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Experiment: Presenting the outcome #1 – overlaying memories

I have started exploring how to overlay the photographs as there are many options to introduce even more layering of narrative. Inspiration for this experiment came from Catherine Panebianco who places family slides in her current landscape, making the memories come alive. It would be easy to Photoshop this connection but the indication that the original locations have been sought and recaptured adds an unspoken sentimentality. We are seeing a place within a place and a memory within a memory. This was certainly worth trying on my own work.

A mockup of the original image as a Polaroid photograph and then a superimposed image in the original location resulted in the left image below. It’s interesting to compare the two images side by side. First of all what does the photo on the left say to us, if we see it alone? I think of a significant memory, one that has caused us to return to the spot the photo was taken to recount that memory, to understand its meaning. The photo within a photo has an inkling of something that has been treasured for years, in a wallet or drawer. Is this is an authentic representation of how I feel or is it too sentimental? I feel that what we get from this is a memory of an event rather than the resonance of the language that was attached to the event.

Furthermore showing the two photos side by side, the then and now, adds nothing and if anything confuses the viewer. My eyes rove between them trying to make connections, flitting between history and the present but nothing is sparked other than comparison of the two.

I considered again how these two images compare and cropped the new image to make it a closer compositional match to the original. They look more balanced with the horizons aligned and the eyes flow easier across them but my feelings are the same, that my mind is deflected by image comparison.

Summary & next steps

I’ve interjected history in this experiment but presenting this as a photograph within a photograph does not seem an authentic representation of the core element – the language contained within. The repeat of the landscape pushes the meaning towards the significance of the location, which is not valid as the location is irrelevant in how these words impacted me. There was no location other than a place in history. These words were uttered to me without any pictorial reference and it was me that has created the signified from the linguistic signifiers.

This experiment has convinced me that this outcome deserves more than photographic trickery. I want the emphasis to remain on the language and leave more free play for the viewer to reconcile how words twist and turn in their own space and bounce around over time and landscape. There is much to explore here so more experiments are in order.

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