The MEMOIRE INVOLONTAIRE project is a personal exploration of representation and memory in 8mm family film created in 1940 and interpreted in the digital age.
Through the gaze of a man operating an 8mm film camera long before my birth, I view both familiar and unknown adults interacting with each other and children in ways concerning but familiar. Slow motion playback of 1-hour-B&W and 1-hour-color film reveals detail such as large blue stripes in a wide ruffle sundress that bring to mind the blue couch next to a breezy open window where I sat, age 4, watching a black and white television with a man by my side - the filmmaker himself. Marcel Proust named this recognition of the past in the present moment Memoire Involontaire (In Search of Lost Time, 1871-1922).
In 2012 I began digitally painting degraded memory fragments to reveal ghosts in selected quarter-inch film frames made still in isolation, enhancing and enlarging each one significantly. These images comprise Phase I and II of the project entitled ‘Then Was Now’ and ‘In Situ’ (see website). In January 2019, I introduced code to weave my present into this perceived time-space. I customized an algorithm to scan pixels of enhanced still frames to sort them in rows by hue, saturation, or brightness values and blended the grid with the painted still frame, generating a unique variation - a unified ‘now’.
In film photography, light and silver halide crystals coalesce in the process of creating an image. Digital capture is a bare mathematical calculation of time and light converted directly to code and the image’s link to physical reality and verifiable memory slips. MEMOIRE INVOLONTAIRE still frame variations mimic the generalized, pervasive anxiety and loss generated by this severance and other disruptions of the digital age.