My approach to Nameless Stills derives from my urge to interrogate the archival material through several shifts between mediums. I used the 16mm film in printing the individual frames on photographic paper. I chose one frame for each composition that appears on the film to be used in the darkroom as a negative for a printed photograph. This resulted in the inversion of the colours on the Nameless Stills. The nostalgic archival images have in this way turned into harsh, even disturbing images that reference the hyper mediated documentations of the Armenian atrocities. Through several transformations from photographic to moving-image film and then to photographic paper the material attributes of the initial archival print have almost vanished. Due to the small size of the 16mm film the printed images appear with strong grain and rough details.
Nameless is a work in progress, a 16mm film that I manually create in the darkroom by isolating and exposing close up portraits from group pictures from my family archive. The creation of the Nameless was devised in response to the voids of memory and knowledge within my family archive. Remaining nameless evokes a loss of identity and as Nancy Martha West (2008, 85) suggests, ‘if we posit a correlation between naming and being, then the nameless in a sense don’t exist’. At the same time the idea of being nameless relates to the moral scandal of the anonymity of victims of genocide. Michael Ignatieff (1998) writes there is a ‘universal need to redeem the dead through memory. (…) We erect museums; statues; exhibitions; we collect the pictures of those who have died to restore an identity to their facelessness’. Nameless draws on the methodologies from photographic practice and filmmaking, as I worked in the darkroom creating what I have titled a camera-less film. Through a repetitive, manual exposure of the 16mm film I created 70 to 90 frames per portrait that would enable the projection of one frame over a period of 3 to 5 seconds. This technique manually replaces the work of a video camera and draws attention to each frame and each person on the film.