The work was open for online viewing between December 20 – January 6.
“Memento Vitae” (00:05:39) by Nic Umbs, USA, 2021
A person rifles through photographs, selecting a few. A few of these images are then added to the page of a photo album. Ambient highway and bird sounds fill the air.
The same person assembles an apparatus consisting of parts of an old camera and a wooden box. Upon firing the shutter of the old camera, the scene changes to some low-fidelity footage. First an indoor scene, next cold and outdoor. The film consists of still images, mostly black and white with some sepia tone, low-fidelity footage, and shots of manual handling of images.
In late 2019 I was gifted my great grandfather’s Kodak No. 2 Folding Autographic Brownie camera. His camera is damaged due to years of neglect, and therefore introduces light leaks and exposure issues, concealing relevant contextual information. I performed the bare minimum of repairs needed to restore the camera’s operation, in the same way that dysfunctional families tend to fix interpersonal problems just enough that relationships continue working but are not fully mended. This work is a reflection on familial traumas, and the process of growing past them using archival images, new photographs, and video created in conversation with my derelict family heirloom. Each element exists as a reminder of life.
Nic Umbs is an image-maker and educator raised and based near Milwaukee, WI. His research focuses on interpersonal relationships and the idea of family, often focusing on revealing hidden truths. He studied at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, attaining his B.S. in biological sciences in 2018 and his M.F.A. in studio arts in 2021. His work uses digital, film, alternative processes, video, and applied scientific/mathematical techniques to solve image-making problems.
Director, Producer: Nic Umbs