14 March - 4 April 2008
Curated by Dr Diane Charleson
Digital Remembering is a multiple video installation experience, exploring the themes of memory, place and identity. The work of six video installation artists is featured, each taking the viewer on a separate yet integrated journey. The works are dynamic, interactive and reflective and feature such diverse images as the Melbourne urban landscape, Victoria in the fifties and the Berlin Wall.
"The film of memory admonishes us that all we can certainly know of history are the signs left for us standing in remembered places, but we can only sense again and each time differently their finite connections, the moving webs that ensnare them with us and makes a past and all that slides between."1
Digital Remembering brings together the work of six digital artists. There is diversity in their work yet it is linked by common threads. The viewer is invited to immerse themselves in the projected visual imagery that explores themes of memory, place and identity; to reflect on and create their own stories and to engage with the possibilities of remembering through the personal narratives that constitute the process of memory creation. In producing, organizing and re-viewing the images of the past, the visual becomes subject to multiple meanings in the present with acts of remembering and forgetting. As Kuhn puts it "the past is made in the present."2
Three works in this exhibition use family chronicling through home video making. They focus on family memories and acts of remembering through the medium of re-lived super 8 home movies. They present the viewer with visual moments of recollection and revelation that have become embedded in the memory, of a memory highlighted against the background of family fictions. The process of observing the past, the split between the experiential self and the familial other self is brought into sharp focus.3 These images of the family construct both a presence and an absence, that which is no longer present.
Dancing with Mrs Dale (Diane Charleson 2008) explores the relationship between the viewer and the viewed. Charleson invites us to bear witness to a most intimate moment. Home movies that have long been forgotten have been resurrected and viewed for the first time. They provide the viewer with a haunting and random selection of memories that allow for multiple readings and narratives that chronicle the passage of time. They signify rites of passage and construct narratives of family life.4
Pauline Anastasiou's work is a recollection and interpretation of moments and events lived by her family. The resulting work is an evocative, reflective series of videos that hedge the definition of 'everyday'. Each piece of footage was originally taken as a record of events. How does each participant's memory vary? What authority resides in the digital record? How much authority is seized by the filmmaker as she edits the record to her liking? It is something no less important - and ephemeral - than the family relationships that track through these records of the everyday.
Tellyface a Noun: tell/ee/face: A person whose face you know from television but whose name you can't quite remember is extracted from the original screenplay of the same name by Barbara Gliddon. Here, memory, identity, time and place intersect in a ghost writer's sitting room as the past appears on her television in the shape of her favourite soap opera star from 1968.The installation tells through visual grabs and related text the ghost writer's incomplete, partly remembered story as she realises that she may be the unreliable narrator of her own life and that her small screen idol from long ago has feet of clay.
The computer is in essence a memory technology ideally suited to the portrayal of the fluid and multi-layered constructions of the past.5 Remembering Bogle Chandler (Rebecca Young 2008) extends the theme of inconsistent and impermanent memory in her online hypermedia narrative that recounts the story of the Bogle-Chandler case, a sensational double-murder that gripped Australia during the long summer of 1963. In this narrative the viewer shifts forwards and backwards in time and space whilst comparing eyewitness accounts of the murders. The story becomes less about solving the crime and more about the mysteries of individual experience, memory and interpretation. It is the story of an impossible murder, a puzzle without a solution where objective truth becomes impossible to grasp because it does not exist.
Memory can be seen as a projection onto the places and sites of the landscape. Geographical locales become overlaid with mythology and the human imagination becomes embodied memory.6 Chrysalis (Trewlea Peters 2008) is an expedition through fleeting moments of regeneration. From their exterior, factories appear to be lying dormant, awaiting transformation from industrial sites into luxury warehouse apartments. But inside a vibrant organism has developed from the underbelly of Melbourne's street culture. Occupied briefly by squatters, skaters and graffiti artists, these spaces come alive with the street art of nomadic Melbournians, a haven for those displaced in our consumerist society. Fragments of this visual transformation have been captured eternally in this installation.
This is complemented by Janis Lesinskis' Akihabara (2008). Based on a series of photographs of Tokyo's famous electronics retail precinct in 1984, this video piece traces a return to a specific time and space through a series of visual processes applied to transform the original photographs into moving images. It is a revisualization that progressively emphasizes reinterpretation over the original first capture of an image. Over a twenty-four year period Lesinskis has deconstructed threads of the orientalist attraction that led to his original visit of Tokyo. Another narrative thread emerging in this work relates to three 'chapters' of media technology: silver halide based photography, analogue video and digital video effects and compositing. The finished video work is built on three returns to the original images using different media and tools. Each iteration represents a migration of memory from past to present, where place and time is explored visually. The depicted space increasingly foregrounds an imagined space as image layers.
Dr Diane Charleson
Creative Media, RMIT University
1 Routt, W., The Film and Memory, http://www.latrobe.edu.au/screeningthepast/19/film-of-memory.html, 2005.
2 Kuhn, A., "Remembrance in family snaps: the meaning of domestic photography", in Family Snaps: The Meaning of domestic photography, Jo Spence and Patricia Holland (eds.), London: Virago, 1991.
3 Flynn, B., Memory fragments as scene makers, http://www.latrobe.edu.au/screeningthepast/firstrelease/fr1201/bffr13a.htm, 2005.
5 Tarrant, P., Planet Usher: Amn interactive Home Movie, http://staff.ci.qut.edu.au/~tarrant/Usher/essay, 2003.
Rebecca Young - http://www.rebeccayoung.org/boglechandler/movie.html