As part of our Summer preparing for third year we were told to ‘bring me a story of your journey to school’, and that was all the direction we were given. I’m assuming this is to preapare us for the format of Phonar where we will be given weekly tasks to complete and the brief could be as loose as this one. It was good to engage with a brief again to try and define what it would mean to me.
I live in a small village and my mum used to walk me to and from school every day, I can remember the route so clearly as visual markers in my head. As most young children do I had an overactive imagination and it was sparked by different stages in the route. With this in mind I wanted to create a set of photos that would match with the memories that I have of my journey to school.
At first I started thinking I could use Google Maps to take these photographs and I played around with taking screenshots from Google Maps and using some HDR editing however after editing some of the images I felt that this wasn’t suitable for my idea. I knew that to connect with the images and memories I would have to take the photographs myself and relive those memories walking to school. I set out the next day and took my camera with me to try and capture the images I would want to use.
I made a conscious effort to shoot from a lower vantage point, either bending down a bit or holding the camera in line with my waist to try and replicate the view point that I would have seen the journey from as a child. I also included some close up photographs to try and emphasise how vivid but scattered some of the memories are to me; some are complete scenes whereas some of them are just fragments.
I then went home and uploaded the photographs to my laptop to start looking and editing them down to a final number, I settled on ten in the end because it’s a good rounded number and my story would be succinct but still with a sufficient amount of photographs to create the idea of a story. The next step was choosing how to edit them into finished pieces to go in the series; to associate the photographs with the idea of memories I chose to crop them into squares and created a stylised border to replicate that of a polaroid print. Polaroid prints in today’s culture are associated with the idea of memories, perhaps most commonly linked to holidays and parties. In addition to this at the time where the Polaroid camera was first introduced it was one of the means to capture the memories of the average family. In addition to this editing I also use some HDR toning to try and manipulate and bring out the detail in these images; I believe that by changing the images slightly they become more like a memory, matching the idea of what we have in our mind rather than reality.
With the images created and edited I then had to match them with memories in my head, and think of a way to put them together in visual form. I decided to use some simple text on the bottom of the images in the bigger part of the border to define the images and link them to each memory in my head. I wouldn’t explain the memory fully however the phrase would instantly remind me of the part of the journey it referred to. Sequencing the images was not hard at all, it simply went in chronological order of when I took the photographs as this was the only way to portray the journey to school properly.
The full set of images can be seen in the gallery however I wanted to provide a bit of incite behind each photograph to read if anyone wanted to know further details; if these photographs were up in an exhibition I would detail the following descriptions on a card with my artist statement. This can be seen below the images:
1. Outside my house there is a pattern of bricks, the ordered layout always made me think of soldiers marching together in harmony and each brick was a footprint.
2. On a green round the corner there grew patches of clovers, I used to scan the ground every day to try and find that lucky four leaf clover, I’m still searching.
3. I’m a superstitious girl and I don’t like treading on any crack or line in the pavement, in this case I used to imagine these cracks were canyons I could fall down.
4. On a short cut there is sandy ground and there were always marks left there for me to track, pretending they were endangered animals that I could save.
5. Not all memories are pleasant, I was once given the fright of my life when I was walking on a low garden wall and the owner of the house shouted out the window, every time I walk past I can still picture her face in the window.
6. There were some walls I could walk on, and I used to pretend I was walking over this great chasm with only a rope to tread on.
7. The pink house always stands out in my mind as a marker to cross the road, perhaps one of the only times I looked up and ahead in the journey before falling back into daydreams.
8. One of my favourite memories was when I used to pretend I was a horse taking each step as a show jump, my mum used to tell me off for running however I had the perfect excuse.
9. There was always one part of the journey I didn’t like and that was walking past the scary alley, something about the shadows made me feel uneasy.
10. The journey would end and the school day begins, I always remembered to meet my mum near the steps to complete the journey.
Having almost completed the Phonar module now I felt it was essential to go back and reflect on the first task I completed without knowledge on what the module would be about. My approach and ideology was really quite interesting looking back, I unknowingly referenced Stephen Mayes and the developing experiential form of photography through the concept of the Polaroid. In today’s society Snapchat could be considered as the digital replacement of the Polaroid, facilitated through the instantaneous nature of digital photography. The relationship between the image and memory is something that is really interesting and is a concept we explored when we discussed the nature and narrative of photo albums. Photography fulfils the individual’s need for representation and the preservation of memories however does the ease of photography encourage a certain disregard for capturing and remembering the memories that really matter? In analogue photography the individual would have to prioritise each moment in their life in accordance to importance as there were only a limited number of shots available i a roll of film. In digital photography we have been liberated from this limitation, however has this dismantled the concept of preserving memory in photography? Can the experiential medium of photography still be considered as capturing and keeping memories?