Ut nihil non iisdem verbis redderetur auditum — Plinius, Naturalis Historia
Nothing that has been heard can be described with the same words. Ireneo Funes reads out loud this sentence just before we enter his room, for the first time after his strange accident. Ireneo is the main character of Funes the Memorious, a short story by Jorge Luis Borges. Fallen from an horse, the protagonist was left hopelessly paralyzed: «This fact scarcely interested him. He reasoned (or felt) that immobility was a minimum price to pay. And now, his perception and his memory were infallible». He could remember «…the shapes of the clouds in the south at dawn on the 30th of April of 1882, and he could compare them in his recollection with the marbled grain in the design of a leather-bound book which he had seen only once, and with the lines in the spray which an oar raised in the Rio Negro». But Ireneo cannot either forget anything: his mind is full of images, that he can perfectly recall.
I read this story when I was traveling in South-America, to better understand it's mystery, magic and dreamy atmosphere. When I got back, I read it again. Then I started to think about it, looking for some connections with my work. Of course the topic of the memory has already been fully investigated by writers, philosophers, scientists, photographers and so on. In particular, the theme of this short story seems very close to Lurija and Sacks's studies. Anyway, it was not the endless possibilities of the memory to interest me. I think this story is rather about the Impossibility.
First of all, once again, nothing that has been heard can be described with the same words. This is the very first thing Ireneo tells us. Probably this consideration also applies to the vision: nothing that has been seen can be pictured with the same outcome. Namely: whoever tried to take a picture knows that photography will always be somehow different from the actual perception that we feel when we shoot. And sadly there is no way to communicate that exact feeling and point of view. Therefore photography must be something else, an impossible yearning.
The story of Funes testifies this discrepancy. Thanks to photography, nowadays we are able to create images that are supposedly perfect reproductions of the reality, and, just like Ireneo, we can investigate every tiny little detail over and over. Still, nobody can produce, in the others, the same vibrating perception of the actual moment. Something will be left out. There will always be a margin of incommunicability. Only by accepting this loss of information, we can produce images.
So here Ireneo's point of view seems to vaguely recall Gorgias's philosophy, according to which: «Even if something can be known, it can't be communicated to others. Even if it can be communicated, it cannot be understood». Now, If this story is about Impossibility, our hero has another problem.
In fact, Funes cannot either forget anything, and his memories are too many to be told, or even to be retraced and ran through again in his mind. The issue of the overwhelming amount of pictures that punctuate and fill our lives is well known. Wherever we look, whenever we look, we are surrounded by images of any kind. Everyone can produce them, and everyone wants to. The world and the web are both saturated with pictures – between january and may 2014, while I was in South America, roughly 1.8 billions photos were uploaded on the internet. It seem like we are living in the mind of Ireneo! So what's going to be our future? Funes warn us: implicitly talking about the impossibility neither to forget nor to stop producing his perceptions and visual remembrances, he says «…My memory, sir, is like a garbage disposal».
This is why, organizing the pictures of my work, I decided to trace a path – using maps of the places I've been to – that I can walk backwards to remember, almost like Š, the famous Lurija's patient. Then I selected only a few pictures, to avoid participating in the images overloading of both the world and the internet. And even though nobody will «perceive each visual image […] linked to muscular sensations, thermal sensations, etc.» that I felt while I was taking these pictures, at least it will always be possible to see «the shapes of the clouds».