Processed Memories by Rachel Burnham

Processed Memories Thumbnail Image

COURSE: English 271

MEDIUM: Digital Photography

This project is focused on the actual development rather than the final product itself. The process I decided to focus on was editing photos using Photoshop. I decided on this because I am really interested in the way that editing an image affects the way people interpret its meaning. The way that we experience an image is dependent on how the artist chooses to portray. I am interested in understanding why people choose to portray an edited version of reality; in some ways a replication of the truth but in others a deviation from it.

In order to explore photo editing, I decided to take some of my personal photos from when I studied abroad last semester and edit them using Adobe Photoshop in several different ways. What I found is that my project illuminated how editing photos changed the underlying meaning of them, from remembering a person, place or event, to creating a completely new reality in which things appear more perfectly. Throughout my process I came to the conclusion that an original image records or mimics a memory and serves to preserve it forever, making it timeless. Editing however remixes or remakes that memory into a new reality, one with better lighting, more intense colors, or crazy effects. Editing really changes the way we remember something through an image, to the point where you have to ask if the memory is even contained in the photo anymore. Photo editing contradicts the original depiction of reality, where “realness” doesn’t matter as much as aesthetics. This process should matter to people because we view edited photos on a daily basis, often without seeing the process behind them. How we view reality through an image can really be dependent on the edits that are made in an image and can function to recreate an alternate understanding of the original memory.