Memento Non Rasa – When the Imagination Alters Memory

During breaks from the insane pace of life, I try to spend a moment looking back on where I have been, what I have done, the people I have met. I do this to gain some sense of placement in the world and to figure out my next movements. Frankly, this is one of the tasks that I dread most, because memories are not always the friendliest ghosts. Even the happy pieces because racked with a sense of loss, and the bad moments cause us to wonder why we failed, but still, for all that, our memories need to be reflected on if we are ever going to make sense of ourselves. Photography has always been the way I keep track of things; my ragtag collection of photos, negatives, and press clippings help pull back the fragmentary pieces of time that would otherwise be lost to the aging mind we all possess.

While scanning images, I found a few negatives that were just too damaged from poor processing or scratches, so I decided to spend some time playing imaginary with them. The first was the above photo from Egypt. For anyone who has not been so luckily unfortunate to have travelled to the great pyramids, they are pretty much unphotographable [not a real word, but defines the pyramids]. I would hazard that very few untouched images of these monuments ever make it to tourist brochures, because tourists would realize their proximity to the city and the garbage/tourist traps that envelope the entire area. Regardless, this was a place that held some heavy weight for me and I tried desperately to take a good photo here, but got nothing. The best was the above image, but the sky was washed out from pollution and the negative was scratched to pieces. With an hour of time in Photoshop CS4, I created the above composite from the photo and another image I took with the same camera in a torrential storm. I know…it is not “real or authentic”, but I do rather like the ominous nature of it and would prefer to remember Egypt’s great monuments like this.

The second experiment was with Himeji Castle. While not damaged, I felt like experimenting with the colours of the foliage to add depth and to make it look like it would in my imagination as if I came upon it a century ago. Some people hate this type of select colourization, and I understand the whole argument of authenticity, but how many people can actually tell what has been altered anymore?  Perhaps this is how the samurai would have found their castle in the Fall.

Be willing to forgo experience Of the unpeopled world beyond the sun.

In recent years I have struggled to come to terms with the fact that no one is truly unique in the world sense. Our work, our lives, our art is repeated infinitely across time and the planet, and we can become insignificant if we dwell too long on this idea. Maybe that is the sacrifice we have to make when we travel and learn just how expansive our world is, and maybe such understanding is meant to show us how much more important it is to just enjoy our time here versus always trying “to get ahead”. Maybe we just need to set sail again and be content with experience versus mastery. The photo above was taken with the now forgotten Pentax Spotmatic camera on the coast of England in Brighton. In this case I have run it through multiple filters and turned the image into a black and white photograph; sometimes the imagination is better than the reality of this world.

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