7. Real Life: Screen Memories
I used to take and share a lot of screenshots. For years, this practice was largely my studio practice, and I shared these images on Instagram, creating a profile of hundreds of snippets of texting conversations and screenshots of my camera roll. For me, and for writer Kelly Pendergrast, “the screenshot is a technique I use to process and frame the world, to keep or to share with others. The act of capture is a simultaneously archival and communicative act.” Recently, for reasons I’ve yet to be able to point to, I archived almost all of these screenshots.
Pendergrast writes that “the screenshot is a gesture that lays claim to the act of seeing, and turns the framing and capturing of an image that often contains a mixture of windows and picture fields (a web page, a Microsoft Word window, all of it) into an act of creating anew. The old metadata: Gone! In its place, my image, with fresh data and the pleasingly prosaic file name “Screen Shot 2020-12-01 at 9.54.48 PM.” In taking a screenshot, we create “proof of memory — proof that I was there, online at a moment in time.”
I used to spend hours looking over my camera roll and screenshots, organizing images into different folders, similar to Pendergrast’s process of reviewing each screenshot “in case there’s a snippet of essential documentation or a glimmer of genius captured in the pile of weird fragments.” I hardly look at my camera roll at all anymore (unless I’m looking for a picture of my parents’ puppy), and I think that has something to do with why I archived most of my Instagram account: it held things I no longer wished to see, no longer wished to remember.