Ex. 3.6: ‘The Memory of Photography’

I read the essay, ‘The Memory of Photography’ by David Bate. From my reading, the key points are:


  • Bate questions the use of photography and whether it is an aid to memory.
  • Freud considered ‘natural’ (human) memory as distinct from ‘artificial’ memory. Photography allows humans to take less memory with them.
  • Writing, photography and other mediums are designed to supplement natural human senses.
  • Bate goes on to ask whether technologies affect us mentally.

Collective Memory

  • Jacques Le Goff thought that photography revolutionised memory. It preserves the memory of time and chronological evolution.
  • Jacques Derrida said that history is a site of social power. Photography is a part of that. It also industrialises visual memory.
  • A photograph stores and reproduces every object.

Talbot’s Meta-Archive

  • William Henry Fox Talbot considered the photograph as ‘inventory’; ‘copying’ what it captures.

Prosthetic Memory

  • Photography is more like ‘partial-truth’.


  • Freud expressed that a ‘screen image’ (photography) is an empty shell. Images can be used as space; a location for memory-traces.




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