March 31, 2022
A yearning for something in the past, from a moment, or place of happiness.
I’ve been drawn to past memories. I’ll show Alex an image from when we were dating and we’ll reminisce about how magical that time was. Then I snap back to reality and realize that we’re looking at a screen instead of enjoying each other’s presence… in the moment.
I spend a lot of my life looking back to the past and thinking about how perfect it was. I often feel this sense of nostalgia about everything that I’ve experienced in life. I’ll analyze my smile, the colors, the surroundings in whatever image I’m using as a means of remembering, and it seems that analyzing my past is all I do with photographs.
There’s a philosopher named Guy Debord, who taught about spectacle, which is this idea that we live life through a portrayal of reality, and meanwhile we become obsessed with images and appearance over the experience we’re in.
An example is: Going to a wedding and watching the bride and groom kiss through your phone screen as you film it… are you really experiencing the wedding? Or, by filming it and watching your phone screen–naturally to make sure that everything is in the frame–are you only living a fake experience?
When I was little, I started this type of life game. I would be in a moment that I really loved, like really really felt like everything in that moment was perfect. The moment had to be one that stopped my heart, gave me a feeling of heaven, and was bigger than me somehow. Whenever I found myself in such a moment, I put my two hands in front of my face, framing my view like a camera, closed one eye to see the moment, and snapped a picture with my fingers.
I’d say a little prayer and ask God to let me see that moment again in the next life. I’ve done this ever since I was little, and I’d guess that there are less than 100 images. I’ve always felt this specialness associated with those moments–the ones too good to take a real picture of. And it’s made me think about the preciousness of images.
A photograph to some is on an iphone. To others it’s a matted print, and to me, I’ve realized that a photograph should be a precious object that carries with it a memory and connection that is so deeply personal.
In some ways, a photograph is heavenly. Having this ability to capture a moment and see it exactly as it was. Before photography, only representations of life were possible. Paintings, sculpture, but then came photography. And we could see life.
This summer, while I’m in Paris, I want to do a photographic project on nostalgia, but not one that is lived afterwards, but a nostalgia that is present at each moment of living. A nostalgia that trades its place in the future looking at the past, for a place of presence and only presence. A nostalgia for the life being lived.
I believe fiercely that in order for a good photograph to carry emotion, there must be first good emotion. In order to create beautiful images, one has to experience beauty. A photograph can only be as good as the life it captures. I would argue that images carry with them an echo of life, and I want my echo to be loud and clear.
Avec amour, Alexa Ditto