Embroidered Photographs That Illustrate the Failures of Photography


Diane Meyer’s “Time Spent That Might Otherwise Be Forgotten” project isn’t so much about what photography can do, but rather what photography can’t do. By embroidering pixel patterns into sections of her photographs, Meyer’s work focuses on the inability of photography to truly preserve “experience and personal history.”

Here is a sampling of her work:







The embroidery is sewn directly into the photographs, forming patches of pixelated stitching that, according to Meyer, represent “the means by which photographs become nostalgic objects that obscure objective understandings of the past.”

Head over to Meyer’s website to see more.

(via Flavorwire)

Image credits: Photography by Diane Meyer and used with permission.

Thanks for sending in the tip, Phil!

  • Steven

    Not great.

  • brandon

    wtf. this sucks.

  • Norm Cooper

    mine can do that in-camera

  • SpaceMan

    I think I get it…no wait not yet. I’ll try again later

  • Michael

    i dont get it

  • Paul S

    I need more space cake to understand it.

  • Keiran Blackwell

    “that obscure objective understandings of the past” – Quite the opposite I believe, Photography preserves the objective record and thus understanding of the past, but can interfere with our own subjective interpretation of the present and the following nostalgia.

  • tyrohne

    “the means by which photographs become nostalgic objects that obscure objective understandings of the past.”

    what a pantload. how can a capture of a discrete moment in time obscure an understanding? MFA indeed. Diane furthers the mythology of artist as pretentious grifter.

  • lidocaineus

    I understand the artist statement, but she fails to explore or exemplify that in any meaningful fashion. The main subjects are obscured, but that doesn’t lead me to understand how the original, unaltered photos were obscuring objective memories. Memory is almost never objective to begin with, and photographs, while apt to lose full context of the actual moment, are far more objective than humans are. It’s why we use photographs as evidence, and trust them more than hearsay.

    Obscuring the image the way she does leads more into turning the photograph meaningless, even with all the ideas we could use to fill in the gaps – that’s the OPPOSITE of objective. And at the risk of sounding insulting, I feel like she did this just because she liked the idea of pixelating out portions by using stitching. Because there is a tiny but of textural appeal to the pieces – it’s just completely overshadowed by the rest of it being poorly executed.

  • R E Casper

    I’m usually pretty hip to artistic interpretations and approaches… But this… this makes no sense whats so ever. Not even close.

  • Scott

    Say what?

  • Philip Han

    I looked over her images and really enjoyed the concept and thought that the comments might reflect the same point of view but boy was a wrong.

    Why all the hate? Out of 11 comments only a single one actually explains why they don’t like it.

    It clearly states that “Meyer’s work focuses on the inability of photography to truly preserve “experience and personal history” which is what the embroidery is surfacing. To me it’s kind of like looking deep into an image and finding out that it’s all pixels, with digital cameras and higher resolution sensors we are admittedly getting a lot more detail but the fact still remains that you can’t capture the time, the essence, the atmosphere, the smell, the feel, the sound, the memories, the emotions, the thoughts, the perspective, the perception, the context, the experience, and many other factores.

  • Wansai Ounkeo

    sorry, i’m just not buying it. photography is as objective as you can get. what is not objective is our memory. our memory of something is subjective, filtered by our personal bias and interpretations. no 2 ppl will remember the same scene the same way and usually this is reflected in how they take the shot of the same scene; hwever, each shot is an objective document. what changes is our memory of it.
    while the execution is visually interesting, i find the intent to have missed the mark entirely as it doesnt address the idea of memory, nostalgia but rather on the most objective element (the photo) and tries to reverse that by either misunderstanding the role of photography or willfully being ironic for the sake of art; in either case, wrong.

  • lidocaineus

    I don’t agree with your opinion completely but you bring up some points I think the artist was trying to convey; unfortunately in my opinion she didn’t succeed there.

    As for all the hate, yeah, the comments on pp can sometimes dip into the youtube range, mostly because people think stuff like brandon ‘s “wtf. this sucks” adds to a discussion. ‘Cause, you know, putting a few coherent thoughts into sentences is really, really hard and stuff.

  • wgs


  • eraserhead12

    “experience and personal history” are entirely dependent on the individual and not the photograph, I thought that much was obvious? memory is by definition subjective.

  • AW


  • Igor Ken

    I like turtles

  • Zos Xavius

    Oh this illustrates failure all right……

  • Samcornwell

    Thanks for sharing, these are absolutely wonderful!

  • Jason Kim

    I think she should finish the embroidery…

  • Jeff

    My thoughts exactly! ;)

  • Kennedy W

    Soothing for eyes, atleast!

  • [email protected]

    This doesn’t even make sense. Dumb

  • brian

    Uhhhh… I don’t get it

  • Gregor_Albrecht

    We’re on the internet! Use sarcasm smileys! :v

  • Mark


  • Lubyanka

    In my opinion the artist’s statement here is not only inaccessible to most, but is actually intended to be inaccessible to most. Those who do get it can feel superiour, which to me feels like the primary point.

    If the artist really had a coherent meaningful point to make, wouldn’t they rather more people got it instead of just a select few?

    For this sort of topic at parties, I find that nodding knowledgeably and saying
    – “Hmmm, yes, very representative of the genre.”
    generally gets the job done, at least before I can get away and explode into giggles. :)

  • Samcornwell

    I am not being sarcastic. These are simply fascinating and excellently executed pieces of photographic art. Visually, they immediately remind me of lossy digital reproduction.

  • Stephen Schafer

    I enjoy the work. I wonder if the embroidery is done on a computer programmed embroidery machine or by hand.

  • Lubyanka

    ps: I mean, ok, the artist thinks photography fails. And … ?

  • LS Bell


  • Richie

    Decent idea, terrible marketing! Instead of trying to illustrate the “Failures of Photography”, she should have titled this “Make your own Invisibility cloaks” or perhaps “Obscurity through (financial) security through embroidery”.

    The negative spin on a well-understood medium is what got me riled up (and I suspect many others). She should hire a marketing / PR consultant and weave a better story around this.

  • Adam

    Her description would be more eloquent if she replaced “photography” with “memory”. People can easily relate to not being able to remember faces and details.

  • David Liang

    Seems like the concept preceded the explanation, and that’s where the artist fails.

  • mutie

    So, let me get this straight. A photo’s strength is its ability to document a subject. When you remove the subject from the photo, the photo no longer has a strength. This proves … what? That the strength was never there? No. It proves you can remove the photo’s strength by covering it up. Brilliant.

  • Cory James

    Not going to lie it was a lot cooler to look at from that perspective than “Some Person Stitches on Photographs Or Something”, which is a more accurate title.

  • Jacob Gladfelter

    and this is why my 4 years at art school seems so foolish now…

  • lakawak

    So, if you effectively pixelate the main subject of a photograph, it ruins it? NO WAY!
    Good thing photography isn’t embroidery (and bad embroidery, at that) then, I guess.

  • guest

    Okay, I thought I was the only one missing the point as well.

  • guest

    Where can I get some of that what your smokin’

  • guest

    I know art is subjective, but come on.

    If I paint a red dot on a white background, is the flag of Japan, is it representing isolation, is it man’s interpretation of self or is it just a red dot on a white background?

  • Pippa Bolkey

    til I looked at the receipt which had said $6926, I accept …that…my friends brother had been realy making money part time at their laptop.. there uncles cousin haz done this for under 6 months and as of now paid the dept on their apartment and bought Chevrolet Corvette. we looked here,….. BIT40. ℂOℳ

  • nick

    I’m pretty well roasted, and still can’t see it. Maybe I need better green.

  • Lee Harris

    Oh god, pure art school pseudo intellectual crap, no doubt tacked on to a gimmicky idea she had after the fact… I am fed up of art being tagged on to photography as if this somehow takes it to a higher level, photography IS photography and needs nothing else to justify it, art, all too often these days, is pretentious solipsistic nonsense which tries to take itself to a higher level with ludicrous claims of deeper meaning, or some social commentary.

  • Alina Holgate

    It represents the failure of embroidery.

  • Special Comment

    It makes no sense.. Better go watch Inception!

  • Donna

    It’s the headline that is misleading…how is this a failure of photography?

  • Steven Barall

    There is nothing objective about photography, photographs are created things. And if that isn’t bad enough, objective understanding of the past? Memory is the least objective vision we have, as they say, history is written by the victors. Question: What color was the Tyrannosaurus rex? We don’t know because they lost. Our objective view is just the one we see through the keyhole, it’s limited at best.

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