Mike Golding, Untitled 2010
Mike Golding will be exhibiting his new work ‘Remembrance’ at the Myles Meehan Gallery, Darlington Arts Centre from 29 July – 24 September 2011.
Free Gallery Talk: Friday 29 July, 12noon – 1pm.
When those we love die we continue to remember them, but they can only be glimpsed at the corner of the mind’s eye, never quite seeming to come into focus. Remembrance is an art project concerned with a recollection of the dead through the creation of fake photographic images using the creative possibilities of the forensic software E-Fit, used by police forces to construct images of human faces from witness interviews.
Memory recall is prompted by the visual qualities of the E-Fit software which contains a photographic database of face shapes, eye shapes, mouth size, hair style etc. In short, photographic fragments are assembled to create a recognisable image of a face. I am working with a number of participants who will be asked to remember people who have died. The resulting images will have the appearance of photographs, but they are inaccurate renderings shaped by the imprecision of recall, the state of mind of the respondent and the aesthetic qualities of photographic montage.
When researching the project, I worked with a Northumbria Police expert in E-Fit to create an image of my father who died in 2004. The resulting image does not completely resemble my father, but it does begin to and I was struck by the fact that I thought of him in terms of how I remembered him from my childhood rather than in later years. The resulting image has an uncanny quality, in that it hovers on the edge of believable photographic realism and exists as a kind of materialisation, a struggle to give memory substance.
In Remembrance I am proposing a reworking of photographic realism by appropriating forensic software, with its implications as evidence, to make a work of imagination in relation to the past. The project will involve the memories of others, operating as a social collaboration and a demonstration of how memory and photography work. From the prompting of memory a visual manifestation of memory will be produced which is both improbable and uncanny: the work can be seen as being related to the spirit photography of the nineteenth century in which the dead were supposedly manifested through the creation of fake photographs.
We have come to rely on the photograph because it bears an indexical trace of the past and comes to stand instead of memory. The idea of the photograph as inherently truthful has informed its usage since the nineteenth century. Photographic realism is a part of the social, political and psychological landscape which we inhabit.
That spirit photography is a result of fakery does not detract from the fact that it shows that there are other possibilities for photography outside of photographic realism, and that all photographs are potentially fake, as RJ Mitchell argues in The Reconfigured Eye, his analysis of the effects of digital technologies upon the photographic image.
The subject of Remembrance is partly an engagement with ideas about photography but it is also about the role of imagination in acts of memory and the essentially human trait of remembering or trying to remember.