Keith Eastwell Fine Art Photography

Resemblance and Echoes ‘The photograph and sensory memory’ (Part 2)

Blog > Resemblance and Echoes ‘The photograph and sensory memory’ (Part 2)
21/01/2015 - 16:13


Within my archive of images I noticed, despite taking many thousands of photographs, there were many missing events that had gone unphotographed. I took many photographs at school and for forty years these images have never altered, the individuals remain thirteen and fourteen, the photograph grows old, the people in them do not. Curiously, today many would be as unrecognisable as all those who’s likeness I failed to capture.

So as a visual historical diary I had likeness but no thought, many events were missing: family and friend’s, play grounds and the countryside of Essex that for whatever reason, I failed to point a camera at. In comparison, the rephotographed subjects and landscape held a resemblance, offered an echo of time passed but the memory remained as fragmented as the images, for as much as they revealed, they only highlighted how much was missed.



The photograph is regarded as an aide-memoire.4 Taking a photograph, signals a moment - an event, worthy of remembering. Objects break, landscapes alter and people die but the photograph survives, allowing it to be used together with our own memories, offering insight into lives passed, or events long since forgotten. Many hundreds of millions of family portraits and snapshots reaffirm the memory value of photographs and the photograph’s perfection in time stilled.


Sensory memory:

Sensory memory works as a filter for the mind; we have one for each sensory channel:

Information is passed from sensory memory to short-term memory by way of attention, and only transferring those stimuli, which are of interest at a given time. Short-term memory is like a scratch pad for temporary recall of the information under process.

For instance, to understand what we read we must be able to hold, using short-term memory, the beginning of the sentence. For comparison, if short-term memory were a note pad and ink, the pad would be a small post-it note and the ink would fade very quickly. Short-term memory can begin to decay in (200 ms.)

Long-term memory ‘LTM’ is the minds hard drive, information can be moved there after a few seconds and unlike our short-term/working memory there is little decay. LTM can also be divided between two types:

Episodic represents events and experiences in serial form, using this we can reconstruct events at a given point from our past. Semantic memory controls structured records of facts, together with concepts and skills acquired. Information within semantic memory is derived from episodic - we can add new facts and concepts from our experience. Apart from storage, LTM also allows an individual to delete and retrieve.

This represents only a very brief outline as to the working of human memory however; this outline is intended as a backdrop to the follow point:


4. Oxford dictionaries: mid 19th century: from French aide-mémoire, from aider 'to help' and mémoire 'memory ' Deleting memory is understood to be caused by decay and interference, while emotional factors can also greatly affect LTM.5


To continue in part 3...



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