Fragments on Light and Memory

By John Bradburn


Two bodies. Together in golden sunlight. Held close. A father and his son. They could be lovers. The image as a memory. A fluctuating memory of drifting focus and dappled light. There is only sensation, certainty does not exist. Memory and image so unexplainable. Textures. Whole images filled with flesh. Aged flesh, the human marking of time. The late summer sunshine low to the ground. A recovered memory of a thousand individual moments we all share.

The light of a dream. Sunless. Unnatural. An internal light. An immobile light. The torchlight of recollection shining through the passages of memory. What light do we see in? What light of our memories? Are they the light of projection, the light of illumination? What shadows can be cast on the mind’s eye?

A man and a woman say goodbye. Evening light. The light of goodbye. The light of regret. The light of the present turning into the past. Light on skin always. Life is light on skin. The wrinkles, the creases the scars and the blemishes. The film as a memory. Witnessing the events of another’s mind’s eye.


Two people talk. Intimacy through the gap in a window frame. One eye at a time makes fleeting contact, the dirty glass troubling any connection. The fleeting grasp of an image of a loved one. Is this a film that exists now? Or are we party to some slow seeping of the memories of a dying man. Beautifully untrustworthy and perfectly fragile mental images tumbling from decaying cortex.

The x ray. Cold and hanging. We see glimpses of light through its thick surface. A dark stain on our vision. The light blooms like mould on the ill defined edges. We can try to pulls the thick deep soup together. We can try to see the house that appears to being pulled back into the forest - it’s walls so covered in vine. Pulled back in to the forest of tangled memories inside each of us. Slowly being consumed by the process of forgetting, blanking walls in to formless dark spaces, swallowing up objects whole. How many beloved childhood moments have been lost to the darkness?


Old photographs with their edges torn. Memories on paper fading into nothing. Slow degradation into dust. No memory can be saved from the process of time. The sun shines constantly. A boat glides across a sea. The darkness of land and sea deceptive like the darkness of coat, hair and sky in the torn photographs . The city. Two old hands are reflected in the window of a tram. Light scatters over the bodies calmly waiting inside. Two friends talk intimately their emotions illuminated in the flickering light. Their faces burning out and burning away. Their faces remembering and regretting. Later. A bird glides over the city it’s white wings glinting deep in the thick summer air. The couple on a balcony. Softer light. Hidden court yard light. She throws him her necklace. He holds it tight. No image to be taken. Memories to be held. Memories to be warmed in to amber beads. The joy of a physical connection. The relics of a life rather than it’s representations. In a culture drowning in images from mobile phones to infomercials how can memories ever hold the same meaning?

The child sleeps. His face diluting around him. The images of a dream being reigned into form a recollection. The light of snow on skin. Pure white for the first time. The edges blurring through the blizzard. Can a memory ever be pure?

John Bradburn is a writer and filmmaker. He is based in Birmingham and lectures at Staffordshire University.