December 13, 2008


Every time there is a major fire, and someone is interviewed about having to evacuate their house, what is one of the primary objects that people save? Photographs. Part of that, of course, is because they are easily transportable...but there is also something more going on here.

When people travel, what is, these days, a given part of the process? Cameras--both video and still. Why is it that we travel all around the world? Is it to see the places that we visit, or so that we can get video/film/photos of those places? Sometimes it's difficult to tell.

A while back I worked (for a very short time) shooting a few weddings. Photography is engrained into the entire process, the entire ritual of marriage. Every stage had to be photographed, and it was standard for people to plan the kinds of images they wanted to make sure were captured. Think about that--before the actual event people already have in mind what photographs they wanted. Those photographs are were then literally acted out during the wedding, in a sense. Certain moments in the wedding are all about creating material objects that will be shared, archived, and passed down as material manifestations of memory.

Culture has been called an extrasomatic means of adaptation. What about thinking of photographs and other visual forms of communication as extrasomatic memory devices?

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