It occurred to me tonight that this lack of context I’m feeling in attempting to do “more” with these images might be solved in another way. I began a Google search of the exact title of each of the images that appeared using my “people” tag. This tag was only applied to images that retained, after my cropping, a recognizable, if tiny, vestige of a human, or representation of a human. Very broad, yet also very specific terms. Under these circumstances, “passport 01” and “passport 04” made it in to my search, whereas “passport 02” and “passport 03” didn’t. Too bad, because my passport 03 search, which I anticipated without checking image titles first, turned up a rather bizarre page that I later couldn’t use without changing the criteria of my searches.

I decided to take a screen shot of the first 3 hits that turned up when searching each of these photographs’ titles. The results varied quite a bit, simply by changing the number after the word, such as in “Pizza2” and “Pizza3” for example. These two did not return any of the same top 3 web pages. Unlike “passport photo 01” and “passport photo 04”, which turned up the same page once, and the same site 2 out of 3 times. The photo “photographer 01” (case and character spacing was matched to the original titles in all searches) turned up a PDF document as hit #3, so I downloaded it and captured the first page.

However, this left me wondering if I should be sticking strictly to web pages, so I went to the 4th hit and captured it as well. Nothing is ever as straightforward as it at first seems! However, I’m staying with the first 3 hits. It’s the simplest way to be consisitent.

While this process quickly begins to get mechanical in feel, (buzz-click, is there some way to automate these functions?) the variety of material I found related to the image titles is rather diverse. By way of providing a context, if fabricated, for the images, it is also somewhat satisfying. It’s a far cry from feeling like an artwork though.

What I do like about the process is that I am using the database of archived web pages (and PDF documents) to build some kind of knowledge, linguistically based on the individual image names. I now know several other contexts and meanings of the word Pergamon, for example. These include a medical book publisher, a place currently re-named Bergama, in Turkey, where parchment was invented, and where Anthony gave Cleopatra an enormous library as a marriage gift. Not to mention a travel agency, a water science journal out of Great Britain that refers to “Water Law Principles”, and in the city by that name, again, where a great altar or podium, 100 feet long by 35 feet high, was built to proclaim the city’s importance.

I’m not sure if I will continue with this method, but it has been an interesting way to connect the images to a larger body of meaning, via a database, and try something different with them.

I like what I learned about Pergamon too.

I keep coming back to Pierre Nora’s comment that there is “so little memory left”. What makes the news, how often, and in what terms continues, in an ever-growing way, to shape not only our picture of the world, but what will be left for the future histories of our time.

What role does memory play in shaping history today? Is there still a role for personal memory within the writing of larger social histories? If anything, it seems likely that personal histories will be dismissed or lost to history under the weight of the media’s versions of what happened, kindly brought to you by our sponsors.

Archives and databases offer hope for the continuance and validity of personal histories and experience to offer themselves to historians of the future, yet the ephemeral nature of the digital, as well as issues around the ownership and editing of cyberspace, haunt this hope.

In this project, I have been constantly bumping into the lack of history or context for these images. While it’s true that some information might be gained from some of the titles, and that these title names could be googled to glean other potentially related information, there is still no way to know what is relevant, when they were taken, or why.

On the other hand, I like that the way I have cropped and distorted the clarity of the images by enlarging the fragments to a larger size actively references the nature of memory itself – blurry, indistinct edges, suggestible, evocative, while the missing pieces suggest a greater, if somewhat elusive, whole. In this respect I’m very happy with this approach to the project. The fact that we now all share memories of these images, after and outside the facts and acts of their making and compiling, also makes them somehow poignant.

These images will soon fade into my own history and memories of both this course, and of Vid Ingelevics. The images are now so deeply connected to Vid that surely if I ever hear the names of Palmer and Stucke together, Vid’s face will rise before me, and slowly fade until only his smile remains, and I will re-experience an echo of my struggle with these 100 images.

I can also envision that the next time I see Arnold Schwarzenegger, I will picture him both as he was on the cover of that Star Week Magazine as “The Governator”, while I will also see my abstracted crop of the same image, creepy and vague as it is.

Yes Vid, you and at least some of your 100 images are now ingrained in my memory. I am hoping to find out where you live, and return, or repatriate, my cropped-to-almost-beyond-recognition versions of your images to you. The frond of my frustration and puzzlement should return, altered by my struggle, to its maker. That would be a fitting closure to this project. I will see what I can discover to make this happen . . .

Ok, much thinking things over, struggling for variations and permutations of this idea that will satisfy the desire to somehow refer back to the original images, while further detaching from them – to fragment and abstract the obvious connections and “natural” groupings, rather than totally obliterate them. To evoke memory, if not meaning, from them.

In creating and merging these now almost purely aesthetic fragments, I am pointing to the lack of clarity and certainty that can be achieved by an archive, particularly in digital forms. While the intent is preservation and categorization, it must be recognized that original context is always fragmentary at best, and end uses may be anything, to anyone, in any context. One word, one sentence, sliced from a document and saved in my wallet, carried like a talisman for years, may be all that remains of a vast text. The fragment may be meaningless to anyone else, a mantra to myself. The original context or experience is lost. A new one carries on.

Yesterday’s class made this idea clear. No ammount of documenting a complex experience like an installation, or really ANY experience, can fill in the gaps between the experience and the re-presentation of it. Years working with these images will still reveal nothing more of the experience of making them. Archives are fragments by their very nature. I am merely pushing this into the visual representation of what is already inherently there, or perhaps rather NOT there in the first place.

By keeping the original file names, these detail fragments, not unlike archaeology, will invoke the remembered ghost of the complete images, to those already familiar with them. However, even these people will all have varying experiences, engagement and memories of these images, with nothing of their original context. For us, the frond of this archive leads only to Vid. All tracks beyond him are mute.

It is particularly interesting to note how we are all now locked-in to them, connecting us, through these images, to Vid. They live, in some way, within us, cut off from their origins, yet with each of us trying to breath some new life, interpretation or meaning into them. They have become our own Frankensteins, appropriately noted, though not intentional to begin with, on Halloween. BOOO!

I thought that cropping the images beyond recognition and creating categories that are no longer related to their origins was a good way to subvert the implied intelligence and authority of an archive.

It’s now been 2 weeks since I have tried to discuss my take on the project with Vid, with inconclusive results. I have a confusing sense that I’m missing something that he is looking for.

Time is flying and I need to be working on this, but don’t want to waste my time if I’m not on track.

I guess my track is based on pointing to the utter subjectivity and non-definable/controlable use of what may seem to be obvious and literal archival information. There is no right way to use archives, no inherent integrity once it moves into someone else’s hands, and no way to organize it “authentically” without knowing the original use or intent of the material. Was it sincere, or a satire? Is it true or fabricated? Like Bateson’s wink, context is everything when it comes to interpretation and meaning.

Once an archive is cut off from the creators’ or archivists’ intentions, it is open to any use, any permutation, deformation, or untruth may be derived or implied. Categories are most meaningful when searching for things. End uses may defy both intentions and categorizations.

The ideas that have come up in class around memorials (the disappearing one in particular) have been fascinating, as has been the concept that the mass of an archive depersonalizes and thereby neutralizes trauma, but I don’t yet see a connection between a project for these images and those themes.

Maybe something new will occur to me this week.

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Well, last weekend I cropped all the images. I cropped them selecting quite small areas in all the photos, and used a square format, aiming for abstraction and non-representational results. Oddly, even after this, they still, in many cases, had recognizably similar qualities.

This surprised me quite a bit. Not only did they still seem to fall into visual groupings, but the single black and white drawing image, even though I cropped it down to just one tiny fish, still looks completely different than all of the others. It is still a category on it’s own.

I really thought that abstracting the images would allow for less-predictable organizing principles. Now I’m not certain that it has, or where to go from here. They do look quite low-res beautiful though.

As Gail mentioned in class  last week, I too sometimes dream about things when they are simmering.

I woke up this morning with a lingering images in mind. It was about my first idea for this project, the over-sized, single image with the tiny bordering pictures around it, though I thought that I had already moved past that idea. In my waking haze, I realized that I had been flipping through a beautiful magazine, with interesting articles on a variety of subjects by a mix of famous and more obscure authors.

The professional and engaging layout made the magazine feel lively and inviting. The articles ranged from philosophy and topics of social significance to reviews, a short story and poetry. It reminded me of a magazine I used to do interpretive photographs for, “Gamut International” (sadly no longer in existence).

What was strange though was that every single picture in the magazine, from the cover to the advertising to the editorial columns, was illustrated in varying sizes and crops of this same picture.

“History” in the making – what is pushed out into the world by the selection, promotion and archiving process, and later retained collectively as “truth” or “fact”?

A disc with 100 images, some interesting, many banal, that are to be structured or organized in some way, almost anyway,  and presented. Also a discussion about process, idea development, a summary paper and  an artists’ statement. OK. I’ve been stalling on this, trying to think of how I can turn this into something that I can get excited about. Something that feels like art, my art.

It’s not going to be easy!

My first idea was to choose one single image to display, in print, quite large, perhaps very large, and then use the remaining images quite tiny as a border or frame. These could be grouped in a variety of ways such as:

– sorting them by colour transitions, similarities or juxtapositions

– creating a narrative reading or context for the large image
– completely randomized
– repeating them in patterns, for purely aesthetic and decontextualizing purposes

Why this approach? Why subvert the archive approach?

For the sake of finding One image that speaks to me. One echo of connection. One piece of something that feels like my art, not someone else’s.

Then I thought of putting the 99 other images randomly on the back of the main image, thereby using all the images but somehow subverting the obvious categories, the banal pairings, the sense of meaningful multiples, by selecting one image, and more or less hiding the rest, making them secondary or less.

Well, last weekend I cropped all the images. I cropped them selecting quite small areas in all the photos, and used a square format, aiming for abstraction and non-representational results. Oddly, even after this, they still, in many cases, had recognizably similar qualities.

This surprised me quite a bit. Not only did they still seem to fall into visual groupings, but the single black and white drawing image, even though I cropped it down to just one tiny fish, still looks completely different than all of the others. It is still a category on it’s own.

I really thought that abstracting the images would allow for less-predictable organizing principles. Now I’m not certain that it has, or where to go from here. They do look quite low-res beautiful though.

Is the idea of categorization the key to this project? Is how things are named, coded, and thereby located at the heart of this, and any archive? If something cannot be found or located in a meaningful way, is there any purpose to an archive? It might as well be a trash bin that one would have to dig through in the hope of finding something of interest.

On the other hand, this raises the question of who name and categorizes things, and the depth of tagging and description is what determines the usefulness of any archive or database.

Once someone has located something of interest though, all the rules, categories, intentions and uses are up in the air, wide open. There no longer needs to be anything to connect the image back to its source, or its intent, or its category. I like this idea, even though in some ways it contradicts the value and purpose of any archive, which seems to be to create a memorial of sorts, and the raw ingredients for writing histories.

If in fact naming is the key to the project, then doesn’t it seem logical that we will all come up with pretty much the same categories? People, Museums, Skaters, Aerials, Photographers, Passports, etc.? This seems just too obvious. Maybe finding a way to create less obvious tags and pursue deeper, more subtle links between the images would produce more unexpected results?

In this vein, every image would have multiple, even numerous, tags and references. The deeper and more subtley one delves into naming structures or conventions for tags, the more it seems that clarity could be lost, that tags could become nearly meaningless, even though they are at the heart of the archiving process.

For example, is “green” a sufficiently meaningful tag? Does the tag “museum” make these images within diverse museums somehow more useful to others? Will the new unification of diverse images through the use of subtle or nuanced tagging create something with greater, lesser or just different meanings than the use of only topic-related and content-specific tags, such as “highway aerial” or “politics”? Do more tags add more meaning or more confusion when no context or time-frame is available for the images?