the original scene as a photocomposite.

I designed the process of making these images to be analogous to, and inseparable from, the internal experience of confronting reality with memory. The finished images are an emergent property of this process.

This project is ongoing.

•••

This series received a Neutral Density (ND) Award in 2021.

•••

This series received a Fine Art Photography (FAPA) Award Nomination in 2022.

•••

Each image in this series is available to purchase as a signed, limited edition archival C-type print.

No items found.
Blue Pool
Descent
Quarry
Bounds
Blue Pool centre | Silver nitrate treated mixed-media
Descent centre | Silver nitrate treated mixed-media
Quarry centre | Silver nitrate treated mixed-media
Bounds centre | Silver nitrate treated mixed-media
C-Type prints on Fuji Matte 1159 x 469mm
Descent centre | Silver nitrate treated mixed-media
Descent centre | Silver nitrate treated mixed-media
Past Presence
Descent centre | Silver nitrate treated mixed-media

Photo projects