Collected Visions
by Lorie Novak

COLLECTED VISIONS ( is a participatory net art project that examines how family photographs shape our memories. I created the site with Clilly Castiglia, Betsey Kershaw and Kerry O'Neill in 1996. The most significant aspects of Collected Visions are the capability to search images in its growing archive of family photographs, the ability to create photo stories and the opportunity to add images to the archive. Over 2,500 snapshots (collected from more than 300 people since 1992) are currently in the database. Two hundred plus stories conveying the psychological, emotional, funny and often disturbing nature of photographs are posted throughout the site. The concept for Collected Visions grew out of the photographs and installations I have been creating since the early 1980s. I use family snapshots and images from the media to explore the relationships between personal and collective memory. (see
and essay by Marianne Hirsch in this issue.)

Collected Visions is designed to be a neutral space in which to explore the meaning of family photographs. Without determining what is submitted, I have sought to collect as many varied images and stories from a diverse range of people as possible. I hope that this accumulation will confront the romanticism so often associated with family photographs and help to penetrate the narrow view of the family that so many snapshots suggest. Collected Visions and its archive will serve as a testimony to the multiple visions of how we view the snapshot and family photographs at this time in history.

Interactive Guide to the Site

Click on each image to view the section described in the text.

A mantle with framed photographs is the navigational base of the site. (To visit the site, click on the image to the left.)

To visit the growing database of photographs, click "Search archive/create essay." You can click on any image to enlarge it and find out where and when it was taken and if any caption information was submitted.

After choosing images (their own or those of others), visitors are provided with tools to write, design and submit a photo essay for exhibition in the Collected Visions Gallery. The CV Gallery showcases selections of submitted essays with changing exhibitions every two to three months.

The Collected Visions Museum is an archive of the essays from past exhibitions. They are categorized by the content of the stories.

The resources section contains an interdisciplinary bibliography dealing with family photographs, memory, and similar issues as well as related Web links.

"Submit snapshots" gives instructions for contributing photos to the archive via the Web or by mail.

Positive Visions is an archive of essays and images about people infected with and affected by HIV/AIDS. It was launched on December 1, 1996 in conjunction with the 8th Annual Day Without Art and World AIDS Day.

Much of the site has been translated into Spanish.

barnard center for research on women

©S&F Online, 2003.