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The Family Photograph in the Digital Era

Irène Jonas

As part of the domestic ritual, the cult of the family photograph album perpetuates those family events and the people involved in them that “deserve” to be preserved and passed on. However, with the exponential increase in the production of family photographs, thanks to digitalization and to the computerized reprocessing of old family photographic archives, one has to wonder whether we are not altering the way in which this family memory is being constructed. Digitalization appears to be opening up vistas of an ongoing, rather than episodic photographic life and an all-inclusive memory, something quite at odds with the actual process of memorization, which involves selective storing and discarding of events. Is there not a danger that an excess of family memory, a dream of “photographing everything,” a fantasy in which we “keep everything,” a passion for “saving everything” may well lead to an over-saturated memory?