Distancing is an installation by Erin Ashenhurst and Kristin Carlson that plays with the themes of memory and narrative. To remember is to give meaning to personal experience. Over time, the nature of memories change as they fall subject to the filter of perspective, new information, and the process of forgetting. Photographs become documentation, creating a sense that the details of an experience are fixed and knowable.
In Distancing, the viewer is presented with the projection of an image that could be read as a family photograph. By entering into close proximity with the projection, the viewer triggers the animation of the image and becomes a participant in the installation. As the image reveals itself to be a video, subtle changes in content begin to occur. Expressions fade and shift, forcing the participant to rebuild any speculative narrative they’ve developed to explain the visual content. By changing their distance from the screen, the participant can move through the series of images, exploring alternate truths and constructions.
The symbolic world of a family snapshot as described by Richard Chalfen ‘both reflects and promotes a particular look at life, a preferred version of life that will outlive us all’ (Chalfen 1998).
In Distancing, symbolism is slippery. Facial expressions fade and shift, forcing the participants to rebuild any speculative narrative they’ve developed to explain the visual content. The photograph is revealed as a document of multiple constructions and ephemeral truths.