The image after tomorrow - Digital culture & the family archive
Curran, Ann Marie
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Analogue photography has a rich history of putting into order the chaos of familial histories. Traditionally, the family album was dependent on object materiality for its existence. In its manifestation as book, memory-time could fly by at the turning of a page - one could pass through many years between album covers. That the same photographs might be in the collection of another and arranged in the same way was highly unlikely thus making the album personal, individual and something of a family heir(ess)loom. This is not to say that the analogue album was an unchallenged entity being as it was a site of multiple meanings, rather it was assigned stability status due to its situation as a gathering of meanings. The advent of digital photography, with its emphasis on multiplicity and fragmentation, brings its own ordering system that is changing the visual landscape of the contemporary family album. This landscape is sometimes invisible but always present - a rose may be a rose but an image may be an algorithm. The different components of digital photography that impact on the concept and object 'album' - image production, distribution, use and collection - have been transformed as if born from that impossible demand of 'I want it yesterday!'. The digital organisation of family photography is in tum making its mark on memory, imagination, narrative, perception and most sensual of all, materiality. The analogue gathering is becoming a digital scattering and the photograph's 'what has been' - its indexical status-may be found in the twilight of the icons.
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