Essay about The Relationship of Photographs, History, and Memory

Essay about The Relationship of Photographs, History, and Memory

Length: 5374 words (15.4 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

The Relationship of Photographs, History, and Memory

Abstract: This essay reflects on the relationship of photographs, history, and memory based on a found and mutilated photo album. Photographs provide opportunities for disrupting and restructuring history with their attraction to memory; they privilege the subjective, creative power of the personal explanation and provide an emotional and even ideological grounding for memory. Photographs as manifestations of memory assist in the process of understanding the present.

As this century fades into the past it is worth remembering that its course--in contrast to earlier times--has been chronicled by a visual narrative that relies on the attraction of photographs as means of storing and disseminating information. Photographs emerge as documents of a lived experience, and their presence in the cultural milieu of technologically enhanced contemporary communication practices remains virtually unchallenged at the threshold to the twenty-first century.

Photographs are the story-telling companions of time, they direct the gaze of the spectator to ponder the past. Reflecting on our own lives we often refer to photographs whose presence conditions our recollection of people and events and keeps them alive. Recently I came across a small family album--a generation after the end of the Second World War--that had been left by an aunt who had saved it through times of expulsion, flight, and resettlement in West Germany. It had been severely cut--pierced but not destroyed by the thrust of a bayonet in 1945--when the invading Soviet army overran refugees and ransacked their belongings. Its sudden appearance in my life is a reminder of the power of photographs, the seductive specificity...

... middle of paper ...


Mitchell, W. J. T. 1994. Picture Theory. Essays on Verbal and Visual Representation. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Rugg, Linda Haverty. 1997. Picturing Ourselves. Photography and Autobiography. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Samuel, Raphael. 1994. Theatres of Memory. Vol. 1. Past and Present in Contemporary Society. London: Verso.

Sekula, Allan. 1982. "On the Invention of Photographic Meaning," in Victor Burgin, ed. Thinking Photography. London: Macmillan, 84-109.

Sontag, Susan. 1973. On Photography. New York: Farar, Straus and Giroux.

Tagg, John. 1988. The Burden of Representation. Essays on Photographies and Histories. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press.

Virilio, Paul. 1995. The Art of the Motor. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Yates, Frances. 1966. The Art of Memory. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Essay on The History of Photography and the Camera

- Photography has come a long way from the first camera all the way until today. In this essay I’ll begin by explaining how the first aspect called the Camera Obscura started. The Camera Obscura was first developed and explained in ancient times during the 4th and 5th centuries B.C. It was first developed by the Chinese and Greeks and also later studied by other philosophers in Ancient Times. It is used to create images that are transmitted through a pinhole camera on a wall that is in a darkened room....   [tags: Photography]

Powerful Essays
957 words (2.7 pages)

Use of Photographs in This Is a Photograph of Me and Photograph, 1958 Essay

- Use of Photographs in This Is a Photograph of Me and Photograph, 1958          At first glance, "This Is a Photograph of Me" by Margaret Atwood and "Photograph, 1958" by Patricia Young are strikingly similar works in that both poems utilize the imagery of a photograph as a communication device however, upon closer examination  they differ markedly in the approach each poet takes in utilizing this same device.  The similarities between these two poems are immediately obvious to the reader; both poems are written by female poets,  both poems have the poet as the speaker,  both poems describe how the poet feels about herself, and both poems utilize the photograph as a device to convey their...   [tags: Photograph]

Free Essays
1244 words (3.6 pages)

Why is Retouching Photographs Necessary? Essay

- ... Photographers also change images for the benefit of advertisements for name brand companies. Many consumers ranging in all ages browse online for clothing and will notice a difference from the model’s body versus the average person’s body. These images are creating a new standard of a typical person. Consumers may believe that these bodies look healthy, yet in reality, they are unreal and nearly impossible to attain. Editors for fashion companies will manipulate a body in such a way that makes the clothing look alluring....   [tags: manipulating photographs, modeling]

Powerful Essays
1049 words (3 pages)

My Study Skills And Memory Essay

- “Memories may be beautiful and yet, what 's too painful to remember we simply choose to forget, so it 's the laughter that we will remember (Bergman, Bergman, McClusky, & Hamlisch; 1981). This song from a Star is Born is an example of an acoustic short term memory converted into a long term episodic memory. Memories can elicit joy or pain. For example, memories of a loving grandmother create joy bringing forth a smile; whereas, memories of a narcissistic sociopathic parent can usher in pain. Both are episodic memories; however, in regards to the latter, many memories associated with this type of abuse could be repressed or even labeled as dissociative amnesia....   [tags: Memory, Hippocampus, Episodic memory]

Powerful Essays
758 words (2.2 pages)

Ideology of the Photographs: Thinking with Sontag and Butler Essay

- When I considered at first to discuss the role of photography and frame as evidence and their limitations, keeping in mind Butler’s argument regarding the visual modes of regulation of reality, the first problem that came up before me was: would it be something futile and an imposition of meaning on something which is by nature to be seen. But Butler’s claim regarding the way suffering is presented to us through the framing of reality in a certain way – for example, “embedded reporting” and our ethical response to it – prompted me to address certain questions involving the frame and its role in establishing or not establishing legal, political and ethical responsibility....   [tags: photography, frame, Auschwitz, human suffering]

Powerful Essays
2852 words (8.1 pages)

Memory and History Essay

- 1. Using the excerpts from Marx, Nietzsche and Freud that we have read in class, please explain one commonality and one salient difference in each on the question of memory. There is a common saying that one must “learn from the past to change the future.” In the context of memory and history, learning from the past causes history to repeat itself, rather than causing change. Marx, Nietzche, and Freud have discussed the question of memory in the context of modernity. Even though there are differences in the way Marx, Nietzche, and Freud approach elements of remembering, they perceived memory as dangerous and problematic....   [tags: philosophy, marx, nietzsche]

Powerful Essays
1987 words (5.7 pages)

Essay about Photo History And Photographic History

- As we all wonder why Model is so important to photo history, it because she became the eye of the photographer when she steps into New York. Model is a documentary photographer in America that she also does street photography. Model is special because she was so talented at photography even though she was taught by her sister name Olga and her friend Rogi Andre, they both help Model to achieve her goals as she became a full-time photographer. The important things that Model did at first were music, she did it for a while when she moves to Paris, as she studies, music then bounce to playing the piano then after that going for her voice....   [tags: Photography, Photograph, Camera, Image]

Powerful Essays
1046 words (3 pages)

Suffering in Photographs Essay

- Suffering in Photographs Photographs are used to document history, however selected images are chosen to do so. Often times these images graphically show the cruelty of mankind. In her book, Regarding the Pain of Others, Susan Sontag asks, "What does it mean to protest suffering, as distinct from acknowledging it?" To acknowledge suffering is just to capture it, to point it out and show somebody else that it exists. In order to protest suffering, there has to be some sort of moral decision that what is shown in the photograph is wrong, and a want from the viewer to change that....   [tags: American History]

Powerful Essays
1050 words (3 pages)

Applying Memory Strategies Essay

- Applying Memory Strategies Memory is an internal journal or account of a previous circumstance or experience that a subject has met. A person's ability to keep and store mentally retained impressions and information also define memory. While information is not just naturally recorded in our brains, how one applies a theory or theories of memory and forgetting can help to improve how a subject remembers. Memory is essential to our everyday lives. People must recant who they are, they must recognize other people’s faces, and need to also remember how to maneuver and how to communicate....   [tags: Memory]

Powerful Essays
947 words (2.7 pages)

What´s Eidetic Memory? Essay

- Eidetic Memory Imagine having the ability to take a screenshot of what one sees. It sounds like photographic memory, that superhuman ability one often hears about on Dateline or movies and shows. As much as the idea of saving everything one has ever perceived, storing it away like a file in a cabinet, and recalling it at a moment’s notice sounds amazing, it just isn’t plausible. Despite the stories you may have heard from friends, photographic memory is not real. This misconception is often muddled with eidetic memory....   [tags: photographic memory, children]

Powerful Essays
966 words (2.8 pages)