Our phones, cameras, and minds are filled with memories of the past; pictures of our fathers cradling us in their arms, us as children beneath our mothers posing in our Sunday’s best, even concerts filled with thousands of floating lights are glimpses into our past. These moments frozen in our minds or stored into our phones are moments that no longer exist; photographs are avenues of reflection, through pictures we relive fragments of our lives, often storing what we have forgotten. When you look through a photo catalogue there is a strange development in the relationship between your past and present self; these pictures often contain more emotion than when they were live action revealing the uncontrollable nature of time. These pictures become fragments of a story, symbols of nights, revealing how easily alterable our lives become; these images create a space of communion for when memory fades, when we forget the faces of the people we’ve loved, offering proof that these people once held space in our hearts, and often showing joy during times we associate with sadness. However, this fact reveals the unreliability of our memory, and the growing urgency for presence in the pain of our lives; pictures are often a space of yearning and longing, but can become an affirmation towards the transitory nature of life. The second a moment is captured it becomes a product of the past.
Photographs transport us to realities without direct experience, and allow us to imagine new standards and possibilities; whether Hindus gathered in the Ganges, Muslims circled around a mosque, or James Baldwin standing with before a quiet crowd speaking on the integrity of an artist, pictures expand our image of the world. Moments captured and diffused to millions allowing an internal expansion beyond our lives, beyond the buildings we see everyday, beyond the roads we drive everyday, and beyond our routines. As James Baldwin said, “When a tradition has been evolved, whatever the tradition is, the people, in general, will suppose it to have existed from before the beginning of time and will be most unwilling and indeed unable to conceive of any changes in it. They do not know how they will live without those traditions that have given them their identity. Their reaction, when it is suggested that they can or that they must, is panic. And we see this panic, I think, everywhere in the world today.” The photograph offers a space for reflection on the fallibility in our society, and carve an identity from the reality that we can move past the traditions set by our particular nation.
Our memory fades and the people we have become are often different from the people we once were; I believe, there needs to be a connection to this former self. Our old selves are alive if denied but dead if accepted; recognizing the psyche’s that once operated these vessels allows us to establish a equanimity with the people we’ve become. Through pictures we reflect on the people we’ve become, while being asked to live in the present and love the people around us deeply; looking through your photo catalogue reveals change is always present. Every picture that is contained within our phones, the memories captured daily in our lives, every second spent looking back in either a memory or fantasy. Staring at a picture reveals fragility of our lives, and requires a reconciliation between reminiscence on the past and confrontation with the mysterious entirety of the present; the acknowledgement and acceptance of the present becomes more difficult as we becomes trapped in images and memories.
Life is never frozen, we are always stocking away thousands of images, memories, moments, emotions, and thoughts; life is about experiencing, seeing, and being.