Memory of a Memory - Artist statement
Lawrence George Giles

Memory of a Memory is a collective memory project derived from individuals recollections of actual photographs that they hold dear, or which have a personal / specific memory attached to them.

The project aims to raise questions as to the validity of the photograph and its significance as both personal and cultural mnemonic. Focus here is placed upon the memory associated / attached to the photograph and not the interpretation or re-reading of the actual image itself, which via the very nature of the photography would be the norm in terms of our general reading / understanding of a photographic image.

The work reflects a series of themes and topics relating to the photographic image. In particular vernacular photography and the reading or re-reading of these once the original photographic reference points are removed from the process.

Memory of a Memory questions the process by which photographs prompt memories, the distance of the actual reading of images, the subjectivity of our own remembering, and the photograph as much as a trace of memory as of reality.

Focusing upon each individual's 'reading' or memory of the photograph it is the participants / audience who are invited to stand in for the photograph in order to redeem, release and reveal the inherent narratives contained within, resulting in a repository of private yet publically shared photographic memories.

Memory of a Memory - Artist statement
Lawrence George Giles

The underlying research reference points and themes supporting the Memory of a Memory project range from the historical endeavour and pursuit to fix the latent image. E.g. Daguerre, Fox Talbot & Fredrick Scott Archers (their physical processes to fix and reproduce latent images) to the overarching desire to fix its ultimate purpose, meaning and intent. E.g. Facsimile or purveyor of record or truth. Simple mechanical process or artistic endeavour and expressive medium?

Interests also relate to the need to categorise and index the photograph vernacular, fine art, documentary, social documentary, conceptual etc., which generally results in various approaches to photography being perceived as possessing a greater gravitas, value and worth than others - a stance that I would personally question.

Gaps in Meaning
I am also interested in the general process of reading an image, which could be briefly seen as follows:

Individuals who understand the meaning

Individuals misreading of the image especially archival photographs, due to a potential lack of understanding, experience or knowledge of times, events or those depicted within the photograph

Individuals, projecting their own reading onto the image, either via the above process or the association & comparison to other similar images.

Memory of a Memory - Artist statement
Lawrence George Giles

Reasoning / Rationale
Overall the intent is to shift focus away from the indexical nature of the physical photographic image and by doing so reveal the hidden narratives and memories associated / within and at the same time provide a greater resonance for an audience not directly related or affected by the original image itself.

In essence to release the photograph from its personal and indexical nature in terms of its over-ridding distractive yet inherent nature and content by creating flux from fixed to fluid, from personal to shared, from deeply individual to privately, yet publically shared.

By shifting focus away from the fixed visual nature of the physical photograph in order to re-release hidden narratives and meaning Memory of a Memory aims to provide a greater sense of fluidity to the actual reading of these images whilst opening up potential affiliation, import and significance for a wider audience in terms of there inherent narratives. To return, revisit, review, reflect, re-evaluate and reconsider. To re-return and to re-release.

I am also interested in how the photograph is as much a vestige of memory as of reality and the distance of the actual reading of images - the shifts in perception, understanding and meaning.

As Kelly states To move in for an intimate read of the vernacular family image and at the same time to pull back to see the whole, thus pushing and pulling the boundaries of viewing distance.(1)

Memory of a Memory - Artist statement
Lawrence George Giles

Reasoning / Rationale (cont)

As such with Memory of a Memory it is the participants / audience who are invited to stand in for the photograph. In this way I believe that the piece offers a way for an audience to enter into a dialogue with the work whilst to engaging them in debate surrounding the use, meaning and import of photography, especially vernacular photography.

Here Memory of a Memory is concerned with the unrealised redemptive possibilities contained in the photographic object (2) and aims to create a repository of these private yet publically shared memories, with each photograph acting as the catalyst for the retelling and release of a memory.

Indeed I am also interested in the act of remembering & the consequences of forgetting and photographys uneasy relationship to the real. As such Memory of a Memory attempts to bridge the gap from private to publically shared not the actual photographs themselves per se, more so the collective memories that are associated with these images. The narratives that these photographs possess for those outside of the family group and those not necessarily depicted within the actual photographs themselves. In this way each photograph acts as a repository of a memory which will ultimately form the basis for the final online/offline collective repository.

Memory of a Memory - Artist statement
Lawrence George Giles


I am conscious that no one sees your snapshots like you see them, and the fact that its almost impossible to see others images / collections quite like their custodians do and the significant role that these custodians play over time in terms of reminding and assisting us to read and understand the latent image whilst relating / building a story. This again is a significant point that Memory of a Memory attempts to re-address by freeing / releasing the images from their perceived visual context and affording a greater in or punctum for others.

I am also mindful of the fact that family photographs are frequently referenced in terms of speech and their close relationship to storytelling and this is another reason why I am interested in collecting and collating these visual descriptions and recollections.

It is also true that the conventions of the album tend to privilege certain stories. As such Memory of a Memory also endeavours to provide a more democratic platform whereby unheard voices might be aired.

Interests here lie in the process by which photographs prompt memories and the subjectivity of our own remembering. This subjectivity adds something to our perception of the photograph that is not apparent in the photograph itself because it is an interpretation of what we see, or an association with what we see.

Memory of a Memory - Artist statement
Lawrence George Giles

Summary (cont)

Memory of a Memory therefore takes these overarching themes as its overall premise / remit and attempts to raise questions regarding the mnemonic functions of photography in securing notions of the past. The photograph as a memory trigger and the notion of whos memory and past is it that is actually perceived or recorded.

Finally I am interested the sense of liminal qualities of a photograph and its potential to possess / cross the threshold between our physiological / psychological response in terms of photographic record, memory, meaning.

The photograph as sensory threshold where one perception or condition blends or collapses into another. Memories which outlast the original physical photograph and persists long after its photographic referent has ceased to exist.

For further info please email :

1. Angela Kelly, CAA Formal Paper Proposal Catharsis: Images of Post Conflict Belfast (2010)

2. Michael Newman, Salvage Tacita Dean: Seven Books
(Gottingen: Steidl/ARC/Muse dArt Moderne de la Ville de Paris, 2003), The Collection.

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