Flipping through my notes from a previous exhibition and I came across this reply I had written to the curator, answering her questions about the reason for my choice in working with a tangible medium. At the time I had just started working on my monsoon series.
My thoughts have changed considerably since then, but the idea remains. Re-reading what I had thought and expressed at a different time, with a different mind, is not unlike having conversation with myself. A conflation of timelines and narratives.
“Working with an analogue medium like film is like being on a train. At any given time, it’s only possible to be moving forwards while occasionally glancing backwards. Within a digital workspace, I’ve always be bothered by the lack of permanence in my work.
It might be intrinsically tied to memory. I am drawn to analogue as a permanent record of memory, doubting the infinite permutations of digital files. Yes, new technology offers a way to produce ‘better’ images by re-processing images captured in the past, essentially breathing new life into past work to produce clearer, cleaner, sharper, more vibrant images, but I don’t want them to be better or any different than what it already is. My digital archive is a complete mess. Blame it on a lack of a proper methodology but it is an increasingly dangerous trap, this habit of creating a thousand duplicates, editing and re-editing them, creating different versions only to lose track of them all. The mental timeline of memory turns into an abyss of chaos.
Photographs are the building blocks of a visual timeline within which we can retrace our steps, learn from mistakes, and ultimately build a narrative that allows us to better understand the path taken so far. Just like the stack of hand-written notebooks I have, this timeline of tangible material is my trusted companion on this path of creating. A thought written down a year ago remains there as it is, even a 100 years from today, quite unlike notes written on a computer. The same with photographs captured on film. Hold it up against the light today or in a hundred years and you will be looking at the exact same image.
If each photograph is touted to be special, the perfectly timed capture of a single moment, a frozen slice of life, then what is the value of a copy of it? Duplicate a file, edit them both in different ways, and you have two interpretations of the same moment. Which is real and which is fake? Which block do I use to build my timeline? Which piece do I fall back on when I retrace my steps? If the act of creating is an introspective expression, and each creation exists as a representation of the self, then I am more comfortable when there is a way for my present self to look back at the past self.”