Memories in the networked assemblage: How algorithms shape personal photographs

Tara McLennan

Full text | PDF


The vernacular photograph becomes a meaningful memory object when an affective exchange transpires between the image, the beholder and the assemblage of human and non-human forces in a photographic collection. The archival and material conditions of photography have increasingly shifted from the physicality of Kodak envelopes, and analogue albums, to the twenty-four-hour cycles of cyberspace. The curation of vernacular images is often delegated to algorithmic slideshows, such as Facebook’s “Your Year in Review,” which propel mathematically generated stories into the beholder’s feed. In an exchange between computer and human memory, the viewer is exposed to the co-existence of the stored past within the live present, or what Henri Bergson termed “duration.” This article self-reflexively explores memory acts with photographs both in a family’s analogue collection, and in a social media timeline. From the situated perspective of a “digital wayfarer,” I query the affect of photographic assemblages that call for curatorial arrangement, seeking out socio-historical continuities and ruptures in the photographic medium. Where new memory studies suggest networked immediacy has transformed photography into a continually reiterated “now,” this article posits that the medium has not lost its relationship with remembrance: photography haunts the live feed with an algorithmically returned past.


Networked Photography; Memory; Archive; Algorithmic Culture; Duration

To cite this article

McLennan, Tara. “Memories in the networked assemblage: How algorithms shape personal photographs.” Fusion Journal, no. 14, 2018, pp. 30-45.

First published online: December 2018

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Copyright © Fusion Journal