After the Flood
After the Flood: An Index of Memories
Science throughout history has used the tools of photography to capture the world, reorganizing it in an understandable way. In the early 1800’s, when photography was first introduced as a craft, scientists eagerly accepted the ability to capture images of the world around them. Those photographs were then used to better understand the world. With my work, I break down the people and places of my past life; not as a way to judge the person or place, but as a way to analyze, organize, and reconstruct past environments to create a new map to better understand my present self.
I have used the camera as a way to capture the landscapes from my past in order to analyze and reorder them according to the memories they evoke. My landscapes point to specific challenging events in my life. Each photographed landscape is a site of personal change and growth, both good and bad, such as an old home where my family lived and the brush-filled ditch where a friend’s body was found, all of which hold strong memories for me.
Like the landscapes I photograph, my memory of events has transformed over time. My landscapes are created to combine the fragmented memories of the episodic memory process. Episodic memory is the cognitive process that ties directly to memories of autobiographical events that allow humans to recollect time, places, and the associated emotions connected to those recollections. My episodic memory has made images in my mind’s eye that at once were so clear to start fading as I have become older. Homes I once lived in have become foreign to me as I return years later to photograph them. New people have moved into the homes, trees have been cut down along roadsides, and new buildings have formed where fields once were. The landscapes of my childhood have transformed for a new generation of memories to be made, new memories that no longer include the histories of the people and places of my past. The reconstructing of landscapes in my work is a way for me to capture the essence of that transformation.
I use digital compositing to combine multiple images that flow together and yet are disconnected. I then use either water as a symbol for an emotional force of change and destruction or encaustics with pigments to direct my viewers to sources of emotional pull and change. Some of the landscapes are miles apart while others are only feet apart, but when one transforms into the other a narrative is formed. This body of work represents memories that flow together like water, but are not perfect in any shape or form; they are organized, yet disjoined.
As an adult revisiting the places of my childhood I have also noticed the destruction of the town and of the innocence I used to see in every aspect of the city. The pain of lost community members, friends, and family, the loss of businesses from economic breakdown, and the inevitable change that time has had on the landscape and the memory of places of the past. The encompassing of time, place, and emotion in my work allows me to use landscapes and homes as representations of the relationships between myself, my memories, and the people and places of my past.
As I move forward with and develop this body of work, I will continue exploring both the historical and scientific relationships between photography and memory. My work has become my therapy and my voice, allowing me to visually represent the confusion of childhood and my frustrations with ever changing memories. Science has used the tools of photography to capture the world, to reorganize it into understandable information. My own use of photography follows this tradition, and serves as a tool to help me organize and better understand my own world.