Lost Rolls America ensures the creation of a national archive of images from the public’s lost rolls of film, and acts as a digital repository of visual memories living on Photo Shelter’s unique platform. This is a form of collective memory that prioritizes the role of photos in constructing our personal and shared pasts. In revisiting the past, this project also encourages contemplation of how the present and future will be remembered: Which artifacts do we use to record and remember history? How do these artifacts evolve with time? In what ways has the shift from analog film to digital impacted our relation to our own personal memories?
Contributors provide one or two rolls of film, which are developed and scanned free of charge by FujiFilm Corporation and made available back to the author. Participants then choose images and, in a small write-up, explore the meaning of the photo and the significance of re-viewing a piece of their personal, sometimes lost past. Ultimately, these observations offer points of identification, through descriptions of similar memories or associations, for other viewers of this collective experience.
The inspiration for this national project grows from a book by award-winning photojournalist Ron Haviv, who processed over 200 rolls of his own undeveloped analog film that had been put aside and forgotten over the years. Those images, some dating back over two decades, were collected in his book The Lost Rolls which feature moments from Haviv’s professional career, like political events and historical crises, as well as personal figures from the photographer’s own life. The photographs bear evidence of light leaks, pooling dye, mold, and other vagaries of time, and taken together, present a mesmerizing visual display of Haviv’s once-lost past.
Recognizing how important photographs are, not only to a photojournalist but to society at large, Lost Rolls America will celebrate with a publication from contributors alongside an exhibition at the Photoville Festival in New York City, 2017.
Ron Haviv’s The Lost Rolls book can be bought on Amazon here.