We tend to think of our family as being a static entity, a collection of individuals forming a unit in a space and time that we choose to remember. If we are lucky, our family unit stays together over a long period of time, changing in many suble ways, and yet remaining what we call our family. But amid this natural change, our family artifacts are static. Photographs show family members at a certain place and time, with a relationship to each other that will never repeat. Ultimately some members will die, others will drift apart, gain families of their own, change religions, change politics, change states.
Technology changes the artifacts from still black and white photographs, to 8mm film, analogue video, digital video, images shared through social media, all fragmenting the ability to somehow produce a coherent image of the family through time.
Perhaps it’s not important to have physical representations of family; memory has a flow and texture, a story enhancing ability that no physical media can replicate. But we want the record of our particular family to go into the future so others can appreciate the special manifestation of nature we represented.
Yet looking back at photographs from our grandparents and greatgrandparents era, we often have no idea who the people are in the browning photos; people who contributed to our genes, to our present and future. Some day that will be us; future generations wondering who those people were, what were their names, what were they like, what traits did we pass on to them. And so it goes. Someday you and your family will pass from this place forever, in terms of real understanding. It’s not meant as a sad thought, just a thought, an idea, to be considered as we live our daily lives.
The ephemeral nature of lives of families of time itself, is central to creation. How would life be for me now if the people in the collage above had never changed from 1957?