Remembrance of Things Past
My family’s 8mm family films c1940 mined for the Memoire Involontaire project were created many years before I was born. Curiosity quickly overwhelmed me regarding the details I was able to see in slow motion or frame-by-frame playback. Through the gaze of the filmmaker, a first cousin of my mother. I was able to see both recognizable and unknown adults interacting with each other and children in ways both concerning and familiar. For example, nail-polished fingers supporting a bare-chested infant next to a girl in blue shorts, brought to my mind sitting on a blue couch, age 4, watching a console television set next to a man - the filmmaker himself. In his novel ‘Remembrance of Things Past’, also called ‘In Search of Lost Time’, Marcel Proust called this recognition of the past in the present moment Memoire Involontaire. I enhanced and significantly enlarged many of these psychological associations in representation found in small, degraded memory fragments, and in so doing, tangibly interacted with time in personal history. This exploration of the artifacts of old family film is particularly meaningful to me at this juncture in history when the film industry is in its demise. Also, as visual culture transitions away from film, the image’s link to physical reality and verifiable memory slips, since digital capture is only a calculation of time and light converted directly to code. The Memoire Involontaire project, in 3 phases, addresses what we lose when film itself becomes an artifact, straining our recognition of the past.
I. This Was Now (2012-2019) references the separateness of stills underpinning film movement and the pre-history of cinema in photography. In that stills vs. movement is so tinged with mortality, the photographic still frame conjures the signal of death [Barthes] and the ghostly uncanny [Freud]. Beginning in 2012, 56 still frames were selected from 1-hour B&W and 1-hour color film. The stillframes were enhanced and enlarged with digital painting and algorithms approximately 10,000% from their original .14” x .21” dimension to 15” x 21”. Each archival print in this series comprises a Limited Edition Set of 5 + 2 AP.
II. In Situ (2016) considers the uncanny in the specter of death and spirits in the film viewing experience, and the recognition of my towering phantoms in particular. Beginning in the early 1950s motion picture films could be viewed on the television set, a living room furniture console. The 8 ‘In Situ’ Memoire Involontaire images were created by projecting an enhanced still frame in the artist’s studio comprising antique furnishings including an original 1950 RCA TV. The artist sits facing the console TV screen in which a second stillframe is composited. Each 12.6” x 19” archival pigment print comprises a Limited Edition Set of 10 + 2 AP.
III. Post-Cinema (2019) comprises variations of Phase I images generated with an algorithm and film clips exported from the original family film manipulated by a second algorithm. Generative algorithms redesign the still frames incorporating randomness, mimicking Proust's 'Memoire Involuntaire', the recognition of the past in the present moment, and similarly, the maintenance and continual re-integration of memory with present experience by neural pathways in the brain. The first computation draws attention to the disruption of time, memory, and sense of self in the digital age. An enhanced and enlarged stillframe is scanned by the algorithm to sort each pixel in rows according to hue, saturation, brightness, or grayscale values. This image is then blended with the digitally-painted still frame. (Series of 20 16.5” x 16.5”) Archival Pigment Prints each in limited edition set of 5 + 2 AP. A second algorithm arranges Memoire Involontaire stillframes selected in predetermined intervals from one second exported film clips in grid patterns to represent the time passage in moving images as a still composition. This is a series of 10 Archival Pigment Prints of varying sizes.