Into the Pile
By Charlotte van Alfen
Charlotte van Alfen has 45.000 photos on her phone. In the six years that she has had a phone she has never attempted to organise, categorise or delete any of these images. Every week 140 new images are added. Knowing this, Charlotte identifies as an image hoarder. With her work, Into the Pile she saw as an opportunity to find out where the urge to hoard images comes from. Is she the only one curious?
The difference between a hoarder and a collector is a lack of organization. Hoarders hoard for the sake of hoarding — and this is what she does. In researching this phenomenon, Charlotte dove into her own process, questioning why she takes and saves and makes so many images, but still avoids throwing any of them away. These questions resulted in intensive research, which included interviewing subjects from diverse age-groups and occupations, in order to see how they treat their own image archives. What was appealing, is that they all shared that they often felt overwhelmed by the amount of images they have, but it is also something they can not get rid of. There are many reasons for this contradiction like nostalgia, denial and there are often emotional reasons.
This contradiction Charlotte tried to capture in her video, and make tangible in her installation. The accompanying soundscape is made by Joep Hurkmans (YOPO) and includes little snippets of the conversations.
The data collected includes screenshots from the designer's iPhone camera-roll as well as audio registrations in conversation with three subjects: Maryam Touzani, Leentje Linders and Kelly Martijn. The intention behind this research was to question the personal motivations for hoarding images. As the research exposed the extensive image archives of others, the main research question became: Why do we collect so many images?
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The scope of the data utilised includes screenshots of the designer's camera-roll spanning one month. This data was collected on the phone itself at home. The interviews which were also recorded on the phone and were later transcribed. Conversations with Leentje Linders took place at her home in Sijbekarspel, while the conversations with Maryam took place at the Royal Academy of Arts, The Hague. Kelly Martijn was interviewed online and registered by screen capture on Microsoft Teams.
Prototypes & Experiments
Visual experimentation: deforming camera-roll screenshots through image-effects in Photoshop.
Animation experiments using Premiere Pro
Audio registration of conversations:
For the development of a spatial installation, the designer researched how to demarcate a space in which there is nothing visible other than a video. A box was made out of styrofoam and pure foam, which can be closed-off with a black cloth. This demarcation becomes a 'no photo zone' which is indicated by a vinyl circle on the floor. A screen located inside the viewing-box displays the final video work, while an accompanying set of headphones plays an audio composition including extracts from the transcript of research interviews.
The final installation is composed of a two-minute video and ambient audio composition made in collaboration with sound designer YOPO. The video shifts from pictures in an iPhone interface to total abstraction, emphasising the overwhelming number of images. The video and the audio presented in as installation offer viewers food for thought and a space to reflect on how they themselves go about their own image archives.