Tues 24th - 30th
NOW FOR MORE / NAWR AM FWY
Venue: Oxfam, 34 Castle St, Swansea, SA1 1HZ
Open: Mon – Sat 9.30am – 5pm, Sun 11am-4pm
With the First World War out of living memory, and it’s last known surviving veteran passing away in 2012, what kind of war do we remember? What has been the impact of Photography, film and the Internet on our collective memory of that time? Can anyone really say they truly remember the First World War?
It was seen, around the time of its invention, that the veracity of the photographic image was a huge improvement on the many weaknesses of the human memory. This can be observed today and in the past; people have almost an obsession to hold on to and capture their families and important events in photographs. However, it is the permanence of the photographic image that threatens to destroy our original interior memory. After viewing a photograph many times, in the end it is only the photograph we remember and not the actual memory. “Photography, instead of being in the service of memory is actually in the service of forgetting,” as one smart observer reported.
“Besides how could we remember everybody? Eyes, walk, voice. Well, the voice, yes: gramophone. Have a gramophone in every grave or keep it in the house. After dinner on a Sunday. Put on poor old great-grandfather Kraahraak. Hellohellohello amawfullyglad kraark awfullygladaseeragain hellohello amarawf kopthsth. Remind you of the voice like the photograph reminds you of the face. Otherwise you couldn’t remember the face after fifteen years, say. For
instance who? For instance some fellow that died when I was in Wisdom Hely’s"
Over the past hundred years many of us have gradually replaced our internal memories with external aids. These technological crutches that have been invented are there so we no longer need to store information in our brains; we have gone from remembering everything, to actually remembering very little. We have photographs to remember what people looked like and events in our lives, calendars and diaries to keep track of our appointments, post-it notes to remember things we have to do, and books (and the internet) to store our collective knowledge. There must be implications of replacing our interior memory with an external source; surely something will be lost in this process. What is at stake here is every part of our relationship with the world and the people in it.
Sarah Williams graduated in 2009 from Swansea Metropolitan University with an MA in Photography: Contemporary Dialogues and has been a director of elysium gallery and studios from 2010 - present
[i] Joyce, James Ulysses / with Ulysses: A Short History by Richard Ellman. (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1969.) p 133