The Materials of Memory

Nikita Singh
Mar 7, 2019 · 5 min read
Image for post
Image for post
Polaroid photographs taken of my hometown, Fort Myers, FL.

Thesis Statement

Everyone has an object with a story. What makes this object valuable is the narrative wrapped up in it, and the memory it evokes from the owner. The object that stands as my symbol of memory are my shoes, for they serve as a representation of where I stood at a certain point in time. Through archiving and documenting shoes in different stages, it became apparent to me that shoes carry complex human narratives, for they grow and change just as frequently as individuals do. These shoes serve as miniature memoirs that give insight into individual’s life experiences and what makes them “them”. The power of archiving, recalling, and reflecting is a profound process and my body of work gives this process a form.

My body of work uses the art of storytelling to highlight that the past matters, and attempts to unify individuals by bonding over their shared experiences with their shoes. My body of work uses the shoe as a marker of time, to highlight the stories and memories created while wearing them. The goal is to present distant memories of shoes in a way that provokes storytelling and human narrative. This thesis gives form to complex stories of the human experience through the form of shoes, by using motion graphics, video, collage and print design. These projects uncover that shoes hold memories that can be collected, and can also be remixed to create something new. Shoes carry memories and meanings that walk with us through life, and ground us in who we truly are.

Inspiration: John Baldessari

Baldessari, Planets (Chairs, Observer, White Paper), 1987

I draw a great amount of inspiration from John Baldessari. He is an American Artist known for his photography and appropriated images. Baldessari is known to take found photographs, assemble them, re-contextualize them, and add his own stories to the images — creating a complex image made up of different fragments. Baldessari chooses what he wants to cover up and reveal in a image, which ultimately changes the story that the image evokes. The concept that his images can be altered to portray different stories or motives is something that intrigues me about the stories that objects hold, and the memories that are ingrained in them.

Image for post
Image for post
Baldessari, Studio, 1998

Inspiration: Carmen Winant

Image for post
Image for post
Winant, My Birth, 2018

Carmen Winant’s 2018 installation in the MoMa is an archival piece that I find inspiring. After Winant gave birth to her daughter, she found an album of photographs that were taken when her mother was giving birth to her. Winant collected images of women giving birth, which are normally private, not publicized photographs, and plastered the walls with these images. They way she depicted this archive is something that I find inspiring.

Past Work

Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post

I made this inspiration book in my Junior Studio where I tried to depict my connection to my hometown through a series of images, handwritten letters, and paper objects that I had collected over the years. I believe that this book really captures an essence of what I feel when I am home, and I want to evoke a similar feeling for thesis between the objects I choose to display and the stories that go along with them.

Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post

These photographs are from my collections booklet I made Sophomore year. They tell the lives of these objects that I have collected throughout my time in college and the ridiculous, odd ways in which they came into my possession. The storytelling aspect of the book is what I enjoy the most looking back on them and is what I want to pull from for thesis.

Thesis Process

Image for post
Image for post

Thesis Experimentations

Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post

I really wanted to create a cohesive story line that moved through my thesis and I did that by creating a strong, specific visual language. This mini thesis project explored the life of a shoe through different stages in life. I was inspired by my little brother and his like journey through his shoes.

Thesis Logistics

Image for post
Image for post

Proposed Installation Plan

Image for post
Image for post

Final Installation Plan

Image for post
Image for post

Thesis Project Construction

Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post

Thesis Books

I wanted the books to have a similar visual aesthetic to the final thesis show piece.

Final Thesis Show

Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post

My hope for my thesis installation was to create a mind escape for individuals to engage with and reflect on their past through the lens of their shoe’s lives. My piece served as a miniature memory movie reel that touches on narratives of reflection and the passing of time. Making this thesis was therapeutic for me because it let me reflect on the past while being able to create in the present. My study of objects and memory evolved many times over the semester to become Materials of Memory, and show that shoes hold memory.

ObjectsAndMemory

2019 Senior Thesis- Nikita Singh

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store