Captured & Left Behind

July 26, 2011

I was asked to create an online piece for Skewed Visions on the concept of identity. Other than that, there were no rules or boundaries. I’ll be honest, panic set in. I didn’t want to do something just for the sake of doing it and was having a hard time finding inspiration. I first started thinking in very literal terms, taking photos of things from my childhood or things that reminded me of my brother who passed away 3 years ago.

Nothing felt quite right until I went into an antique store. I was struck by all of the photos for sale; photos that have lost their meaning and sense of place. While I found the photographs interesting on their own, what I felt from them was an emptiness. These photographs are simply objects that have been left behind and now exist out of context.

The audio used was generated from a photo of my brother. More details on that below.

Note: If you view at full screen on a large monitor, please turn off scaling to view the images at best quality.

The details

I shot over 1,000 photos at antique stores in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Arizona over the course of 6 months. To keep the piece under 4 minutes, I narrowed my selection down to about 60 photographs, arranged them and started looking for a way to make them into something more than a simple slideshow.

I was thinking about mixing in images of my brother to somehow show the contrast between photos that do and don’t have meaning to me, but that felt forced and like I’d be using taking advantage of my brother somehow.

I decided that I wanted to use audio to string everything together, but struggled with what to use. There’s a picture of my brother that sits in my dresser drawer and is etched into my memory. I wanted to use it somehow, so I found software that renders audio from the photo’s contrast and saturation information. The result was just what I wanted and compliments the photos well.

The audio used was generated from this photo of my brother.

I’m not entirely sure that I’m done with this project, but I feel good about where it’s at for now. I’ve got a lot of outtakes and other photos of weird antique store finds that I may put in a follow up post.

I’d love to know what you think.