You always hear about how our sense of smell is the one sense that is most strongly linked to our memory. You can get a whiff of warm pancakes, melted butter and fresh maple syrup and can be instantly right back in your grandfather’s kitchen as he is flipping out a new stack of hot cakes for you. The same can be said for not only the places in our past but also the objects we once interacted with. Just like that smell of warm pancakes, a red 1965 Malibu can remind you of your father. It may not even have to be red, but rather a Malibu in general, and instantly when you see one you are taken back to the driveway of your childhood house. Seemingly mundane objects and places become surrogates for not only the people in our life and past, but also become the great signifiers of the most memorable times of our life.
Even more powerful than the smell of pancakes or a passing Malibu is the effect a photograph can hold. Images are the direct link into our memory because photographs are memories frozen in time. Gazing into a photograph of our past brings us right back to whatever event that transpired before the camera. Vacations, holidays and pictures of friends and family remind us of these selected moments. It is these moments that make up who we are and tell the story of our history.
This project grew out of what was just another typical and mundane Saturday at a college I work at. Walking to the photography lab I came across a trash pile from the drafting department. Someone was doing some house cleaning and tossed out a number of model houses made by what I could assume was students from some time ago. In this pile of what one person saw as trash I saw my childhood home, a nice 1950’s single story track home. Instantly I was taken back to a number of memories and shenanigans associated with that house.
Even more intriguing to me was the thought of what these dioramas would look like once photographed. This image would not only contain the child like excitement associated with model building but would also represent specific moments in my past. Combined with the connotation of being a photograph, the image would be a facsimile of that frozen instant of history. The object, the place and the photograph all work in unison to create the memory. Each with its own significance, and each would not be complete without the other.
The work in HiStory deals with the issues of remembrance and the representation of locations in my past, from childhood to adult. The models I create and then photograph become simulacra for the places I once lived, visited or simply hung out. They tend to offer more than the recreation of the original experience as well, often conjuring up more than just the one original memory of that specific life experience.
Objects of significance in our past are forever tied to the places in which we once interacted with them, thus becoming signifiers of past events and the place where the memory occurred. More often than not, these events can be seen as rather non-momentous in nature, yet they forge out the pieces of our past, becoming objects themselves in the chronicle of one’s life story.