ALINE SMITHSON – Los Angeles, California

Fugue State
Fugue State speaks to the potential loss of the tangible photograph in future generations. I observe my children, part of the most documented generation in history, creating thousands of images for their social media outlets, but am painfully aware that they have never made a photographic print and will most likely have no physical photographs to pass down to their grandchildren. This loss of the photograph-as-object, as something tangible to be circulated through the decades, reflects the fading away of specific memories and identities, and the loss of cultural and familial histories in forms that we associate with family preservation.

The photographs created for this series sit in an in-between space of the future and the past, demonstrating the clash between images and materiality, where materiality, unfortunately, seems to be losing ground. For this project, after creating analog portraits of people in my life, I have damaged the emulsion of my negatives, wounding the film stock with a variety of chemicals. I then reinterpret the image in the digital darkroom in the original, negative state where the potential for both the restoration and erasure of memory is present. I am in fact, damaging my own photographic legacy as a way to call attention to this shift from the physical to the visual.

As an analog photographer, I have watched my practice diminished and altered by the loss of materials and methodologies. Over the years I have collected and created hundreds of portraits, some acquired are almost a century old and it’s made me consider the formal portrait in the midst of the shifting sands of photography, the loss of photograph as object, and most importantly, the loss of photographic legacies.