Maël Renouard

from Fragments of an
infinite memory

images have a destiny: to be projected beyond their creator’s inner self onto a material medium, and then to be re-interiorized by the spectator. The more an image is reproduced, manipulated, unmoored, the more it enters the inner mind. When we digitize an old photograph and post it on the internet, we feel as though we are saving it, fulfilling its destiny, or at least winning for its destiny an extra stage. The image now stands sheltered from random, irremediable destruction; it will be exhibited immediately to every gaze; it enters an ocean of text and images, giving rise to potentially infinite resonances.

More and more, however, this feeling is reversing course, as if we were entering a new dialectical phase. The flux of images has grown so rapid and vast that they vanish, engulfed in this wave almost as quickly as they appear. So we are seized by the desire to give them material form again, in order to hold them in our hands, as if the digital space that seemed to promise their salvation had once again left them fragile.

This reversal had already struck me several times, when one evening in October 2015 someone told me that a few months earlier he had created a start-up that offered to print out SMS conversations on little scrolls (and perhaps soon bind them into books as well, he added); his business was flourishing beyond all hopes.