Exercise 3.6

Exercise 3.6: ‘The Memory of Photography’

In the first part of this exercise we need to read David Bate’s essay ‘The Memory of Photography’ and write down the main points.

  • Photography has been used as a way to keep memories. Both for families/ personal memories and also in museums/ archives/public monuments etc. As technology evolves and changes photography also changed and become digital. That affect also the way we store the photos. From boxes to digital files, hard disks, mobiles phones etc.
  • Several devices has been created and used to support the human memory, writing is an example for text, photography an example for images.
  • Although these devices help us to remember, there is a question if they have also affected the way our brain works.
  • What these devices collect can be manipulated. Those who record can also control what we remember, and so make us “forget” those facts that they do not us to remember.
  • Photography is important because it is accessible to everyone, and helps everyone to record their own family history.
  • As the family member does not neutral point of view, something similar happens in the photos of members of specific social groups. The members of a specific social group will photograph based on their point of view.
  • Taking photos is not a question of the past but a question of the future. The “strongest” group will depict the reality with their point of view. This point of view will be the “memory” of the future generations
  • Photography is the most important technological invention as it industrialises visual memory. The photography is not only a visual device for collecting memories, but also a device to visually re- present other memory devices.
  • Not only photography, but memory itself is selective. We do not remember everything. Also our memory is not “neutral” as different people have different memories of the same experience. Also, some of our “memories” are affected by what other people told us. Hence, our memories are not only what we experience but also memories of the story telling about some events that related to us.
  • Something similar happens with photography. Photos can remind us something that really happened or they can remind us a memory which somehow connected to the event depicted but not related.
  • Photographic images interact with personal memories in a way that it is not always conscious.

In the second part we have to research further points that are referred in the above article and that are interesting to us. I was looking for some other things but I found an interesting article.

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20150901-are-you-taking-too-many-pictures (accessed on 4-10-2015)

I will also summarise the main points for this article

  • Taking photos can impair our ability to recall details of the event later.
  • We treat the camera as an external memory device
  • More recently, the use of photography start shifting from commemorating events to a mean of communication by sharing the photo and hence the details of what we are doing or have done.
  • We can keep taking photos to remember a nice experience, but we should be able to put the camera on the side and actually experience it/ be present while the event is happening.

Finally, I want to share some thoughts I had while reading the texts.

  • It is mentioned in the first article that sometimes specific social groups can take photos based in their point of view. Also the fact that photos can somehow manipulate what we remember. This is actually happens not only with past events but also with the news photos, the news agency or broadcasting services control what photos or videos will be chosen to be shown. Different photos can express different “versions” of the same event and in long term in can affect the history- memory of the event.
  • I think in general it is better to ask before taking a photo of somebody. However, all these photographers who did not ask and took photos of random people can remind us what was happening the day they took the photos. Hence, we have some information- memories of those days, (without in many cases the people themselves being important but giving useful information) about what people were wearing, technological devises of the time, means of transport etc. Those people maybe involuntary “shared” their memories with us.
  • Another fact is with the cameras of the mobile photos we start taking photos instead of take a note of something. I mean even some text we notice or a book title, we prefer to take a photo than write it down, as people were used to do for many years.
  • Last but not least, reading about these articles reminds of one thing I really do not understand and has to do with my own experiences of memory and photography. When I look back to photos I took (something I am not doing frequently), in most of the cases I remember how I was feeling the time I took the photo or I remember details either wise I could not recall. That surprises me, If you add the fact that my memory is not the best, I prefer to keep notes of things or do not try to remember information I can easy find.

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