Fragments

Sightlines: Filmmaking in the Academy Issue 4 2022


Katherine Lorenzoni: Director, Researcher
Title of Work: Fragments
Year: 2020
Length: 7 minutes 5 seconds

RESEARCH STATEMENT

Background

This research begins with Jo Spence and Rosy Martin’s notion that the selective nature and the subsequent ignoring of aspects of family life such as power imbalances and contradictions creates a gap between our family images and our own memory (1992, 50). It aims to aesthetically explore the experience of such disjuncture and the drive to reconcile this. As such, it looks at the need to reassert against our family images as Fabien Arribert-Narce discusses, “the violence of a personal history, of desires and fantasies, and of shameful secrets…to write everything that is not shown” (2008, 56).

Fragments is a sequence of selected clips from what will become my PhD art video and is constructed using found family photographs, snippets of newly produced film and audio from my own family home videos. It intends to aesthetically explore the sensation that occurs with the act of remembering when such disjuncture and the need for resolve is experienced.

Contribution

This research contributes to creative practice methodology and video art exploring the aesthetics of memory using historical material including found photographs and home videos. It adds to existing methodological approaches by drawing on the sensory and embodied dimensions, aiming to make tangible the sensation of remembering a personal past among the saturation of family imagery and stories in our everyday lives when disjuncture is experienced.

This work looks to deviate from other methodological approaches which are grounded in sentimentality and nostalgia and which seek to reconstruct the past. Rather, this work focuses on what may at times be the haunting nature of the past and aligns with Pierre Nora’s belief that “we discover the truth about our memory when we discover how alienated from it we are” (2012, 65).

Significance

This research uses postproduction editing techniques to simultaneously intermesh and divide the imagery to aesthetically explore the complex nature of personal memory and the way it is both mediated by and produced through a myriad of external elements and conditions. It looks at Barry Schwartz’s idea that individual memory is shaped by information provided by other family members, family albums, other recordings and actual social events. As such, it explores this through the layering and opacity of the images and sound which works to interweave the two. The images are then simultaneously divided by the overlaying grid, looking to evoke the fragmented and multi-layered quality of such memory, involving various family imagery, stories and lived experience.

Fragments visually explores how these external elements that shape personal memory feature in the sensation that occurs with remembering when a disjuncture between our family images and stories and our own memory is experienced. As such, it intends to visually emulate and evoke this sensation, using various techniques to distort both visual and audio for a vague and sinister effect, akin to sensations of fragmentation, bewilderment and horror.

References

Arribert-Narce, Fabien. 2008. “Photographs in Autobiographies: Identities in Progress.” Skepsi Vol 1,  no.1. https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/8274824/v01i01/pdfs/Skepsi-01-2008-06-Photographs%20in%20Autobiographies-%20Identities%20in%20Progress%20Fabien%20Arribert-Narce.pdf (Accessed March 12, 2015).

Martin, Rosy and Jo Spence. 2003. “Photo-Therapy: Psychic Realism As a Healing Art?” In The Photography Reader, edited by Liz Wells. New York: Routledge, 402-409.

Nora, Pierre. 2012. “Realms of memory.” In Memory: Documents of Contemporary Art, edited by Ian Farr, 61-66. London: Whitechapel.

Schwartz, Barry. 2016. “Rethinking the Concept of Collective Memory,” in Routledge International Handbook of Memory Studies, edited by Anna Lisa Tota and Trevor Hagen, 9-21. London: New York: Routledge.

Spence, Jo. 1992. “Reworking the Family Album.” Metro Magazine: Media & Education Magazine, no. 89, Autumn. http://search.informit.com.au.ezproxy1.acu.edu.au/fullText;dn=197847444834443;res=IELAPA (Accessed February 15, 2015).

 

PEER REVIEW 1

Any study into family archival video footage and the documenting of family is pertinent to today’s media and technological climate. This field of research spans traditional film studies, sociological studies into culture and identity, media archeology, current media technologies such as social media platforms and the documenting of one’s life, and philosophical concerns in the fields of epistemology and phenomenology. Katherine’s project touches upon each of these and draws the fields of research together under the broad theme of memory; the sensation of memory, and the act of remembering itself. One key question underpinning the work is the relationship between recording technology and memory. To what extent might a record of an event, person or place actually replace or usurp the real, lived memory?

This project has a lot of potential due to the various tangents and fields of research being touched upon. The artistic concept is good, though I feel that the use of sound does not necessarily help or support the very relevant themes of memory and authenticity. I am referring to the edited sound – the exaggerated effects of slow motion and reverb / delay. I wonder how the video installation might play without sound at all.  Perhaps this could be an area for further discussion; the presence uses and misuses of sound in video work addressing memory. From a ‘sensation’ point of view, is memory both an audio and visual experience? Might this be a contributor to the disjuncture described? To add audio and create (recreate) a sense of an artificial and effected reality in fact might disrupt the fragmentary, more ethereal nature of the memory experience. If the sound does not help underpin or support the essential underlying theme, the artist should be confident in omitting it. Silence or simple observational soundtracks from the archival videos may be an elegant solution.

Katherine’s use of frames, motion and archival video achieves the desired effect of prompting thought about how video aids the navigation of memory and organization of life events. The various tableau’s give enough space for the viewer to reflect and simply look. To look without expectation, or be pressured by the work to attach meaning to all facets of the experience, demonstrates an aptitude for an effective video installation.

The work Katherine is putting forward here is strong in that it raises questions and prompts thoughts and discussion about how one might articulate memory through video installation, and about the significance of media technologies and our uses of them to navigate our own pasts, and therefore our present identities and futures. As this project continues, there is plenty of potential for innovation in the creative-practice-as-research area. The key to this innovation is methodology. Documentation of the experimentation process will give insight and shed light on the true nature of the images and collections of archival materials being gathered here. The themes of horror, bewilderment, and sinister effect are an exciting link to genre cinema and film studies and the extent to which these two branches of interest (genre and memory/sensation) can be married and articulated through the work is an exciting prospect and opportunity for Katherine.

 

PEER REVIEW 2

Which aspects of the submission are of interest/relevance and why?

Drawing on the rich theorisations of Spence and Martin, and Arribert-Narce, Fragments is an artefact that reflects and interrogates the potential of family memory through the scope of research and creative practice. The combination of still photography and moving image sequences, drawn together through postproduction processes of audiovisual art practice, evokes the fragmented and often inconsistent nature of personal memories. The subtle overlaying of photographs over the moving image element, in each set up, provides a rich visual evocation of or metaphor for memory that is supported by distorted sounds.

On a filmic level, this work engages with many of the concepts and possibilities explored by Agnès Varda, particularly in her short autoethnographic film Ulysse (1983), and of Chantal Akerman in her experimental film and exhibition-based artworks. It is documentary and experimental film that the artist engages with most explicitly in Fragments, however certain moments expand this to the histories of fiction cinema. For instance, a fragment of time spent at the floor of a tree-lined forest recalls Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo (1958), which is a moment that expands and contracts the potential of memory. These connections to existing film and audiovisual artefacts that straddle traditional and experimental structures enrich the new work’s experimental, interrogative practice.

Does the submission live up to its potential?

This submission intends to challenge and deviate from sentimentality and nostalgia in reflections on memories and past experiences, using creative practice to apply and explore the nuances of such reflections. The memories called upon in the moving image segments of this submission can seem linked to the found family photographs in ways that revert to overly conservative archetypes. The sensory and embodied dimensions called on through the presentation of these photographs will resonate with the participating audience, although this may not expand or surprise. However, the filmmaker has elicited and responded to Barry Schwarz’s reflections on memory formation, as outlined in the research statement, by drawing on existing methods of film practice and refracting them through an experimental mode.

How does the submission expose practice as research?

As an audiovisual artefact, Fragments responds to reflections on nostalgia and the past and interrogates typical processes of investigating memory. As creative practice research, the artefact and its theoretical perspectives enact a process of personal engagement, reflection, and disjuncture in the participant that will contribute, as evidence, to such processes. Given the frameworks drawn on in the author’s research statement, which could be expanded to engage greater detail, this work will contribute to a major video exploring personal memory and contribute to a discussion and theorisation within its field.

 

REVISED RESEARCH STATEMENT

Background

This research begins with Jo Spence and Rosy Martin’s notion that the selective nature and the subsequent ignoring of aspects of family life such as power imbalances and contradictions creates a gap between our family images and our own memory (1992, 50). It aims to aesthetically explore the experience of such disjuncture, whereby family imagery and personal memory provide discrepant accounts and the drive to reconcile this. That said, it looks at the need to reassert against our family images as Fabien Arribert-Narce discusses, “the violence of a personal history, of desires and fantasies, and of shameful secrets…to write everything that is not shown” (2008, 56).

Fragments is a sequence of selected clips from what will become my PhD art video and is constructed using found family photographs, snippets of newly produced film and audio from my own family home videos. It intends to aesthetically explore sensations of fragmentation, bewilderment and horror that occur with the act of remembering when such disjuncture and the need for resolve is experienced.

Contribution 

This research contributes to creative practice methodology and video art exploring the aesthetics of memory using historical material including found photographs and home videos. It adds to existing methodological approaches, drawing on the sensory and embodied dimensions of remembering a personal past among the saturation of family imagery and stories in our lives when disjuncture is experienced. It aims to make sensations of fragmentation, bewilderment and horror that may accompany such disjuncture tangible.

That said, this project has become an ongoing process of experimentation between sound and image, of collecting and continuously revising their inclusion in the work, their placement, movement, timing and postproduction editing techniques. In this way, Fragments looks to explore the relationship between the visual and audio aspects of memory in such experiences.

The imagery used within the project includes found photographs sourced from Op Shops and eBay over a period of a decade and newly produced film collected over several years of my daily life, travels and meanderings. The film was shot on my iPhone, making it an everyday practice as is a habit for many of us in capturing our lives as they occur. Over time, the intention of shooting became an act of turning the camera away from the happy snap, focusing rather, on imagery that is generally dismissed as unimportant, but that features strangely and at times disturbingly, in the act of remembering.

Fragments currently includes two elements of audio where firstly, the original sound from the newly produced film is maintained, albeit, slowed down. The overlaying sound, sourced from my own family video recordings, is again slowed down and selected as snippets of audio with a more universal quality. In slowing these two elements of audio, the work aims to highlight what may at times be the overpowering, hazy, abstruse and yet distinct quality of such memory. As an evolving process of experimentation, the audio and visual elements of this research aim to deviate from other creative practice methodological approaches to memory which are grounded in sentimentality and nostalgia and which seek to reconstruct the past. Rather, this work focuses on what may at times be the haunting nature of the past and aligns with Pierre Nora’s belief that “we discover the truth about our memory when we discover how alienated from it we are” (2012, 65).

Significance

This research uses postproduction editing techniques to simultaneously intermesh and divide the imagery to aesthetically explore the complex nature of personal memory and the way it is both mediated by and produced through a myriad of external elements and conditions. It looks at Barry Schwartz’s idea that individual memory is shaped by information provided by other family members, family albums, other recordings and actual social events. It explores this through the layering and opacity of the images and sound which works to interweave the two. The images are then simultaneously divided by the overlaying grid, looking to evoke the fragmented and multi-layered quality of such memory, involving various family imagery, stories and lived experience.

Fragments visually explores how these external elements that shape personal memory feature in the sensation that occurs with remembering when a disjuncture between our family images and stories and our own memory is experienced. That said, it intends to visually emulate and evoke this sensation, using various techniques to distort both visual and audio for a vague and sinister effect, akin to sensations of fragmentation, bewilderment and horror.

References

Arribert-Narce, Fabien. 2008. “Photographs in Autobiographies: Identities in Progress.” Skepsi Vol 1,  no.1. https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/8274824/v01i01/pdfs/Skepsi-01-2008-06-Photographs%20in%20Autobiographies-%20Identities%20in%20Progress%20Fabien%20Arribert-Narce.pdf (Accessed March 12, 2015).

Martin, Rosy and Jo Spence. 2003. “Photo-Therapy: Psychic Realism As a Healing Art?” In The Photography Reader, edited by Liz Wells. New York: Routledge, 402-409.

Nora, Pierre. 2012. “Realms of memory.” In Memory: Documents of Contemporary Art, edited by Ian Farr, 61-66. London: Whitechapel.

Schwartz, Barry. 2016. “Rethinking the Concept of Collective Memory,” in Routledge International Handbook of Memory Studies, edited by Anna Lisa Tota and Trevor Hagen, 9-21. London: New York: Routledge.

Spence, Jo. 1992. “Reworking the Family Album.” Metro Magazine: Media & Education Magazine, no. 89, Autumn. http://search.informit.com.au.ezproxy1.acu.edu.au/fullText;dn=197847444834443;res=IELAPA (Accessed February 15, 2015).

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