Mavis C. Pitman Exhibition Fellowship, Rice University, 2014
Digital storage enables us to archive ephemera from our personal experiences- photographs, videos, and journals- increasingly small spaces. Yet these records are still not immune to damage and deterioration. Though digital files are not indestructible, the digital snapshot is perceived as the documentation of an immortal moment, without the potential to decay.While studying abroad in Prague, I kept a visual journal of my experiences and encounters within the city through photography. After a hard drive malfunction, I lost my personal digital archive, proving the impermanence of my collection of memories. Specialists retrieved most of the files, but in the process my photos were altered and distorted. The original deterioration of information caused the images to be sliced up, recolored, and deleted blocks of information at random during the recovery.
While I was attempting to preserve the memorable moments of adjusting to a new city, I lost most of the material that I never conceived would disappear. Photographs are not eternal, but our belief otherwise suggests that photography is ultimately an acknowledgment of our own mortality. In the act of taking a photo, we recognize the inevitability of our own death, the moment when we will forget the experiences we are trying to preserve. It is paradoxical that I outlived the supposed immortal recordings of these memories, reinforcing the tie of memory, mortality, and the snapshot.
I have reincarnated the recovered memories from digital files into a physical state by printing them on silk and reassembling them in grid, a format that alludes to the pixels of the file. As sculptures, these images become fragile living objects, vulnerable to the environment. The images become brighter with the light of day and the air passing through the space gives them breath as they move back and forth. Hanging together in space, the memories also converse with one-another, creating a larger narrative of my experiences.
Re-embodied, transformed, and made physical, these images now only allude to their original representation. Just as they are delicate and impermanent, the memories connected to them are evolving and cannot be preserved forever. By materially constructing the images, I have given these memories a new stage within their lifecycle.