Longing and Belonging: Anxiety and Absence in Domestic Photography
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Photography has transformed the idea of the self through a reconstruction of memory. How we use the static representations of media to reproduce the “real” world is inextricably connected to how we see and understand ourselves and the world around us. A central symbol of the American life is the domestic, a metonym for “normal.” Our ideas of “home” are shaped by the commodification of every aspect of social life. The idea of home has shifted from a literal location to an inward and individual sense. Memory is the primary source of identity; however, photographs have supplanted memory’s role in the creation of self. Domestic photographs represent the illusory stability of human space through a complication of “inside” and “outside.” The “outside” represents unstructured, destructive forces of nature and time that threaten to dismantle the natural order. Late capitalism’s “inside” is an inhumane architecture of efficiency and profit inverting inside and outside. “Home” consists of an alienating constellation of commodified discontent. The personal style of photographic snapshots masks a dubious reproduction of reality. The practice of photography unconsciously attempts to quell anxiety over the disappearance of what we understand as “me” but rather supplants any sense of reality.