SPE Demo Session
A Presentation by Chris Ireland of my recent work.
Last summer, I was making a lot of trips to Ohio to visit my Dad and brother. This was
after my Dad brought Mom back from her accident in Australia. While on vacation my
mother was going to the bathroom in the middle of the night, fell and hit her head on a
toilet and suffered permanent brain damage. She spent the last year of her life
confined to a nursing home bed.
While I was home, I started looking through family photographs that I knew were
stored in various places around the house….under my mom’s bed, in the closet, dusty
boxes in the basement….wherever I could find them. I decided to take these boxes of
photos back to Texas with me to scan them. While I was scanning these photos, I
realized I had so many that I should make keywords for them. I would keyword photos
that had certain people in them like Mom, Dad, or my brothers. I would keyword
Christmas photos, vacation photos, etc. I started to notice visual patterns in photos
and I started to make more specific keywords such as, pictures of my dad standing
wooden in front of the camera, or pictures inside 1980s hotel rooms with hideous
I had scanned over 4000 photos, and I noticed something, I only had about 200
pictures of mom. One of the keywords I used in archiving the photos was “mom’s
camera flash”…because that was a picture where you couldn’t see mom unless you
looked in a window in the back of the image for a reflection of her and/or her camera
flash. I had as many of those “ghostly” images as I had images of her.
The reason for this is mom was often the family photographer. She did not like to be in
front of the lens. This became clear when I discovered a box of photos belonging to
my Mother. She had it in a different spot, not under her bed, but stuffed in the back of
her underwear drawer. She had a collection of photos of her childhood from Salineville
OH, a small mining town close to the Ohio river. I began to study these photos, their
locations, the people in them. I had never seen images of my grandmother, who
passed away in 1945. Even more enlightening where the images of her sister, who I
did not even know existed until recent years…this was due to the circumstances of her
death just a few months before I was born.
The creative work I plan to show during this talk was inspired by the collection,
organization, and discovery I experienced in creating my family album. All the work
was made over the last few months and will be the main focus of my research into