No maps for these territories: exploring philosophy of memory through photography


  • Alun Kirby



photography, art, memory, cultural memory, perception


I begin by examining perception of photographs from two directions: what we think photographs are, and the aspects of mind involved when viewing photographs. Traditional photographs are shown to be mnemonic tools, and memory identified as a key part of the process by which photographs are fully perceived. Second, I describe the metamorphogram; a non-traditional photograph which fits specific, author-defined criteria for being memory. The metamorphogram is shown to be analogous to a composite of all an individual’s episodic memories. Finally, using the metamorphogram in artistic works suggests a bi-directional relationship between individual autobiographical memory and shared cultural memory. A model of this relationship fails to align with existing definitions of cultural memory, and may represent a new form: sociobiographical memory. I propose that the experiences documented here make the case for promoting a mutually beneficial relationship between philosophy and other creative disciplines, including photography.

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Author Biography

Alun Kirby

Was an immunologist for many years, researching immune responses to mucosal infections in London, Sweden, and York, and making photographs all the while. Since leaving science he has focused on artistic work, using philosophy of memory and the lived experiences of people living with dementia as sources of inspiration.


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How to Cite

Kirby, A. (2021). No maps for these territories: exploring philosophy of memory through photography. Estudios De Filosofía, (64), 47–71.



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