As part of the Medicine and Photography Student Selected Component at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry (2011), Vivienne Kit focused on representing repressed memories in dissociative amnesia.
‘The camera has the remarkable capacity to capture a visual representation of a specific moment. Minor details, emotions, stories become forever embedded in the image. I believe photographs are a very strong medium for story telling and far surpass the neuronal synaptic circuits of the human brain in capturing all the minor details of the moment. This made me question the relationship between human memory and the representation of a memory in a photograph.
Initially, I wanted to explore different forms of memory and memory loss using photography as my medium but with the large array of memory forms and types of amnesia I decided to concentrate on only one type: dissociative amnesia. Dissociative amnesia, more specifically the repression of memory, is what truly fascinates me. Subconsciously, we are constantly forming new memories and yet, when we take a photograph, a moment becomes frozen in time. Individuals who suffer major stressful or traumatic events, be it physical or emotional, will sometimes have bouts of amnesia in regards to the event. The human body may be physically able to repair itself, but memory of such events are either consciously or subconsciously repressed, dissociated, stored in an inaccessible part of the brain, or forever forgotten. I wanted to explore,through photography, the medical aspects of dissociative amnesia from a patient’s view, and try to represent repressed memory through my images. As the title of my project suggests, I also explored the ways in which aspects of the memories captured in photographs can also be destroyed, removed or given a new meaning.’