The 8mm family films that inspired this project were created in1940, before my birth, but I knew the man behind the camera. As a child I was spooked around him. When I discovered these family films, now digitized on video, and viewed them in slow motion to find many young girls and women in isolated frames, the feeling from childhood was triggered. This is the way memory fragments work. They rest in known places, fuzzy though known. The events are impossible to pinpoint with certainty. Some fragments are accessible at all times, and others are triggered by a surprise, spontaneous connection. In his novel ‘In Search of Lost Time’, Fr:’A la Recherche du Temps Perdu’ (1871-1922) , Marcel Proust called this recognition of the past in the present moment Memoire Involontaire. I am engaging with still frames to tangibly interact with time and personal history.
First, in frame-by-frame playback I select stills from each of two one-hour films to enhance and enlarge with digital painting, from approx. 1/5” x 2/15” to 15” x 21”. This dramatic enlargement of filmframes now still in isolation captures the uncanny, as ghosts in family history seemingly come to life. “This was now,” Roland Barthes said about the dislocation of time in photography.
I create installation photographs where I sit in front of a 1950 television console in my studio. A stillframe is composited into the screen and a single frame is projected on the wall over my head, looming large as it does in my mind.
Mimicking Proust’s random psychological associations, I also manipulate stillframes with random variables in generative algorithms to engage memory from an unpredictable perspective. One program scans and sorts the pixels of each image into rows according to hue, saturation, brightness, or grayscale values. This image is then blended back with the enhanced still frame to create a hybrid I call post-cinema. Another algorithm selects filmframes in random intervals from a one second clip in the original film, arranging the frames sequentially in a grid pattern. In this way, moving images and the passage of time are depicted in a still composition.