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" It is a nostalgic time right now, and photographs actively promote nostalgia. Photography is an elegiac art, a twilight art. Most subjects photographed are, just by virtue of being photographed, touched with pathos. An ugly or grotesque subject may be moving because it has been dignified by the attention of the photographer. A beautiful subject can be the object of rueful feelings, because it has aged or decayed or no longer exists. All photographs are memento mori. To take a photograph is to participate in another person’s (or thing’s) mortality, vulnerability, mutability. Precisely by slicing out this moment and freezing it, all photographs testify to time’s relentless melt. "

- Susan Sontag, On Photography, 1977

Charles Fernyhough: “Roughly four decades of research (with historical precedents that stretch back much further) tell us that [autobiographical] memory is essentially reconstructive. A memory is stitched together in the present moment from several different kinds of information, in a process that’s subject to the current beliefs and biases of the person doing the remembering. But surveys tell us that many people remain wedded to a view of memories as immutable, static possessions. Why do we get memory so wrong? One possible reason is that memories are precious to us: they define us in many ways, and so we react with discomfort to the idea that they are the constructions of a story-telling mind.” (via Top 10 books on memory | Books |

Darran Anderson: Where, when, why is Scarfolk?
Richard Littler: Scarfolk is a town stuck in a perpetual loop of the 1970s. It’s in the northwest of England, but it could be almost anywhere in Britain. I created it because I’m in interested in, amongst other things, memory and how it changes. Memories are relative; they give the illusion of objectivity, but of course they’re actually highly subjective, dynamically so, and are defined as much by the changing present as the past. I initially wanted to preserve my earliest childhood memories before I lose them completely. I wanted to create an archive of sorts. But I’m also a bit like that Spanish woman who botched the Ecce Homo painting and created ‘potato Jesus’ – I fill in the inevitable gaps in memories and ultimately create something different to a ‘restoration’. (via Features - Honest Ulsterman)

"Yes, the ubiquity of a once dominant media is again receding. Like most of the technology we leave behind, CDs are are being forgotten slowly. Eventually, even the fragments disappear. No more metallic shards of broken discs glinting from the gutter. No more old strands of tape cassette tangled in tree branches like tinsel. We stop using old formats little by little. They stop working. We stop replacing them. And, before long, they’re gone." (via The Library of Congress Wants to Destroy Your Old CDs (For Science) - Adrienne LaFrance - The Atlantic)

Vintage pictures shared online by accounts such as Retronaut, HistoryInPix and IndiaHistoryPic capture moments gone for ever, but as vividly as the here-and-now. It’s a heady mix of nostalgia and history (via 'Retronauting': why we can't stop sharing old photographs | Art and design | The Guardian)

" The city, however, does not tell its past, but contains it like the lines of a hand, written in the corners of the streets, the gratings of the windows, the bannisters of the steps, the antennae of the lightening rods, the poles of the flags, every segment marked in turn with scratches, indentations, scrolls. "

- Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities (Harcourt, 1972, p. 11)

(Source: urbangeographies, via jkalin)

Gene Tierney and Dana Andrews in Laura (Otto Preminger, 1944).

The Matter of Memory is an ongoing work that investigates the relationship between memory and place. This smart-phone application can make an audio recording tied to a specific location. When the user is about to record, they are presented with the question, “Why is this place important to you?” Once the recording is uploaded, users must be within 100 feet of the place where it was recorded to be able to listen to it. (via The Matter of Memory)


The following is excerpted from Clive Thompson’s book Smarter Than You Think: How Technology Is Changing Our Minds for the Better, out now from the Penguin Press. Is the Internet ruining our ability to remember facts? If you’ve ever lunged for your smartphone during a bar argument (“one-hit father of twerking pop star”—Billy Ray Cyrus!), then you’ve no doubt felt the nagging fear that your in-brain memory is slowly draining away. As even more fiendishly powerful search tools emerge—from IBM’s Jeopardy!-playing Watson to the “predictive search” of Google Now—these worries are, let’s face it, only going to grow. So what’s going on? Each time we reach for the mouse pad when we space out on the ingredients for a Tom Collins or the capital of Arkansas, are we losing the power to retain knowledge? The short answer is: No. Machines aren’t ruining our memory. The longer answer: It’s much, much weirder than that! (via Are search engines and the Internet hurting human memory? - Slate Magazine)


Portraits represented an ideal. It’s easy to mock them — they were the profile pictures of the aristocracy, in a sort of way — but they were crucial, tied to mortality, a method of preserving a person’s visage and affect. Jeeves puts it well: “The ambition [with portraiture] was not to capture a moment, but a moral certainty.” Subjects never looked exactly like their picture, yet their portraits were how they appeared. Portraits had permanence. You did not want to commit a permanent faux pas. (via Why Didn’t People Smile in Old Portraits? - Robinson Meyer - The Atlantic)