Triggered Memory

14Nov06

By: Chelsey R.

“One of the first instincts of parents, after they have brought a child into the world, is to photograph it.  Given the speed of growth, it becomes necessary to photograph the child often, because nothing is more fleeting and unmemorable than a six-month-old infant, soon deleted and replaced by one of eight months…”

-Italo Calvino in Adventures of a Photographer

If everyone was so concerned with taking photographs to capture a moment, the moments would never truly be had.  To say that a photograph must be taken in order to remember what a child looked like three months ago, says that the parents are spending too much time worrying about preserving memories, instead of entrusting their minds to remember the important moments.  Are we relying too much on pictures to do what our memories are supposed to do?  What good is our memory and imagination if we constantly feel the need to have photographic evidence of what happened in front of us?  Will we get to the point that we no longer believe something happened unless there is a picture of it in front of us?  That the moment that just passed should have been photographed because it is so fleeting that the next moment will delete the previous moment. 

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One Response to “Triggered Memory”

  1. You ask, “Will we get to the point that we no longer believe something happened unless there is a picture of it in front of us?” Frankly, no, I don’t think so. But a photograph can provide the viewer with a direct, physical link to that captured experience, which can be comforting. For example, my great-grandmother will never leave Japan to see where I live and study in Philadelphia, but I can send her a picture of me on Broad Street and she has a much more vivid idea than her aging imagination could provide her.

    I agree with your point that it is important for one to experience a moment first-hand without using a camera as crutch for the memory and imagination. However, there is value in using photographs for just that reason, as our memories are, unfortunately, capricious; our imaginations are often inadequate when it comes to re-creating or simply creating an experience– and photographs are not.


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