Tag Archives: photography

Assignment 6 Transitions -Abandoned process.

The process I was working on regarding assignment 6 Idea not just working out.

I had been working on an initial idea of a steady locked off tripod pointing at a particular landscape and videoing what was passing in front of the lens.

The resultant video would be processed in the same manner as in my learning log post Resuming the Journey. I was working on the conceptual idea of transition is not only the light passing during the day but also the transition of place and space as the earth revolves.

The first sets of videos were finally captured and ran through the algorithm to produce the first set of timeslices which could then be put into the barcode formats. However, on examination, I am finding too much of a similarity in the images and therefore they are not showing the transition even though the lighting conditions and condition of the landscape have changed as they are different times of the year.

The three Barcodes which I have produced are shown here.

Barcode Spring

Spring Early Day

Barcode Summer

Summer Stormy Day

Barcode Autumn

Autumn Fresh Day


I am now examining two other locations where there are physical transitions occurring on the landscape and will then make up my mind whether they are suitable for the brief or not.

Exercise 5.7 – Prepare an Artists Statement

This exercise asks the student to spend an hour or so researching and reading artists statements. Most of the artist’s statements can either be found on their own websites or on the website of the art galleries representing the artist.

The student is then asked to write an artists statement to accompany their self-directed project which will cover the work produced for Assignment 5.

I produced the following statement to accompany my work:


My current work looks at landscape, lost history, accessibility and land ownership today. Through the examination of the landscape, the people using it and the threats affecting it, the work will drive conservation on how man-made change of the landscape disconnects the land from its own history and how these ongoing changes relate to accessibility for disabled people to explore.

I am interested in the work of other artists and what I can learn from them. Specifically, I am exploring the techniques and methodology they used to approach landscapes and how they portray them. As subsequently how I can apply these to my photography. My series, Doocots of East Lothian, takes as its starting point an incomplete survey undertaken in 1931, which was published posthumously in 1939 and then left unexamined until now. I am applying the new topographic principle to the subject and am producing a sequence of images within a certain container of that aesthetic.



Exercise 5.5 – Create A Slideshow

The exercise asks the student to prepare a Slideshow to present their ongoing work with Assignment 5. 

The exercise asks the student to consider a few points when creating the slideshow. 

  1. Is the Slideshow the most appropriate treatment for the work? 
  1. The length of the slideshow, how long will it run? 
  1. What relevant audio or textual material will accompany the images? 
  1. Consider the relevance of any music used? Ensure if music is used that it is available and suitable for use, and credit the artists. 

The exercise ensures the student that complex software such as Final Cut is not required and that the student should familiarise themselves with whatever software they plan to use. 

At first, I was tempted to use PowerPoint for the slideshow, but after looking at the application, I felt it did not meet my needs. I then considered Windows 10 Videomaker but found again that the software did not meet the requirements I had. In the end, I used Nero Video which I was familiar with and while it did not have all the refinements I wanted it suited the exercise. 

 Gathering more of the work together I decided to continue to use the alphabetical sequence as it fitted with the original document which started the project and guided the brief. 

After processing the images, I worked out a template for the images and the text and started to create the slideshow. I was heavily influenced by “Looking at the Land” curated by Andy Adams, which I viewed in the previous exercise. I really like the clean, clear layout and I felt it was suitable for the treatment of my work. 

Once I had the images in sequence within the application, I started to examine the look and design and tweaked the layout slightly. Then I watched the slideshow and changed the timings to allow more time for the viewer to read each image. 

After draughting and finalising a narration piece, I used Audacity and Lame to produce the narration. Slicing the narration into paragraphs which then allowed me to move them about to improve the timing and sequencing.  

Once I had changed the timing on the images to fit the narration better and again increase the amount of time for each image, which now also included a transition. I felt that there were still too many quiet moments in the slideshow, so I chose a piece of music available via creative commons, the piece was chosen because it met the requirements for a peaceful Celtic sound. 

Once again, I reviewed the slideshow adjusting the timings to suit what I wanted. Even in the final version, I am still not happy with the transitions, but it was one of the few which were not too over the top. 

The slideshow can be viewed below. 



On review, while the exercise has introduced the treatments of online exhibitions to me for my own work, I am not sure that it is the correct treatment for the Assignment. 

I feel that the presentation, being Audio/Video, does not meet the requirement of the brief, which is to make a number of accessible pieces which can be viewed and touched by individuals with visual impairments 

I will however not discount the concept of an online exhibition as it is a good way to show and display certain works. 


Exercise 4.5 – Signifier and Signified

The student is asked to read ‘Rhetoric o the Image’ by Roland Barthes, whose essay contains an analysis of an image through semiotic analysis: quantifying how meaning is constructed and/or how a message is communicated. 

Barthes describes the two levels of meaning as sign and myth; where the sign is comprised of a signifier and the signified. Myth is the level of meaning where the viewers own experience and knowledge is taken into account when they read the image. 

The student is then asked to find an advert and identify the signifiers and the signified using Barthes method. 

After collecting and reviewing a number of adverts I chose ‘Trails’ by Adidas. 

Trail running shoe advert by Adidas. A man in a red top runs through a forest trail.

Trails by Adidas



Signifier  Signified 

open forest 

Freedom, wilderness, open and fresh air, no barriers or rules.  
Runner  Individual, health, happiness, self-reliance, healthy living, the pursuit of health and happiness. Excitement. 
Mud Trail  Non-urban, create your own path 
Running shoe with deep grips  The wearer will not slip or fall. Can go anywhere. 4×4 all terrain. 



Being dyslexic and having visual difficulties meant that reading Barthes essay was almost impossible. It took a few days just to plough through the text before having to sit down and construct an understanding of what Barthes was trying to communicate. 

Exercise 4.2 – The British Landscape during World War II

The student is asked to read the short extract from ‘Landscape for everyone’ taken from ‘Dream of England: Landscape, Photography and the Tourists Imagination’ by John Taylor. The student is asked to Summarise the key points of the extract along with any other observations or reflections from the text. 

The current idea of the English Landscape really starts with C.F.G Masterman, when in the introduction to E.O. Hoppes Book ‘England’ Masterman absorbed the other nations of the United Kingdom into the single concept of one country of ‘England’. Mastermans perspective of a single historical landscape and country which could be viewed as single frames; frozen moments of time, where the countryside moved from wilderness through agricultural, cultural, religious and industrial influences to its current contemporary state. 

As the country entered into 1940, the phoney war had failed, British troops were evacuated from Dunkirk and the fear of losing the war started to loom over the country. There was a genuine fear that suburban England would be invaded and occupied.  

[The Phoney War was an eight-month period at the start of World War II, during which there was only one limited military land operation on the Western Front when French troops invaded Germany’s Saar district. The Phoney period began with the declaration of war by the United Kingdom and France against Nazi Germany on 3 September 1939 and ended with the German attack on France and the Low Countries on 10 May 1940. While there was no large-scale military action by Britain and France, they did begin economic warfare and shut down German surface raiders. They created elaborate plans for numerous large-scale operations designed to swiftly and decisively cripple the German war effort. ]

Mastermans concept of an England which had been “unconquered for a thousand years” became a central column in propaganda; The imaginary ideal of the typical ‘English’ village where the close-knit community built around the village green, the village church and the squire tied itself to the landscape and therefore into the unbeatable English spirit, which would fight back and destroy any invaders. This was built upon by C. Henry Warren in ‘England is a village’ where he wrote that ‘England’s might is still in her fields… and in the end, they will triumph’. The propaganda ideal that Nazi Germany could be defeated as long as English people worked the fields and kept the dream of England alive in their hearts, hands and eyes. an idea that Orwell touched upon in his Essay ‘The Lion and the Unicorn’, Orwell wrote the essay as he prepared to shelter from a bombing raid. He expressed his opinion that Britain needed a socialist revolution and that the working class and the middle class could come together to form a classless society and through working together defeat the wealthy upper classes of Germany who funded the war.  

In reality, as part of the propaganda drive and to render any invasion impossible, the countryside was vandalised by camouflage, blackout and the removal of signs, place names, and road signs. This made journeys difficult if not impossible to any strangers to the area. The countryside became the refuge for city dwellers, evacuated children and the military, making it both welcome and bleak at the same time. 

This instability in the idea of the countryside was mainly resolved by offering wartime readers and viewers a link to the past, a sense of victory through a feeling of continuity; distilled from Masterman and Hoppes original ideal, the love of English scenery and beautiful England which became the foundation for the principles of victory.  Rather than show pictures of evacuated working-class children looking lost and forlorn in their new location, it was turned around so that it became a chance for the children to discover the beauty of the landscape for the first time. The upheaval and societal change were accommodated through the showing of images that reminded the viewer what they were protecting by fighting the war.  

Taylor points out that through the management of images and stories in the magazine ‘Picture Post’ the Ministry of Information worked hand in hand with the publishers to promote the ideology that the landscape of England was for everyone and worth defending. The landscape which in real terms was closed off to people was presented in layouts comparing the differences between the English way of life and that of life in fascist Germany. These articles were laid out as simply as possible to show everything that the British people were fighting to protect, the peaceful village life and individual freedom versus the military regime, persecution and loss of freedom and identity in the war machine. These presentations showed that every class had something to lose and therefore by forgetting class differences and working together to protect the English landscape they would be victorious.  

Throughout the extract, Taylor refers to the homogenous idea of England, which is interchangeable with Britain, a unified national heritage which really started in the 17th century with Francophile propaganda. The English heritage a prize which sets the British apart from everyone else, it is now part of the populist and underdog culture, caring for what is unique in their heritage, what is special to them, which is unknowable and untenable by outsiders. 

I am not sure I am comfortable with the idea of the British part being monolithic and uniform, it is too close to the Norman Tebbit cricket test where consensus is not only demanded and forced, it is taken for granted. It is too much of a central bias, which pretty much ignores any outlying country, state or region, a normative idea of a nationial being only English.  


Taylor. J (1994) A Dream of England: Landscape, Photography and the Tourists Imagination, United Kingdom: Manchester University Press.

Orwell. G (1976) The Lion and the Unicorn, : Ams Pr Inc..

Mischi, Julian. (2009). Englishness and the Countryside How British Rural Studies Address the Issue of National Identity.



Exercise 4.1 – Critical Review Proposal

I have sent the following as part of an email to my tutor.

My idea for Assignment 4 Critical Review which I would like to propose for consideration; the subject will be The Memory of Photography, probably based around the background landscapes from a box full of family holiday polaroids that I was recently given.

The main part of the project is to examine the photographs and see what memories of the landscape arise from these polaroid photographs.


Assignment 3 – Spaces to Places.


In Assignment 3, we are asked to explore a landscape or small part of a landscape to which there is some form of significance. The main objective of the assignments is to question how a “place” becomes as “space” and show how the idea of a place is formed by external pressures or associations. 

Recently I have been involved in a number of discussions regarding the history of the UK and history within Scotland in general. These discussions have been driven by a number of news items where developers or businesses have started to bury and destroy historic areas of interest.  

In the majority of these cases, this reflects what has already happened in parts of East Lothian and the Borders where history has been destroyed in favour of development of the land. 

In this case, I wanted to focus on the missing history of Haddington. Recently Haddington celebrated 700 years – a celebration around the signing of a town charter by Robert the Bruce. When I started to look into the historical landscape of Haddington, what I started to find were a number of bare patches. 

I decided to research and photograph the historical landscape around the siege of Haddington.  


What I quickly found was that most of 16th Century Haddington was covered over and redeveloped in the 18th Century by the Victorians as they remade Haddington into a Market town and rural holiday spot, leaving very little of any historical value behind. 

What remains of the siege walls, earthworks and boundaries of the town within have either disappeared completely or were reinterpreted by the Victorians as part history, part, folly, part garden structure. 

During the 16th century siege of Haddington, the town was surrounded and walled in for the duration of the siege. The English army held Haddington through the siege for 18 months. 


During the siege, hundreds were killed, but little is seen of the town as it was then. Having been recreated in the market town image of the 18th century, 16th Century Haddington appears to have been wiped clean from the map. Little is said about the siege, the brave soldiers on either side nor what happened to the town during the siege. 

Having found the map in the book ‘Feat of Arms’ (Unwin, G. 2014), I overlaid and then marked out a rough rectangle within which the siege walls and boundaries lay. My idea is to work within the rectangle and using both google maps and physical survey work out where this large piece of history disappeared to. 

Overlaid map showing location of siege walls and earthworks over newer google map

Google map showing square around town centre

Certainly, as can be seen from the google map diagram the current town still lies within the main traffic routes, the north gates and the west gates are easy to locate within the structure of the town. Looking deeper I could find little on display to show what still existed. 

For the most part, what remains of 16th Century Haddington are place or street names; The Butts, Langriggs, Sidegate, Hardgate, Mill Wynd. 

However, due to the Victorian penchant for repurposing, small parts of the original town and walls can still be seen, if not in the same shape or location, but in style. 

One of the few untouched areas is to the East of Haddington, where at one-point cannons had been dug into a mound, to allow the cannons to reach within the confines of the besieged area. This one important archaeological artefact remains relatively unexamined and left to nature. It was only by accident that it was rediscovered as part of this article. 

Using google maps I reviewed a number of areas within Haddington that I wanted to visit and possibly photograph; this method of survey was quite helpful to me as it allowed me to manage my chronic pain and fatigue on the days when I was at these locations, moving about and capturing images of what I could see. 

There was a delay between the online survey, the physical visit and actual photographing of the locations due to a number of issues. First of all was my own health, due to the cold weather, I was stuck inside as being out in the cold brought on my Costochondritis which makes breathing very difficult. Secondly, since I can no longer drive, I had to rely on the kindness of others when I wanted to go visit some of the locations to review them. Thirdly, my main source of transport is my wife, who having injured herself, could not walk or drive for almost six weeks. Again, I was stuck in the house unable to get to the locations. 

During this time, I started to look over the work of other artists who suffer from failing eyesight or visual impairment. The RNIB website was in itself very helpful and pointed me to a number of projects, one of which is a collection of portraits by Roy Nachum. Together with the work of Chris Friel in the collections, Silver and October, I started to review and reassess what I have been doing. 

Using the ideas of Text in the style of Ed Ruscha, but combining it with the influences from Nachum and Friel, I decided to restart the assignment and return to the exploration of my visual impairment, my continuing loss of vision, the loss of mobility and at the same time the loss of history due to progress and lack of foresight. 

Returning to the original reports and letters written during the siege, I hit upon the idea of taking direct quotes from the reports from (Lawson, John. P. 1893) and the Hamilton Papers (Bain, E. 1890) and overlaying them into the landscape images. I then went further by converting the quoted text into braille.  

Taking the converted text, I positioned it into the landscape in such a way as to interrupt the flow of the image, in the same manner, that my eye condition interrupts my day to day vision. By using braille, I further push the viewer into the uncomfortable position of not knowing what is being said.  


Rebuilt Walls Marys tower

Victorian recreation of siege wall and tower. Quote taken from historical figure shown in BrailleHere at the Eastern edge of what would have been one of the boundary walls, now stands a tower and two sides of a wall enclosing a small garden. The tower and walls were recreated by the Victorians to emulate the history of the town. 

Vennel, formerly a close. 

Orange walls of a close. Quote taken from historical figure shown in BrailleThere are very few locations within Haddington where you can still get the idea of how close together the houses were built and what both the soldiers and visiting queen would have seen. Within the confines of the besieges town, there was starvation, squalor, and disease. 

Langriggs, Current lay of the land

New housing but with fridge and cooker abandoned in the street. Quote taken from historical figure shown in BrailleDown at this end of the town, people would have gathered their livestock together for safety within one of the longer inside dividing walls. Although pieces of stone from the 16th and 17th Century are embedded in the wall, history is still regarded as passé. 

Cannon Mound, They planted a great many guns. 

Farmed field with mound of earth. Mound was cannon platfrom. Quote taken from historical figure shown in BrailleUndeclared at the edge of a working field, sits one of the few remaining cannon platforms. Last archaeologically investigated in the 1980s, it now rests disregarded and unknown. 

West gate, now part of court street (18th-century development)

Modern Haddington West crossroad. Quote taken from historical figure shown in BrailleWhere the West Gate would have sat, many battles were fought over this opening and where Highlanders ducked the cannon fire.  Now a major junction into the main street of the remodelled market town. 

Nungate bridge leading to now derelict Abbey 

Nungate bridge over the river Tyne. Purple flowers in the foreground. Quote taken from historical figure shown in BrailleThe crossing which took troops and royalty back and forth to the south. The Abbey was a designated neutral ground where a meeting between the sides could take place. 

St Marys, battle-scarred but still standing. 

Foreground graveyard. Behind the trees is St Marys Church, all under a blue sky. Quote taken from historical figure shown in BrailleSited outside the walls, the battles and siege did not pass this church by. While it was also a neutral space, It bears the scars of musket fire on its stone.  

Original wall, an inner boundary 

Bailey wall, now separating houses from a green space. Quote taken from historical figure shown in BrailleAn inner bailey wall, now separating parts of sheltered housing.  

Tesco Car Park 

Empty Tesco carpark. Quote taken from historical figure shown in BrailleWhere the main part of the besieged town once sat, now resting beneath the tarmac of a Tesco carpark. Nowadays, food is more plentiful and accessible. 

Doocot, Source of food and communication. 

Jacobean dovecot. Boarded up and abandoned. Quote taken from historical figure shown in BrailleDoves and pigeons were a good source of protein, a Jacobean doocot like this would have kept a well-off family fed through the winter months of the siege. Now sealed and unattended, left for decoration and a nod to history. 

Contact Sheet 

Full set of images taken for the Assignment. Including the original braille conversion files and screenshots showing the text to Braille conversion.  



Contact Sheet for Braille Conversions.


Contact Sheet of Screenshots of the Text to Braille Conversion


Technical Choices. 

As in Assignment 1, the images were taken either handheld or supported by a crutch used as an improvised monopod. I decided to apply filters in post-production, I chose Black and White versions of the images and used them as a layer to either show highlights or shadows where possible, without making the final scene too dark or overblown.   


In the beginning I flipped between several ideas and projects, each one had its merits but in the end, the assignment was led by the research. The research itself was very enjoyable as it allowed me to dip into my fascination with local history and start discussions on why so little of it is being preserved in the county.  

Hitting on Friel and Nachum was a bit of a game changer for me; it returned me to the exploration of my condition and how it influences what I see and how I see it. The final iteration of this assignment for submission will be printed where the braille dots are raised to allow participation by a visually impaired individual as they will be able to touch the display card and get the image description and relevant information before touching the image and feeling the quote. 


artNet (2017) Ed Ruscha , Available at: http://www.artnet.com/artists/ed-ruscha/ (Accessed: 19th March 2019). 

Arts Council England (2019) Disability Arts Online, Available at: http://disabilityarts.online/ (Accessed: 15th March 2019). 
Bain, J. (1890) The Hamilton papers. Letters and papers illustrating the political relations of England and Scotland in the XVIth century. The Hamilton papers. Letters and papers illustrating the political relations of England and Scotland in the XVIth century [Online]. Available at: https://archive.org/details/cu31924091786032/page/n6 (Accessed: 18th March 2019). 
Campsie, A (2018) Public inquiry called for Battle of Killiecrankie road plan Read more at: https://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/public-inquiry-called-for-battle-of-killiecrankie-road-plan-1-4736078, Available at: https://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/public-inquiry-called-for-battle-of-killiecrankie-road-plan-1-4736078 (Accessed: 17th March 2019). 

Campsie, A. (2019) Row as businessman ‘builds fence across Antonine Wall’ Read more at: https://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/row-as-businessman-builds-fence-across-antonine-wall-1-4867670, Available at: https://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/row-as-businessman-builds-fence-across-antonine-wall-1-4867670 (Accessed: 17th March 2019). 
DPS (2019) Disabled Photographers Society, Available at: https://www.the-dps.co.uk/ (Accessed: 18th March 2019). 

East Lothian Council (2019) Haddington 700, Available at: https://www.johngraycentre.org/haddington700/ (Accessed: 15th March 2019). 
Friel,C. (2019) Index/Gallery, Available at: https://www.cfriel.com/index (Accessed: 17th March 2019). 

Magdalena Szubielska (2018) People with sight impairment in the world of visual arts: does it make any sense?, Disability & Society, 33:9, 1533-1538, DOI: 10.1080/09687599.2018.1480261 

McKenna, K (2018) Second battle of Culloden rages as locals clash with developers, Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/sep/30/culloden-moor-battle-luxury-homes (Accessed: 17th March 2019). 
Parker Lawson,J. (2017) Historical Tales of the Wars of Scotland, Available at: https://www.electricscotland.com/history/wars/33siegeofhaddington1548.pdf (Accessed: 18th March 2019). 
RNIB (2017) Blind artist launches ‘ genuinely audio-visual art’ exhibit in aid of Talking Books, Available at: https://www.rnib.org.uk/blind-artist-launches-genuinely-audio-visual-art-exhibit-aid-talking-books (Accessed: 19th March 2019). 
Spikerog SAS (2019) Braille Translator , Available at: https://www.brailletranslator.org/ (Accessed: 20th March 2019). 
TATE (2017) Landscape, Available at: https://www.tate.org.uk/node/294527_ (Accessed: 15th March 2019). 
Tudor Chronicles (2015) Siege of Haddington, Available at: https://thetudorchronicles.wordpress.com/tag/siege-of-haddington/ (Accessed: 15th March 2019). 
Unwin, G. (2014) Feat of Arms – The Siege of Haddington, 1st edn., United Kingdom: Creative Independent Publishing. 
Voyatzis,C. (2012) Visual Art for the Visually Impaired by Roy Nachum, Available at: https://www.yatzer.com/visual-art-visually-impaired-roy-nachum (Accessed: 17th March 2019). 


Exercise 3.6 – The Memory of Photography by David Bate 


The student is asked to read and analyse the essay “The Memory of Photography” by David Bate 


Pre photography to create a memory of something, someone had to record it in some method; written, oral, pictorial, the aide-memoire, the physical notation of thought, sometime with date and time. With the development of photography, visual memory no longer has to rely on the formally trained artist to create a scene. Visual (artificial) memory was democratised with the invention of the camera. As the costs came down, the camera was more commonly used to record more day to day events. Holiday memories no longer relied on letters home and postcards of pre-recorded scenes, instead, the holiday maker could record a personal record of their visit. 

Of course, this type of memory record relied on someone being outside the scene; the photographic practitioner, the father, the mother, and later the children as technology leapt forward. In each case the photographer is arbiter and censor of the image, deciding what is in and what is excluded. The recording of historical events moved inwards, examining more closely the effects of events. The antithesis of this, of course, is PTSD where a visual stimulus causes the remembrance of a deeply buried and traumatic memory. Certainly, as Jacques Derrida feared, the digital age has created a tsunami of visual memory recording. Everything from Facebook to Instagram is used to create a record of an event. These digital aide memoires now guide individuals’ memories as they trawl the photographs of the group, usually taken by at least one of the group at the same time, but never producing a single consistent record. These digital visual records now guide the “rememberant” through the proceedings of the social event, even though the records are selected time slices which may not document the reality of the occasion. 

Bates then posits the question, if you view photography as a one-way time machine, where you can view but not change the physical record, is it under threat by the digital age? In the digital age, the social space expands beyond the basic philosophy of making records of events. Is the artificial memory space under threat of overload by the constant uploading of digital information to the internet? I would have to disagree. While there is a large volume of what could be described as vanity publishing, this is counter-balanced by both citizen journalism and/or viral publishing where a simple valiant one on one act becomes a world wide celebration of peace and understanding. We now face the bigger question, has photography changed history, as in, the physical recording of an event, changed the perception of those who viewed it? In this case would it mean that photography has changed the cultural, communal and collective memory? 

Freud, in his opening passage of “The Mystic Writing Pad”, recalls the idea of using an object to make an aide-memoire. Thus Freud draws a distinct line between the two parts of memory; “natural memory” the consciousness of the human system and “Artificial Memory” which covers the basic recall algorithm of human consciousness since time immemorial; where an external device, whether it be a mark on the wall or an electronic notepad, causes the “natural memory” to recall the stored memory. This call and recall has allowed humans to advance forward using only the simple tools available to them. After all what is an alarm and a piece of text, it is nothing more than an electronic advance on a piece of knotted string or a loop around a finger. Therefore the pocket book, the length of string and the mobile phone inhabit the intersocial space as an “artificial memory device”. It can be seen that during stressful events the natural memory which Freud calls the “mnemonic” memory is open to suggestion and that collectively humans can interact and change mnemonic memory through nothing more than discussion. This idea of natural or mnemonic memory shows a flaw in the permanence of the Freud model for it does not take into account visual impairment nor the sensory deprived, here touch, smell or feel provide mnemonic memory recall through differing senses; touch may recall smell, feel may recall touch.  When Freud  remarks “All forms of auxiliary apparatus which we have invented for the improvement or intensification of our sensory functions are built on the same model as the sense themselves” he was correct for the time, but quickly technology advanced and through research and invention, has granted impaired individuals a chance to change their perception, for example, the creation of 3d images from photographs allowing the visually impaired person to “feel” the photograph. 


In his essay “Civilisation and its Discontents” Freud wrote that “In the photographic camera he [man] has created an instrument which retains the fleeting visual impressions”. Here Freud is referring to memory plus emotion plus gut feeling causing Arrectores Pilorum or Cutis Anserina, where a deep connection is made by brain signalling through the body an unexpressed emotion caused by the “artificial memory device” reacting with the mnemonic memory. 

Like Freud, Jacques Derrida posited that there was an ongoing impact on the human psyche and the human mind where natural memory was being influenced by artificial memory devices. Derrida posits that the technological advances have created a bank of artificial memory in archives due to the information overload created by the advances in technology itself. Now, not only do most digital camera owners have a bulk archive of images but museums and libraries are digitising glass plates and old photographs into databases of searchable and viewable images.  These databases contain images which have little or no connection to the majority of viewers but are an artificial memory store which can be browsed by interested parties who have no emotional or historical connection to the subjects within the images. 

Of course, these stores of pictorial, text and audio recordings can be considered “Collective Memory” as detailed by Jacques Le Goff where human memory can be disconnected from the event and by curation of the data stored in whatever format audit or censor popular history by what it displays publicly. These data stores also allow for the publication of these records, and again by curating what is publicised it creates selected collectives, editions for everyday browsing, editions for collectors, the creation of collections for collections’ sake. Le Goff confirms this within his book “History and Memory” where he writes that the public view curated by the museums has driven collective memory in a number of directions. In creating its own form of collective memory in the public monument and the collection of memory through photography. Photographing one’s own children means that you are now the curator of their childhood memory and editor of your own; through the collectivisation of these images into albums, they become the official record which can be displayed or passed onto relatives to create a social bond through records of artificial memory. Again these records will create a feeling within the viewer as it stirs and recalls mnemonic memory of the event recorded. As Le Goff suggests these records are not always the point of view of a singular individual, the creator of the image is not always the father, but instead may be the mother or another sibling, repeating Le Goffs idea that photography democratises memory and that photography provides a level of truth which is plainly unattainable when relying solely on memory itself. These family albums not only record the family but are created, curated and edited by the family itself. The collective memory undergoes change as actual memories fail and time passes creating a disconnect between the memory and the viewer, as well as a disconnect for the oral history as confusion and miscommunication break the link of “bottom-up” history.  

Not all albums and records are of course dedicated solely to the recording and recollection of family history. Over time data stores of photographs with no familial memory have been created, such as media picture libraries, magazines, police records in mugshot form and crime scene photographs, public or private collections of art, and loose social groups. Some of these records will be made public and although it is a democratisation of information, the information presented will not be a full social record nor the full truth. They will be a collective memory store to guide and form memory and history which in itself will then be recorded through photography and gathered, collected, edited and presented some time in the future. This ability of photography, to record itself and then present itself again ties in with the one of the founding arguments about photography as art and photography as a record, as it is able to record and reproduce other objects visually again and again. Bate describes in the essay this function of photography recording itself and its ability to objectively, coldly and mechanically record as a “Meta-Archive” and points the reader to examine the very first book of photographs “Pencil of Nature” by Henry Fox-Talbot. Fox-Talbot himself curated his own archive tp present his choice selection of images which he had recorded himself. He uses photography to create an almost taxonomic record of items, whether they be books from his personal library, or glassware. Fox-Talbot uses photography as a record of senses, items arranged and then copied, allowing Fox-Talbot, who according to records was not a great drawer, to create still lifes of items. This first book of artificial memory was the starting point for the now inestimable images sitting in archives and storage.  Bate refers to Fox-Talbot’s image ‘Nelsons Column under construction’ as a sample of photography as meta-archive. Fox-Talbot’s image records the early stages of construction of the now famous ‘Nelson’s Column’ built long after the death of Nelson as a form of artificial and collective memory. The column is being built to the memory of a man many would never have encountered who is presented by history as a great man. It is within the image itself that both the social memory and the personal memory is recorded. Talbots view down over the construction work details advertising signs as well as showing the change of a public space into a literal memory, a physical work to memorialise the dead. As Michael Foucault states, monuments like this were created to reprogram popular collective memory, by changing history through memorialising and curating the memory of the person, presenting a cultural image rather than a personal record.  

This changing of the collective memory creates an issue as it conflicts with the validity of truth presented within art and photography. Are the records and images being presented the entire truth or is it a partial truth, something which is undergoing a great deal of discussion at the moment within the media as it interacts with the public records and the manipulation of facts and the ideology of what memories are to be recorded.  

Bate returns to Freud to examine the issue of truth and the artificial memory. What uncertainty is held within the record, was it a personal experience or was it a presented record with no personal interaction by the viewer? What other memories will the image stir, will it recall sound, smell, a different interrelated memory? What images is the viewer paying attention to, and what are they skipping over? 

This stirring of other memories can be viewed as a mnemonic link between an initial thought and greater memory. The human psyche does not hold all memories available for instant point of recall. There is a trigger within the psyche which then pulls the memory deep from within the mind. Freud called this initial link preconscious memory; a space where former memories are linked allowing the psyche to create new memories. This preconscious space within the mind according to Freud’s topography of memory is subject, Freud claims ,to what he called “screen memories” deep links within the psyche between differing memories or creating a link in error; more commonly called Freudian slip and/or false memories. These screen memories can be built upon by the human psyche, unconsciously linking a childhood memory with a later seen photograph both of which are triggered when a subject is being called upon either by mnemonic memory or artificial memory. Bate closes his essay by describing how an artificial memory  of Fox-Talbots image of the Nelson monument had tied together his own personal experience and memory of the location, childhood memories of Nelsons Flagship and a book recently read on holiday. This unconscious link all contained within the mnemonic memory unpacked itself when Bate started to define the essay, due to his interest in Nelson but more importantly in Fox-Talbots image. 


In summary, when considering the composition of a scene, I should take into account nor only my own feelings and emotions regarding the scene but the potential reactions of those who do not have my experiences. Any scene photographed may contribute not only to my own memory or my familial memories but may contribute into a wider communal memory. Bate demonstrates the valid point that not only do photographs capture historical, emotional, sublime and beautify scenes but they can have many more potential meanings than we first initially give them. The essay also helps in the discussion about why particular pieces of art can create such a wide range of responses in differing viewers.