Nancy and I met for lunch last week during which we discussed, amongst other things, the effect of a photograph not only on one’s memory of an event but on the event itself. I recounted a visit I had made with Steve to Lost Gardens of Heligan the week before in which I noticed an elegant, Victorian, cast iron grate. We decided to return for another visit the following day and so I equipped myself with a large piece of paper and a stick of graphite in order to take a rubbing of this grate. I remember a feeling of anxiety as we approached the spot as there were several other people, visitors and gardeners wandering by. However, when I crouched down to take the rubbing I was absorbed in the action and oblivious to passersby. Steve took a photograph of me engaged in this act. When I first saw his photograph it surprised me in that it in no way described my experience or memory of this small event. I don’t dislike it as an image but in terms of documentation it gives a picture of what I couldn’t see or remember myself and it shows no-one else and very little of the environment, which included elaborate glasshouses, ornamental flower beds and woven beehives.
What would Vilem Flusser have to say, Nancy?
Nancy 31/08/2013 2:19pm I'd hate to guess what he'd say! But this seems to me like an example of a photograph reordering our sense of time--so that time jumps or turns back on itself instead of moving smoothly from past to future. There's also a basic tenet of phenomenology--that consciousness- (any kind of consciousness) is consciousness of something. It's a relationship... on the one hand, a relationship with the work of rubbing, on the other, with a photograph of that rubbing…
Nancy 31/08/2013 2:45pm On second thought, maybe Flusser would suggest that the photograph of you making the rubbing presents a theory of the event [if I could I'd put that word theory in italic].
Laura 01/09/2013 10:51am Yes, if the photograph of me making the rubbing presents a theory of the event, as you say, that would explain why it surprised me as I then become a part of the object of this theory, when I previously had a purely subjective memory of it.
This is a page for notes about how Roaming is related to contemporary art as a whole. We hope the contributors list will expand.
Laura Wild Roaming represents the continuing, collaborative development of my PhD research project - 'Becoming Invisible: Art and Day-to-Day Life' (Loughborough University, 2011).
Nancy Roth Roamingcuts across all kinds of old, inhibiting categories--especially what is and isn't "art", what is and isn't "research," what is and isn't "good" or "true" or "valuable."We all want to learn something new, about ourselves, one another, and the conditions we share. I'm Nancy, one of the Directors of Roaming CIC, and an enthusiastic supporter. We'd welcome comments--whether they're about the posts themselves or not!