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Researching the subject of Memory

Moore, R. (2006) Hollis Frampton (nostalgia), Afterall, London

“…the vast organism, which passes through all of us and through which we pass, called consciousness. The consciousness of the passing of time, the density, the sense that something will happen. […]Time is a name for something, which is a consciousness, which is a kind of irreducible condition of approaching, of being conscious of other things …”[1] p 5

incarnadine p 6

“ Nostalgia is customarily and by definition tied to place. ‘The nostos,’ writes contemporary philosopher Edward Casey, ‘that is occasioning so much algos or pain … is a return to the home place’. [2]

Edward Casey, (1987) The World of Nostalgia, Man and his World, no. 20 pp361-84

He insists that occasions in which we are nostalgic about something that is placeless are rare. Much of the growing body of literature that seeks to redeem nostalgia from a passive loss in history to an active engagement with the past deals with a physical return. “[3]

“… For Frampton true presence, unfettered by the past or thoughts of the future, was ecstasy. (Frampton, H. (1983) Circles of Confusion pp96-99. Nietzsche called it happiness. P 15

ensorcell p 16 : enchant; fascinate

“The past maintains an abiding strain on representation, even, and perhaps especially in those cases where history and context appear entirely absent, as in the static old photograph. Photographs absorb and contain time. Photographs on their own won’t serve the demands of historical representation and neither will a chronological account of events. Historical linearity, thinking of history as just one thing after another, was the crucial nemesis (adversary) for historical materialists such as……

Siegfried Kracauer, Walter Benjamin and Theodor W. Adorno “

Kracauer …”truth occurs – if at all – only in the realm of nature and only with the advent of a new temporality which is no longer the temporality of historical linearity”. [4]

Benjamin describes his Arcades Project as “ liberates the enormous energies of history that are bound up in the ‘once upon a time’ of classic historiography”.[5]

Adorno looked to what he once called ‘Natural-History’ to retransform concrete history into what he called ‘dialectic nature’, so that history no longer reclined as something natural.[6]

“The cinema is polytheuristic (the belief in or worship of more than one god ) and theogonic (

Phillipe Dubois suggests …”the photograph is a sensitive surface (like the soul) burned by the light that strikes it and gnawed from within by the very things that allow it to exist: light and time”.[7]

With the photograph absolutely exposed, at this stage, all that is latent in the photograph is of utmost dramatic concern. What is latent, of course, is lost time …” [8]

The randomness and the amorphousness of the informe.

Frampton is concerned with the capacity of language to capture time. In his essay ‘Incisions in History / Segments of Eternity’ he recounts the story of a racing driver who lost control of his car at 620 mph. The driver, Breedlove, made a tape to record what he experienced during the seconds when the car hit telegraph poles, flipped over in the air and landed in a pond. The tape lasts one and a half hours – yert what he describes was actually over in seconds.


(The images shown in my 3 chosen slides are not important in themselves – though they have a tenuous connection of boats and water, which could cause them to be confused or mixed up).

Extra-textual reference

Polyhedron – (many sided )

(Does the photographic image also require imagination?)

Underneath the many temporal layers of the film resides a formless, archaic past that technologies, from time to time, might partially reveal. Across the surface of these layers of time is the visceral present, the fire that engages us in it now. – Moore p 51

Benjamin; ‘It’s not that what is past casts its light on what is present or what is present its light on what is past; rather, image is that wherein what has been comes together in a flash with the now to form a constellation. In other words, image is dialectics at a standstill. For while the relation of the present to the past is a purely tempora, continuous one, the relation of what-has-been to the now is dialectical; is not progression but image, suddenly emergent. ..” The Arcades Project page 462

Foster, J. (2011) Memory, ‘New Scientist’, Vol.212, Issue 2841 pp 24 – 29

The Making of Memories ;

Unlike a DVD or computer hard drive, our brains do not faithfully replay our previous experiences as they happened. Certain pieces of information and events stick in the mind but others disappear or become distorted. Sometimes we even seem to remember things that never happened.

Over the past few decades, researchers have built a good understanding of the factors that influence the contents of our memories.

Consciously recalled events or pieces of information are known as explicit memories, whereas implicit memory refers to experiences that influence your behavior, feelings or thoughts without you actively recollecting the events or facts.

When we retrieve a memory, we also re-encode it, during which process it is possible to implant errors.

Related to the misinformation effect are “recovered” and false memories.

The capacity to retain information has been the subject of study and analysis since ancient times. Plato famously compared our memory to a wax tablet that is blank at the moment of birth, taking impressions of events from our lives, which build up over our lifetime. It has become clear, through more recent studies, that, unlike Plato’s wax tablet, human memory had many different components.

Sensory Memory: During every moment of an organism’s life, its eyes, ears and other sensory organs are taking in information and relaying it to the nervous system for processing. Our sensory memory store retains this information for a few moments, so …. Twirling a sparkler, for example, allows us to write letters and make circles in the air using the transitory impression made by its path.

Memories can fade and become less distinctive if the storage of other memories interferes with them, perhaps because they are stored in overlapping neural assemblies.

[1] Hollis Frampton interviewed at MOMA, An evening with Hollis Frampton, 8 March 1973

[2] Edward Casey, (1987) The World of Nostalgia, Man and his World, no. 20 pp361-84

[3] Moore, R. (2006) Hollis Frampton (nostalgia), Afterall, London p 8

[4] Schlüpmann, H. (1987), Kracauer’s Phnomenology of Film, trans Levin, T. New German Critique, no 40, p 113

[5] Benjamin, W. (1999), The Arcades Project, Cambridge and London, Belknap Press p 463

[6] Adorno, T. (1984), The Idea of Natural -History, trans Hullot-Kentor, Telos, no 60, p 117

[7] Dubois, P. Photography Mise-en-Film, trans Kirby, L. Fugitive Images (1995), Bloomington, Indiana University Press, p169

[8] Moore, R. (2006) Hollis Frampton (nostalgia), Afterall, London p 24

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