Julie Louise Bacon | Stock / Spectrum

Stock / Spectrum

  • 26 Sep

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This video and photographic installation used my entire personal archive of 35mm photographs and slides as raw material. It was presented in the 3x3x3 exhibition at Eyelevel Gallery in Halifax (2011), featuring the work of three artists who explore the relationship between moving and photographic imagery.

The work involved reviewing and scanning the content of my archive en masse. During this durational process of digitisation, I transformed observations that began to surface about the content and form of the images into narrative structures. From this, I created a taxonomy that formed the basis of episodes as I edited the images into a video work.

In the act of reviewing and transforming the images, I sought to explore the threshold between my personal archive and social history, the point at which the narratives of one life embody something of the collective. Imagery taken in the course of decades, reflects personal change, but at a perhaps more subliminal level it may also indicate social change. Part of this concerns the changes in our habits of documenting life, and the shifts in attitudes to the self, others and the present that this encodes. These changes in archival practices are influenced by the capacity and functions that different technological formats embody: to capture a lot or little, to be resistant or susceptible to erasure, to be prone to accident or correction.

My personal archive spans the transition from the analogue to the digital era. In this sense, the work reflected on the role of technology in defining what we remember, and how: what does analogue memory look, feel and think like, in contrast or in relation to digital memory? How is past experience and the present encoded differently in the shift from chemical to electrical archiving, in the living body and memory, which are shaped by chemistry and electricity, and more?

I returned again to the word Stock to title this piece, with all that it signals, including the stock or accumulation of my life (and practice), and the sense of taking stock, as a moment of reckoning in time. Within the process of reviewing and organising, I was aware of something elusive in the atmosphere of the images and the experience of making the work. This prompted me to add a colour filter to each episode of images, a filter that became progressively more opaque as each episode unfolded. This spectrum appeared to me to be the antithesis of stock, embodying an entity rather than a quantity, an array distinct from an account, and reflecting the tension between obscurity and lucidity in the shaping of life.