A few days ago I posted a couple of presentation experiments that I’d tried, with the objective of injecting more of a sense of ‘looking at a memory’ into the images I’m working with. The first of these was based projecting the glove photos onto various surfaces and photographing the resulting projections.

Theory

Over the weekend the phrase “screen memories” popped into my head. After a while I remembered where I’d read it: in a David Bate essay entitled The Memory of Photography (2010) that I’d read for my Contextual Studies literature review. The pertinent extract is as follows:

Memory, in the everyday use of the word, is located in the preconscious: memory that we can recall at will (or after a bit of searching) and bring into consciousness.

Thus, as preconscious memory, we can remember it, but at the same time it does not clog up consciousness itself, which would otherwise be overwhelmed by these existing memories. In other words, preconscious memory also means a “temporary forgetting” so that consciousness has space for the constant new receptions and experiences.

In this Freudian topography of memory, the preconscious-conscious space of memory is subject to what Freud calls “screen memories”. Screen memories are those fixed images from childhood that haunt each individual.

[…] Freud argues that these apparently insignificant memories from childhood, which usually stay with the individual throughout their lives as representations of the lost years of childhood, are actually screens, a displacement or shield from other significant memories. However, the screen memories are not to be dismissed (as false), but subject to analytic enquiry (in psychoanalysis at least).

(Bate 2010: 252, emphasis in original)

Now, I found this all rather interesting. Not necessarily in the original Freudian sense about repressed childhood memories, but rather the idea that a screen memory is a displacement for a ‘real’ memory.

This seems to fit well with my concept of using a lost glove as a metaphor for an unrelated memory lapse; what was forgotten in the picture (i.e. the glove) is a replacement for what was forgotten in my own life experience.

This was something of a lightbulb moment!

I have (inadvertently) been trying a visual technique of using surfaces as screens, in a way that fits in with my subsequent understanding the theory of “screen memories”.

Practice

Enthused by the idea that my projections experiment had unlocked something oddly appropriate to my theme, I decided to develop the execution a bit more.

Here’s a set of images I made over the last 24 hours or so. One thing to note: I have removed the text. I still want to pair images with text fragments, but now wondering if text-in-image is going to be too busy, and am now thinking about moving the text to off-image captions.

Next steps

I’m going to take this as work-in-progress to the next student hangout…


Sources

Bate, D. (2010) The Memory of Photography. Photographies, 3(2), pp. 243-257.