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Last night I watched the 1954 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and this is stuck in my head.

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crudelyerased6FINAL

Have you ever been lost in a shopping mall as a kid? Gone to Disneyland and shook Mickey's hand? You probaby just imagined it. False memories, in which you believe an imagined or distorted memory to be fact, are more common than people think. They constitute a neurological no man's land where the brain's creative capacity for reimagination collides with the grotesque flotsam of the subconscious, creating a memory that blurs the line between real and unreal.

For the past nine months, experimental artist and Wellcome Trust Engagement Fellow A.R. Hopwood has been crowdsourcing examples of this phenomenon for The False Memory Archive. Hundreds of these accounts, along with video and photographic work inspired by false memories, will be displayed as part of the touring exhibition that will, appropriately enough, culminate in a show at the Freud Museum.

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Eugene Richards

On assignment documenting Guantánamo Bay for this week’s issue of TIME, photographer Eugene Richards spent several days at the infamous detention facility. Here, Richards writes for LightBox about how he approached the assignment and the distinct challenges he faced working under the tight restrictions imposed on the media by the U.S. military. 

When TIME asked me to go to Guantánamo, I immediately thought back to 9/11 — to the smoke and ruin of that fatal day, to Bush’s declaration of the war on terror, then to the first images from the prison: of men in orange jumpsuits shackled, blindfolded, handcuffed, sensory-deprived. These men, often viewed in silhouette and on their knees in prayer, were often picked up on the battlefield in Afghanistan by military units, although some were captured after bounties of as much as $5000 per head were paid. My first thoughts were to 9/11, of interrogations, secrecy, torture and military might.

And then there was the series of military-issued disclaimers I would have to agree to. I wouldn’t be permitted to photograph, or even see, the detainees. I couldn’t show the guards’ faces, and I would only be able to photograph the pre-ordained locations within the camp. And finally, I had to agree to having my work edited — to turn over my cards so that images could be deleted or cropped as per the opinion of the public information staff accompanying me the entire assignment. ‘Can you make pictures out of nothing?’ I asked myself, then prepared for the trip.

It took two plane flights to get down to Guantánamo and a ferry ride across to the prison camp proper. I made photographs on the boat, but because they were of soldiers, they would become the first pictures deleted by the military. Once off the ferry, Guantánamo became small town America, replete with miles of brand-new looking green-lawned suburban houses. There was a McDonald’s along the road, a Subway sandwich shop, bar-and-grills and a dry landscape of thorny bushes and cactus. Iguanas, looking absurdly out of place, lay often in pairs at the edges of roadways running to and from the prison, munching on the low vegetation. Because they are a protected species, all traffic would come to a stop as they took their time swish-swashing from place to place.

I was put up in a condo of sorts, then had dinner with my minder, Sgt. Brian Godette. The next morning, he asked me what I wanted to see. My assignment from TIME was just to see what I could see, so Brian, out of sympathy, brought me out to the one place that I could visit at will: the now infamous Camp X-Ray.

This is the place, he explained, where the first detainees were brought in 2002 — close to 300 of them, he said. So I followed this young, affable soldier through the gate and up a dirt road, to aisles upon aisles of what could only be regarded as animal cages — six-foot-by-eight-foot concrete-floored cells enclosed on all sides and on top with chain link. They were all glaring light and shadows at this time of the morning, offering no protection from the sun so broiling hot, even though this was only springtime. Vines wound up through the see-through ceilings, grass cracked the concrete and the wind was blowing. Plump hutias, also known as banana rats, nested along the metal supports. Still, it wasn’t hard to imagine the place at night, when the air would be filled with mosquitoes, when the rain would blow in unobstructed. I was also shown the summer-camp-cabin looking interrogation building where, according to some reports, torture took place. Camp X-Ray, Brian went on to tell me, was closed later that year, the detainees transferred to other areas in the military prison.

The first “editing session” happened later that day, when the previous day’s images from the ferry were deleted by Brian. What I remember next was the 4 a.m. wake-up.

Along with a two-man TV crew, I was led in the near dark through four or five electronic doors onto the hallway of Camp V for pre-dawn prayers. No prisoners could be seen. No faces, no hands. All there was to see were the openings in steel doors as the guards wearing protective face shields (since detainees, we were told, spit and throw waste at them) walked up and down the block. As if in cadence, they stopped occasionally at individual cells to peer in, to whisper, to hand over medicines to inmates said to be fasting. After twenty minutes, the prayers finally seemed to drift away and the food carts were ushered in, then ushered out. Because there were few, if any, takers, we were led out of the prison.

At one point earlier in the day, the faces of detainees did appear in the elongated windows above an entryway. Dark-skinned, long-bearded men looked down at us. A TV cameraman pointed his camera in that direction, only to be cautioned that his footage would later be erased.

I returned at 5 a.m. the following morning and was ushered through the gates onto a different cell block, all too aware that some of the photographs I’d taken the previous morning had been deleted. I also wanted to hear the prayers again.

And so I went on what could only be called a media tour. The most surreal moment came during our exposure to the force-feeding apparatus. After all, that’s why the media was here — the hunger strike that had been going on since February loomed large in the debate about the camp. Surrounded by three or four media personnel and an equal number of medical personnel, we were ushered past the crash beds in the detainee hospital into a large, empty room. Dead center, beneath a single fluorescent panel, was the restraining chair. A display of the force-feeding apparatus included a bottle of the liquid nutrient Ensure and two sizes of tubing that could be put up the noses of detainees who refused to eat. As the TV camera rolled, medical personnel explained, without a hint of doubt, that the force-feeding process is not at all unpleasant (olive oil, you see, is employed as a lubricant as the tube is snaked up through the detainee’s nose and down his throat) and that, despite what others in the medical field might say, the long-term consumption of Ensure does no lasting damage.

And just like that, when I was feeling that my week was just beginning, it was over. I was upset that it was over. Before boarding the flight back to the U.S., there was one more pre-planned stop on the tour: the visit to a Gitmo gift shop, for t-shirts and figurines of Fidel Castro. But then even after the lift-off, I couldn’t rid myself of the feeling — and still can’t get rid of it now — that even though I put some time in, and that I now have some pictures that say I’ve been to Gitmo, the truth is that I have never really been there.

Eugene Richards is an award-winning American photographer.

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Todd Danforth

Portrait Of A Family

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I sat on the hospital bed beside my grandfather and watched as he took his dying breaths. Aunt Beth walked into the room and quietly sat next to me. She glanced at her father for a moment and then back to me. “Life is funny, huh?” she said.

I looked at her and then back to my grandfather. His cheeks were no longer full and his body almost lifeless. A machine beside his recliner supplied oxygen to his lungs and I could not help but imagine myself at age seventy-­‐eight. Will I have his wrinkles too, I thought? His head full of white hair, not a bald spot to be found. And then I began to wonder about our non-­‐physical characteristics and the similarities my aunts and uncles share with my grandparents.I began to think about his memories and accomplishments and what value those hold now that he remains helpless. Who will continue this legacy he began? Who will tell his story after he goes, because afterall, we are the only ones who can.

These family portraits tell the photographic journey that I began in pursuit to understand the emotional struggles that bond my family together. After my Grandmother’s passing in 2004, my Grandfather became the patriarch of the family; but more importantly he was the aging bond that weaved my family’s legacy. As time has it, nothing lasts forever-­‐ his illness worsened, his memory faded, and as I ushered a final farewell to my last semester of college, my Grandfather took his final breath.

This portfolio was created over a four year period from 2009-­‐2013. The subjects of the work are my family and it is photographed in Massachusetts. Some photographs were taken in Florida on a road trip we brought my Grandfather on in 2011. Some of the photographs were featured in a German typography publication Slanted.

 

Bio

Todd Danforth grew up along the West River in the heart of the Blackstone River Valley, the birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution.

He was born into quite a large family with an astounding family history. His lineage can be traced back toJudge Thomas Danforth, the Deputy Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony from 1679-­‐1686, who also sat on the Superior Court sessions during the Salem Witch Trials. Todd’s current photographic work focuses primarily on family and the ties that bond these close relationships together.

He currently resides on the South Shore of Boston, Massachusetts and holds his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography from The Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University.

 

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Todd Danforth

 

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