Archiving family memory

REMEMBER the days of thumbing through sallow pictures in photo albums and having slide nights with riveted neighbours?

Emily Hornum’s exhibition The Substance of Memory explores how new media has altered the family archive and the way we relate to our past.

Ms Hornum, a 28-year-old visual arts student, has laid bare her own past in her exhibition, using photos, slides and audio of her deceased father, and grandmother who suffers Alzheimer’s.

“I lost my father when I was 11 and my grandmother has Alzheimer’s, so preserving family memories has always been important to me,” she says.

• Emily Hornum is modernising the dreaded slide night experience. Photo by Matthew Dwyer

• Emily Hornum is modernising the dreaded slide night experience. Photo by Matthew Dwyer

“My grandmother is 82, but in the past five years her memory has deteriorated quite rapidly, and we have recorded her speaking about the past.

“With the rise of camera phones, photographs have gone from being keepsakes to a form of communication: their role has changed considerably.”

Ms Hornum’s exhibition—employing a scrum of VHS, projections, multi-panel video, audio, slides and photography—immerses visitors in a nostalgic cauldron of noise and vision.

“Digital media has changed the way we capture, record, store, share, tag and narrate our memories,” Ms Hornum says.

“And because of this shift to new media we’re now also photographing so much more.”

The Substance of Memory, at the Project Space in ECU Mount Lawley, opens on January 29.

by STEPHEN POLLOCK

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