Time, Memory and Identity: the Polaroid Project

This body of work began as a creative exercise when I discovered a stash of old Polaroids that I had taken years before.  I had originally intended to use these as source imagery for larger drawing based . They were never intended to be considered artworks themselves and were not treated as such.  Over the years, the photos were inadvertently exposed to extremes of heat and cold as well as general wear and tear and were showing signs of emulsion distortion and color fading when I rediscovered them. It was this aged and worn “found object” quality that appealed to me.  They were relics of both my former self and my former work.

In an effort to preserve them from further deterioration, I decided to scan the original Polaroids. Then as luck would have it, my scanner malfunctioned in the most delightful way and produced digital files that further distorted the colors and fractured the original images.  I seized upon this happy accident and turned my focus to the scanned images and through trial and error and editing, I have put together a group of images that I find compelling. I have tried to remain true to the chance element and the original distortions in these works and have done very little to alter the images that were created through the scanning process--aside from some minimal clean-up and reconstruction of the frames.  I am interested in retaining their found object quality, flaws and all, and in highlighting their sense of being a picture of a picture.

As a whole, these images have come to represent an exploration of identity and memory and how those things can become blurred and fractured with time.  Because many of the originals were photos of myself from almost 20 years ago, they have taken on added meaning for me. This project drew me into contemplation around questions of Identity/Self and what remains if anything over time. Can our memories be trusted and how do they shift and change with each recollection?  And what about the creation of the story of our lives which is built upon these memories?  Is changing our identity as simple as changing how we piece together our memories and experiences?  Clearly it doesn't appear to be that easy, but contemporary neuroscience and contemplative practices seem to suggest that we are not as fixed as we have believed ourselves to be.