This essay describes an in-progress arts-based dissertation project that attempts “visual life writing” (Sinner & Owen, 2011) as photographic memoir. Spanning several years to date, the series addresses the idea of visually archiving the self through an everyday photographic ritual. Ruminations on loss, presence/absence, and the passage of time are given creative and emotional consideration from behind the camera. Through narrative reflections on my experiences as an artist, teacher, and researcher, the process of art-making is brought alongside the images themselves. Drawing as its subject matter selected scenes, encounters, and objects from everyday life, I share how the project came to be and discuss some of its challenges, influences, hopes, and new understandings. Methods including near-daily photo walks, rephotography, visual journaling, and creative writing are enacted in an effort to locate the potentially pedagogical within a search for memory (Ricoeur, 2004). Some issues related to photographic practice and research are considered, including camera ethics and the vulnerability inherent in memoir-based work. Presented as an offering in-the-making, this is an unfinished, ever-evolving passion project still in a process of being understood. A small selection of digital images from the Visual Memoir Project (VMP) series are included, all by the author.
visual life writing, photography, walking, memoir, ethics, loss, Sontag
Copyright © 2016 Blake Smith
"The Visual Memoir Project: Searching For An Art of Memory,"
Marilyn Zurmuehlen Working Papers in Art Education: Vol. 2015
, Article 7.
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