Keith Eastwell Fine Art Photography

Resemblance and Echoes ‘The photograph and sensory memory’ (Part 3)

Blog > Resemblance and Echoes ‘The photograph and sensory memory’ (Part 3)
28/01/2015 - 13:45


Information retrieval


There are two types of information retrieval: recall and recognition. Recall simply means the information drawn from stored memory. In contrast recognition only confirms the information has been seen before. And here lies the point, recognition retrieval is not complex, the information it receives acts only as a cue, a catalyst for more detailed recall.

Sensory memory in its entirety is complex, the information retained for retrieval can encompass a multitude of senses, filling the minds eye with not only episodic, moving images but a sense of emotion, feelings, sight, sound, smell and taste together with a sense of being within a three dimensional space.

In contrast the photograph can only record the surface appearance of what has been and not the complexities associated with sensory memory. As a document of evidence6 the photograph promises much but can deliver very little. Catherine Keenan (1998) noted that not only do photographs supplement memory; they can also configure it. A recent discovery of an old image and my memory of it can both confirm and negate Keenan’s statement, demonstrating how one can influence the other and vice versa.


Time stilled


I look at family photographs and they tell me a great deal, or more accurately that remind me as an aid to recall, many connected memories and details. To a stranger, the photographs on their own say and reveal very little. With no title, no idea of location or reason for the image having been taken, the open-ended narrative of the still photograph can be ambiguous: A photograph can be a two dimensional object of beauty and detail, reveling moments within moments normally lost to the human eye, or it can leave the viewer cold, having resolved and answered nothing.

My images remind me of a journey, my own journey. Within the concept of the journey there are stages, natural stopping points that could be termed place markers. These markers measure where I have come from, where I am are now and perhaps this information can influence my perception of how far I have to go.


5. Human memory. Available at: [Accessed March 2, 2011].

6. In her book ‘On Photography’ Sontag writes: Photographs furnish evidence. Something we hear about but doubt, seem’s proven when we’re shown a photograph of it



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